A great game of the mind.

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It all came rushing back after watching a recommended series on TV called The Queen’s Gambit. A very well made TV movie (now on Netflix) on how a pre-pubescent orphaned girl grew up and became a world champion chess player. She became obsessed with the game but too poor to actually own a chess game, she instead used to play chess games inside her head, imagining all the possible moves from both sides of the chess board which she pictures endlessly on the ceiling of her bedroom ceiling. She was adopted from a bullying orphanage by a childless couple living in stretched out lifeless sun-bleached suburb somewhere in the US. The marital whiplashed husband and wife as uninspiring as one could imagine. He sunk in newspaper hardly ever acknowledges the wife while she is starting to sip the beckoning freedom of alcohol.   

The photo above is of my two grandsons many years ago playing chess. You can tell by their faces of their intense concentration. I am still so proud of having taught them the game of chess. It is amazing how quick they grasped the basics of all the moves and is proof that very young children can learn quite complicated abstract ideas and act upon them with great speed and accuracy. Those that know this game might well agree that it is a game as much of the mind as it is played on a board of 64 squares. And for those who don’t know the game, here is a very good video;

How to Play Chess: Rules for Beginners: Learn Game Basics, Board Setup, Moves, Castling, En Passant – YouTube

I played chess for many years and the highpoint of my chess playing was when I won a chess competition on the boat that took me and my newly married Helvi to Australia for the first time. I say for the first time, because during our long marriage we went on many boats. It still takes about six weeks to sail to Europe so the boats held all sorts of games to keep the passengers occupied, Chess was one of those games. Tombola was another one and for the gamblers there were sweepstakes in which one placed a bet on the distance the boat had sailed the previous twenty four hours.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that chess is considered very important in many countries and indeed in Russia it is a compulsory subject at all high schools. Part of the reason is that it just about teaches everything the young mind needs to sharpen on when going through life. It encourages above all how to look ahead, foreseeing, imagining not just the possible but the impossible, courage, humility, forbearance and so much more. I know that rugby and rolling around the grass games are important too but for me there is just nothing as healthy as a good game of outdoor chess. In Bali, Indonesia, it is normal to see young people practicing chess often surrounded by others carefully looking at each move. 

‘The Queens Gambit’ movie takes its title from a most common opening move in chess. It is a highly recommended series. Rotten tomatoes gave it 96% approval rating. Go and try see it on your TV. (Netflix) It will blow your mind

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26 Responses to “A great game of the mind.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    I never learned chess, but I truly appreciated this brilliant Netflix series. Time to watch it again, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the movie was great. Especially because chess has always been seen as male dominated.
      The main character not only became the world’s best chess player but also overcame almost unsurmountable personal tragedies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. catterel Says:

    I learnt to play chess at school when I was 11. I stayed at school for lunch, and once we had eaten there wasn’t an awful lot to do in the remaining hour, especially when the weather was bad, but chess was a very popular option and I am very glad and grateful that I had this opportunity. It’s a great game – haven’t played for a long time, but might start playing online again. Will look out for the film. Thanks for the tip.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, at my time in The Netherlands most children knew how to play chess. Arriving here in Australia we discovered that sports were very important and taken very seriously.
      I usually ran away when a ball happened to roll towards me. I did enjoy indoor bowling for a while.
      I took out my fold up chess set and it has wooden pieces. I just like looking at it now.
      Yes, the film is amazing. The spirit of that girl and the tension when playing against the world’s best.

      Like

  3. leggypeggy Says:

    I’ve never learned chess, but I loved this movie.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    We enjoyed ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ very much. I thought Anya Taylor Joy was entirely convincing as a chess player, but then, I’m not a chess player myself, so perhaps there were things I didn’t spot that didn’t quite ring true. I tried playing chess years ago, but found it such a frustrating game. It’s cryptic crosswords for me, to stave off the effects of old age. They can be frustrating as well, but at least I have a chance of a positive outcome!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    My father taught me to play chess while I was still in grade school, and we would open the board on the living room floor at least a couple of times a week. We played all the way though my high school years, and I really enjoyed it. I was sure I have a photo of us playing, but I can’t find it. I’ll make another run through the old photos, just in case.

    I’ve not yet seen The Queen’s Gambit, although it’s on my watch list. When I think of chess, though, I always remember the musical Chess, and a great song called “One Night in Bangkok.

    The Wiki says, “The story involves a politically driven, Cold War–era chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American and the other Soviet Russian, and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. ” There’s a plot for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am sure my daughters knew how to play chess although I am more certain I taught my grandsons. From memory we often used to play monopoly but that game sometimes resulted in quarrels between the winners and looser.

      If you look careful at the chess photo you can see the boy on the right (Max) feeling a bit miffed when another of his white pieces was wiped off the board by his bigger and more experienced brother.

      Of course in warm sub-tropical Australia physical sports are more popular as it takes people outside.

      I haven’t seen or even heard about a musical called “chess”.

      Like

  6. auntyuta Says:

    I grew up knowing the game. Chess was a family game at our place. I did play chess with Peter a few times. But as the years went on, other persuits usually took over. It has been many years now since I had a chance to play this game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Chess was popular in countries that had cold winters. Russians are mad on chess and when I was there for a short while I watched people playing the game in public.
      Although the game is also popular in Indonesia, at least in Bali, despite being a tropical country.

      Like

  7. Forestwood Says:

    I have yet to see the movie but my kids loved it. I taught my boys chess and one of them just narrowly missed out on going to the national championships – he was in the state championships because I was lucky to have them at our local school that fostered an interest in chess. It was so good for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Great parenting to teach children chess. We did the same together with playing monopoly. The drawback of monopoly is the encouragement of greed and I would not have that game now in my house. Often the kids ending fighting or in tears.

      Like

      • Forestwood Says:

        Oh No. Crying over monopoly. I think we might have had that once. Usually one of the kids turned into a Real estate moghul and we tried hard to go bankrupt!

        Like

  8. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Sounds like an interesting movie, Gerard. Peggy now plays chess with two of our five grandkids online. I played a bit in Africa, but that was it. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  9. freefall852 Says:

    Dunno about chess…but I reckon the game most in demand around Sydney right now would be “Patience”.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I can’t play chess…never learned or tried…but LOVED The Queen’s Gambit! 🙂
    How you doing, Gerard?
    How is Annette?
    How is Milo?
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the Queens Gambit. An absolute winner.
      Annette is in Sydney under lockdown. Couples are allowed to see each other even when not living together.
      I haven’t seen Annette for a few weeks now which is hard. She has her grandchildren and daughter living nearby.
      I am trying to get her to my place which is Covid free and I am double vaccinated now.
      I hope to see her soon. Milo is fine sitting next to me.
      Hugs… Gerard

      Liked by 2 people

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