Many people have asked about the recent Atlantic article and the various responses, so here is a short, if bloody scorecard.
In the November issue of the magazine and online (posted 19 October) was a six-thousand word article on niche sports (fencing, lacrosse, water polo and squash) and the parents who shepherd their children through them in order to gain admittance to selective colleges. Here is the article:
The deep relationship between squash and chess is long-standing. For decades, they’ve sat adjacent in a thousand sentences: squash is physical chess, etc. One of the most cerebral and celebrated articles in Squash Magazine history was the March 2017 essay “Squash & Chess: The Ball, the Brain and a Little Zwischenzug” in which our correspondent John Dewis dilated on the intersections of the two sports.
Two weeks ago Netflix uploaded The Queen’s Gambit, a seven-part mini-series featuring a chess prodigy, Anya Taylor-Joy. In the last episode, Taylor-Joy, and a childhood friend, Moses Ingram, play squash together.
The scene starts off a bit choppily. As you hear a ball hitting a wall, the captioning reads “[racquetball thudding.]”) There are a few anomalies. The two women are playing with wooden racquets which looks right, but they’re on a softball court with a glass back-wall, a gray tin, a very squeezable black ball and an unpainted floor. This just isn’t squash in Kentucky in 1968. (The show was filmed in Ontario, so this is probably a club in Toronto?)
The women’s outfits look relatively authentic (although the non-white shorts would not have been permitted in that all-white clothing era). People magazine, in reviewing the show’s outfits, wrote that they were “obsessed with the headbands they rock while playing squash.”
During play, Taylor-Joy and Ingram rib each other—”I thought you said you can play?” “I said I’m learning.”—and Taylor-Joy laughingly shrieks after whiffing on a forehand. The scene concluded with the two women sitting on the floor, their backs against the front wall, talking. There is a long, lingering wide shot that slowly comes up from the T towards the two women. Brilliant.