Queens Gambit and Netflix

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:17 pm

Here's an idea which might please a couple of people here.

'The Berlin Defence' a 64 part drama where a young chess prodigy nicknamed 'The Artist' plods a slow but inexorable path to super grandmaster level by short draws with players stronger than him, but grinds out 100 move endgames against weaker opponents. Each episode to be six hours long to demonstrate the tension of games played at classical time controls.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:20 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:07 pm
In Ice Hockey, baseball, or the game they are pleased to call "football", a level score at the end is followed by extra time. Why in the latter case, they feel the need to follow 80 minutes of playing time
Sixty
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:00 pm

"Sixty"

So it is - thanks.

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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:10 pm

"At a time when chess is having Covid-related problems, the film comes as a massive publicity boost."

Well, yes. And you cannot expect total accuracy - it's supposed to be entertainment. If it encourages people to play chess, bring it on. If you had an accurate depiction of what chess players are like, would that encourage more people to play?

"Gunfight at the OK Corral" was a two-hour 1957 movie with a lengthy gunfight near the end of it, (good guys vs bad guys), whereas the real gunfight lasted less than a minute and was bad guys vs bad guys... There grew up quite a tourism industry in Tombstone as a result.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:21 pm

Well yes, though on the other hand when film-makers portrayed the nineteenth-century West on the screen there weren't too many cowboys left to pop up and say that wasn't what it was like. And of course there was a deliberate creation of myth in the portrayal, which led in its turn to that myth being upended and reworked, e.g. spaghetti Westerns, revisionist Westerns, and generally discarded because too many people were tired of it or angered by it. (In some important ways Civil Rights killed off the Western in its unrevised form.) I don't know that the makers of The Queen's Gambit were trying to create myth in this way and so I am not sure it is that helpful a parallel.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Mick Norris
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Nov 26, 2020 5:15 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 4:10 pm
"At a time when chess is having Covid-related problems, the film comes as a massive publicity boost."

Well, yes. And you cannot expect total accuracy - it's supposed to be entertainment. If it encourages people to play chess, bring it on. If you had an accurate depiction of what chess players are like, would that encourage more people to play?
Exactly; the weekly email from Transport for Greater Manchester starts:
Here at TfGM towers we have been working hard over the last few weeks on Greater Manchester’s ‘Winter Travel Plan’.

We have been planning ahead quicker than Beth Harmon in the Queens Gambit.
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

John Upham
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by John Upham » Thu Nov 26, 2020 5:56 pm

British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

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The Queen's Gambit on Netflix involves Gwent chess champion

Post by John Upham » Wed Dec 02, 2020 4:41 pm

As a keen reader of the South Wales Argus you might be interested in :


The Queen's Gambit on Netflix involves Gwent chess champion
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Simon Rogers
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Simon Rogers » Thu Dec 03, 2020 8:33 pm

This was written by Ben Dowell in The Times on Saturday 7th November on page 3 in the Saturday Review Section:
"Adapted from Walter Tevis's 1983 novel, this dreamy, involving story starts with the fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon as an adult, hungover and substance-dependent in a Paris hotel room before an important chess match. We then return to her Kentucky orphanage and see where it all started--- the anger, obsession and addiction. The story follows her life chronologically and is intercut with flashbacks that make for an intriguing and original blend of classic story tropes, from fairytale to coming-of-age fantasy and offbeat sports movie. "

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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Neville Twitchell » Tue Dec 29, 2020 2:22 pm

Have just been listening to Malcolm Pein on Bob Mills show on Talk Radio discussing "The Queen's Gambit" and the authenticity of its portrayal of the chess scene, as well as chess matters in general. Quite interesting.

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Geoff Chandler » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:07 pm

Been chatting elsewhere about this series (still not seen it, have decided no need to.)
Great publicity for chess at all levels but it could lead to people looking for a quick buck.

The original book is £589.99 for the hardback at Amazon is a case in point.

Image

Though if it's a mint first edition, and this one, obviously, has no Netflix advert plastered all over it, then it could have legs.

Talk then went onto the possibility of a dramatic rise in online coaching. Just did a quick search. Found this.

https://www.superprof.co.uk/lessons/chess/online/

This site alone has 737 coaches charging from £10-£60 an hour. I do not know what the number of coaches
at that site was before 'Queens Gambit' (anybody? has it gone up, just about the same, has it gone down!)

Some of the pictures are a bit dodgy and do not do the coach any favours. The lad shaking hands with Carlsen
is the type of thing you want to see, not, as one lad has, a selfie taken inside a tube station.

Good luck to them all.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:52 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:07 pm
Good luck to them all.
They are surprisingly difficult to identify from just the photo, first name and brief description.

I presume that Evgeny from Toronto
"Four time winner of chess Olympiads and top-ranked chess player in Canada gives personal and online chess lessons" is Bareev, something confirmed from the career history if you click through to the underlying page.
https://www.superprof.co.uk/four-time-w ... ssons.html

Simon Rogers
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Simon Rogers » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:30 pm

The Sunday Times 20th December
Culture Supplement page 59
"On Demand "
"Queen's Gambit (Netflix)"
"Based on the 1983 Walter Tevis novel about a female chess prodigy, Scott Frank's mini-series was a strong contender for Netflix show of the year. Never patronising, it dropped you into an (almost) wholly believable fictional world and asked you to keep up, which you did, thanks to Anya Taylor-Joy's mesmerising central performance and her exquisite wardrobe, created by the Berlin-based costume designer Gabriele Binder."

