Movies to Watch for the Chess Buff

Movies to Watch for the Chess Buff

Movies and chess have had a long relationship. Ever since the early days of production, there have been films that have either focused on chess or have had the game featured quite extensively. Chess made an appearance in movies as early as the 1950s. It is a trend that has picked up since then. Whether you know the rules of the game or not, when it is featured in the movies, chess is simple and quite easy to understand in the context. It is even possible to make out some of the moves in chess games just by observing what the players are doing. Such is the power of movies. In order to give you a glimpse of what we’re talking about, here is a list of movies and documentaries that are either centered on chess players or have quite a lot of chess in them.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The Robert Downey Jr. starrer is an adaptation of the famous novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and focuses on the life of his fictional detective— Sherlock Holmes. A Game of Shadows is the second installation in the series of films directed by Guy Ritchie. Continuing from where the first movie left off, Holmes is seen chasing and deciphering an elaborately laid scheme by a celebrated author and lecturer at Oxford, Professor James Moriarty. Chess makes an appearance in the movie a couple of times when the Professor invites Holmes for a game while he pays the former a visit at his office. The second is at the end when Holmes finally accepts a five second game. The way chess is depicted in the film is quite interesting to watch, and even if you’re not aware of the game, you’re bound to be delighted.

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine

The game between Kasparov and IBM’s program Deep Blue is one of those plays that rewrote history. It has been the subject of numerous debates because it was the first time a computer had outsmarted a chess grandmaster at a game which people believed was beyond the reach of machines to play. Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine is another documentary that focuses on how this game unfolded and the build-up to what is regarded as one of the greatest matches in the history of Chess.

The list of exciting chess movies and documentaries is in-exhaustive, and it will continue to grow in the future.

Book Review: The Oxford History of Board Games

“Books are a passport to all kinds of knowledge, intelligence and wisdom.”

A good book can reveal some of the greatest secrets about a subject which is why the habit of reading is widely encouraged. Books hold a special place in the lives of every learned person because the way in which they enlighten things is extraordinary. This is one of the primary reasons why books are still considered primary sources of knowledge and wisdom around the world.

Books have been written on almost every subject in the world and board games are no different. The Oxford History of Board Games by David Parlett is an example of a comprehensive text on board games and their significance in human existence.

Preface

This book is not a guideline for beginners to learn playing board games. It is a walk through the history of board games. Mr. Parlett has drawn comparisons amongst traditional board games that have risen and transformed through the ages. He discusses how each and every one of them is related and what differences can be found between them. The book is penned in a light and readable manner. It is loaded with helpful visuals and anecdotes that are a signature style demonstrated by David Parlett. The book has considerable ratings of 4.1 on GoodReads and 3 on Barnes & Noble making it a comprehensible read for all those interested in board games.

Contents of the Book

The book begins by introducing conventional and traditional board games in chapters that are titled role of the dice and race games etc. The discussion then moves onto modern games but this chapter only makes up about 1/10th of the entire volume of the book. This is surprising because readers are left wondering why traditional games which are more relevant have not been given proper consideration. The history and evolution of the principles of board games have been discussed in quite detail with relevant comparisons being drawn across the strategies that have been used and are still popular across many different board games.

About the Author

David Sidney Parlett is one of the most celebrated authors when it comes to board games. He is regarded as a historian and games scholar. Born in 1939, he has been attributed with designing several board games himself including one particularly famous example titled the Hare and Tortoise. This game has gone on to win numerous accolades at including the prestigious Game of the Year award in Germany in 1979. Besides the Oxford History of Board Games he has also authored the Oxford History of Card Games and numerous other reads continue to excite users even though they both have gone out of print now.

Hardcover versions of this classic book are still available on Amazon and Goodreads for the souls willing to spend time in order to enrich their lives with some amazing knowledge about how board games have travelled through the ages and become a tightly knitted part of the human culture and civilization.

The Chess of the Future: What to Expect

“Much time and money has gone into computer chess programs, and so far, no one’s figured out how to crack the game, which I think speaks to chess’s complexity.”

Wells Tower

Chess is regarded as one of the most competitive, challenging and complex games on the planet. There is a reason it has survived ever since its inception which according to some sources is attributed to the earliest days of human civilization. Chess as a game has already gone digital with countless platforms allowing opportunities for players around the world to compete with each other without any physical interaction. Here we discuss a few trends with regards to the future of the game.

