The Queen’s gambit is an amazing new TV series that broadcasts the Netflix platform and has been Number 1 among the most watched series in 27 countries. The series enters the world of racing chess through a woman and how it ascends into that predominantly male-dominated world.
Chess is a fascinating game. Not only the game itself, but also what surrounds it. Sometimes I hear it’s a boring game. Nothing further from reality. If you play chess you like to play chess and watch it. And if you don’t know how to play it can be fully entertaining to watch a game run. The pandemic has made more and more people interested in the game. I talked about this in this article Chess, the resurgence of an ancient game.
It’s one of the sports that excites those who play it the most. I’ve been playing him since 1998 and he’s defined who I am today. Maybe I’d be someone else if I hadn’t played chess. I don’t know, but I find it hard to think I’m going to stop playing it in the near future.
The story of The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit series follows the trajectory of an orphaned girl named Elisabeth Harmon in a world that has turned against her. His mother just passed away in a car accident and has to go live in an orphanage. At the orphanage he discovers a janitor, Mr. Shaibel, wholikes to play a board game with damas-like pieces, called Chess. She is fascinated by that game and asks her to teach her how to play.
Soon she discovers all the secrets of the game and is becoming more and more liked and attracted. In the orphanage she is given two types of pills and becomes addicted to some green, a tranquilizer. Those pills make you visualize giant chess pieces on the ceiling of your room and play games.
A couple decides to adopt her. They are a couple in which he is a traveler and practically not much at home and therefore there is hardly any money. Beth decides to play his first tournament and wins it. It surprises everyone that a woman has been able to beat all men.
Later the series will take us your journey through the world of Beth playing tournaments and also your journey to a particular hell of drugs and addictions. In the end he becomes a chess genius, being able to beat the world champion, Russian, in a cold war era and becoming one of the most famous people in the world.
The main character, Beth Harmon and the other actors and actresses
The main character in The Queen’s Gambit series is Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. She is certainly a wonderful actress who embroiders the role. She is not afraid of anything and unlike many women of that time who felt self-conscious and had a secondary role in front of the man, she from the first moment does not allow there to be any distinction about sex. In his first tournament he is told that since he has no score play the lower tournament in which the winner gets 20 dollars. She asks what the open tournament prize is, $100, and without hesitation asks to be enrolled in that tournament. Needless to say, he came home with $100 more.
The rest of the cast is excellent. From Beth’s adoptive mother, Alma (played by Mariele Heller)an endearing, drunken, frail woman who loves both her daughter and the old Mr. Shaibel who teaches her Chess in a basement (her chess father), or the Chess players themselves, all men, who first compete with her and then help her defeat the best player in the world, Vasily Borgov played by Marcin Dorocinski.
Mention aside deserves the actor Harry Melling who plays the role of Harry Beltik. The actor is famous for being the repellent child of the Harry Potter films. Beltik is a fairly strong Chess fan who falls in love with Beth in the first tournament she plays. He then looks for her and helps her improve on her Chess. He, is a certain measure, a representation of all the chess players in the world who play Chess but for lack of talent or time they can never become great masters or qualified players. He is aware of his deficit, both in Chess and in beth’s attention. He is a character who balances Beth, who helps her improve by teaching her everything little she knows and it is a success to have included it in the script.
Series errors seen by a chess player in The Queen’s gambit
Starting from the fact that these are actors and not chess players say they do very well. They have learned, as a ballet dance, to move the pieces and play in a way close to how chess players play. The gameplay has been learned. However, in The Queen’s Gambit there are some mistakes that a chess player like me has noticed:
There’s a detail for me disconcerting but it’s explainable because it’s a TV series. In most games Beth exchanges glances with his rival. Sometimes they are looks of surprise, sometimes of disbelief, of arrogance, of anguish, of anger, unease, etc.. It is a nonverbal language and says a lot about how the game is unfolding and helps the atmosphere of the chapter.
That in Real Chess is not usually seen, it could be more possible to claim if playing a game your opponent spends the same watching for you fixedly and grimacing. It’s very important that there’s no invasion of your space. When you’re thinking of a move, before you hit the clock, your opponent can’t talk, or gesticult, he can’t do anything that can distract you. I remember a famous photograph of Victor Korchnoi playing with Anatoly Karpov where I wear ostentatious mirror glasses basically to annoy the opponent while playing the World Chess Championship that would decide the next world champion. It didn’t do him much good, Karpov won, but that showdown was quite a circus.
Also another mistake of the series is that it says that there are competitions for women and competitions for separate men. Women’s tournaments can only play women but so-called men’s tournaments are not the case. They are open tournaments that can play men and women, as Beth does in the early chapters of the series. Women are not excluded in those tournaments, they choose where to play.
After Beth’s first tournament he says he has a ranking of 1800 points and can go play the U.S. Chess Championship to Las Vegas. In that initial tournament she had no ranking points and won all the games. Therefore, the valuation of your Chess strength should be between 2200 and 2300 points, because the system assigns you a provisional ranking that values your strength and understands that if you win someone over 2000 (as happens in that episode) you have at least that strength. In this tournament he beats all his rivals including Beltik with a ranking of 2150.
