Only Chess Forum

Only Chess Forum

  1. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    12 Nov '20 07:051 edit
    @mchill said
    7 episodes that I know of, and yes, it has run its course. It's sad that Walter Tevis didn't live to see his book come to life. I think he would have liked it.
    Walter Tevis died in 1984, when Anatoly Karpov was officially the world champion.
    The inactive Bobby Fischer was still claiming to be the 'real' world champion.

    In the film and television industries, imitation seems to be the highest form of art.
    I think that the production of this miniseries was approved after Disney released the
    2016 film, 'The Queen of Katwe', about a female black African 'chess prodigy', Phiona Mutesi.
    Her chess achievements and potential were wildly embellished in the non-chess media.
    Phiona Mutesi has proceeded to attend university in the USA (good for her!).
    Today, at age 24, she's rated 1640 USCF.

    Walter Tevis played chess, reportedly up to USCF Class C level (1400-1599).
    He apparently lacked a good understanding of top level chess.
    From what I can recall from his novel, much of it was ludicrously implausible.
    (A teenage alcoholic and drug addict would not approach world championship level.)
    But most Western reviewers know little or nothing about chess.

    Walter Tevis appealed to the popular cultural trope of the deeply troubled chess genius.
    He might well have believed that readers who did not play chess would be bored by the
    less sensationalistic lives of real female chess prodigies such as Judit Polgar and Hou Yifan.
    So Tevis decide to embroil his heroine with substance abuse and sexual complications.

    I would point out that 'psychological disturbance' has been much more common
    among the top male than top female chess players. Indeed, I cannot recall any
    top female chess player who has shown major signs of psychological disturbance.
    In my experience, women chess professionals are like other women with a specialist occupation.
  2. e4
    Joined
    06 May '08
    Moves
    35797
    12 Nov '20 13:16
    Good post that Duchess
  3. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    12 Nov '20 18:422 edits
    @duchess64 said
    Walter Tevis died in 1984, when Anatoly Karpov was officially the world champion.
    The inactive Bobby Fischer was still claiming to be the 'real' world champion.

    In the film and television industries, imitation seems to be the highest form of art.
    I think that the production of this miniseries was approved after Disney released the
    2016 film, 'The Queen of Katwe', abou ...[text shortened]... nce.
    In my experience, women chess professionals are like other women with a specialist occupation.
    "Walter Tevis appealed to the popular cultural trope of the deeply troubled chess genius.
    He might well have believed that readers who did not play chess would be bored by the
    less sensationalistic lives of real female chess prodigies such as Judit Polgar and Hou Yifan.
    So Tevis decide to embroil his heroine with substance abuse and sexual complications."

    His novel was published in 1983, so Walter Tevis could not have known of Judit Polgar or Hou Yifan.
    But Tevis could have known of Maia Chiburdanidze, who became women's world champion at age 17 in 1978.
    Chiburdanidze defeated her fellow Georgian, Nona Gaprindashvili, the first woman to become a GM.

    "Maia Chiburdanidze is one of several women from the country who have excelled at the highest levels of chess.
    She has helped to further boost the standing of the game in her country, where
    she, and the other top Georgian women, are fêted like movie stars."
    --Wikipedia

    Nona Gaprindashvili (born in 1941) is the great woman player who seems closest
    chronologically to the fictional heroine Beth Harmon.

    "The story begins in the mid-1950s and proceeds into the 1960s."
    --Wikipedia

    I suspect that if Nona Gaprindashvili had been born in the USA, then she most
    likely would have been a weaker chess player (perhaps not a chess player)
    because she would have lacked the support of chess-loving Georgian culture.

    In the USA today, junior female chess is a subculture, dominated by players of
    Asian heritage (Chinese, Indian). Chess is not an activity typically encouraged by
    white, black, or Latino parents for their daughters.

    I doubt that the television portrayal of a female chess prodigy as deeply troubled
    by substance abuse and sexual complications will motivate many American parents
    to encourage their daughters to play chess.
  4. Joined
    22 Sep '20
    Moves
    2987
    12 Nov '20 19:341 edit
    @Duchess64

    So 1600 in Africa is good?
    Maybe I should move there 🤔
    What a scam that whole story was 😄
    The queen of BS is more like it.
  5. Standard membermchill
    Cryptic
    Behind the scenes
    Joined
    27 Jun '16
    Moves
    2473
    12 Nov '20 22:354 edits
    @duchess64 said
    "Walter Tevis appealed to the popular cultural trope of the deeply troubled chess genius.
    He might well have believed that readers who did not play chess would be bored by the
    less sensationalistic lives of real female chess prodigies such as Judit Polgar and Hou Yifan.
    So Tevis decide to embroil his heroine with substance abuse and sexual complications."

