The Queen’s Gambit

When the hubs is a passionate and a decent chess player, you cannot escape being tormented by all the moves, I mean the moves across the 64 squares. You also cannot escape without sitting through all the movies based on the game. 

When I chanced upon a few of the scenes from the latest Netflix rage, “The Queen’s Gambit”, I insisted that he wait for me to join him. I was instantaneously drawn to a few of the visuals. And, we finally managed to binge-watch the entire series of seven episodes this weekend. We watched three hours last night and four hours tonight. Given our track record of watching a two-hour movie in bits and pieces for fifteen days, this was a record of sorts.  


As I am penning this, hubs is busy going through all the games Beth Harmon played in the series. He is hooked on YouTube channel and meticulously going through the various moves of the games with oohs and aahs. 


I have played chess quite a few times but never enjoyed it and also never understood the depth. Maybe because I am not good at it and not at all fiercely competitive. That’s why I didn’t think a story about chess would keep me interested. 


But, this one got me invested from the very first episode. What I loved about it is this sense of emotional bond it forges at different levels. I could feel and connect with all the scenes.


The whole series is brilliantly executed, and you can see why everyone is raving about the story, the adaptation, the cast, the cinematography, and so on. Since so much is already said, I will stick to what I loved the most. It may not be of any technical importance. Anyways it is not a review, just my point of view.


I loved the characterization of Beth Harmon, played brilliantly by Anya Taylor-Joy. I just loved Beth\’s wardrobe that oozed so much beauty, grace, and elegance without going overboard. The cute little watch on Beth’s delicate wrist reminded me of my mum and granny, who wore these ultra-feminine wristwatches. All beautifully depicting an era before the unisex revolution of the ’60s changed the world. I particularly liked the confident, powerful yet feminine gait with which Beth moves about… The kind of bearing one gets by knowing that she has it in her. These little nuances of Beth’s character tell us that the real power is within us. 


I enjoyed this series because it talked about a woman player taking center stage in a male-dominated chess world. 


And, the scenes of little Beth (so well played by Isla Johnston) shares with the janitor Shaibel are warm and engaging. Only felt that Beth should have visited ‘The Methuen Home’ at least once after she achieves so much fame and glory… Just to see Shaibel. After all, Shaibel is the one who introduces the game of chess to her. But, that’s life… We realize the importance of a person only after we lose them.


I am sure many would have adored the bond Beth shares with her adoptive mother, Alma. I was not so happy to see Alma encouraging Beth with her drug and alcohol dependency, while also siphoning her chess wins to support their household. But, then you realize Alma was all that Beth had, who she could count.


For that matter, all the characters are etched perfectly. So are the relationships they share with Beth, emphasizing the importance of family and friends. Although Beth does what she does and achieves great success on her own steam, One cannot take away the importance of family and friends. As is seen, every time Beth is alone, she succumbs to the lure of the bottle and substance abuse. But, there is someone to bail her out by giving the right support. That’s what makes her a blessed soul, I guess…To be at the right time, at the right place with the right people… Because a lot could have gone wrong. 


In the last episode, Beth takes on the mighty Russian champion Borgov to avenge her loss in Paris. Beth is able to visualize the imaginary chessboard on the ceiling without the help of any tranquilizers. One of my favorite and most powerful scenes as she not only wins the championship but also successfully overcomes substance addiction.


Though, I must say. The last few scenes left me wanting to know more about Beth’s next day…


Yes, too much of goodness that is difficult to digest. But the year that 2020 has been, people are lapping up anything which gives confidence and hope…anything optimistic and positive. This original, refreshing adaptation of the 1983 novel written by American novelist Walter Tevis does this brilliantly. 


Kalyani Sreedhar Kakade

Text Copyright: This Adbhut Life !


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08, Kartika
Krishna Paksha, Ashtami
2077 Pramadi, Vikrama Samvata
Singapore, Singapore


November 2020


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