I remember reading this book maybe 8-10 years ago. It was set in a school and all the characters were named after chess pieces. There was a teacher called Mr Bishop maybe and someone’s nickname might have been Rook. Probably not exactly those but along those lines.

We followed different perspectives with one being the elderly headteacher and other teachers at the school.

In the book we follow a student as they navigate the school as maybe they were the child of the grounds-person.

I also remember the end:

The student was assumed to be a boy but at the end was revealed to be a girl. She therefore takes over the mantle of Queen when she achieves her goal.

The novel was in English and was aimed primarily at adults.


1 Answer 1


Could the book have been Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris? One of the teachers is indeed named Bishop, and there is an unnamed character whose perspective is indicated by a black pawn. although most of the characters are not named after chess pieces. And if I remember correctly,

one of the characters is indeed the child of a groundsperson.

It's been long enough since I read it that I don't remember whether the rest of your descriptions agree with the book.

  • That’s the one. I was amazed how the characters being named after chess pieces didn’t help at all in a Google search
    – sam_smith
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 20:01
  • @simon_smiley: Why doesn't it help in a Google search? Probably nobody noticed. Certainly, naming all your characters after chess pieces is something Joanne Harris would do. But she might have done it so subtly that most readers didn't pick up on it. I didn't, and in the list of characters in Wikipedia, only Pat Bishop is obviously named after a chess piece. You do also have Roy Straightly ("Roy" means king) but I didn't notice that. And the others may be even more subtle.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:51
  • Were the chapters named after chess pieces. I’m sure it wasn’t too subtle. Maybe it was the chapters and I misremembered in my question
    – sam_smith
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:05
  • The chapters are all chess terms (there's en passant and check as well as pieces), but it seems that possibly chess pieces are associated with the characters more subtly as well ... we do have a pawn, a bishop, and a king.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 21:42
  • Of the chapters of this novel, 46 of them start by referring to chess, the letter count of the novel is 7-2-6,also all answers have a European theme,ie; country, person, city. regards mick
    – mick
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 10:22

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