Chess books in movies

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  • Chess books in movies

    We have seen many chess scenes in various movies. Nothing new. Recently I watched a move "The lucky one" - a war, a love, and some chess :D
    The most amazing thing that the chess book takes a role. Can you recall seeing a chess book in a movie? The used book was Averbach's Chess Endings Essential Knowledge. There is some meaning in the book title and the movie too.

    I remember that long time ago here or at a chess&math kids forum someone recommended this book. Should be a really good book :D

  • #2
    Re: Chess books in movies

    This was one of my first chess books. Should go back and study it some more :)


    • #3
      Re: Chess books in movies

      This is very intriguing.

      The edition of Chess Endings Essential Knowledge that I am familiar with, was published by Pergammon in 1966. It is for beginners and starts off with ways to mate the lone king then introduces K + P vs a piece + P, shows queening a pawn situations and finishes with a chapter on key and corresponding squares, passed pawns and endings with pieces and pawns.

      When you have finished this you are ready to embark on Averbakh’s series on Comprehensive Chess Endings.

      I have read that The Lucky One (2012) is a romantic drama film based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name. “U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive — a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know”.

      This is not the type of movie that I usually watch but I suppose I can rent it, explain to everyone it has chess in it and it is not the weepie they may expect and hope that the hero and heroine will play endgames that will do Yuri Averbakh proud.


      • #4
        Re: Chess books in movies

        There was a British film from the 1940s - I believe it was Stairway to Heaven - that featured one of Alekhine's volumes of his best games. It was some sort of link between this life and the afterlife. Strange choice...


        • #5
          Re: Chess books in movies

          That’s a terrific reference! Thank you.

          Without much hope of finding anything, I googled ‘stairway to heaven alekhine’ and got this:

          From James Plaskett’s Diary Blogspot:


          On September 22nd 1985 I played in a rapid chess event in London, which went on throughout the night.

          During it I mentioned to Andrew Martin that I was intending to write a book about the nature of modern chess and to include in it some of my own games.
          I mentioned that some would be annotated in full and that others would be included parenthetically as snippets. I mentioned that former World Champion, Alexander Alekhine had used this format in My best games of Chess 1924-37.

          This was not an obvious book to spring to mind in that context, for although the author does partly use this method of exposition, there are only a very few examples of it in the book.

          After the event finished, at 7 a.m., I trekked across London to visit Bob Wade OBE. I also mentioned to him the planned book and its similarity with Alekhine’s.

          Late that night I watched on BBC 2 a film from 1946 starring David Niven which I had not seen before: A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven in America).

          Niven plays the part of an airman who has suffered head injuries when his plane crashed and who now hallucinates that he is in on trial for his life in Heaven.

          Note, in the second Youtube clip, Officer Trubshawe was actually Niven´s good friend the actor Robert Coote, who not long after the film´s release was pictured with him at Niven´s wife´s memorial service.

          The reference to Trubshawe was also an ongoing joke re Niven´s old army friend Michael Trubshawe. Many Niven films would deliberately feature a Trubshawe - even once a dog of that name.

          Trubshawe himself later, perhaps inspired by Niven, became an actor, featuring for instance alongside David in The Guns of Navarone.

          To my surprise I discovered that a collection of Alekhine’s games plays quite a prominent part in the plot.

          Right at the end a Heavenly envoy, played by Marius Goring, throws it down an (imaginary!?) stairway to Niven, calling out "Peter! Here is your book back!"

          Alekhine died in 1946, as did Niven´s beloved first wife, Primmie.

          She died through head injuries sustained by a fall down some stairs.


          • #6
            Re: Chess books in movies

            This is slightly off-topic, but in a 1960s British comedy entitled Twice Round the Daffodils and set in a hospital, a bedridden eccentric played by Kenneth Williams approaches a group of patients with his habitual chessboard and says, "Look - I'm going to do a Capablanca!" One of the patients in the group replies,"Well, don't do it here!" General laughter ensues.


            • #7
              Re: Chess books in movies

              In Millenium (the American version), we see Lisbeth with Fischer's 60 Mem. games.


              • #8
                Re: Chess books in movies

                Is this the Millennium miniseries on DVD? Just the book that Lisbeth Salander would carry!


