On The Tube: The Queen’s Gambit

Netflix’s streaming series looks at a chess prodigy who emerges from a girl’s orphanage in Kentucky to become a force in world chess. Most of this seven-episode adventure focuses on the emerging chess career of Beth Taylor. After being adopted, she enters her first formal chess tournament, the 1963 state championship. She wins.

Over the next five years, the heroine easily conquers the chess scene in the US, and turns her attention to international play. In this narrative, there is no Bobby Fischer to rise to prominence to challenge the Soviets. Beth becomes the phenomenon he was in real history.

The chess aspect is the best I’ve seen portrayed in any kind of fiction. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close. The games were created from great over-the-board contests, sometimes “improved” by consultants, including former world champion Garry Kasparov.

The acting is superb for the small screen. Anya Taylor-Joy captures the inner life of an addict, an orphan, an adoptee, and especially a competitive chess player. See the source imageI recognize the darker impulses of the frustration of loss, of a gamer going on tilt. The indulgence for drugs and alcohol is well-played and accurate.

The title refers to these first three moves on a chessboard, the Queen’s Gambit, right. The defining moves are all made by pawns, as it happens.

Even if you don’t play chess, there’s much to enjoy in The Queen’s Gambit. Best streaming series I’ve seen yet.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to On The Tube: The Queen’s Gambit

  1. Bob B says:

    Well put, Todd – I agree-we just loved it, and highly recommend it to all. My advice is to start watching it early, as you just keep watching the next episode!

  2. A. says:

    think one of the most touching highlights is the discovery of her school janitor’s wall of her pics, and newspaper articles, something maybe she wasnt expecting given his stern demeanor. Realizing she had that man, kinda like a father figure in her youth, rooting for her all along, gave her the strength to drop the drug abuse. I think we can all ponder if we have secret or long lost people who have been rooting for us all along and wish the best for us.

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