Humans vs. Computers: Who Is Smarter?

Humans were always dubbed to be the undisputed masters of chess. However, then came a wave of programs that started beating humans. Today, there have been several instances where a computer system has beaten some of top players in the world. Still, the debate in question rages on. Experts believe that computers are not becoming smarter than humans, in fact they never can. The only reason why computers have become better at chess is because they can calculate better.

Chess is a game of calculations and pattern recognition. A computer can execute these functions much faster than humans and sustain them for longer. While these actions allow it to play the game better, it doesn’t really establish that computers have figured out the game and become smarter than humans.

The First Computer Program to Beat a Human

The debate discussed above was quite common in chess circles but we received some form of an answer decades ago. This was when the computer program, Deep Blue, designed by IBM was able to beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. Garry was at that time, the world’s highest ranked chess player. While many deemed this to be an end to the human domination of chess others argued that the reality was quite different.

Future Trends in Chess

Keeping in view with recent changes to world dynamics, chess is expected to embrace some new world changes. Some of these have already been widely implemented and expected to grow in the future. Others are relatively new and might see a rise in the days to come.

–          Catering to consumer demands: Digital platforms for chess and shortened formats like the Sofia Rules are expected to rise in the future. Sofia Rules are provisions that introduce a set of lower time controls and more aggressive game plays because audiences generally now have shorter attention spans. This is evident in almost every form of sport or entertainment and chess is predicted to adopt some of these things too,

–          Marketing the game better: Interest levels in chess have started to decline in recent years and the way tournaments are played is not helping the cause in any way. The 2012 championship, for instance, was loaded with draws and led many to criticize the game in its essence. The federal organization for chess will look to market the game better in the future.

More changes might be expected to the game which is why it is important to keep tabs on things as they change.

Chess and Women: A Weak and Dwindling Relationship

“We want more women players to take up chess. There are few participants at the national level and hope it will grow.”

Viswanathan Anand

Women have risen to top ranks in almost field of the world today. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to believe that only 2 out of the top 100 chess players in the world today are women. The game of chess has been slow to catch up with women and Judith Polgar is one of the only grandmasters known to the world of chess. Despite her genius and resounding success, she still failed to win a World Chess Championship, a title that has been predominately won by men ever since it was introduced in 1886.

Views About Women in Chess

Women throughout history have generally been regarded weak and not built for games like chess. This is mainly because the game requires strong mental capabilities. However, that view is changing quite rapidly nowadays. More and more women are now taking up chess and unsurprisingly are quite good at it. The numbers are still quite dismal but there are signs of great potential.

Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players of all time, was among the leading critics of women playing chess. His views in the early days enraged quite a lot of people but he too, has begun to have a change of heart. At a recent event, he regretted his earlier remarks by stating that: “I was wrong about women playing chess.” The Russian-American Grandmaster now spends his time teaching boys and girls around the world about mastering this challenging game.

Judith Polgar

The sister of Susan Polgar, the first women to earn the Grandmaster of Chess title on the same grounds as her male counterparts, Judith Polgar also earned a distinction that stays unbeaten today in the chess world. Judith became the only woman to beat a reigning world number one. She defeated Garry Kasparov in 2002. That was a time when the guy regarded women as being unfit for chess and he was beaten at the same game in a match that was widely telecasted. Judith Polgar went on to become the only female player to compete in a World Chess Championship and ever since her retirement in 2014, no woman has been able to fill her shoes.

Why Women Are Not Generally Popular in Chess?

There are several reasons why male domination of the chess world continues today. Primarily, the reason behind women shying away from chess is the aura that has been developed in society about women not being fit to play the game. Over the years, only a handful of women have tried their hand at the game and the stats are so worrisome that only 2% of all the grandmasters, chess has ever seen are women. There are several avenues and many women enlist to play the game but only few make it through before giving up entirely. In order to see more women rise to the top, there has to be a collective change of heart.

The Evolution of Checkers

‘Online Checkers’ is one of the default games that is available within every copy of Windows. The game itself has come a long way. It has been through numerous phases of evolution to get to this point. Given the simplicity and the element of fun that checkers bring with it, there is no surprise that it still remains popular throughout the masses. The digital version that is installed on every Windows operating system is a testament to the fact that people love the game even after all these years.

