One move ahead


photo by IMDb

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy. “The Queen’s Gambit” sheds light on difficult situations like addiction and grief through an engaging story plot and lots of drama.


Eight pawns, two bishops, two knights, two rooks, one queen, and one king. The crucial pieces to a chess board, all ingrained in the mind of orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) in “The Queen’s Gambit,” based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name. Released Oct. 23, “The Queen’s Gambit” is set during the Cold War era, following Harmon as she struggles with addiction while on a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world.

The series starts in a girl’s orphanage where nine-year-old Beth, after losing her mother in a car crash, learns chess with the janitor Mr. Shaibel (Bill Camp) in the basement. Years later, Beth is adopted by Alma Wheatley (Marielle Heller) and her husband, Allston. After adjusting to her new home, Beth enrolls herself in chess tournaments, and wins countless games, always one move ahead of her opponents. Beth develops many friendships along the way, but as she becomes more competitive and financially successful, she loses control of her life and becomes more dependent on drugs and alcohol. 

Chess may not seem like the most exciting thing to watch for seven, hour-long episodes, but the show proves to be a pleasant surprise. “The Queen’s Gambit” heavily focuses on the drama behind Beth and her struggles with grief and addiction, shedding light on taboo topics such as loss and mental illness, something many Netflix original TV shows like “Girl Boss” (2017) fail miserably at.

Not only is “The Queen’s Gambit” unlike anything seen before, but it is also the best show Netflix has released in ages. The elaborate costume and character designs and historically accurate setting invest the viewer in Beth’s heart-aching story. The music choice was also atonshing, featuring iconic ‘60s hits in every episode. 

The female representation in this show is immaculate, as the main character is a strong and successful woman who is played by an equally hard working person, Taylor-Joy. Even side characters including Beth’s mother Alma, former Kentucky chess state champion Harry Beltik (Harry Melling), chess master Benny Watts (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) all performed satisfactory and up to par with Taylor-Joy’s talent level as Beth.

All aspects of the show seemed to pull together, with nothing seeming forced or out of place. The transitions from chess game montages to Beth’s personal life is seamless, and viewers become quickly attached to the story plot.

The show followed Beth through every stage of her life, watching her grow into an admirable person. By the end of this show, you will be completely immersed in Beth’s journey, waiting with bated-breath for the shocking ending to unfold, and rooting for her through every tournament. 

“The Queen’s Gambit” is a surprising and beautiful series, and though the chess aspect may make you apprehensive, take the risk and watch this show for its unique story plot and gorgeous character design.