Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” Review

Kiersten Buckley, Co-Editor in Chief

I tried to make this article as spoiler free as possible. But, still beware of spoilers because there may be some minor plot spoilers below. Enjoy!

I never thought that a mere television show would get me to start playing chess- but 2020 was a wild year for all of us, right? Yes, you read that right- chess! Chess is making a comeback in the modern age with the premiere of “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. The show was originally released in October 2020 to much critical acclaim, and for good reason! The mind-bending and unique show was able to turn the tale of a simple girl who plays chess into an incredibly compelling story that kept excited viewers such as myself on the edge of their seats during every episode.


Young Beth playing one of her first chess games.

The show takes place in 1958 and starts out by introducing us to young eight year old Beth Harmon, who was taught chess in an orphanage by a friendly janitor. She appears to be incredibly skilled, quickly beating him repeatedly in their games. Her secret to winning? Besides simply being a natural prodigy, Beth relied on the tranquilizer pills given to her by the orphanage, which allowed her to visualize chess games on her bedroom ceiling in order to improve her technique. By repeatedly taking these pills, young Beth was able to quickly memorize every chess piece by only looking at her ceiling.


As Beth becomes a teenager, she gets adopted and begins to play in state and regional chess championships. She begins traveling around with her mother and showing off her skill at various statewide tournaments, but not without the use of her trusty tranquilizer pills that seem to always guarantee her a win. As the show progresses, Beth becomes a skilled young adult who rarely loses a chess game. Of course, not without any conflict. She encounters many interesting friends and foes along the way, all while gaining more reckless habits and still battling her tranquilizer addiction. All of Beth’s numerous chess tournaments culminate in one last important game in Russia. Oh yeah…did I forget to mention that this match is happening during the peak of the Cold War? 


Anna Taylor Joy portraying Beth as an adult, who is studying up before a big match.

This show is simply addicting. The gorgeous cinematography, vibrant colors, and dynamic camera angles make “The Queen’s Gambit” an incredibly captivating and visually appealing show. Additionally, the story is incredibly unique. The more episodes that you watch, the more that you begin to fall in love with the quirky Beth Harmon and all of the other compelling characters in the series. Additionally, actress Anna Taylor Joy does an amazing job playing Beth, causing viewers such as myself to fall in love with her character even more. Every episode of the limited series also ends on a cliffhanger, which will certainly leave you on the edge of your seat every time


One of my personal favorite accomplishments of “The Queen’s Gambit” was how it made something like chess captivating. As I watched young Beth fall in love with this game that changed her life, I suddenly wanted to know more. As she learned different chess techniques and tricks, I found myself wanting to learn along with her. Before watching the show, I had no interest in chess whatsoever. Two days of nonstop binge-watching later, I bought a chessboard. Now, I play almost daily. So, just be warned before you watch the show- you will become fascinated with chess, and maybe even impulsively purchase a chessboard…


Overall, I highly recommend watching “The Queen’s Gambit”. It is one of Netflix’s most popular and highly viewed original shows right now, and for good reason! The gripping story and dynamic cinematography will hypnotize you and leave you on the edge of your seat for all seven episodes. Just be sure to hide your credit card before watching though…or else you may impulsively purchase a chessboard and become a chess addict such as myself and the famous Beth Harmon!