Sunday, November 15, 2020

My Review of The Queen's Gambit, the Book and the Netflix Miniseries

This week I finished listening to the audiobook The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis as well as watching the Netflix miniseries of the same name directed by Scott Frank. I liked both of them so much as these are centered around Chess, my childhood passion. The book was published in 1983 while the 7-episode miniseries was released by Netflix just 3 weeks back.

The plot is set in the mid-1950s around a child prodigy Beth Harmon, a Kentucky girl whose parents were killed in a car crash when she was eight. She was placed into an orphanage where she starts learning chess from the janitor Mr. Shaibel. She gets habituated with tranquilizers there. After a few years, Beth gets adopted by Mr. & Mrs. Wheatley moving with them leaving the orphanage, her best friend Jolene and her first chess coach. But in her new place, she gets the freedom to start playing chess tournaments. She starts rising in the ranks of chess players, becomes the US champion and finally defeats the current world champion Borgov in the prestigious Moscow International in 1968. Throughout her journey, she meets obstacles, gets addicted to alcohol and tranquilizers, learns the lessons of humility, makes friends like Beltik, Benny, Jacob and more.

This is a very good book on chess and the best film or tv series production ever related to chess. My earlier best favorite was Pawn Sacrifice starring Tobey Maguire on the Fischer-Spassky 1972 World Championship match. Also The Queen of Katwe was good. I plan to watch Searching for Bobby Fischer next. Renowned US chess coach Bruce Pandolfini and ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov were the chess consultants for the miniseries. This resulted in technical accuracy. For example, many of the positions were real games from famous chess masters like Capablanca, Reshevsky, Kasparov, Anand, Ivanchuk, Kramnik, Topalov, Tal, Reti, Bogoljubov.

Beth acted very well in the movie. I liked how the chess pieces were frequently projected upside down in the ceiling of the room. I liked it when Benny apologized to Beth the next day after defeating her many times in speed chess. I liked the humility of Luchenko after getting defeated by Beth in Moscow. I liked Benny and the teams' adjournment analysis over the phone for the final encounter against Borgov.

I strongly recommend watching the miniseries and if you read often, then also read the book.