No one played chess like the Russians. Boris Spassky was the last Soviet face of Russian domination of the world title which they had held for 24 years. In the sixth game, the one that became known as The Start of the Century, Spassky blocked in the face of an unexpected obstacle.
All in all, Bobby Fischer, the great American hope and first chess prodigy. At 29, the already experienced player dared to deal a cruel blow to the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. The battle also took place on the boards.
The day before, Spasskys team that analyzed the Americans entire game launched the possibility that Fischer could try to surprise with an unusual move. Spassky ignored and joked, Were not going to worry about this nonsense. I will play as usual. What can he do? .
Fischer did what no one expected and pulled off Gambito da Rainha, a famous opening shot that he himself had criticized. This was only the third time he has used it in hundreds and hundreds of professional matches. Spassky was stunned. After 21 matches, Fischer became world champion.
This decision gave its name to the new Netflix miniseries, which in just over a week turned into a serious case of popularity. Starring is Anya Taylor-Joy, one of Hollywoods greatest emerging talents and future Furiosa in George Millers prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road get to know her better in this article from NiT .
Since October 23 on the platform, production has always been at the top of the most viewed in Portugal and in the world. The story follows Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a girl prodigy sent to an orphanage after losing her mother in a car accident.
Beth ends up being fascinated by the checkerboard with which Mr. Shabiel (Bill Camp), the orphanage worker, entertains himself in the basement. Hes the one who teaches you the rules, when is the right time to quit a game, and sets you on the path to success with a few notes in an envelope.
The young woman ends up becoming a chess prodigy, always with the Cold War as a backdrop and the glamor of the 50s and 60s. The seven episodes reveal more than a story of rising to the top. Along the way, Beth faces childhood trauma, alcohol and drug addiction, and the hidden dangers of genius.
The story could very well have hit screens many years before Netflixs bet. Inspired by the 1983 book of the same name, signed by American author Walter Tevis, it became one of the passionate projects of the late Heath Ledger him too, struggling with drug addiction and, of course, a fan of chess.
Production was cut short by the actors death in 2008, and Ellen Page had already secured the role of Beth Harmon.
Over a decade later, O Gambito da Rainha is entitled to a seven-episode version that has the power to fall in love with two audiences: those who are able to perceive the genius of the movements of the pieces; and those who dont.
The truth is, all of the movements that come out of the hands of the actors arent just real, theyve been meticulously crafted and rehearsed. The task of imagining each of the games Beth Harmon has to portray on screen and they have all been thought out in detail fell to Bruce Pandolfini, arguably the best, most famous and most experienced chess teacher in the United States. United. He who was also a great master of the game.
Easy, there was another name involved in this difficult task, perhaps even more recognized. We are talking about Gary Kasparov, the Russian master who was world number one for 20 years, precisely those who lasted his career.
Despite everything in O Gambito da Rainha which screams a true story, the truth is that it is all fictional out of Tevis mind. Which isnt to say that much of the inspiration isnt real.
Sadly, Tevis passed away in 1984, a year after the book was published. He never saw his transformation into a miniseries. I would have liked, because Harmon had a lot of Tevis.
He was a professional chess player himself, albeit without the genius of a Fischer, Spassky or even Beth Harmon. I started playing with my sister and the neighborhood kids. I once won a $ 250 prize and became a Class C player, he admitted to the New York Times in 1983.
Now I only play against the computer, so I dont have real opponents laughing at me I can always pull the plug. I played enough to know how to recognize a good game. I can beat ordinary people, but Im afraid to play against the guys who put up boards in the streets of Broadway, he replied.
Walter Tevis on the cover of Chess Life
Like Harmon, Tevis faced a serious addiction problem after being a child with a heart problem. Treated with strong and addictive drugs, he had to fight to get rid of them. The author speculated that it was precisely from his personal episode that he was inspired to create this facet of Beths life.
Writing on her was like doing a purge. It involved some pain I had a lot of dreams writing this part of the story, he confessed, before pointing out why the character was created: I love Beth for her bravery and intelligence. In the past, many women were forced to hide their intelligence, which is not happening today.
Have you heard of something called apophenia? Asks a journalist from LIFE, responsible for writing the profile of the chess prodigy. Its the discovery of patterns or meanings where others cant. Sometimes these people feel revelation or ecstasy, he replies to Harmons disbelief.
What does this have to do with me? Asks the young woman. Creativity and psychosis usually go hand in hand. Or, in the same order, genius and madness, she replies before being interrupted.
This brings us to Bobby Fischer, the chess hero whose life finds many parallels in Harmon. He was American champion at the age of 14. At 15, he was already considered a Grandmaster the youngest to receive the honor and at 20, he totaled the perfect score in the national championship with 11 wins in 11 matches.
Like Harmon, he had the rival of his life in Russian Boris Spassky, with whom he staged a cold war on the board and from whom he stole the world title.
Unfortunately, just like Harmon, Fischers behavior was erratic, although he was not known to have any addictions. Some of his behaviors are so strange, unpredictable and bizarre that even his greatest apologists find it difficult to explain what makes him act, Reuben Fine, psychologist and chess player, commented of Fischer.
The Final Myth between the Soviet Union and the United States, Spassky and Fischer
Described as a tormented human being, his genius and his peculiar behavior have been analyzed by several specialists, before and after his death in 2008. Valery Krylov, specialist in the psychological rehabilitation of athletes, went so far as to say that Fischer could suffer from schizophrenia.
Opinions were numerous: psychologist Joseph Ponterotto even pointed out Aspergers syndrome, but ended up concluding, according to the data available to him, that Fischer would suffer from a personality disorder.
The most illuminating answer may come from the person closest to Fischer, who has been with him for the past few days. Magns Sklason, psychiatrist and chess player, confessed three years after the death of his friend: He was definitely not schizophrenic. He had some problems, possibly a childhood trauma that affected him. He was misunderstood. Deep down, I think he was a sensitive and worried person.
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