Jonathan Richie BW.tif

Any chess fans out there? Well then, do I have a waste of time – I mean a TV show — for you.

Albert Einstein once said, “Chess holds its master in its own bonds, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom of the very strongest person must suffer.”

Sounds like a blast, Al.

The game originated in the sixth century and was played by kings and geniuses alike. It is known as the ultimate war game.

Do these names ring any bells - Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz or María Teresa Mora?

Yeah, me neither, except the first two. I’ve always been more of a checkers man, myself. But there aren’t many TV shows based around that game.

However, I did recently watch “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. Watching it over a weekend inspired me to look back at Fischer and Spassky.

Fischer was this crazy anti-Semite who defeated Spassky in 1972. Spassky was the crown jewel of the Soviet Union’s dominance in chess. When Fischer won the match, someone described it as a “crushing moment in the midst of the Cold War.”

Chess was the ultimate game of intelligence and the Soviets wanted to be the best at it.

So, the Americans may have messed up in Vietnam, but at least we beat the commies in chess.

Where was I? Oh yeah – “The Queen’s Gambit,” the show is based in a fictional 1960s chess world.

It’s a great show about this orphan girl, Beth Harmon, who gets taught chess by the orphanage’s custodian. She is also taking these tranquilizer pills that make her see things. Then another orphan, who becomes her best friend, tells her not to take the pills.

At the age of probably 12, Harmon stops taking the pills when they are handed out and instead hordes them and takes a bunch of mind-altering drugs in bed before sleep.

The drugs allow her to hallucinate and see a chessboard on the ceiling to visualize the different moves.

Shortly after that, she becomes a child prodigy and skyrockets to the top of the chess world. There’s a lot of other coming of age stuff too.

Most of that stuff is following her adopted mother into alcoholism. She goes on to become known around the world as an out-of-control chess genius.

Then she goes to play in the Soviet Union.

The Readers Digest version of the show would say – the female version of Bobby Fischer, but in the 1960s.

It’s a great miniseries. Maybe it will start a rebirth of the interest in chess in today’s youth.

Me? I’ll stick to checkers. King me.

Gotta question? Gotta tip? It’s easy to contact me, give me a call at 715-463-2341 or shoot me an email - editor@burnettcountysentinel.com.