    His novel wa ...[text shortened]... exual complications will motivate many American parents
    to encourage their daughters to play chess.
    This book, and the Netflix series which it was based on was never intended to be taken as anything other than fiction. The reason I like it so much, has nothing to do with race, sexism, drugs, or the finer points of tournament chess. This is an imaginative, fictional story about an introverted young person's introduction to the game (very much like myself at that age) it's my favorite literary topic and one of the very few of it's kind ever produced.
  6. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    13 Nov '20 00:27
    @cheesemaster said
    @Duchess64

    So 1600 in Africa is good?
    Maybe I should move there 🤔
    What a scam that whole story was 😄
    The queen of BS is more like it.
    Phiona Mutesi is rated 1640 USCF, based upon her performances in the USA.

    http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlMain.php?16514754

    Regular Rating 1640 (Based on 23 games) 2020-02
  7. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    13 Nov '20 00:31
    @mchill said
    This book, and the Netflix series which it was based on was never intended to be taken as anything other than fiction. The reason I like it so much, has nothing to do with race, sexism, drugs, or the finer points of tournament chess. This is an imaginative, fictional story about an introverted young person's introduction to the game (very much like myself at that age) it's my favorite literary topic and one of the very few of it's kind ever produced.
    I think that American chess players tend to embrace ANYTHING about chess,
    which is not absolutely negative, that's accepted in American pop culture.
  8. Joined
    22 Sep '20
    Moves
    2987
    13 Nov '20 03:10
    @duchess64 said
    Phiona Mutesi is rated 1640 USCF, based upon her performances in the USA.

    http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlMain.php?16514754

    Regular Rating 1640 (Based on 23 games) 2020-02
    So she is not worthy of a chess movie...

    Thanks for clearing that up 😉

    The amount of pandering in today's society is almost pathetic 😀
  9. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    13 Nov '20 18:391 edit
    @cheesemaster said
    So she is not worthy of a chess movie...

    Thanks for clearing that up 😉

    The amount of pandering in today's society is almost pathetic 😀
    Phiona Mutesi's story is really about a girl who grew up in a slum in Uganda
    and used chess in order to gain international fame and rise out of poverty.
    She has been able to attend a university in the USA and presumably can look
    forward to at least an upper-middle-class life in the USA if she wishes.

    Unfortunately, the Hollywood film may have given people ignorant of chess
    (such as almost all Americans) the impression that Phiona Mutesi is or soon will
    be one of the top women players in the world. In fact, she never was even the top
    woman player in Uganda. As an adult, Phiona Mutesi is an established USCF Class B player.

    Some years ago, some trolls accused me of being racist for daring to point out that
    Phiona Mutesi was a much weaker player than all the hype made her out to be.
    I predicted that she most likely never would amount to much in professional chess.
    Some of these trolls seemed to expect that Phiona Mutesi should be contending
    for the women's world championship by now if racism did not hold her back.

    Racism does not exist on the chessboard. When Xie Jun (China) challenged the
    great Maia Chiburdanidze for the women's world championship in 1991, no one
    (at least outside China) believed that Xie Jun had any realistic chance of winning.
    But Xie Jun won the match because she made better moves on the chessboard.

    Americans who don't play chess and watch only film or television about chess
    may likely assume that the two greatest women players are Beth Harmon
    (a fictional character) and Phiona Mutesi (a USCF Class B player).
    It's sad that they most likely are completely ignorant of the great Chinese,
    Georgian, and Hungarian (Polgar sisters) women players.
  10. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    13 Nov '20 19:061 edit
    @cheesemaster said
    So she is not worthy of a chess movie...

    Thanks for clearing that up 😉

    The amount of pandering in today's society is almost pathetic 😀
    The 2016 Hollywood film 'Hidden Figures' celebrated the achievements of black women mathematicians at NASA.

    Some non-mathematicians have asked me if racism blocked Katherine Johnson
    (one of those black women) from receiving a Fields Medal. My answer is No.
    Katherine Johnson (who had only a B.A. in mathematics) was an able applied
    mathematician, but she never did any original theoretical work (i.e. prove new
    theorems) that could have qualified her for a Fields Medal.

