Explore the fascinating world of chess with Netflix's 'The Queen's Gambit'


(Netflix released The Queen’s Gambit on October 23, 2020)


Queen’s Gambit is a seven episode miniseries, which is based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. The series focuses on the story of Beth Harmon (starring Anya Taylor-Joy) , a chess prodigy who becomes an orphan after her mother’s death and quickly enters the turbulent world of chess.



Even though one might not be much invested in the game of chess, the game's portrayal in the series is enough to keep one captivated. Chess takes the center stage in the series. Beth, who is the protagonist of our story, seems fairly quiet and detached until she discovers her affinity for chess. Her story shows that talent wasn’t enough to win, it was her sheer determination and obsession and ever-burning curiosity that led her to win. Almost all of the time her mind is occupied with the thoughts of planning moves and making strategies to win.


(A still from the show portraying Beth Harmon)


While one may start assuming that Beth is some sort of a genius who could make no mistakes, we are constantly reminded throughout the series that she struggles with substance abuse which started when she was taken to an orphanage after her mother’s death. The children there were given tranquilizers to make them compliant. The tranquilizers and alcohol have a significant relation to Beth in a way that they seriously affect her both personal life and career.


(The series exploring the themes of alcoholism and drug abuse)


Although Beth has a slight aversion to forming deep relationships with people due to the abandonments she faced in her childhood (like with Harry Melling as Harry Beltik) , she still manages to build amazing and supportive relationships with people around her as her journey progresses. It is also fascinating to see the varying dimensions of each relationship. In some cases, it takes time for her to build the bond while in other cases it just clicks. Even with the varying dimensions, everyone seemed to come together in the end for her.



(Harry Melling as Harry Beltik)


The various themes and aspects used for the show are pretty much the dark ones, with themes ranging from alcoholism, adoption, drug addiction; to childhood trauma, grief, etc. The show itself isn't entirely dark, as it has some positive aspects too like feminism during the time (late 1960s) when it wasn't much prevalent but it was starting to develop ; and Beth later finding love and support from people around her, despite her experiences with a rough childhood and teenage years.


(Rise of feminism during 1960s)


Another delightful aspect of the show that one would not have typically expected was Fashion. Beth started putting more effort in her appearance as the show progresses and gets more renowned in the world of chess. Her fashion choices also reflect the stage or her state of mind which is interesting to watch. The show ends quite perfectly with a scene that highlights her love for chess and it seems like a full circle moment and the perfect way to finish off.


(Beth Harmon's changing fashion style)


The series ended up winning two Golden Globe Awards: Best Limited Series Or Television Film and Best Actress- Miniseries or Television Film for Anya Taylor-Joy. It was very well-received by its audience, the critics and even from the chess community.


(Via Golden Globes)


(Via Golden Globes)


Authored By: Aneka Khanna

Edited By: Shreya Gupta