                • #9
                  Re: Chess books in movies

                  Originally posted by Wayne Komer View Post
                  Is this the Millennium miniseries on DVD? Just the book that Lisbeth Salander would carry!
                  Millenium : The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. See :


                  • #10
                    Re: Chess books in movies

                    In Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" 1971 ...Susan George (hot) is reading "Selected Chess Masterpieces" (by Gligoric) while in bed. The book had a distinctive book jacket which caught my eye. lol

                    The movie is set in rural England. Dustin Hoffman mashes one bad guy with a bear trap and the other with a very pointy crossbow! There are no handguns in the UK so it is necessary to be more resourceful in self defence.


                    • #11
                      Chess books in movies

                      June 20, 2020

                      The feature film on TCM this evening was A Matter of Life and Death (1946) with David Niven, Roger Livesey, Kim Hunter and Raymond Massey. The chess book that appears twice is Alexander Alekhine's My best games of chess 1924-1937, published by Bell and Sons.

                      Mig Greengard says this about it in a 2007 column:

                      It has a surprising amount of chess. Niven was an aficionado, as various anecdotes attest. In this film he plays a few moves with the love interest, but later it gets geekier. The French "conductor" ghost in charge of taking Niven off to the next world (long story) appears and picks up Niven's copy of Alekhine's "My Best Games of Chess - 1924-1937." When Niven comes in the Frenchman says the book is quite good, and then tries to convince Niven to come along quietly by saying he often spends time playing against Philidor, "the greatest chessplayer of all time. A Frenchman, of course." The French reaper even steals the Alekhine book when he pops off again. Niven complains about this to the doctor, who assumes he's hallucinating.

                      Later, the doctor dies and meets the Frenchman in the next world (they never really say "Heaven") and the Frenchman gives him the Alekhine book (Niven had told him it belonged to the doctor). The book makes another appearance at the very end of the movie. The French ghost tosses it to them as they retreat back to the living world. Then it magically appears in Niven's overcoat pocket to serve the "was it a hallucination or did it really happen?" motif of the film. A close-up of the cover (white with red lettering and a red knight on the cover is one of the last shots of the film.



                      • #12
                        Chess books in movies

                        September 14, 2020

                        From the FIDE newsletter #014

                        Glory to the Queen

                        A few days ago, a trailer for the new full-length documentary film Glory to the Queen was released. The film celebrates the four women from Georgia who "revolutionized women's chess in the second half of the 20th century and elevated it to the level of men's game”, explain the directors, Tatia Skhirtladze and Ana Khazaradze.

                        This tribute to Nona Gaprindaschvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria, and Nana Iosseliani has been in the works since 2018. Based on a script by Skhirtladze and Ina Ivanceanu, the documentary film got the Best Pitch Award at FEST International Film Festival Belgrade, under the provisional title of “The Encounter”. This title made reference to the fact that, during the filming, the four women reunited for the first time in thirty years.

                        The two directors worked to obtain archival footage in Georgia and also build relationships of trust with the former world champions before they could use personal stories for the documentary. The result is an 81-minute runtime work that “does not focus on the technique of the sport so much as the metaphor behind it - the struggles on the road towards self-fulfillment and the revolt against a powerful male-dominated system". Nona Gaprindaschvili became the first woman in the world to be awarded the Grandmaster title, in 1978. Maia Chiburdanidze would be the second, in 1984.

                        “Glory to the Queen is a film about winning and losing on the chessboard and in life, and about rebelling against a powerful male system. A cinematic reflection on how the struggle for independence and freedom experienced by individual women echoes in individual and collective life stories”, explains the producer.

                        More chess coming to your screen

                        If you like chess and you like films, this is your lucky month, because Glory to the Queen is not the only chess production coming to your screen this fall.

                        A few days ago, Apple TV Premiered Critical Thinking, a biographical drama based on the true story of Mario Martinez, a Cuban-American teacher, and his chess team at the Miami Jackson High School.

                        Set in 1998, the film takes us through the story of five children from the toughest ghetto in Miami fighting to make their way into the National Chess Championship. They are guided by an unconventional teacher who will show them how grit and determination can overcome almost any odds. The film stars and is directed by John Leguizamo.

                        Netflix has also just released a 30-second trailer for a chess-themed series: The Queen’s Gambit, created by Scott Frank and is based on the novel by Walter Tevis.

                        Queen’s Gambit tells in seven episodes the story of Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy), who was “abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s”, reads the official synopsis. “There, she discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess”.

                        Queen’s Gambit will be available on October 23.


                        • #13
                          Stretching the subject to include television programmes, I came across this Chess Note by Edward Winter recently after having watched both episodes as part of my pandemic viewing:


                          Last edited by Stephen Wright; Monday, 14th September, 2020, 01:52 PM.