This is the second part of a translation of the first chapter of the 1984 novel 棋王 (‘Chess King’) by the Chinese author 阿城 (Ah Cheng).
Wang Yisheng was quite simply a celebrity.
Our school often had play-off chess matches with a few middle schools nearby, and eventually a few champions emerged.
Tournaments between a several champions were put on a stage, and gradually it came to be that Wang Yisheng was the champion almost every time.
Because I didn’t like chess I wouldn’t be bothered about some chess champion, but Wang Yisheng’s fame was nevertheless often on the lips of a few chess buffs in the class [?], and I had a vague impression of him, knowing that Wang Yisheng’s nickname was ‘Chess Geek’; that he played chess as if divinely possessed went without saying, and he was at the top of that year in school for mathematics.
I thought that playing chess well and having a mind for maths really made sense, but I didn’t believe what people said about Wang Yisheng doing stupid things; I thought that it was no more than people looking for rumours and scorn, just for fun.