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The essence of the game of chess lies in the ability of the player to foresee which move the player on the other side will make. That in itself is difficult enough. Not knowing the identity of your advisory only adds to the problem put before you. The four inhabitants of the 'castles' around York Square are made part of an unpleasant and dangerous chess game. One question almost immediately springs to mind if in fact one of the pawns isn't a player also? Are Robert, Emily, Myra and Percival York: " players or being played? (cover)

The murders began with a note:

Dear Walt:
You know who I am. You do not know that you know.
You shall.
I write this to let you know that I know who you really are. 
I know the skill of your hands. I know the quality of your obedience. I know where you come from and what you are doing.
I know what you think. 1 know what you want.
I know your great destiny.
I like you.
Y

This was the overture to the murders. The note came to Walt, for many years handyman for the four miniature castles that made up York Square.
Robert York was in the flesh what York Square was in stone-punctilious, outmoded, predictable. Not all the Yorks were like that, of course. Myra, younger than Robert, had a secret unmentioned by the other Yorks, as anyone who got close enough to see the gentle unfocused eyes became uneasily aware.
Emily York was younger than Myra and looked older. Compelled like her cousins, by their uncle's eccentric will, to live in a castle, Emily recorded a permanent protest against such trumpery by taking as her own the smallest of the maids' rooms and decorating it with all the elaboration of a Trappist cell.
And then there was Percival York, playboy, gambler, drunkard, gentleman, man of many personalities-a totally unpredictable character.
These were the people whose lives were threatened by "Y"-until "Y" was finally checkmated by Ellery Queen, called into the York case when it baffled the police. 

 
The Player On the Other Side - dust cover, Random House, 1963. (Design Arthur Hawkins)The Player On the Other Side - hardcover edition, Random House, 1963The Player On the Other Side - hardcover edition, Random House, BCE, 1963 (grey cover with red lettering on spine)The Player on the Other Side - dust cover Gollanz edition, London, 1963The Player on the Other Side - dust cover Gollanz edition, London, 1976 
Above left to right:  dust and 2 hardcovers for Random House; dustcovers for Gollancz (1963) and Gollancz (1976). (Click on the covers to see the differences) *
 
The series was supposed to end with The Finishing Stroke but Frederic Dannay had further ideas, so in 1963 The Player on the Other Side appeared. This book was written from a Dannay 42-page outline by science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon and then extensively revised by Manfred B. Lee to which Dannay added some revisions. Controversy has led some to believe this novel should not be placed "squarely in the Queen canon". There can be no discussion that this book is a real Queen as both writers had a "'big" hand in the writing of the story as such. 
The Player on the Other Side - cover pocketbook edition, Pocket Book N° 50487, 1965The Player on the Other Side - cover pocketbook edition, Penguin, 1967The Player on the Other Side - cover pocketbook edition, Ballantine 24461, May 1975.The Player on the Other Side - cover paperback edition, Chivers Large Print, 1 April 1978 (confirmation needed)The Player on the Other Side - cover pocketbook edition, Ballantine Books #28290, October 1979
The Player on the Other Side - cover audio edition, Chivers Audio Books May 1. 2004. (6 cassettes, 8 hours 13 minutes playing time read by David Edwards).
The Player On The Other Side - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Mark Peckham, May 1. 2014The Player On The Other Side - cover paperback edition, Orion Books (UK), 19 Jun 2014The Player On The Other Side - Cover edition MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, September 29, 2015 

Several references to other writers. E.g. to Borges' "Death and the Compass", Bernard Shaw and Huxley. That would be Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) a British biologist and defender of the theories of Darwin. In the essay "A Liberal Education and Where to Find It" (1868) the actual (slightly larger) quote is even more intriguing:

"Yet it is a very plain and elementary truth, that the life, the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us being one of the two players in a game of his or her own.  The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature.  The player on the other side is hidden from us.  We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient.  But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.  To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength.  And one who plays ill is checkmated--without haste, but without remorse."

The book received an Edgar nomination for the best novel in 1964.

 
"The Player on The Other Side" was published in "Toronto Star Weekly", December 14 and 21, 1953.
Above: The Player on The Other Side was published in Toronto Star Weekly, December 14 and 21, 1953.
 


De Tegenspeler - Dutch coverDe Tegenspeler - coverDe Tegenspeler - cover Dutch edition De Meesters Nr.13L' Adversaire - cover French edition Red label 1978L' Adversaire - cover French edition, J'ai Lu, 1989Der gegenspieler - cover German edition
Der Gegenspieler - cover German edition, Ullstein Krimi, 1978Y'nin Esrari - cover Turkish editionO Jogador Adversário - cover Brazilian edition, Ediciones de OuroBentornato, Ellery! - cover Italian edition, Il Gialli Mondadori, Nr 777, December 22 1963 Bentornato, Ellery! - cover Italian edition I Classici del Giallo, N. 130, 18-1-1972Bentornato, Ellery! - cover Italian edition I Classici del Giallo Mondadori,1994


The Player on the Other Side Translations
:
Danish: Modstander bag maske 
Dutch/Flemish: De tegenspeler 
German: Der Gegenspieler
Finnish: Vastapeluri 
French: L'adversaire 
Italian: Bentornato, Ellery! 
Japanese: banmennokataki 
Norwegian: Mannen med de to liv 
Portuguese: O Mistério dos Cartões de Despedida 
(aka O Jogador Adversário) 
Russian: Игрок на другой стороне 
Spanish: El jugador de enfrento 
Swedish: Spel mot en okänd 
Turkish: Y'nin Esrari 

Bentornato, Ellery! - cover Italian edition, I Gialli Mondadori,2012O Jogador Adversário - cover Portuguese edition, Copa Ouro, 1964O Mistério dos Cartões de Despedida - Cover Portugese editionEl jugador de enfrento - Cover Spanish edition, Mexico, Ed.Diana, 1966Modstander bag maske - cover Danish edition, Lommeromanen, 1965Modstander bag maske - Cover Danish edition, 2015, Rosenkilde & BahnhofSpel mot en okänd - cover Swedish edition, Bonniers
Spel mot en okänd - cover Swedish editionVastapeluri - cover Finnish edition K.J.Gummerus, 1966Vastapeluri - cover Finnish edition, Book Studio, March 2002Эллери Куин в 3-х тт. (Ellery Queen in 3 volumes) - cover Russian edition, part 3 of three volumes with 3 Ellery Queen stories each, this volume contains "Inspector Queen's own Case" (Собственное дело инспектора Куина), "The Finishing Stroke" (Последний удар) & "The Player on the Other Side" (Игрок на другой стороне), published by Terra Bookclub (Терра - Книжный клуб), 2001ИГРОК НА ДРУГОЙ СТОРОНЕ - Cover Russian edition, 2005 (Also contains The King is Dead)The Player on the Other Side - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Publishing (full cover)The Player on the Other Side/Calendar of Crime - cover Chinese edition, Masses Press, January 1. 2001
The Player on the Other Side - cover Taiwanese editionThe Player On The Other Side - cover Taiwanese edition, 1990sThe Player on the Other Side - Cover Taiwanese edition,  Face Press, November 20. 2006The Player On The Other Side - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, January 2009The Player On The Other Side - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, January 2009The Player On The Other Side - cover Chinese edition, Chemical Industry Press, January 1. 2015
 


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Other articles on this book

(1)
Reading Ellery Queen - The Player On The Other Side Jon Mathewson (Feb 2016)
(2) A Chess Problem at The Passing Tramp (Nov 10. 2015)
(3) The Grandest Game In The World Ho-Ling (April 30. 2015)
 
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