Chess, a game of complete concentration and overthinking, has risen in popularity due to a new Netflix original, “The Queen’s Gambit.”
The story unfolds on a small orphan girl entering a new life after the death of her mother. Elizabeth Harmon, new girl at Methuen Home For Girls, must learn how to take care of herself and get through this tough time in her life.
After spending a couple weeks learning the ropes at her new home, Beth comes across a new friend, the janitor, Mr. Shaibel. This is who teaches her about the wonders of chess. Mr. Shaibel quickly realizes the talent in the young orphan and suspects marvelous things from her. And he was right in doing so.
The Queen’s Gambit is one of the most famous openings in the chess world. It makes for a very attacker driven game. When playing against someone who uses the queen’s gambit, you are going to be making a lot of defense plays. The reason behind playing the queen’s gambit is to gain control over the center, which is going to make things a lot harder for black.
You start by moving queen’s pawn to d4. Black will usually follow up by moving queen’s pawn to d5. In this position, white’s next move would be queen side bishop to c4, putting pressure on blacks pawn. In this case, most people playing black would blunder and take the pawn, but that leaves the center open for the queen’s pawn to move up, gaining control over the majority of the board. The right move for black to make there would be to move king’s pawn to e6, in order to protect your pawn on d5. It is a lot to think about and takes a player who is familiar with the opening to figure out.
This move is Beth’s favorite opening and is what wins her the world championship.
After watching this series on Netflix, I have grown more fond of chess and actually understand what I am doing when I am playing. Her determination and stubbornness throughout the show has taught me that there is a lot of studying in becoming a chess master. Even if you don’t play chess, I would still recommend watching this show. It has something for everybody. There is drama, loss, grief, and the list goes on and on. It goes through the struggles that even a world champion chess player has.
It also deals with substance abuse quite heavily. When Beth was an orphan, she was exposed to a tranquilizer drug called Librium. This allowed her to see the chess games that she plays in her head, on the ceiling. She was hooked on it and throughout the entire show, she was reliant on getting it. Towards the end of the season, she starts to have an alcohol problem. Her addiction was so bad, it caused her to lose many games and lose a bit of her reputation. In the final episode, she decides to quit her pills and alcohol for good and sure enough, she wins the world championship.
This show is one of Netflix’s best works and I will be watching it again in the upcoming weeks. I highly recommend you check it out if you have any interest in chess.