Two queens with an end of the game: checkmate the kings | Local


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BRENT NORTHUP movie review

Queen of Katwe

Amazon Prime and others

Queen’s Gambit

Netflix mini-series

Two young ladies proved to young girls everywhere that it was possible.

14-year-old Phiona grew up in poverty in Uganda.

8-year-old Beth was raised as an orphan in Kentucky.

Phiona peeked out a window and saw children playing chess.

Beth saw the janitor at her orphanage playing chess.

Against all odds, a poor black girl and an unloved orphan pursued their dreams on a chessboard.

Somehow, in the male white world of chess, the power of girls has triumphed.

We live in the millennium of girl power.

We can see this in our schools where women outnumber men in medical schools and law schools.

More slowly, but inevitably, we can see female power seeping into the world of chess, still a stronghold of male power.

Two chess movies are designed to encourage girls to sit facing boys on the chess board – think them and beat them.

People also read …

And that’s exactly what Phiona and Beth do in “Queen of Katwe” and “Queen’s Gambit”.

“Katwe” is a true story, while “Gambit” is a fiction.

“Katwe” was a 2016 film starring Lupita Nyong’o as the mother who raised a daughter making her believe that she could and should pursue her dreams wherever they took her.

When Phiona loses confidence, her trainer looks her in the eye: “You belong where you think you belong… You belong here. “

His coach gives Ugandan players a pep talk ahead of a big championship. He begins by telling them a fable of a dog chasing a cat, but the cat escapes. He tells them “it’s cats” who will win as they run for their lives, while the privileged puppies only run for a meal.

The new Netflix miniseries ‘Queen’s Gambit’, set during the Cold War, is more fantasy than reality, but it also traces a young girl’s rise in the layered patriarchal air of global chess.

I sampled the first episode and got hooked. Play, Beth. Play on.

I intended to only watch a few episodes, but seven episodes and seven hours later I was sad, “Please Netflix can I have more? “

Parental Warning: “Gambit” is rated TV-MA because our young chess master fights demons that lead to addictions and short-term relationships. Her soul is hurt, but on the chessboard it is unmatched.

Its success comes too quickly to be believed.

But the portrait of this young girl learning to believe in herself and in her spirit is irresistible. When she sits at the table, staring at her next “unbeatable” male enemy, there is a fire in her eyes that every girl should find.

I slowly and completely fell in love with Elizabeth “Beth” Harmon’s brain. Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance is Emmy-worthy.

Favorite scenes? I have a lot.

In her first few matches with her mentor, the Janitor, Beth learns to think through multiple steps and to tip her king graciously when she loses.

In her first tournament, she was assigned to the rookie division because she had no odds.

“Is it against a rule for me to be in the open air?” ” she asks. “Not exactly … but they will eat you alive.”

On a car ride, Beth and her former rival play memory games – no notes, no chalkboard.

A chess player who lost to Beth in her first tournament tells her losing was an honor.

“I knew you were going somewhere else, Beth,” she said. “You have proven that it is possible for us.”

And the end of the series scene is exquisite. After Beth’s biggest victory in Russia, she goes to a park where old Russians play chess for fun. They recognize her and swarm around her. She sits across from an admiring elder. “Let’s play,” she said, smiling warmly.

Stories about women in chess always raise the tired question of why men dominate the global chess rankings. Some thoughtful online articles include “Where’s Bobbi Fischer?” By Hana Schank. and former world champion Judit Polgar “I might never have become a grandmaster of chess if I had stuck to the women’s tournaments”.

One theory is that men enjoy the hobbies of combat more than women. I smiled at the story of a young woman prodigy returning from a confrontation with a boy holding hands – they had decided to “tie a tie and be friends.” Lucky for him, he wasn’t playing Beth, who would have beaten him.

As a teacher witnessing the rise of women in academia, I can see the future.

That future belongs to Phiona and Beth who have proven that it is possible to “play like a girl” and watch boys.

More kings will leave their thrones in the decades to come.

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