The Queen’s Gambit started a new debate about sexism in chess. Without a doubt this one of the best series that Netflix has, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The character development, different display of emotions and struggles, length of the series, and original story are reasons why it’s #1. From the main character being a kid who had nothing and no one, to becoming a global phenomenon loved by all, The Queen’s Gambit shows that women are a force to be reckoned with.
Beth Harmon, was sent to an orphanage in Kentucky for girls following her mother’s death, developed a quick obsession. Throughout her life, she was as stubborn as one can ever be. This stubbornness was immediately instigated once she saw the orphanage janitor, Mr. Shaibel, playing chess. After he agreed, they started practicing religiously and she would also play alone, in her head with the help of some pills. In the orphanage, the girls received tranquilizers, and because of her best friend Jolene’s advice, she started stacking up on pills and she would use them to hallucinate the game at night by looking at the ceiling. With the extra practice going through her head, combined with her profound interest in chess, the audience acknowledges that she was bound to stand out in this game dominated by men.
Years passed and when she was 15, she got adopted into a middle-class family. With an absentee father/husband, Mrs. Wheatley and Beth develop a very close mother/daughter relationship when she found out that Beth was a really good chess player that could win big bucks. She made a name for herself when she took it upon herself to beat the renowned Harry Beltik. Winning without a rating was something imaginable by everyone in the competition, especially since she is a girl. Her gender classified her as a chess sensation and resulted in her appearing in magazines and developing a reputation, something a woman in chess could never do. She developed quite a crowd and traveling from competition to competition, chess became the center of her life. She went up with the best in the U.S., Benny Watts, and tied on the U.S. Open, which was something that left her in dissatisfaction. Time passed and she flew to Mexico with her mom to a competition where she lost against the best Chess player in the world, Borgov. Her mother did not watch the competition, which was odd. When she went back to the room to rant to what she thought was her sleeping mother, she found her dead in the bed. She was heartbroken that her mother and #1 supporter had died, but that did not stop her from continuing her journey to the top of the chess world. When she got back home, Beltik reached out to her and he and Beth became close friends, even lovers at a point. He helped her train for the U.S championship but saw that his interest in chess was not to her level. In the U.S. Championship, she went up against Benny Watts and won. She left with him to New York and started learning new strategies that would help her prepare for the next competition, in Paris. This is where she falls out of the deep end, when she lost her last match in Paris, against Borgov. She came back home to Kentucky and all she could focus on was getting drunk and being careless. And then magically someone came to save the day, Jolene.
After so many years of not seeing each other, Jolene and Beth’s bond was still intact. The reason for her visit was to tell her that Mr. Shaibel died. Heartbroken by this news, she felt that she needed to make him proud and get her act together to prepare for the biggest chess competition in the world, in Russia. Jolene lent her some money so that she could go to Russia, and so she did. After playing with the best in the world, the time had come to face Borgov. With the help of her friends back home about other strategies that she could use to beat Borgov on the last day, she won. Her life mission to be the best chess player in the world came true.
This series shows that it doesn't matter who you are, but what you bring to the table, and Beth Harmon has shown that with perseverance, anything is possible.