The Beginnings of Checkers

The first remains of the game, as we know it, are believed to have been found in Iraq around 3000 BC. Checkers has deep roots, but the problem with history is that the further you go, the fewer details you have. It is a similar case with checkers. The boards and pieces that were excavated are different from the modern form of the game, and there is no clear indication about any rules or regulations regarding how it was played. What we do know is that checkers existed in some form during ancient times, and our earliest ancestors were interested in it just as we are.

Through the Years

Checkers, like a few other board games, has an interesting history. At different times during the course of civilization, there have been findings related to checkers. Here is a timeline of some of the most important:

  • 3000 BC: The earliest form of checkers was discovered during a digging process in Ur, Iraq,
  • 1400 BC: Ancient Egyptians played a game called Alquerque. It had a 5 x 5 square board and was played all around the west for thousands of years,
  • 1100 AD: A French national took the game from a 5 x 5 board to a standard chess board. This meant increasing the number of pieces to 12 on each side. Jumping an opponent’s piece was then made compulsory, and the game became known as ‘Jeu Force’
  • 1756: The first systematic and formal guide for checkers was written by an Englishman. At this time, checkers or ‘Draught’— as it was called previously— had become famous in the U.S. and Great Britain,
  • 1847: The First World Championship of Checkers was held,
  • 1952: The first computer program for checkers was created for a computer by Arthur Samuel.

The Game Today

Although the rules that govern the game are determined and followed around the world today, various forms of the game checkers are still popular today. These include American Checkers and Russian draughts— both of which are played on an 8 x 8 square board. International draughts is played on a board with 10 x 10 squares, while the Canadian as well as the Singaporean and Malaysian version of the game is played on an even bigger board—12 x 12 square.

Checkers is also popular among online players who can connect despite being millions of miles apart to enjoy a healthy and constructive game that is not only a good mental exercise but also a great form of entertainment.

Book Review— The Amateur’s Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions Into Chess Mastery

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry out of it.”

Thomas Bryce

Books are one of the greatest assets that man has created. They have the ability to change lives, enlighten minds, and entice revolutions. They say that books are portable sources of magic and each of these samples of the written word have their own unique characteristics. As there have been books written on almost every subject known to man, it would be hard to believe if there were no books about the grand game of chess.

As it happens, there is a huge treasure of literature available on chess, and some of these masterpieces come from Grand Masters themselves. One prime example is The Amateur’s Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery. Penned down by Jeremy Silman, an American International Master and Professor, this book is an interesting read for beginners and even veterans of the game who are looking for a fresh perspective on playing chess.

The book

The Amateur’s Mind is a beautifully crafted book that looks at the game of chess from a different angle but in an extremely simple manner. Jeremy uses the book to stress the fact that players should look for imbalances in every position and then work on exploiting them. This is where the title stems from. A few imbalances that he indicates in the book include:

  • Initiate: Jeremy calls this a temporary imbalance. The term refers to the act of always trying to determine the direction and tempo of a game,
  • Files and squares: There is an entire chapter dedicated to ranks, files, and the squares on the chess board. According to Jeremy, the secret lies in identifying weak squares in your opponents play because these can serve as homes for your pieces,
  • Pawn structure: In this chapter, Jeremy talks about isolated and backward pawns, etc.,
  • Development: Another temporary imbalance the Jeremy highlights is to lead in development because this can provide you with the upper hand in certain sections of the board,
  • Space: Those who are familiar with chess will know that the ultimate goal of development is to attack and control the centre, but how to do that exactly? This and other relevant tactics are discussed by Jeremy in this chapter.

About the author

It is hard for a grand chess player to be an amazing teacher of the game and vice versa. However, Jeremy Silman is amongst a select band of players who hold this distinction. He has won the American, National and U.S. Open Championships while coaching the U.S. junior national time. At the same time, he has authored more than 35 books on not only chess but also casino gambling. The man is considered a legend when it comes to all matters chess.

The book, The Amateur’s Mind, is a great read for someone who is just beginning to learn the game or has been playing it for a long time and is looking for fresh tactics and strategies. We recommend giving it a read.

The History of Chess

Chess is one of those games that have a rich tradition. The origins of the game have been traced as far back as the 6th Century to a region in the North of modern day India. The exact practices and the face of the game back then has not explicitly been identified; however, archeologists have found remains of what seem to be chess pieces from this era. Over the years, chess has evolved greatly. A governing body, clear rules and regulations that govern the game, professional tournaments, chess masters and now digital forms of the game have allowed the interest to remain at its peak. The result is that chess is one of the few board games that are still famous today.

