The Winterqueen's Gambit
December 27, 2020 7:01 PM   Subscribe

That Netflix Show may have created a bit of a chess craze in 2020, but back in the fall of 1995 four young chess enthusiasts toured the country, playing the game against thousands of opponents night after night, relaxing between moves by playing some music. After winning the first game, the young men, Jonathon, Michael, Page and Ernest, resigned after losing their queen during the second game at Madison Square Garden on New Years Eve. Yesterday, nearly 25 years after that crushing defeat, in a video featuring noted chess historian Dale Rook, ChD, and a chess playing cat, the four now middle-aged men have demanded a rematch, to be played on-line this New Year's Eve.

In partnership with, viewers will vote on moves on the audience club page during the New Years Eve Dinner and Movie Rematch, which will be a re-broadcast of the final moments from Game II in 1995, with musical interludes being played between the moves. The game will begin at 8:30 PM ET, each side will make a move every five minutes. Full description here.
posted by bondcliff (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There's a term for people whose names are strangely appropriate for their profession. Nominative Determinism is it? In any case, a chess historian named Dale ROOK certainly fits the bill.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:35 PM on December 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Did I just get.. Phished? Gross.
posted by mrcircles at 10:02 PM on December 27, 2020

This is very silly. I'm glad to see people having fun with a game that is famous for taking itself so very seriously.
posted by Leeway at 10:09 PM on December 27, 2020

If the audience just votes for computer moves, Phish is going to get wrecked. I hope it does not go like that, which would ruin a fun thing.
posted by thelonius at 12:48 AM on December 28, 2020

This post erroneously implies that 1995 was 25 years ago and should be deleted
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:50 AM on December 28, 2020 [10 favorites] is free, ad free, open source, community run/supported, and has better features; while is a for profit, private company that charges its users or makes them watch advertising. Yet here is Phish -- the band that opened for Bernie -- joining forces with to assist in's corporate takeover of the commons.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Chess is a game -- increasingly one that is played online, instead of over a board -- and it has to compete for players against other games like World of Warcraft, Fortnite, AmongUS, etc -- all of which are backed by private companies with big prize events funded from marketing budgets. If chess is going to grow and sustain itself -- does it need a company like with a big marketing budget to help promote it. Existing organizations that drive chess are not particularly democratic -- e.g. FIDE -- the international governing body is kind of a Russian front. The largest organizer of tournaments in the USA is the Continental Chess Association -- a privately run company -- their website is a reflection of their marketing budget and operating margins. The US Chess Federation is non-profit and has attracted some big name donations; but in it has struggled to grow and retain members. It has only been through the recent big donations that its been able to offer reasonable prizes for the US Championships and even be sure it can hold it regularly.

Does chess need to play a similar role to Blizzard or other big gaming companies. Does the business model create a kind of virtuous cycle where gets more money when more people play chess online, so they put some of their revenues back into marketing, prizes and events to grow the game? I feel like it does. At the same time this corporate / market driven thing can't be good for the soul of the game can it? I have an uneasy feeling about it.
posted by interogative mood at 9:50 AM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

the band that opened for Bernie

The drummer did some promoting for Bernie, even converted his donut dress to a Bernie dress in 2016, but the band has never opened for Bernie or done any promotion for any politician, at least since they've gotten out of Burlington.

Donations during the match will all be given to charity. The archive webcast series they've been running since the pandemic shutdown has so far raised over $750,000 for 27 different charities. It has been an entirely free service that that band has given fans during 2020.

My impression is they are partnering with simply because they have the infrastructure to pull something like this off on short notice.

One of the main reasons I love the band is that there is nothing at all cynical about them. They are about the least cynical thing in a universe where, no matter the subject, someone can tell you why it's actually bad.
posted by bondcliff at 10:14 AM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

At the same time this corporate / market driven thing can't be good for the soul of the game can it? I have an uneasy feeling about it.

I feel you, but on the other hand I also believe that chess is like shakespeare, no one company is going to change it much and certainly not control it. It's too old and well known and broadly shared. If you want to be mad at a for-profit company start with the mouse.
posted by axiom at 11:06 AM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Does anyone have the moves that were played back on 1995? My husband needs to study up, maybe run it through one of his chess engines before participating.
posted by vespabelle at 1:47 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is all I could find, though it's only from one game and it's incomplete.
posted by bondcliff at 2:04 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

At the same time this corporate / market driven thing can't be good for the soul of the game can it?
When you get up in the morning, till you crash at night
You will have to live your life with bishop, rook and knight.
Clean your teeth with checkered toothpaste, wear our vests,
Our kings and queens on bouncing breasts.
You could even buy a set and learn to play
We don't mind, we'll sell you something ANYWAY!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:53 PM on December 28, 2020

Update: Phish killed Typical.
posted by bondcliff at 6:14 PM on December 31, 2020

Watching the stream of the 12/31/95 show during the chess match.

I had forgotten the Phish phase during which Trey stuck his own little drum kit at the end of Page's baby grand. What an absolutely dickish Trey move.
posted by HeroZero at 8:06 PM on December 31, 2020

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