Special Feature: The Last Checkmate by Gabriella Saab

Last Christmas season I became obsessed with the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix! I think there were many many many in the same boat. The show was amazing and I of course instantly downloaded the book and bought a chess board. Now have I read said book and played said chess board—-no but I still loved the movie and am slowly trying to learn how to play chess.

That is why this book caught my eye—it is another historical fiction chess book! I am so excited to read this one, I couldn’t fit it on my October review calendar but I couldn’t pass up a chance to share a bit about this one and explain why I am so excited for this book! The content sounds fantastic and interesting not to mention the chess parts!

A few years ago my husband and I visited a concentration camp while we were in the Czech Republic and while it wasn’t anything like an Auschwitz, it was still sobering and impactful. It was probably the most meaningful and important historical site I have ever visited and will continue to resonate in my memory for a lifetime. I feel like I am primed to have a connection with this book and I am just so excited to share it all with you today! It is out now and you definitely want this book on your radar—spoiler, it’s getting lots of 5 star reviews already so don’t miss it!


Readers of Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz and watchers of The Queen’s Gambit won’t want to miss this amazing debut set during World War II. A young Polish resistance worker, imprisoned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, plays chess in exchange for her life, and in doing so fights to bring the man who destroyed her family to justice.

Maria Florkowska is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and, as a member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, a young woman brave beyond her years. Captured by the Gestapo, she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, but while her family is sent to their deaths, she is spared. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch, decides to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of exploiting her skills, he has every intention of killing her.

Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief, vows to avenge the murder of her family, and plays for her life. For four grueling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive. By cleverly provoking Fritzsch’s volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him punished for his wickedness.

As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch—and her past—one last time. (summary from Goodreads)


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