Timeline of events

Even though the exact origins of chess are not pre-determined and can’t be associated with a person or group of people, the first remnants of the game are quite old. It dates back 1000 or 1500 years. Given below is a timeline of the evolution of chess:

    • 6th Century: Began in the North of India, traveled to Persia, and then spread to the Asian continent,
    • 10th Century: The expanding Islamic Empire at the time brought and introduced Chess to Europe,
  • 15th Century: During this time Chess was subject to a lot of limiting practices. Heavy sanctions were imposed on the game by the Christian Church, and there were even blanket bans on playing the game from time to time. However, there were various reasons behind these actions. Chess somehow continued to live on and evolve until the 1880’s. This is the time when it took the modern form we know today,

 

 

 

  • Present day: Chess websites and applications allow players from around the world to compete with each other in exciting matches without the need to meet physically. The evolution of chess continues and people remain eager to learn about what might be coming next.

 

Conclusion:

There have been a number of reasons why chess has not lost much of its relevance. While it might seem time-consuming and sometimes dull or boring, it is one of the greatest achievements of mankind. The way this game teaches pattern recognition and problem-solving is simply exquisite. From youngsters to grown men, there are chess masters of every age. This is a clear indication that it all lies in the dedication of the person to focus on and learn the game effectively.

Chess and Its Journey to Hollywood

Chess… one of the most commonly played board games across the world. Over the centuries, its history has richly evolved and so has its names. It was known as Chaturanga in the 6th century and shatranj during the 600s by the Persians. Today, many Harry Potter fans call it the wizard chess. Whatever the name, the essence of the game remained the same—spreading out the pieces on a board of black and white checks and playing with forethought and strategy. Given the rich history of the game, it wasn’t surprising when chess started making its way into movies and TV series too. Following are some of the references.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

“I award fifty points to Mr. Ronald Billius Weasley for best played game of chess…”, said Albus Dumbledore at the end of the movie, and as all the Gryffindors rose to their seats in the great hall and sang in victory, so did every Potterhead in their TV lounge. Ron who played the character of Harry Potter’s best mate was throughout the series known to be an excellent chess player. Beside Quidditch, chess is the only game that is repeatedly mentioned in the Books and movies. This shows the deep infiltration of the game into the minds of authors and readers.

Pawn Sacrifice:

A 2014 Hollywood movie based on the real story of Bobby Fischer, one of the youngest grandmasters in the world of chess, is yet another example that clearly depicts the importance of the game in the American culture. Coming from the Grandmaster himself is the underlying principle of the game which goes somewhat like this – “I don’t believe in Psychology, I believe in good moves and all that matters on a chessboard are good moves.” Tobey Maguire, the actor who played the role of Bobby Fischer, was already sketched in the minds of the people as a masked hero, their beloved Spiderman, but the moment he walked down to the chair and settled himself in front of the chessboard his persona changed. He was no longer the superhero; he was the grandmaster. Itching away a character and temporarily disassociating it from the actor playing the role can only be done if the plot is something that engages and lures the audience more than the actor himself. Such is the influence of the game.

Movies show what the masses want to see; therefore, the culture in the films reflects the mindset of societies in general. Repeated storylines of movies revolving around the board game is proof in itself that the game is more than just a means of entertainment. It indicates that the world finds the game intriguing and fascinating and wishes to see their favorite stars play characters that made big names in the world of chess.

4 of the Greatest Chess Games Ever Played

Chess is a game that was invented back in the 6th century. Ever since that time, the game has evolved. Numerous grandmasters and a wide variety of chess players have come and gone. Between them, they have shared some of the most memorable games of all time. A game of chess is a test of skill, concentration, and determination. This does mean that every game is somewhat special; however, like with everything else, there are a few games that stand out. Here we have compiled a list of the 4 greatest games ever played. Read on and enjoy:

1.     ‘The Chinese Immortal Game’ – 2017

Starting off with the most recent, this game was played between Bai Jinshi and Ding Liren during the Chinese League event in 2017. Bai with a FIDE rating of 2585 and Dang, the World Cup runner-up with a rating of 2759, is regarded as one of the finest games in the history of chess. Although the entire game was filled with nail biting moves, Ding made it immortal with an incredible 20 Rd4. He followed the move by pulling all his pieces backwards to checkmate the white king.

