Get a peek into the mind of grandmasters and a child prodigy who has to beat many odds
This board game has the power to get not just friends but complete strangers to sit down to play and bond. It has also inspired a classic on screen -- Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari. Over time, the principles of this game have been applied to real life, arming individuals with the ability to plan, strategise and take diplomatic actions.
Here are some innovative perspectives on chess, in books and on screen.
Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life by Viswanathan Anand (Hachette, 2019)
Chess is incomplete without Vishwanathan Anand and when the Grandmaster comes up with stories from his life, it is a treasure trove of knowledge. Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life is a close recollection of his memorable games, tough competitors and life lessons learnt. This book also has tips and tricks for chess enthusiasts to understand the game and play it better.
The Moves that Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life by Jonathan Rowson (Bloomsbury, 2020)
In this book, Scottish grandmaster Jonathan Rowson balances his view of the sport with accounts of real-life incidents. Chess is not just a game but a way of life for those who practise it, and Rowson highlights how it instills the qualities of patience, observation and tactfulness in the player. Merging philosophy and chess, he reveals how the game subconsciously plays a vital role in everyday life.
Documentaries and web series:
Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine by Vikram Jayanti
This 2003 documentary chronicles how Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players in history, was defeated by IBM’s chess-playing computer, Deep Blue. In 1996, Kasparov defeated Deep Blue in their first match but in their rematch a year later, the then World Chess Champion was beaten comprehensively by the computer. However, allegations of cheating and human intervention were raised by Kasparov’s camp, which was splashed in the media.
The 90-minute long documentary focuses on that game and features interviews of several people involved, including Kasparov and Deep Blue’s engineers.
Available on: YouTube.
Magnus by Benjamin Ree
The 2016 documentary follows the inspiring journey of Magnus Carlsen aka the ‘Mozart of chess’, one of the most influential chess players of the last decade. A young Norwegian boy travels to Harvard University in 2013 to compete against 10 of the greatest chess players in the world and defeats all of them.
Focusing on Magnus till he became a world chess champion in 2013, the documentary has interviews of his family members, competitors like Viswanathan Anand and Garry Kasparov. It is also filled with unseen footage of Magus in action.
Available on: Vimeo.
The Queen’s Gambit
This thrilling web series has sparked an interest in chess in many youngsters. It revolves around Beth Harmon, who is a chess prodigy and learns to play the game from the janitor of her orphanage while simultaneously getting addicted to a specific tranquiliser that is administered to its young residents.
The series has been successful in not only showing the flipside of talent that has been utilised and, to a certain extent, exploited but also the importance of team spirit in any sport. Anya Taylor-Joy’s brilliant acting also brings home the turbulence that Beth goes through in her personal life.
Available on: Netflix.