When I initially learned of The Queen of Katwe heading to theaters, I hurried and read the book! I discovered this story circled around one girl’s path to becoming a Chess Champion. Well, that led me down another rabbit trail – researching chess!
During my research, I discovered some key facts about chess:
- Chess has been around nearly 1500 years!
- While the origins are not 100% conclusive, it is speculated that the game probably originated in India.
- When the Arabs conquered Persia, the game moved into the Muslim community and later spread to Europe.
- Modern chess tournaments began in the 19th century.
- Currently 605 million adults play chess on a regular basis.
All of this research led me to my next group of questions. What is the point of chess and how do you play? I could have asked my husband and boys, but I was already streaming the internet, reading articles, looking at shoes, getting Christmas gift ideas, browsing clothing websites, and reading about chess. Where was I? Oh, right! Chess. My boys love to play chess, especially with their dad. My oldest is particularly good at it, although my middle child has beat him in a game.
The goals of Chess:
- You and your enemy are squared up in a battle for the ages. Death is imminent! Destroy or be destroyed! Okay, that’s how my husband explains it and a little over the top. Basically, you and your partner are each in charge of an Army of chess pieces. Although the colors of the pieces vary, generally they’re white and black. As the game begins, an epic battle commences. The goal is for you to capture your partner’s king before he captures yours!
- When the king can no longer move, you yell, “Checkmate” and thus you win!
This is how my husband is explaining it right now:
It’s a battle of wits. Your enemy’s king must be dethroned and his fortune pillaged. You must know your enemy’s next seven moves to ensure victory. Although you may lose some men in the heated exchange, victory is all that matters. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Yup, he’s a strange one, but I love him. 🙂
Chess is a wonderful game for kids. Too often we forget the simple joys of days gone by, before smart devices, computers and gaming systems. We often forget the times when children played games such as Chess that taught strategic thinking and logic while having fun!
In order to play the game, you will need a chess board and chess pieces. The chess board is the same as a Checkers board. You can purchase an inexpensive Chess game online or just about any store. We have several Chess sets. We have the inexpensive one as mentioned and we have a wooden set. However, our favorite one is a marble set my husband purchased in South Korea during his last tour there. It is absolutely gorgeous!
While chess can sound confusing, it is remarkably easy once you learn the pieces and what movements each piece can make. Chess is also an excellent mental exercise! That is why the story from The Queen of Katwe is so amazing!
Queen of Katwe is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.
Phiona’s story is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit, and it all began when she came across Robert’s chess program in a makeshift Agape Church in Katwe. You will not want to miss this amazing story! The book is fantastic and from what from what I have heard through the grapevine, the movie is fantastic as well.
***I received my copy of The Queen of Katwe from BuzzPlant***