Sunday, November 15, 2020

My Review of The Queen's Gambit, the Book and the Netflix Miniseries

This week I finished listening to the audiobook The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis as well as watching the Netflix miniseries of the same name directed by Scott Frank. I liked both of them so much as these are centered around Chess, my childhood passion. The book was published in 1983 while the 7-episode miniseries was released by Netflix just 3 weeks back.

The plot is set in the mid-1950s around a child prodigy Beth Harmon, a Kentucky girl whose parents were killed in a car crash when she was eight. She was placed into an orphanage where she starts learning chess from the janitor Mr. Shaibel. She gets habituated with tranquilizers there. After a few years, Beth gets adopted by Mr. & Mrs. Wheatley moving with them leaving the orphanage, her best friend Jolene and her first chess coach. But in her new place, she gets the freedom to start playing chess tournaments. She starts rising in the ranks of chess players, becomes the US champion and finally defeats the current world champion Borgov in the prestigious Moscow International in 1968. Throughout her journey, she meets obstacles, gets addicted to alcohol and tranquilizers, learns the lessons of humility, makes friends like Beltik, Benny, Jacob and more.

This is a very good book on chess and the best film or tv series production ever related to chess. My earlier best favorite was Pawn Sacrifice starring Tobey Maguire on the Fischer-Spassky 1972 World Championship match. Also The Queen of Katwe was good. I plan to watch Searching for Bobby Fischer next. Renowned US chess coach Bruce Pandolfini and ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov were the chess consultants for the miniseries. This resulted in technical accuracy. For example, many of the positions were real games from famous chess masters like Capablanca, Reshevsky, Kasparov, Anand, Ivanchuk, Kramnik, Topalov, Tal, Reti, Bogoljubov.

Beth acted very well in the movie. I liked how the chess pieces were frequently projected upside down in the ceiling of the room. I liked it when Benny apologized to Beth the next day after defeating her many times in speed chess. I liked the humility of Luchenko after getting defeated by Beth in Moscow. I liked Benny and the teams' adjournment analysis over the phone for the final encounter against Borgov.

I strongly recommend watching the miniseries and if you read often, then also read the book.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Marqeta Talent Show: Simultaneous Chess

My office has arranged for a virtual fun event called Marqeta Talent Show where people can demonstrate their different talents in a festive manner. I thought of hosting a simultaneous chess show with some of my fellow players of Marqeta Chess Club. When someone joins Marqeta, they need to say what is their superpower, usually something funny or some passion that they cherish. When I joined Marqeta, I claimed my superpower as the ability to play chess in 10 boards in parallel with 10 opponents, making each move in less than 10 seconds and win all the 10 games! Of course, I am not that good, specially if 1 or 2 of the opponents are seasoned players then I have no chance. But then, a superpower is supposed to be flashy or funny. So I gave it a try. Our SVP Brian Keilly was hosting the All Hands and told me he wants to test my superpower. Well, it's not easy to arrange a simul like this and we decided we will figure out a way later. I remember every once in a while Brian would ask me - "Hey Ashik are you scared, you haven't given the test yet!" 😅So finally I thought this is the time when I can give it a try. 

5 of my colleagues were interested to participate in that talent show. Very nice of them, thank you! Last afternoon we ended up playing as a group and here are the highlights from that session. I was at risk of losing in the game against Charles but managed to win all the games. 

Game#1: Padma Muthuramalingam vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#2: Artem Sholomytskyy vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#3: Chandrasekaran Subramaniam vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#4: Subrat Parida vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#5: Ashik Uzzaman vs Charles Simms

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

My 2nd Round Win Against WGM Carla Heredia in TNM Round 2

 I won a very hard-fought equal game against WGM Carla Heredia in the second round of Tuesday Night Marathon organized by Mechanics Chess Institute today.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ashik and Ahyan's Round 5 and 6 Games in Mechanics Chess Institute TNM A...

Last Tuesday Ahyan and I played the 5th and 6th round of Tuesday Night Marathon online over arranged by Mechanics Chess Institute. The games are live analyzed by FIDE Master Paul Whitehead and Abel Talamantez. After a nice win by Ahyan at 5th round he was jointly in second position with 4 out of 5 in the open section which is phenomenal at his age and rating. Ahyan and I joined the commentary by invitation from TD Judit Sztaray after the 6th round for a short time. Here are some excerpts from our games and the commentaries. The TNM newsletter for this round may be found here -

Round 6:

Jonah Busch (Kondsaga) (1711) - Ahyan Zaman (ahyanzaman) (1496) [E11]
Live Chess, 18.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 [4.Bd2] 4...d5 Old-style. [4...0-0 keeps options: 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5 (6...d6!? rather asks the N/d2, what are you doing there...7.e5 Nfd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.h4!? was a fun line until it was clarified that 9...g6! was the way to defend. (The "fun" happens after 9...cxd4?? 10.Bxh7+!) ; Or there's 4...b6 "committing" to the Queen's Indian.] 5.a3 [5.Qa4+] 5...Bxd2+?! This is probably White's "as good as it gets" against the Bogo-Indian. Two bishops, Black's unsolved bad LSB. [5...Be7 is almost always played.] 6.Nxd2!? [6.Bxd2 is 7 or 8 times as common -- but the text move scores better. And it makes sense, to contest e4 (guarding c4 is almost incidental).] 6...0-0 7.g3?!