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Geoff Chandler » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:59 pm

Hi Roger,

I think I recognised two or three but did not go through all 737 of them.
Clicked on a few of the C.V.'s and read a couple of reviews.
Yes, good luck to them, (not being sarky) if someone wants to pay to learn chess and they have tapped in then 'good luck.'

And I have decided no need to go out of my way to watch this.
If you read all the reviews from chess players 90% of it is taken up with how correct the chess scenes are.
This is because in the past T.V. and the cinema usually had chess scenes hopelessly wrong so it's more of a relief than a review.

Hopefully the entertainment industry will take heed and pay and take onboard some chess advisors
giving rise to future reviews 'The acting and storyline was crap but at least the chess scenes were accurate.'

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Re: Queens Gambit and Netflix

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:39 am

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:30 pm
Just read our own Paul Mckeown's review of the series/book on F.B.

Perfect, an honest open-mined review, overall he liked them both.
(he may reprint it here, deserves more coverage, up to Paul)
</snip>
Thanks to Paul I'm going to give 'The Queens Gambit' book another go.
Here you are, Geoff:

(FB post, dated 30 October 2020)

Concerning the Netflix series, The Queen's Gambit - my personal view.

I quite liked it, and have watched it twice, once alone, the second time with Philomena, who doesn't know how the pieces move. Philomena also liked it.

It was nice, in a mindlessly optimistic way, but not quite worth some of the superlative reviews it has been given. The best part was the 60s sound-track. It avoided all the cliches, but still managed to choose some great tracks which were all appropriate to the script at that moment. Fantastic.

I have read how true it was to the book. However, I beg to differ.

I first read the book when I was aged seventeen or so, and a school librarian, which gave me some book ordering privileges. So, naturally enough, I ordered some chess related fiction for the school, including Tevis's Queen's Gambit. Another school librarian protested when she read the book, proclaiming it "ungodly". Only in Northern Ireland... However, I prevailed, and the book stayed.

I have read it several times since, but not in the twenty years or so.

I may therefore be misremembering, but I don't remember this on-off romance with Harry Beltik, for example, or with Benny Watts. As far I can recall they were characters in passing only. Also, as far as I can recall it was Beth, who desperately sought out Jolene, and not the other way around.

There were other points of divergence from the book, but I don't think that is a big issue. It is a cinematic adaption, as many such films are.
Racial and sexual discrimination discrimination were rightly made apparent at various points. It was shocking, for instance, to be reminded of those hideous stunted statutes of caricatured black servants as one entered the grounds of a swanky house south of the Mason - Dixey Line at the time that great historical figures were fighting for Civil Rights. And I learned some new vocabulary, too, "cracker" as a derogatory term for a poor Southern white. As in "the gold standard for a white trash cracker bitch" (or something like that). Some will feel that insufficient illustration was given to the desperate inequalities of the time (some may object to its place at all, in which case I wouldn't recommend that they watch the series). I thought it dealt with the issues, without feeling didactic.

The film does, however, give a great FEEL for the book, and I am sure that if Tevis were alive, he would have been delighted with the film. It captured that 60s counter-culture very well, and its experimentation with new styles of clothing, hairstyles, music, drugs, sexual experimentation, etc. It also portrayed many of polite society's hypocrisies in exactly the manner that the author intended. Finally, it gave great character to western paranoia and misconceptions concerning the Soviet Union that were then prevalent. It's characterisation of Russian people and their mores was so naive as to be unwittingly comical - and entirely appropriate to the atmosphere in the book.

The chess content was much better than that in many similar depictions. Boards were the right way around, chess boards, sets and clocks were appropriate to their locale and level. The use of English Descriptive Notation, the names of openings, the books, the ratings of the players (e.g. Beltik being Kentucky State Champion in the mid-1960s with a USCF rating of about 2150), etc., were also correct for their time. Also the overblown worship of Morphy and Capablanca seems entirely in tune with the 1960s American chess scene.

However, I still found the way that the actors handled the pieces and the clocks quite clumsy compared to the dexterity with which experienced chess players handle them, and the way that the pieces and the clock chess were played at speed jarred. I particularly didn't like the way the buttons of an analogue clock were pressed by Benny with the flat of his hand. This was just wrong: good players know to use a finger. The etiquette was quite wrong, too, in places. "Hell, no!," is not a standard way to decline a draw offer (although perhaps known from time to time), draw offers are made before pressing the clock, not after, people don't generally knock over kings to express resignation, and people certainly don't knock over their opponent's kings after they have resigned either. And I have never seen anyone kiss someone's hand as a means of resignation. Maybe in days of yore when knights were bold.

Nevertheless, it was clear that some considerable effort to make the chess as realistic as possible, and that I applaud. Particularly how the actors, none of whom are known chess players as far as I know, were able to memorise long sequences of realistic moves and even give simultaneous and blindfold displays with them.

I have read that the games were selected by Bruce Pandolfini and Garry Kasparov. I know of two of the games:
- Ivanchuk - Wolff, Biel iz, 1995
- Jakovenko - Stellwagen, Hoogovens, 2007, where Beth played 40. h5!! a winning improvement on the game

I would dearly love to discover the sources of the other games portrayed.

For non-chess players, finally. No, no one develops as a player in such a precipitous manner as Beth did. Players learn through losing, not through winning. But this was a central conceit of the book, and there would perhaps not have been much of a story without it.

Overall, I give it 7.5/10.

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