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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: Chess grandmaster, gambits — and chairs


One of the best new miniseries released in recent months was Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” which follows the life of an orphan who learned to play chess from a janitor at the group home where she was placed and rose to the top of the chess world while battling numerous demons including drug addiction. The miniseries was good; the novel written by Walter Tevis is better. So it’s not surprising that an article by Andrew Beaton and Joshua Robinson published this week in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention. Eight of the world’s best chess players recently resumed the Candidates Tournament, interrupted a year ago by the pandemic. The tournament’s winner will challenge current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen for the title. While waiting for the tournament to resume, the chess masters played chess on their computers and studied openings, endgames, gambits — and chairs, Beaton and Robinson write. When the tournament resumed, six of the eight players requested and received different seats. In past years, the players have sat in huge, green-leather-upholstered chairs. Two of the players kept those chairs. The other players demanded chairs that were designed with the human body’s movements in mind. “Everything about this tournament is absurd,” said Russian grandmaster Alexander Grischuk in a news conference. “So we’re adding another dimension of this absurdity: Everyone has a different chair.”

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