Some of the games are masterpieces and include wonderful movements. In the series players make those wonderful moves in seconds. In real life you can be half an hour thinking of a play like that until you finally find it. Television is action and if a chapter lasts 1 hour they won’t be 30 minutes recording a play.
In games players play fast moves and do not score their moves. The rule says that as little as you make a move you have to score it if it is a standard game that lasts more than 2 hours. It can break the climax of the scene for players to make a play and score but the norm is, and so you can claim the referee if your opponent doesn’t score his move as well as make it.
A few years ago if the games took too long you could postpone it until the next day. It happened when the time set for the session was up. In that case it was the referee, not the players (which is the mistake of the series), who will require the player to be in his time to seal his play. This move will be called secret play. The player must write down his move clearly on his form, put his and the opponent’s form in an envelope, close that envelope, and only at that moment stop his watch.
Staging that borders perfection on The Queen’s Gambit
One of the most popular details of The Queen’s Gambit series is that the staging is wonderful. Styling, the reflection of the time, is very close to reality. You could say that the show’s performers have traveled to the 1960s and set out to record the series.
I love, for example, the wide places where tournaments play. I put two photographs, one of the tournament in Las Vegas and one of the Tournament in Mexico. Who wouldn’t want to play in places like that? In addition… respect social distance and each table is sufficiently separated from the others.
A series on well-advised Chess
The series has been advised no less than by Garry Kasparov, world champion several times and who during the 1980s won every tournament he played. All. One of the great geniuses in history. In addition, actors and actresses were helped by Bruce Pandolfini, a famous writer and chess teacher who already had a brush with cinema in the film Finding Bobby Fischer.
Games have unique moves, unique positions, masterfully resolved. The global chess community has reproduced these plays by creating puzzles or videos explaining those positions in detail. It is worth noting the last game, the final game in which Beth Harmon beats world champion Borgov. In it Beth makes an extraordinary sacrifice of lady in the position close to that of the following image.
A journey around the world playing Chess
The main character travels the world playing tournaments. A Chess player with a Grandmaster title usually travels a lot. It is a profession that allows you to travel and get to know other countries. If you love to travel this is a good sport to do it. All sites are presented in a more visual and beautiful way:
Evolution rising to the top in clothing and chess pieces in The Queen’s Gambit
Also draws attention to chess pieces as well as the protagonist’s attire. From when Beth starts playing in a basement with plastic pieces to the beautiful pieces of marble or porcelain (I don’t think they say it in the series) of the major tournaments Beth plays at the end of the series.
Beth Harmon makes his personal desert journey throughout the series from a local Kentacky tournament to a world tournament with the best players in Moscow. And that promotion is also seen in the way you dress. She goes from practically dressed as a beggar to being dressed as a supermodel in stunning outfits. Or on the boards and chess pieces that when you play the Moscow tournament are luxurious. Clothes and chess pieces are also important characters in the series.
The protagonist’s clothes
The evolution is clear in clothing from its first tournament to the world championship contest worth noting.
Chess pieces and boards
There is also a clear difference between the pieces and boards of your first tournaments and the latest tournaments you play at The Queen’s Gambit. A person who doesn’t play Chess can’t understand why we chess players have that fascination with pieces. It is not the same, even if the pieces move the same, play with some pieces of plastic as with some pieces of marble. The game is already wonderful in itself because of how it unfolds, but if you surround it with beautiful pieces and boards, it magnifies the game. You’re even more attracted to it.
The global chess community has approved the series
It is hard to believe that in a game like in chess where the whole planet plays, different concerns, different religions, different political views, different nationalities, there are so many people among great masters, international teachers, fans, passionate fans who have found The Queen’s Gambit series excellent.
I’m going to share several videos where games from the series are counted. Some of the games are masterpieces of chess.
The Bright Future of Chess
I don’t have to be Susan Miller to know that the future is going to be bright for Chess. I’m glad to see that after years of thinking that chess should be a mass game now. The pandemic has caused a lot of people to stay home. And you’ve decided to have more free time, to play this millennial two-arm fighting game.
The latest news about this increase in the popularity of chess is that a TV channel will include chess tournaments among its broadcasts. I’m glad this happens. Not everything is going to be watching chess online, but it can also be seen on TV. I will be satisfied if at any time I go out on the small screen playing a tournament.
In a way, all chess players want to be like Beth Harmon. Getting to a tournament without anyone knowing us, winning all the games leaving everyone speechless and taking the check home.
Throughout my life I have not known any other game that will give you a greater emotional reward than Chess. There is nothing that can be compared to playing a game and after being fighting in absolute silence for more than 5 hours get victorious. It’s also very cruel at times, and games you’ve won you lose by making a bad move. Unlike tennis that if a ball goes outside you have the whole match to go back, here… if you’re wrong once is enough to lose. Life fortunately isn’t that cruel.