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Shutting down of theatres and other public places has caused havoc on the mankind. To cope with the boredom, humans have turned their attention to movies and web series that stream online. Netflix has become the knight in the shining armor as the original movies, shows and series streamed on it not only prevent people from getting bored but at a lot of times, become a way to learn and explore different parts of the world by sitting at one place only.
One of the most engrossing and madly watched series of Netflix released in the year 2020 is ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ It has unexpectedly become more than just a chess show for its admirers. The Queen’s Gambit is a miniseries consisting of just seven episodes but the impact it had on its viewers is much greater. The audience has been mesmerized by this show worldwide and it has become #1 show in over 12 countries. It is generally observed that the web series and shows are created keeping in mind a certain target audience and that they cannot go down well with everyone unanimously but ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has broken this myth. The show has been able to capture the attention of novices as well as the grand masters.
‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has been adapted from a 1983 novel of the same name authored by Walter Tavis. The miniseries has been developed for Netflix by Scott Frank and Allen Scott wherein the former is the sole writer and director of the web series. The story is meant to explore the true cost of a genius through the character of the protagonist, Beth Harmon which has been played by Isla Johnston in the initial early years and later by Anya Taylor Joy in the advancing years. She has aptly showcased the journey of Beth from just being obsessed with the strategy game to becoming one of the best chess players of the world. The girl has portrayed the life of Beth from the age of eight to twenty two. The series proves to be a tight slap with dripping irony on the face of male dominated world of competitive chess as Beth discovers a surprising talent for chess within her and gets determined to break the traditional boundaries that were meant to limit the areas girls could step into.
To dwell deeper, the series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is set in the Cold War era. It begins in the mid-1950s and goes till 1960s. It is shown that the orphaned girl Beth is entrusted to an orphanage by the name of Kentucky after losing her mother to a death causing car crash. There, the custodian of the building, Mr. Shaibel teaches her how to play chess. He becomes a father like figure to her and helps her talent get identified by the local school. This is exactly where the poplar ritual of dispensing tranquilizing pills to the young girls in orphanage in 1950s is portrayed. The orphanage staff administers the pills to the girls on a daily basis. This results in Beth developing a strong addiction to them. However, on the other hand, the tranquilizers enhance her skills of visualization and help her become a strong chess player in a relatively short period of time.
Later in her teenage years, Beth is adopted by a Wheatley couple from Lexington. After getting adjusted to her new residential place, Beth steps into the world of chess tournaments and comes up with flying colours victoriously. Having no prior experience in the competitive chess does not become a hurdle in her path to getting name and fame. The series takes a dramatic turn when the rising Beth becomes more dependent on drugs and alcohol with her advancing career.
The miniseries has seen a strong and overwhelming reception which is far beyond the expectation. It was released on 23rd October, 2020 and now after completing almost five weeks, it has become the most watched Netflix’s limited and scripted miniseries. Astonishingly, the series has received a highly positive response from the chess community. Experts say that the series has invoked the interest of the people in the popular board game yet again. The series has succeeded in causing a massive surge in the potential players of the game of chess. It has been widely observed that people with a keen interest in the game who had to put playing chess on the back burner due to tumbled priorities have begun hunting for their own chess boards again. The viewers have got back in action right after they finished watching the seri
Statistically speaking, the popular online e-commerce portal, eBay has brought to light that there was a massive surge as much as 273% in search queries for ‘chess sets’ on the online sites just within the ten days of the release of the miniseries. The second wave of lockdown in some selected parts of the world has acted as the catalyst in this. People getting bored at home have found a way that is meant not only to kill their boredom but also rejuvenate their will to play chess. Some toy house keepers in United Kingdom reported that after the days following the release of the show, people have switched from buying digital and video games to putting their hands on the traditional chess boards.
Apart from this, the show has received tremendous words of praise from the members of chess community. For instance, Woman Grand Master Jennifer Shahade highlighted the accuracy with which the game of chess has been portrayed in the show. In one of the articles in a famous newsletter, British Champion David Howell mentioned that the chess scenes displayed in the series were “well-choreographed and realistic.” If you love chess, its even more entertaining to watch. Do checkout.
Previously published at https://saswath.academy/chess/the-queens-gambit/
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