The Queen's Gambit - out today on Netflix!

By John Hartmann |  October 23, 2020  |   News

It's an exciting day for us here at US Chess, as the limited series The Queen's Gambit is now out with Netflix.

The Queen's Gambit tells the story of Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a Kentucky orphan who discovers that she has a prodigious gift for chess. Her genius, however, is not without costs, and much of the drama revolves around her struggles both at the chessboard and away from it.

Across seven episodes we see Harmon grow from a 10-year old (played by Isla Johnston) to a young adult, and we meet a number of people who will play important roles in her life, including fellow orphan Jolene (Moses Ingram), Alma Wheatley (Marielle Heller), Harry Beltik (Harry Melling), and Grandmaster Benny Watts (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). Shot largely in Berlin and Toronto, the series has a distinct period drama feel to it - there's more than a bit of a Mad Men vibe, especially if one thinks of Peggy and Beth and how they grow - and chess players can rest easy knowing that the game is not given short shrift. There are a lot of fun easter eggs for chess fans, and quite a bit of care went into constructing the positions we see on-screen.

Noted chess historian Olimpiu Urcan is making a list of some of the real-life analogues to on-screen scenes in his Twitter feed, noting (for example) that there's a 1955 game between Nezhmetdinov and Kasparyan playing a pivotal role in the drama.

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The limited series is getting excellent reviews from the likes of the New York Times, Time Magazine, and National Public Radio. Having watched it twice myself in past weeks, I'm confident in saying that this is a binge watch that you will likely not regret.


November 2020 cover of Chess Life


The Queen's Gambit is the subject of our November cover story, written by our long-time contributor Bruce Pandolfini. Pandolfini has quite the history with this project, having been involved as a consultant on the 1983 Walter Tevis novel upon which the series is based, and now serving as a consultant for the 2020 production. Pandolfini takes us through all of it, from start to finish, and has exclusive interviews with writer / director / executive producer Scott Frank and co-executive producer William Horberg.

To help whet your appetite for our November issue, and for the limited series itself, we have prepared a 35 minute video featuring conversations with Pandolfini, Anya Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, Harry Melling, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Moses Ingram. We hope you enjoy it!