Ray Lee

Queen’s Gambit

It’s hard to escape this Netflix show right now — everyone seems to be talking about it. Apparently it’s making chess sexy again. And I wondered whether it was possible that bridge could get similar treatment… So I started to watch it. Unfortunately, I know something about chess. I used to be (a couple of lifetimes ago) a pretty good player, and I played in a lot of tournaments. So I can tell you that what you see of the game in this series is so bad it’s ludicrous.

I won’t get technical about the dialog and the glimpses of games that we see, although some of that stuff is appalling. Let me just mention that in Episode 2 the heroine plays in a tournament with about 40 entrants, and after 8 rounds of Swiss pairings (winners play winners) there are still 2 players with a 100% record. In Episode 3, she is shown studying a position on a pocket set which is set up with a black square in the right corner — an error only someone who knew nothing about the game would make. I could go on, as there’s lots more, but you get the idea. I gave up 10 minutes into Episode 3.

Season 3 of Fargo, a couple of years back, featured a couple who were supposed to be pro bridge players. We watch them at the table in a Regional. They bid to 3NT, and then one of them prompts his partner to make the opening lead. So bridge hasn’t fared well on the screen either.

If you want to watch QG, be my guest. If you’re not a chessplayer, it may well be fun and distracting, but don’t ever think that the chess world is like this, or ever was. And pray that bridge never gets screwed up on the screen the same way.

1 Comment

Iain ClimieNovember 29th, 2020 at 5:37 pm

HI Ray,

Interesting (and disappointing) given that the book itself (by Walter Tevis, who wrote The Hustler as well I believe) is quite good and I thought they’d got Gary Kasparov in as a technical adviser. I used to play to a reasonable level myself (around ELO 2000 in the late 80s) but lost interest; there are better things to do with life.



Leave a comment

Your comment