2.     Levon Aronian vs. Vishwanathan Anand – 2013

Taking a stride further backwards in history, we arrive at the Wjik-aan-Zee Tournament in 2013. The game in question was between the reigning world champion from 2007 to 2013, Vishwanathan Anand from India and Levon Aronian from America. The two chess masters collided at the peak of Anand’s career and while 2013 turned out to be an appalling year for Anand as he lost his world title that year, he made sure that this particular game would remain memorable for ages. It was particularly fascinating because right when the crowd thought Aronian had taken care of all the threats, he resigned given Anand an incredible and historic victory.

3.     Deep Blue vs. Garry Kasparov – 1996, 1997

While some chess enthusiasts and experts might not call this game one of the greatest, it was undoubtedly one of the most historic games ever played. Although super computers had been pitted against humans before, the latter had always come out on top in these encounters. Deep Blue was a computer program developed by IBM and it played a series of six games against the then reigning champ Garry Kasparov. While Garry won the first match in 1996, Deep Blue became the first computer in history to win a chess game under tournament regulations against a human. The match took place in 1997.

4.     Kasparov vs. Topalov – 1999

Although Garry Kasparov had been beaten by a computer in 1997, he was at the height of his brilliance in 1999. This was the year he achieved his highest rating of 2851 points. His game against Veselin Topalov in 1999 is regarded as one of the crown jewels of his career. The game had all the makings of a great hit, and the two grand masters didn’t disappoint, especially with Kasparov emerging on top.

There are a number of other games that have stunned the world and captured headlines during various times in history. However, these are undoubtedly some of the greatest ever!

The Greatest Chess Masters of all Time

“Chess is a very logical game and it is the man who can reason most logically and profoundly in it that ought to win.”

Jose Capablanca

Despite the complexity and toughness of the game, it has produced a number of great names over the years. These legends or chess masters as they are widely known have dominated the game in various periods throughout history. Knowing and learning about these great chess players helps us keep in touch with the game. It also provides a sense of motivation to practice the game because not only is it exciting but great for developing important mental and physical skills too.

Chess players are classified based on rating systems, the most recent of which is the Elo ranking system. It was developed by Arpad Elo, a chess master and professor of Physics and Marquette University of Milwaukee. He died in November 1992 at the age of 89 but the rating system developed by hhim lives on to this day. Based on the Elo rating system, here is a list of some of the greatest masters of chess to have walked the face of the Earth:

1.     Anatoly Karpov

The reigning champion from 1975 – 1985, Anatoly Karpov, is Russian former grand master.  As of August 2018, he had a FIDE rating of 2623 while his peak was in 1994 when he had a staggering 2780 rating points. He achieved the title of Grandmaster in 1970 and has 160 first place finishes to his name. He was beaten for the World Championship title in 1985 by Garry Kasparov, a fellow Russian Grandmaster. Anatoly has a second stint of being World champion when Kasparov separated from the FIDE in 1993. He held his title until 1999 when he too resigned in protest over a change in rules in the FIDE.

2.     Garry Kasparov

The man who beat Anatoly Karpov for the world title in 1985 was Garry Kasparov. He started training at chess from the age of 10. Just six years later he was accidentally entered into a professional tournament that we won, becoming a Grandmaster the next year. He currently lives in New York but separated from chess in 2005 after staying in number 1 for 225 out of the 228 months he was in the competition. With a peak rating of 2851 he is considered one of the greatest chess players of all time.

3.     Magnus Carlsen

If achievements are anything to go by, Magnus’s resume is studded with the greatest of them all. He holds a near unbelievable Elo rating of 2882 points, crossing the 2800 mark when he was just 18 years old. He was crowned a grandmaster at a tender age of 13 and went on to become FIDE’s number 1 a few years later. The peak rating achieved by Magnus is the highest in the history of the game. What makes Magnus so effective is that he displays great ability to splay strategic and positional chess showing no weaknesses at any point. He knows how and when to strike making him the best of all time.

The list of the best chess players in the world is a subjective one. Everyone has different opinions and regard different individuals as the best. However, all we know is that the game has produced some amazing individuals over the years and it is up to us to remember their achievements at all times.