Chess today!

Chess will start around 615-630 today, sorry about the late notice. See ya there!

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@ The Movies with the ECC: Queen of Katwe

This week, the chess club takes an in-depth look at one of the more definitive chess movies of the 2010s. Based on a true story, “Queen of Katwe” is a heartfelt and inspirational tale of poverty, determination, struggle, and competitive chess in Uganda.

The movie’s backdrops were carefully put together to reflect the regular and slightly-gritty day to day life in an empoverished part of Uganda, with clear changes in setting that allow parents to discuss the underlying theme of income disparity with their children. Interestingly enough, while there is a clear difference in income between the main character and her coach, there is a scene in the movie that personnifies money as an antagonist to both characters in the story. In one of my favourite scenes in the movie, the coach negotiates with a school to have his team come to play at their posh private school chess tournament, and the private school principal mentions that they would have to pay the required amount per player in order to participate. I was somewhat taken aback by this when I heard it, since I run a free chess club. I was even more at dis-ease, though, when I found out that the per-player fee of 4000 Ugandan shillings  is $1.45 Canadian! This was some sort of major problem that the coach had to go out of his way to solve ?! Oh my goodness.

The chess boards in the movie are, mostly, very well portrayed. If you look carefully and quickly, and especially if you have a digital copy of the movie, you are able to actually work through the position and predict what the best move would be. When watched, the movie allows for a full view of the board while tactics are demonstrated. This is something I have not seen in any other chess movie.

The characters are well-developed, and the humour is sufficiently well-received by a child and adult audience. The problems the characters face are, at times,  inconceivable by a Western audience. Unfortunately, some of these problems are all too real for people living at that poverty level in that part of the world. The characters represent actual people from Phiona Mutesi’s life, and the writers tried as best as possible to emulate her story.

Queen of Katwe is an entertaining, emotional, and uncompromising look at the story of one future champion of the sport, and it serves as an undeniable first choice of chess movie to anyone new to the game. For those who have been playing for a while, my suggestion for a good first chess movie is Pawn Sacrifice. A review for this movie will appear here next Thursday 🙂