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The Queen's Gambit

I read the book back in 1987, while taking a bus from Biggleswade to Cambridge. It was a riveting read. But a little -- how to put it politely? -- unrealistic. Later I found out that the author (Tevis) was a middling player himself (probably rated between 1400 and 1500) and so couldn't be expected to know what top-flight chess is like. Still a great story, though.

I found this article this morning at the Chessbase site, which fleshes out the life of the author and shows to what extent it corresponded with that of his creation, Beth Harmon:


I understand Kasparov and (not remotely as strong) Pandolfini assisted with the games that were played in the TV serialisation.

 
Those 300 points are very hard to gain -- it's like trying to scale a vertical rock face with no handholds or footholds. You are playing experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable players and trying to beat them consistently. Decades ago Botvinnik made the trivial observation that getting to the next level becomes progressively much harder.

"As Nip continued to play tournaments at a furious clip—41 over the next two years—his rating climbed steadily. On Nip’s ninth birthday, in 2007, his rating was already 1966. He was less than 300 rating points away from becoming the youngest-ever master."

 
I think the show is really good for non chess players. If anyone has seen F1 Drive to survive,it's a good segway into getting interested in F1. I see Queen's Gambit very similarly.
The show is good for people to start liking chess but a little let down for experienced chess players. I found it a little too dramatic even though the chess was pretty okay. I would recommend it to all my friends that don't know about chess. But all in all, good show,for sure.
 
The show is good for people to start liking chess but a little let down for experienced chess players. I found it a little too dramatic even though the chess was pretty okay. I would recommend it to all my friends that don't know about chess. But all in all, good show,for sure.

The book was dramatic, with just about every game not only ending in a win (or loss) but a win or loss in spectacular style (i.e., mating attack). Yet around 55% of games among strong grandmasters (i.e. FIDE rating of over 2600) end in draws. And even where the result is a win, it's often a dry technical win achieved in the endgame. Since the book was dramatic, the TV series had to be as well. Plus of course non-players would get bored stiff watching a real grandmaster game unfold.

One problem I see is that non-players who get interested in -- and perhaps even excited about -- the game won't know where to go for resources. Clubs are closed. And the bookstores are mostly filled with junk chess books (by the likes of Eric Schiller, for example).

There was a good chess scene in an old Bond film; the game was based on Spassky--Bronstein 1960.

 
I agree,making the show gripping for a laymen audience is the point,drama is extremely necessary in that case. I haven't read the book like you have and I totally agree with it.
And getting into chess by just reading books is unheard of . Atleast to begin with. I think one really gets into chess by watching high level play and this movie makes you want to learn chess. From all the movies/shows that teaches you chess,this is the best. Even movies like Pawn Sacrifice tell you one side of the story really well without getting into technical chess. I think this show does the best job of bringing together chess lovers and drama lovers and that's what it was intended to do. Brilliant chess players face a lot of problems like Beth Harmon does,similar to what Fischer did. It's a good show to capture a larger audience and it does that really well.
I haven't seen this chess scene from the Bond film,thanks for sharing!
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Bobby Fischer was a super star. He beat the Soviet Machine on his own.
I lived in NYC when he played Spasski. It was on TV 1/2 the day, the other 1/2 was Nixon's Watergate gig. Riveting.
 
I think many chess lovers and others, would be especially jealous of you for the opportunity to get to see Fischer in his absolute prime. But also, generations to come would be jealous of us for witnessing Magnus Carlsen do Magnus Carlsen things. Chess is a sport that's always evolving and that's what makes it beautiful.
 
Bobby Fischer was a super star. He beat the Soviet Machine on his own.
I lived in NYC when he played Spasski. It was on TV 1/2 the day, the other 1/2 was Nixon's Watergate gig. Riveting.

Fischer was sui generis. In the the period 1970 to 1972 the difference in rating between him and his closest rivals (Spassky, Larsen, Petrosian) was perhaps the greatest ever seen. But there were reasons for the public attention: he was young and photogenic; he was eccentric and made outrageous demands; and he fit into the trope of the eccentric and lonely individual who takes on and beats a system. Plus of course the Cold War, with even the Daily Telegraph sporting headlines like "Spassky Smashky."

There was a huge upsurge in popular interest in the game and this lasted for perhaps two or three years. Chess teachers found themselves over-booked and could (and did) up their rates.

I have the feeling that the film "Rocky 4", with the contest between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, was based loosely on Fischer versus Spassky.

After Fischer's win in 1972, the empire struck back with Karpov becoming the new champ in 1975.
 
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