Chess  · 

Anish Giri on the Queen’s Gambit

Much like the rest of us, Chess Grandmaster Anish Giri thoroughly enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit, the biggest scripted series on Netflix to date. Based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 book by the same name, The Queen’s Gambit follows the life of a young chess prodigy. Her success – against the odds- speaks to the importance of determination, family and staying true to yourself. The Queen’s Gambit is of course a play on the chess opening of the same name – it starts with the moves: 1. d4 d5: 2. c4. It is one of the oldest openings and is still widely used today. We asked Anish a few questions about the Queen’s Gambit.   

What did you enjoy most about the Queen’s Gambit?

As a chess player you are thrilled to see the accuracy in the chess games that were part of the story. Those were real games with interesting combinations even for me. I am still very childish when it comes to being a movie critic, so I also highly enjoyed the happy ending!

Who is your favourite up and coming woman chess player?

My wife is a chess player! In terms of young talent, from what I have seen at the recent events, there is a lot of promising talent from Russia and India. We also have a few talented young women in the Netherlands. I will not mention the names, as there are too many to mention and I don’t want to pick favourites!

How do you think this series is changing chess?

It has definitely brought a lot of mainstream attention to our sport. It is good for both amateur chess in terms of growing the chess fan base, and for professional chess in making sponsors realize that it is worth investing into the sport. 

What do you think about Beth Harmon’s character helps her become a chess master?

She is chess obsessed and that is certainly essential! Intense focus on your main goal is also crucial.

You were born in Russia and have played chess there– is the chess culture still anything like we see in the series?

Chess is certainly even more mainstream in Russia than in Western Europe or the US, so yes! I don’t think they play chess in every park, but they certainly do in some. 

What of your chess discipline do you translate into your everyday life?

When I reflect on my life, I see that I make decisions in the same way both on and off the board. I take some time to analyse the situation, cut the knot and then never look back with regrets, only thinking about the next move. 

Who taught you to play chess? You were 6 when you learned?  

My mother tried teaching me at 5, but I only grasped the rules fully when I was 6, after I read the rules of chess in a book that was a gift to me from my dad’s friend.

Do you hope to see more female chess players compete alongside men?

Yes of course. To be honest when I face an opponent I prepare by looking at his games and it has no relevance to me whether it is a woman or a man and which country she or he is from.

What are your thoughts on the Queens Gambit as a chess opening?

The Queens Gambit is actually a very common opening sequence in chess. It happens after White plays the queen pawn forward two squares, Black replies symmetrically and White pushes the pawn in front of the left Bishop two squares offering Black to take the pawn, making it a gambit. If Black captures the pawn, White is quickly able to regain it, so it is not a very risky opening. The theory only starts from there, there is Queen’s Gambit Accepted and various systems within the Queen’s Gambit Declined.


Related Articles

  • Chess, Partnerships

    Q&A with Optiver Chess Team’s Eline Roebers

    At Optiver, chess is more than a game, it’s a reflection of the strategic, forward-thinking, and analytical mindset that's key to our success in trading, risk management and engineering. In December 2023, Optiver announced its partnership with chess International Master and current Dutch Women's Champion, Eline Roebers. This partnership marked the formation of the Optiver Chess Team, pairing Eline with Anish Giri, reflecting Optiver’s commitment to fostering greater representation and support for women in both chess and STEM fields. One month after the team was formed, Eline defied expectations during their performance at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024, with a personal-best victory in Round 5 against top-seeded Hans Niemann—the highest-rated player she has defeated to date.

    Learn more
  • Chess, News, Partnerships

    Masters and Challengers: Anish and Eline take on Tata Steel Chess 2024

    The Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024 in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, was significant for the Optiver Chess Team, featuring Anish Giri defending his Masters title and Eline Roebers competing in the Challengers. This represented a major step for Optiver, showcasing our commitment to nurturing chess talent at various levels of expertise. Anish Giri: The defending […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Live from Tata Steel 2024: The Optiver Chess Team debut

    Dive into the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2024 with Optiver’s daily coverage, spotlighting a landmark moment as our Chess Team makes its first major tournament appearance. In the Masters section, Anish Giri will defend his title, while Eline Roebers will showcase her talent in the Challengers group for the second year running. More than a […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Optiver announces chess sponsorship with International Master Eline Roebers

    We are excited to unveil a new chapter in Optiver’s commitment to the chess community with a new partnership with International Master Eline Roebers. This sponsorship not only strengthens our existing engagement with the chess community, led by our continuous support for chess Grandmaster Anish Giri, but also serves as an initiative to inspire the […]

    Learn more
  • Chess, Partnerships

    Optiver sponsors Anish Giri

    Strategy, problem solving and agility are why the game of chess and Optiver go hand in hand. Since 2016, Optiver has been a proud sponsor of Dutch champion and grandmaster Anish Giri. It takes excellent numerical skills and a passion for strategy to prove yourself and succeed in the world of trading. Applying this mindset […]

    Learn more