[7.e3 is more common by a lot, if more sensible, first played at least as early as 1931! 7...b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.b3 c5 11.Bb2 1-0 (29) Zamikhovsky,A-Rosenkrantz,K Moscow 1931] 7...dxc4!? Looks good, since White can't take back (... Qd5...). [But 7...Nc6! 8.e3 e5 highlights the problem. Black busts open the center and puts White on the spot. 9.Bg2 exd4 10.cxd5 dxe3 11.fxe3 Nxd5] 8.Bg2 Qxd4 9.0-0 Rd8 [9...Nc6! 10.Qc2 (10.Bxc6?! bxc6 when White will miss his king bishop even more than Black was.10...Na5 gets annoying.] 10.e3 [10.Qc2 wins back one pawn with sufficient compensation for the other (Black's queen gets kicked around more than she'd like).] 10...Qd3 Clear plus Black now. 11.Qa4 c3 [11...Bd7!? 12.Qxc4 Bc6 Who's your bad bishop now?] 12.bxc3 Qxc3?! [12...Bd7 here also] 13.Rb1 c6 [13...Nd5] 14.Ne4 [14.Bb2! Some queen-kicking coming.] 14...Nxe4 15.Bxe4 f5 [Not a lot of humans find 15...Re8! thinking about dulling the long diagonal with ...e5 at some point.] 16.Bb2 Qc5 17.Bc2 Rd2?! Black needed to be thinking development, defense. [17...Nd7 18.Rfd1 Re8] 18.Rfc1 [18.Bb3! thwarts.] 18...Rd7


Black's position would be pathetic if he didn't have two pawns to show for it; but maybe that's not enough. 19.Bb3 Qe7 20.Qf4 threatens f5 [20.Qc4!] 20...Qf7 21.Qe5?! [21.e4! fxe4 22.Qxe4 Rd8 23.Re1 Is this a Bogo-Indian -- or a Danish Gambit!?] 21...Re7 22.Rd1 Nd7 Black might consolidate now! 23.Qc3 Nf8 24.Rd6 Rd7?! Black needs a plan. [How about 24...b6! intending ...Bb7 whether or not White takes on c6.] 25.Rbd1 Rxd6 26.Rxd6 Bd7 27.Qd4 Rd8?! 28.h4 [28.Qxa7! Qe7+/= 29.Qd4?! (29.Qc5; 29.Rd2) 29...c5!= 30.Qxc5? Ba4!] 28...Qe7 29.h5 c5 3:20 remaining


The game has become critical. [29...h6!] 30.Qe5? 6:26 remaining [30.Qxc5! Ba4? (30...h6!= has to, has to be played!31.Rxd8! Qxc5 32.Bxe6+ Kh8 33.h6! and White mates.] 30...Re8?? Ahyan took a good minute on this move, but it missed the danger: that Alpha pawn is zeroing in on Black's king and must be stopped! [30...h6!-/+] 31.h6! winning! 31...Qf6 [31...Ng6 when 32.Rxe6!! (32.Qxc5 is about as good, and wins prosaically32...Nxe5 33.Rxe7+ Kf8 34.Rxg7!+- puts some flash into it.] 32.hxg7 Qxe5 33.gxf8Q+ Kxf8 34.Bxe5 With the extra bishop (and a powerful one at that on e5) White just wins the endgame. 34...Ke7 35.Rd2 Rc8 36.Bf6+ Ke8 37.f3 c4 38.Bc2 c3 39.Rd3 [39.Rh2] 39...Bb5 40.Rxc3 Rxc3 41.Bxc3 Kd7 42.e4 fxe4 43.Bxe4 Kd6 44.Bxb7 Kc5 45.Bb4+ Kc4 46.Kf2 Kd3 47.Be4+ Kc4 48.Bxh7 Kd5 49.Be4+ Ke5 50.Ke3 Bc4 51.f4+ Kf6 52.g4 Kg7 53.Kd4 Bb5 54.Ke5 Bd7 55.Bc5 Kf7 56.Bxa7 Kg7 57.Bd4 Kf7 58.Bc2 Bc8 59.a4 Bd7 60.a5 Bc8 61.Bd3 Bb7 62.a6 Ba8 63.a7 Bd5 64.Be4 Ba8 65.Bxa8 Kg6 66.Be4+ Kf7 67.a8Q Ke7 68.Qa7+ Kf8 69.Kxe6 Ke8 70.Qe7# Kondsaga won by checkmate 1-0