The Queen’s Gambit

Spoiler Alert: If you have yet to watch the latest Netflix sensation bearing this article’s title, stop reading this. And do the next best thing: Watch the 7-part drama series that has catapulted to the top ratings since it debuted last Oct. 23. You’ll laugh, feel mesmerized at the sight of a genius; you’ll probably cry and fall in love with chess.

Anya Taylor-Joy was superb. Her portrayal of the troubled chess prodigy Beth Harmon was outstanding. Same with the other cast members in this TV miniseries that’s set in the late 1950s and ‘60s.

This Netflix original is about chess. It’s about brainpower. It’s about battling addiction. It’s about obsessiveness and the need to be abnormal and manic to achieve greatness. It’s about the U.S. vs. the U.S.S.R. It’s about the power of being a woman in a sport that’s all-male. It’s about remembering the past and letting go. It’s about falling down and rising. It’s about friendship.

Like many who have watched The Queen’s Gambit, this is one of the best TV shows that I’ve watched. If there’s only one negative: this miniseries is not a true story. But it may well be. It’s adapted from a book written by Walter Tevis in 1983. Both the book and the Netflix show bear the same title. This is not the author’s first blockbuster as he also wrote “The Hustler” in 1959. And for many who lived in the ‘60s, “The Hustler” movie is the classic starring Paul Newman. Mr. Tevis also wrote “The Color of Money.” This became another blockbuster starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. You will note that the author Walter Tevis wrote about sports — pool (billiards) and chess.  

With The Queen’s Gambit, if you’re a chess lover, you’ll adore this show. (While writing this, I remembered the late Boy Pestaño, our dear friend and fellow columnist who penned a chess column here called “Chessmoso.” He would have relished the show.)

Why “The Queen’s Gambit?” It has a double meaning. The word “gambit,” as we know, is a gimmick or ploy to lure another person. In the game of chess, the Queen’s Gambit is one of the most popular moves where one sacrifices a pawn or some pieces with the end goal of gaining control of the game and winning. Beth Harmon, the queen of chess, played this trick perfectly in the finale.

NETFLIX. If you’re a sports lover, there are many more sports-related shows to watch. For sure, you have seen “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan. 

“The Playbook” is a show I highly recommend. A top-caliber coach is interviewed not only for his or her views on the sport but also on his philosophies and tips in life. I relished the dialogues with Jose Mourinho, Doc Rivers and Patrick Moutaroglou (Serena Williams’ coach).

“Icarus” is an amazing documentary about sports-doping, cycling and Russia’s state-sponsored cheating. “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” is excellent. And, being a tennis fan, “Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score” is a film I plan to watch tonight. 

Categorized as Chess
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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