The speaker is a chess player who wins infrequently and yet is considered a chess genius ... he plays for the love of the game and his moves are not geared toward winning, but toward seeing what patterns will develop if he makes a certain move; this is a man whose efforts are towards prolonging the game to extend the joy of playing it and puzzling over it.
The reason this grabbed my attention (no mean feat in a book made from 100% attention-grabbing) is that, while the intent is to explain those who play chess for the sake of playing, it also describes my profession of cataloguing and why certain personality types love it to the point of obsession. "An arena rich in fantasy and spatial combinations" it certainly is (as is the entire universe, IMHO) and even more so in this era of online catalogues and electronic interconnectedness, of huge booms in publishing and production, and of sudden wealth of accessible information of all kinds.
Touching it all and linking it together with new threads to form a neverending multi-dimensional web, each intersection of which is a piece of information ... that's my profession and, most fortunately for me, my vocation. And, unlike chess, with its finite number of squares and pieces and, therefore, of possible moves, my "game" has the potential to be played forever. ***big happy smile***