    The only woman ever to receive a Fields Medal was the late Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian.
    So racism did not block her from that award.
  11. Joined
    22 Sep '20
    Moves
    2987
    13 Nov '20 22:10
    @Duchess64

    You are definitely right about Americans being ignorant about chess.
    I met some guys who thought Bobby Fischer was black and they refused to believe me when I corrected them.
    It all started when I beat all of them and they said I was the "White Bobby Fischer"
  12. San Francisco, CA US
    Joined
    09 Jan '07
    Moves
    146015
    17 Nov '20 00:34
    I have something to say!

    "The Queen's Gambit" series is not really about chess and to criticize it from that perspective is wrong. Yes, it is nonsense that a pill-popping, alcoholic girl can learn 99% of accumulated chess theory by staring at the ceiling while drug-addled. It's a supernatural story in the style of the super-popular American author Stephen King in which we see many of the elements of a typical Steven King novel:

    An abused child who possesses supernatural powers that she barely recognizes. As she grows, the powers and her understanding of her powers grow with her. We see the same ideas of child abuse and child development, famously, in King's "Carrie" which ends with revenge and buckets of blood rather than triumphant victory and contentedness. But the same idea.

    Innocents trapped in scary institutions! Big element in King stories. Sometimes a prison, sometimes a school, sometimes a hospital or an insane asylum. We see this here with the orphanage and, later, the high school.

    Abusive adults but also a few, kindly adults hidden in basements who treat the prodigy with dignity.

    Parents projecting their frustrations and failures onto their child. In this story, Harmon has two remarkable parents, her mother and step-mother, whose talents and desires were thwarted by mental illness (her mother) and a loveless, abusive marriage (the adoptive mother). Both mothers are super talented women, one a mathematician the other a pianist. Their dooms foreshadow Harmon's fate. We see this in King's novels as well. The kids inherit the failures of the parents and struggle to escape.

    Mid-Century American look and culture. King loves his 1950s and 1960s, the years and place where he grew up. He sets many of his stories in this placid time. Everything seems normal and happy but, in a King novel, there is evil and great power below the calm surface. Out of this superficial world of propriety and happy music comes this amazing girl or boy (and a vampire, or a demon or a monster or an alien invasion or something supernatural and scary).

    I read that King, himself, is a big fan of "The Queen's Gambit".

    I liked how they portrayed the shabbiness of top-flight American chess. We Americans have had some great, great players. But the institution of American chess is lacking. I like how they set the US Open at some humdrum university and the European tournaments in grand, luxe hotels and arenas. That seemed correct to me.

    I liked the series. Had I watched it through a narrow "chess" lens, I would have found it bad.
  13. Joined
    10 Jan '08
    Moves
    12721
    17 Nov '20 07:20
    @congruent said
    I was a bit disappointed in how it turned out and I won't be watching to completion. I cannot recommend the series to friends/family, perhaps a good reminder of why I don't like Netflix creating a generation of binge-watchers.

    Chess is not about taking green pills and skipping school. 🙁
    That's life, should life be censored on TV just because you don't like it or aren't comfortable with it? I think not.
  14. Joined
    22 Sep '20
    Moves
    2987
    17 Nov '20 18:101 edit
    @trev33 said
    That's life, should life be censored on TV just because you don't like it or aren't comfortable with it? I think not.
    Actually TV is censored now.
    Have you heard of "cancel culture"?
    If people get offended by a TV show they scream and yell until it gets cancelled.
    We have lost a lot of good shows because of sensitive liberals.
    We have lost some good sports broadcasters too.
    If it doesn't fit into the liberal agenda then it is being censored.
    I disagree with any censorship but it is happening now.
  15. Zugzwang
    Joined
    08 Jun '07
    Moves
    2120
    17 Nov '20 23:361 edit
    @parshooter said
    I have something to say!

    "The Queen's Gambit" series is not really about chess and to criticize it from that perspective is wrong. Yes, it is nonsense that a pill-popping, alcoholic girl can learn 99% of accumulated chess theory by staring at the ceiling while drug-addled. It's a supernatural story in the style of the super-popular American author Stephen King in which ...[text shortened]... e.

    I liked the series. Had I watched it through a narrow "chess" lens, I would have found it bad.
    I don't think that the novel _The Queen's Gambit_ was intended as a paranormal thriller.

    There are ample conflicts and intrigues in the real world of chess without having
    to resort to clumsy plot devices (such as drug addiction) to make a novel interesting.

    By the way, in real life, there are some known cases of chess trainers allegedly
    sexually abusing or assaulting their junior students (male or female).
    One could use that as a plot device.
Back to Top