The Queens Gambit miniseries 1


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What does it take to master the game of chess? This question every serious chess player asks belies the apparent simplicity of chess. Some may play the game for a lifetime and never reach as much as good club strength.

The recent Netflix series hit, The Queen’s Gambit, may offer some answers, or chess players may interpret, at least, that it does.

Queens Gambit

The series in seven parts is wholly the story of Beth Harmon who, early in life, finds herself under very unfortunate circumstances. She is born to parents who can never get along, and to a psychotic mother particularly. Her father leaves the family. Her mother commits suicide, apparently with every intention to end Beth’s life as well, ramming their car into a truck. Beth is sent to an orphanage where she learns to play chess from the institution’s janitor, and soon discovers her rare and immense talent for it.

What follows then is Beth’s journey to rise above her humble beginnings and climb the competitive chess ladder as high as she could. It is a tough journey, of course, with Beth’s life taking twists and turns that she has to steer through prudently. The strain of competition and pressure of top-level chess tests her, making her doubt herself and her talents, and heightening her personal battles off the board. But Beth is ultimately successful, beating the World Champion in the finale.

Non-chess players may see Beth as the typical successful character. She is aware and overcomes her flaws and afflictions, in her case her addiction to pills and alcohol. She is contemplative in moments of personal crisis, recalling the profound thoughts her mother had shared to her before her untimely passing, and discovering much about herself in the process. She finds the value of well-meaning friends, and realizes that cherished goals in life are seldom fulfilled all by one-self.  She is much like other troubled girls, only that she moves about through chess.

Chess players may see Beth, however, exclusively as a chess player, in which case all the personal tensions she experiences become secondary to the truths about competitive, high-level and high-stakes chess, which the movie very well captures.

The first truth it presents, and quite clearly at that, is that to really master chess, and to be successful competitively at it, one has to have talent. Not a dash of it, but in the generous share that Beth Harmon has it. Every player must make a good measure of himself and his talents to determine if he is fit for a chess career.

The other truth is that chess makes grossly high demands the farther and higher you wish to go at it. Becoming a Grandmaster is a lifetime’s work, an essentially solitary quest of absorbing tons of knowledge and chess material, and developing sporting traits necessary for success. Beth was alienated from her generation, totally missing the experiences girls her age have normally had. They, in turn, thought of her to be other worldly, and treated her as somewhat an outcast.


Then, as no playing careercan ever be smooth and setbacks and disastrous performances are unavoidable, there are the matters of frustration, of floundering confidence, of doubting your directions, and of the painstaking search for ways to get better. These are heavy dues to pay, and a chess player quite truthfully places all his eggs in one basket.  The risk offailing to justify a life-choice and earning just rewards in the end is very stark and real. No wonder, then, that serious chess is only for those who could sacrifice and dedicate themselves to a single purpose.

With all these said, we at are certain chess players took a keen interest in the chess sets that appeared in The Queen’s Gambit. We gladly present them. While The Queen’s Gambit remains widely enjoyed and popular, now is as timely as ever to have them grace our chess table.

Here are some of the chess sets used in the show The Queens Gambit.

The Queens Gambit chess
chess set

About author

Eugene Manlapao

Eugene Manlapao

Hi, I'm from the Philippines and I hold a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in English, Creative Writing. I'm a corporate fellow by profession and a certified lover of chess and literature. When free from work, I scramble dividing my time among my wife and two lovely daughters, devouring literary classics and chess books, participating in over-the-board tournaments, playing casual blitz and rapid games online, and writing chess as well as non-chess articles. My love for chess has had me bitten by the chess set-collection bug. I'll be very happy to receive comments on my articles and reviews for Chess Equipments.

2 thoughts on “THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT”

  1. Hi,
    Can you recommend me a chess online shop where to find at the best price, the original final Russian chess set game (B.Harmon / Borgov on the Queen’s gambit serie on Netflix ? The one you show on your post : THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
    March 3, 2021 by Eugene Manlapao.
    (Complete chess set & board..)
    Thank you for you help
    Luis Miguel


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