Image by Damiano Lingauri

THE QUEENS GAMBIT

14/12/20
Daniela Castro

Whether you like chess or not, The Queen’s Gambit is not a show to miss. The Netflix miniseries premiered on October 23 and started breaking records right away. According to the Netflix official website “On Netflix,  a record-setting 62 million households chose to watch The Queen’s Gambit in its first 28 days… and ranked No. 1 in 63 countries, including the UK, Argentina, Israel, and South Africa.” 


The story is based on Walter Trevis’s novel published in 1938. It tells the story of Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon, a nine-year-old girl who develops an addiction to chess (among other things) at Methuen Home For Girls, an orphanage, after surviving a car crash that killed her mother. Throughout the series, we follow along with Beth and see her grow up and succeed in a men-dominated world whilst dealing with a number of other personal issues. 


Beth is first introduced to chess by a janitor, who although resistant at the start, begins teaching her the game in the basement of Methuen. As she grows older she gets better at the game, spending nights awake imagining the game on the ceiling of her room. She enters her first chess tournament shortly after being adopted and quickly catches the eye of more experienced chess players and makes a name for herself. 


Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Beth is astonishing throughout. Beth’s love and obsession with chess come through the screen that makes every match in the series ever so exciting. From beginning to end Beth’s confidence does not waver, the only thing that really changes throughout is the ‘quality’ of her opponents and her sense of style. Her outfits, along with the enchanting 60s decor of the show brings the audience to a completely different world.


Slowly but steady The Queen’s Gambit attempts to break the notion that not only chess isn’t solely a competition solely for eccentric men, but rather that it can be a team sport full of exciting experiences not reserved for a monastic and lonely lifestyle.


The story, although highly unrealistic as it is likely that if Beth Harmon had been real and alive in the 1950s she would not have been allowed to compete, is still very much a must-watch. Ever since its release viewers from all over the world have been in a frenzy over chess. On eBay, there has been a 250% increase in inquiries for chess sets, and google searches for ‘chess’ have doubled along with ‘how to play chess.’ So who knows, maybe it will bring excitement for the game to you as well. Plus, it is always fun to watch a girl kick butt.