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Queen’s Gambit

IN A coronavirus-disrupted year in sports, the month of October provided some of the most memorable moments.


The Los Angeles Lakers captured their record 17th NBA championship with a 4-2 series win over the Miami Heat. LeBron James secured his fourth title with his third team, while Anthony Davis earned his first in seven years.

In baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers ended 32 years of frustrations to win the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In the country, the PBA and the PFL resumed action in Pampanga and Laguna, respectively.

And, you guessed it right, “The Queen’s Gambit”, the best movie about chess, was shown on Netflix just before the end of the month of October.

It is also the No. 1 Netflix show right now.

A seven-part American television drama mini-series, “The Queen’s Gambit” tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan child prodigy from Kentucky who hopes to become the world’s greatest chess player even as she struggles with emotional issues that included drug and alcohol dependency.

Harmon was played by Anya Taylor-Joy, the stunningly-beautiful 24-year-old American-born Argentine-British actress who became famous for her roles in the fantasy series Atlantis (2015) and blockbuster horror movie The Witch (2015).

The Netflix mini-series is based on the 1983 novel of the same title by Walter Tevis.

It is not only considered as one of the best sports movies about chess.

It is also now being hailed as one of the best shows of the pandemic-disrupted 2020.

“Smart, enthralling and a little sexy, “The Queen’s Gambit” has jumped to the No. 1 spot on Netflix in the United States for good reason– it’s just that good. Even if it’s about chess,” said USA Today in its review.

Chess players can relate to the games played by Harmon and her mostly male opponents since they are all extremely accurate.

Every game in the seven-episode series was reportedly designed by former world champion Garry Kasparov of Russia and chess coach Bruce Pandolfini.

The title itself — “The Queen’s Gambit” — refers to a popular chess opening that begins with 1. d4 d5 2. c4.

“Essentially I learned all of the sequences like dances and because I’m a dancer. That was helpful in terms of remembering how everything worked out,” Taylor-Joy said in interviews with Wired.
The story begins with a shy, nine-year-old Beth Harmon moving to the Methuen Home for Girls, an orphanage after her mother died in a car accident. The children in the orphanage are given drugs like candy to make them compliant.

When a janitor, Mr. Shaibel, taught her to play chess at the orphanage’s basement, Harmon was drawn to the game. She spends her nights imagining chess games while staring at the ceiling of her dormitory.

Soon, Harmon made her way to international chess circuits where she won over men twice her age and earned enough money with her foster mother Alma (played by Marielle Heller) in tow.
Among her notable opponents were Harry Beltik, whom she beat for the Kentucky State title at age 15; D.L. Townes, who caught Beth’s eye; and Benny Watts, the American champion, who helped train Beth for her biggest battle against the Russians.

Her biggest rival, however, was Vasily Borgov, the Russian world chess champion himself.

The endgame saw Beth attend the funeral of her first mentor Mr. Shaibel, fly to Russia and finally beat Borgov.

If you love chess but haven’t watched this limited Netflix mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit”, I suggest you find time to sit down, relax and revel at the joy of watching a beautifully-made movie about chess — and life.

NOTES — Belated happy birthday to my pamangkin Allen Joshua D.Andaya of Orange County, CA, ,who celebrated last Oct. 31. Josh is the only son of my brother Joseph and his wife Annette…
Get well soon to my sister Mary Grace Andaya-Ypil.

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