The Queen’s Gambit is a limited series on Netflix. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, a girl orphaned at the age of 9 who goes to live in the Christian girls orphanage, the Methuen Home. There she meets the janitor, Mr. Shaibel. The second time Beth sees him, he’s playing chess, and she asks him to let her play. His response is that girls don’t play chess, abruptly ending the conversation. Beth continues pestering Mr. Shaibel to let her play a game, and he eventually gives in. Beth quickly learns the rules of chess and is visited by the local highscool’s chess coach, whom she beats with ease. He brings her to the high school, where she plays against 12 boys, and checkmates them all. Throughout the show, Beth is questioned on her chess ability simply on the fact that she is a girl. Each time, she ignores the more professional players’ doubts and plays to the best of her ability, which is much higher than anybody else’s. So far, Beth has been able to conquer any challenge laid before her, but can she keep it up?
A chess game may come off as boring—who wants to watch two people sit silently and move wooden pieces around? This is exactly what makes the show so impressive. Through brilliant camera work and precision, the director, Scott Frank, is able to build tension so palpable that the audience is on the edge of their seats, holding their breath at any moment he pleases. The acting from Anya Taylor-Joy, as well as the rest of the cast, is phenomenal and will completely draw you into the plot. This show will not only captivate you with its acting, but through masterful storytelling as well. The show is able to make chess more than a game of logic and strategy—it makes it one of passion. And passion, in the end, can make anything stand out.
I highly recommend this show to anyone who loves visual creativity and captivating plot lines. The most important thing I found about the show was how people of all cultures and backgrounds can be brought together through one seemingly simple game: chess.