The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

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ben.graff
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The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by ben.graff » Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:51 pm

We've touched on the new Netflix drama in a couple of other threads. The series was released on Friday. There are seven episodes and I've now watched them all, as has Adam Raoof! We recorded a podcast earlier this afternoon, where we discussed what we thought...

https://anchor.fm/thechesscircuit/episo ... oof-eljk7l
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Tim Harding » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:40 am

My wife and I have watched the first two episodes so far; we love it.
Somewhere I still have an ancient copy of the novel and might re-read it after finishing the series.
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Mark D Podlesak » Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:19 pm

Enjoyed the book in the 80's so looked forward to this series. After watching all the series I have to say I was not disappointed. Most realistic chess in a drama I have seen, proper positions and moves. Following the moves with computer.
The only unrealistic thing was every game had a winner, no draws.

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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by John Upham » Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:16 pm

Do we know who the chess consultant was for the series?

For Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense we have

John ( :roll: ) Speelman ... chess consultant

it might be entertaining to list the chess consultants of various films and TV productions....
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ben.graff
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by ben.graff » Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:21 am

John Upham wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:16 pm
Do we know who the chess consultant was for the series?

For Nabokov's The Luzhin Defense we have

John ( :roll: ) Speelman ... chess consultant

it might be entertaining to list the chess consultants of various films and TV productions....
We do. Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini. Kasparov has said that chess is not being used in a "professional" way in the series. He likes the way Netflix capture the tension of a chess tournament, but not some of the actual chess positions. (New York Times article already posted in the Media comments section.) Bruce Pandolfini helped Walter Tevis with the original novel back in the early 1980s, so that's a nice link between film and book.

For me though (much as I like both the production and the novel) the actual lack of chess tension in both is actually one of the bigger weaknesses. The protagonist Beth Harmon hardly ever loses. Indeed one of her best described defeats on the page is actually cut from the screen version. She certainly faces significant challenges away from the board, but her rise up the chess world is pretty frictionless.
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by John Clarke » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:13 pm

John Upham wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:16 pm
it might be entertaining to list the chess consultants of various films and TV productions....
From the Wikipedia article about The Dark Horse: "[Director James] Napier Robertson also had [Cliff] Curtis study chess with some of Potini's erstwhile friends, including FIDE Master Ewen Green." The link cited as reference for this is no longer functioning. Imdb doesn't mention Green or anyone else as being specifically a chess consultant for this film.
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Adam Raoof » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:18 pm

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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Mon Nov 02, 2020 2:52 pm

Adam has modestly failed to mention you can see him interviewed for the film on the DVD extras

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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Jon Mahony » Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:30 pm

This was one of my favourite books of all time (I’ve read it at least 6 times in my life) I binged watched the series last weekend and I have to say apart from a very few changes, the adaptation is almost word for word from the novel and was absolutely wonderful.

A lot of people don’t know that Tevis also wrote The Hustler, which was of course adapted into the classic film with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. I would very much recommend the book and also it’s sequel The Colour of Money as that was a far superior story to the film version with Tom Cruise.
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Neill Cooper » Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:57 pm

We greatly enjoyed watching the film but for me it had the extra element of nostalga, taking me back to my first congress (Berks and Bucks congress, Marlow, 1971) and those I played in during the following few years (Islington, Ilford, Hammersmith, North Devon, Southend, Maidenhead) as well as British U18/U21 congresses in Brighton, Eastbourne, Clacton.

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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:58 pm

Jon Mahony wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:30 pm
This was one of my favourite books of all time (I’ve read it at least 6 times in my life) I binged watched the series last weekend and I have to say apart from a very few changes, the adaptation is almost word for word from the novel and was absolutely wonderful.
Just finished the book; very good
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Nov 11, 2020 11:56 am

I finished watching the series last night. The show has consistently ranked in the Netflix top ten since it started streaming and it's irritating that something that might generate real interest in chess has happened when most chess clubs are closed. The best thing about the series was the authentic period feel - you could almost believe you were watching American chess life in the 1960s rather than a drama made in the 2020s. I suspect many chess players coming to this wouldn't know that Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Benny King) was in Game Of Thrones or that Harry Melling (Harry Beltik) is best known for playing Harry Potter's obnoxious cousin (although it would be wrong not to mention his scene stealing appearance in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs). It also helped that the series wrapped up after seven episodes - the flaw of many Netflix series is that they drag on for two episodes too long.

A few things on the chess side grated. One was the juxtaposition of real life and fictional chess players; Nona Gaprindashvilli is mentioned and she is only about five years older than Beth Harman would have been. I also felt that Beth Harman's rise in the chess world was a bit easy and she goes from having to steal chess magazines and beg her old janitor for an entry fee to living the high life overnight. In the real world (and while he didn't sometimes do himself many favours) Bobby Fischer fought hard for better pay and conditions on the American tournament circuit. I also felt the absence of any significant sexism or hostility from the old guard was a bit romanticised.

There is also the unfortunate truth that no female player has ever risen to the heights Beth Harman did and it would be thirty years until the one who came closest emerged. Of course it may just be that the real Beth Harman is still to come, possibly even taking up chess now after watching the series.
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Jon Mahony
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Re: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis (Netflix adaptation)

Post by Jon Mahony » Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:36 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 4:58 pm
Jon Mahony wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 9:30 pm
This was one of my favourite books of all time (I’ve read it at least 6 times in my life) I binged watched the series last weekend and I have to say apart from a very few changes, the adaptation is almost word for word from the novel and was absolutely wonderful.
Just finished the book; very good
Yes Mick, I would recommend it to anyone, I always used to think it was like the "Rocky" of Chess - I still think the book is slightly superior, but its a very good adaptation for those that don't enjoy reading.

One thing I did find slightly irritating was the character of Benny Watts was amalgamated into another character; In the novel he is basically Bobby Fischer under another name, in the series they mixed him in with a nameless "pirate" chess player who was a regular on the tournament circuit in Beth's world. I can understand why they did it, they were probably worried if they introduced a second "blander" character to be Beth's mentor he would be too similar to Beltik, and he needed a bit of individuality, but it just didn't sit right with me, probably because I've read the book so many times.

There was also the issue of them making Townes gay for absolutely no reason other than it's 2020 and everything has to have a reference to alternative sexual lifestyle at least once - I'm surprised Beth didn't peek in on Borgov's analysis session and catch him trying on his wife's shoes. Hey-ho that was a fairly minor thing, though it ruined Tevis' more subtle message of why the two didn't end up together, I'm probably being too much of a purist.

I'm sure every Chess player noticed this, there was the problem of every chess game being played out like it was Blitz, but this had to be done for obvious reasons.

While everyone is semi interested in reading chess related novels I would highly recommend The Dragon Variations by Anthony Glyn. It's not on the level of TQG but it gives a very interesting look into the Brit chess scene in the 60's, well worth a go.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

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