“The Queen’s Gambit: An Enthralling TV Series About Chess

Nancy Anderson

With chess set sales increasingly abnormal, “The Queen’s Gambit,” a coming-of-age miniseries involving the intricacies of chess, has had a clear effect on today’s society.  The show deals with more than just chess as Beth Harmon struggles with addiction, relationships and being a woman playing chess. The show is based on a book of the same title written by Walter Tevis. 

This show appeals to all audiences, even those who do not enjoy chess. Viewers see Beth Harmon grow up as she eventually gets fostered and moves to a different city. At the beginning, the show foreshadows Beth’s life at the end of the series, competing in the world’s biggest chess match. By having this scene at the beginning of the show, and having constant cliffhangers at the end of episodes, it was difficult to not keep watching.

The series contains seven episodes ranging from 50 minutes to over an hour long. It seems there is not going to be a season 2, although much desired by viewers. Beth Harmon, played by Anna-Taylor Joy, is a young girl who was recently orphaned after her mom killed herself in a car crash. After finding the janitor playing chess in the basement, Beth soon develops a quick love for chess while becoming addicted to tranquilizer pills given to her at the orphanage.

Chess gives Harmon an outlet while stuck at an orphanage, where nothing else makes sense to her. From the beginning, Beth was doubted for she was a girl. William Shaibel, the janitor played by Bill Camp, tells Harmon that “Girls do not play chess,” during one of their first encounters where she is eager to slide those pieces across the black and white checkerboard. 

With the hype surrounding the release of the show, I had high expectations going into the show. With hour long episodes, it’s important to keep the viewers interested throughout the episode, especially those who aren’t particularly invested in chess. 

When was the last time I got excited over a chess opening? Not too far into the show, I found myself thrilled as Beth played 10 different chess games simultaneously, winning each one. I never expected myself to become so invested in a show about chess of all things. 

Anna Taylor-Joy’s acting in this series just makes it that much better. Harmon’s coming of age story becomes compelling to readers as she displays a range of emotions as she deals with alcohol, drugs, romantic relationships, while playing chess in a male dominated atmosphere. 

The Netflix subscription of $8.99 and time spent watching this show surely is worth it. After watching the first couple of episodes, my attention was grabbed and it was difficult to not stay up late watching. Although  I do tend to like historical drama shows and movies, I wouldn’t miss the opportunity of watching this show even if you don’t particularly enjoy drama TV shows or chess.