Seven Games: Book summary and reviews of Seven Games by Oliver Roeder

Seven Games

A Human History

by Oliver Roeder

Seven Games by Oliver Roeder X
Seven Games by Oliver Roeder
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A group biography of seven enduring and beloved games, and the story of why - and how - we play them.

Checkers, backgammon, chess, and Go. Poker, Scrabble, and bridge. These seven games, ancient and modern, fascinate millions of people worldwide. In Seven Games, Oliver Roeder charts their origins and historical importance, the delightful arcana of their rules, and the ways their design makes them pleasurable.

Roeder introduces thrilling competitors, such as evangelical minister Marion Tinsley, who across forty years lost only three games of checkers; Shusai, the Master, the last Go champion of imperial Japan, defending tradition against "modern rationalism"; and an IBM engineer who created a backgammon program so capable at self-learning that NASA used it on the space shuttle. He delves into the history and lore of each game: backgammon boards in ancient Egypt, the Indian origins of chess, how certain shells from a particular beach in Japan make the finest white Go stones.

Beyond the cultural and personal stories, Roeder explores why games, seemingly trivial pastimes, speak so deeply to the human soul. He introduces an early philosopher of games, the aptly named Bernard Suits, and visits an Oxford cosmologist who has perfected a computer that can effectively play bridge, a game as complicated as human language itself.

Throughout, Roeder tells the compelling story of how humans, pursuing scientific glory and competitive advantage, have invented AI programs better than any human player, and what that means for the games―and for us. Funny, fascinating, and profound, Seven Games is a story of obsession, psychology, history, and how play makes us human.

27 illustrations

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"It's often man vs. machine in this beguiling foray into games and why we play them. New York City–based journalist Roeder, a former senior writer for FiveThirtyEight, traverses the globe and centuries in his lively quest to understand the appeal of a handful of sophisticated games...A smartly informative book that should inspire readers to try a new game." - Kirkus Reviews

"With entertaining cultural profiles of the games of checkers, chess, go, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, and bridge, journalist Roeder delivers a splashy narrative that successfully argues that games, more than just being forms of entertainment, help individuals develop strategies for navigating daily life...This humanistic look at some of the most popular games in history will have readers hooked." - Publishers Weekly

"A surprisingly introspective look at the history of machine learning as it relates to games, and its impact on gameplay and society. This will have appeal across game enthusiasts, technologists, and those interested in the interplay of it all." - Library Journal

"An eclectic cast of brilliant, and obsessive, characters makes Seven Games an absolute page-turner. Through their stories, Oliver Roeder shows that games are incomparable canvases for human creativity and agency." - David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene and Range

"A beautifully written exploration of what games can tell us about philosophy, art, and human nature. Oliver Roeder is a commanding thinker and storyteller. His enthralling narrative delves into subjects ranging from art appreciation to artificial intelligence, cognitive science, world history, archeology, and, of course, game theory. Everyone should read this fabulous book!" - Christie Aschwanden, author of Good to Go

"A beguiling, mesmerizing, and utterly charming history of the world's most beloved games and the centuries-long quest to 'solve' them. In prose as elegant as the classics he profiles, Oliver Roeder shows that, contrary to what you might have heard, the battle between human and machine was a battle between human and human after all." - Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak

This information about Seven Games shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Oliver Roeder

Oliver Roeder has been a senior writer at FiveThirtyEight and editor of The Riddler, a collection of the site's math puzzles. He studied artificial intelligence as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and holds a PhD in economics focused on game theory. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more history, current affairs and religion...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Noor
    Noor
    by Nnedi Okorafor
    Noor's heroine goes by the moniker AO. Though officially this stands for her given name, Anwuli ...
  • Book Jacket: Five Tuesdays in Winter
    Five Tuesdays in Winter
    by Lily King
    Lily King's two recent novels Euphoria and Writers & Lovers could hardly be more different: one has ...
  • Book Jacket: Never
    Never
    by Ken Follett
    Ken Follett's thriller Never outlines a chillingly possible path to World War III. Fifty-year-old ...
  • Book Jacket: A Net for Small Fishes
    A Net for Small Fishes
    by Lucy Jago
    '…she and I became as close as fish and the water in which they swim, no secret too ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
My Broken Language
by Quiara Alegría Hudes
A Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright tells her lyrical coming of age story in a sprawling Puerto Rican family.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Paris Bookseller
    by Kerri Maher

    How a humble bookseller fought incredible odds to bring one of the 20th century's most important books to the world.

  • Book Jacket

    The Latinist
    by Mark Prins

    A page-turning exploration of power, ambition, and the intertwining of love and obsession.

Who Said...

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L's G T Show O T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.