In the wake of the recent Netflix dramatic series The Queen's Gambit directed by Scott Frank, the chess world is booming. For the first time ever, chess.com would not let me play because their server reached capacity. That's right. They hadn't even built the digital infrastructure to support this much traffic. As a former competitive chess player, I've had a lot of people ask whether I have watched it, curious to know how the show looks to someone familiar with the game. I figured if there is so much interest in this show, I should blog of a few thoughts I had on the series, not from a cinematography perspective, but from a chess perspective.
Now a few weeks out from the massive spike in popularity, people have had time to make online accounts and learn a bit about the game. I've had multiple people approach me and ask how they can get better. In light of that, I plan for this to be the first in a series of blogs where I explain how to learn the game of chess! I will discuss some specific tactics and tricks but the main intention is on how to get the most out of your time dedicated to studying the game.
SPOILER ALERT. Beyond this point, there will be details from throughout the series which are intended for readers who have already seen the show.
First, I will discuss some of the decisions I was pleased to see. Of course there were many things I loved about the show such as the beautiful cars, the emotional intelligence of the writing, some of the humour etc. but I will be primarily focusing on things that are related to the psychology and history of chess.
positives that stood out
negatives that stood out
I don't want my readers to think that I am very critical of the show. These are obviously pretty fine grain details of the show, which was generally speaking, very well done. Of course, I would be a fan of anything that brings this much attention to chess!
Regarding the rest of the series of chess blogs, I will briefly describe what to expect. I will start with a blog intended for someone who is a beginner at chess (<600 ELO). They know how the pieces move, how to castle, identify checkmate, stalemate etc. but do not necessarily know even the most basic strategy of the game. In my second post, I will go a level beyond, targeting an audience of an ELO between 600-900 explaining some of the more complicated tactics and patterns to look for, and introduce the concept of openings. In the following post, for ratings 900-1200, I will describe how to be prepared for as many games as possible with as little theory as possible as well as cover shortcuts to having an advantage in the endgame. If I choose to do a final post for 1200+ I will discuss the detailed study and analysis of openings.
If you plan on following this series and want to get better, do me a favour and begin by taking advantage of the 5 free daily chess puzzles and puzzle rush (a timed puzzle game) offered by chess.com!