The Queen’s Gambit and its Lesser Puzzles

Study for Match v. Russian Champion or go to the bar?

Besides her matches with Borgov and Pluchenko in Moscow, The Queen’s Gambit abounds with intriguing chess games and positions. They are here presented, in the venerable spirit of chess puzzles like this collection from logician Raymond Smullyan.

Black’s last move? taking the N when it moved to a8 with discovered check

Thus far, games or positions discussed include

  • Mate in 3 puzzle from Episode 6 Adjournment in Benny’s basement loft, as it were, with his chess friends, who later challenge Beth to multiple simultaneous games of speed chess.
  • From Exchanges (Episode 2)
    Beth’s first tournament move
    Mate in 1 position from a Beltik game
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Phaedrus 24

My identity on chess.com would seem to require some explanation. Hopefully you can read English, as in addition to my various western US time zone friends*, I keep getting matched with opponents from Europe and sometimes Latin America; chess.com is not just fun, but globally if not cosmically fun.

The simple, enigmatic name results from a confluence of a few factors …

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The Tale of Froddy Bischer

Schachgi, Battleground for Middle Earth

Chapter 1: From Middle Earth to Top of the World

What if Bobby Fischer had turned from the Royal Game to the Game of Royalty, the Philosophy of Life?

              It was the third game of the Tellus Midi championship match, and the culmination of Froddy Bischer’s short, precocious life.  Froddy, you see, had spent his entire life in pursuit conquest and domination, in short, immortal glory, on the eighty one squares of the Game of Royals, Schachgi.  His father, himself a brilliant scientist of the highest rank, had given him his brilliantly cool calculating brain. His mother, a poet who sang with the sinners and danced with the saints, his resilient spirit.  His sister constantly dweeded on her interstellar TeleVac with her chatty friends, and didn’t figure much in his ambitious plans, or so-called “life.” 

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The Queen’s Gambit and its Puzzles

Like Russians sequestered indoors during their long, harsh winters, Americans (and likely many other parts of the world) are learning to enjoy the game of chess once again.

The NY Times cites a resurgence in chess interest in Chess (Yes, Chess) is Now a Streaming Obsession (Sept. 7, 2020 Kellen Browning), though much of it consists in watching Grandmaster superstars play rapid games (games with time limits of 5 or 10 minutes for an entire game’s moves), such as the American Haruki Namakura who has gained nearly all of his 528,000 Twitch followers since the pandemic began).

Activity at sites like chess.com is also up, though the US populace will be challenged to match the Russian enthusiasm for the game, as a report cited in Chess Life magazine a few years back cited how a stunning 43% of Russians will play at least one game of chess a year, double the rate of the closest competitor nation.

A Young Boris Spassky Chess Fans gathered outside of the Harmon-Borgov match
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All About Chess

Chess has taken many forms across space and time

While a “friend” once chided me on the oxymoronic status of my favorite magazine, Chess Life, I yet maintain that said royal game is nearly as philosophically nuanced as life itself. Or, at least it is nearly as fun. Hence, to supplement my various observations posted here at NarnianFrodo, I hereby include a category for musings on chess [and] life, as it were.

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