Chess, child prodigies, and living in a man’s world: Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” opens doors to chess


Jordynn Blackwell

In Oct. 2020, Netflix released yet another original series titled “The Queen’s Gambit” and shortly after, it has taken the world by storm. The seven-episode series, which is also based on the novel by Walter Tevis, follows female chess phenom, Beth Harmon, (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphan who rises from the ashes to become one of the world’s best chess players. 


“The Queen’s Gambit,” which has been named Netflix’s most-watched limited series, introduces the game of chess to a new generation at a time when it seemed like the game was fading away.


“I do have an appreciation for the game of chess that I haven’t had before,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood junior Alyona Kladova said. “From the show, I noticed how contemplative and methodological it really is, compared to another standard board game. The fact that there are world-renowned champions of chess proves that it is not just a simple game.” 


In “The Queen’s Gambit,” there’s a recurring scene where Beth lays in bed and visualizes a chessboard on the ceiling above her with all the same pieces she learned from her mentor and orphanage custodian, Mr. Shibel. With her special ability, she can definitely be categorized as a child prodigy. Even though child prodigies are destined for success, there are some cons to being a kid-genius. 


I think while being a child prodigy is very interesting and opens up the door for many opportunities, I think there are many negatives to it, especially the pressure that it places on children,” an anonymous Scotch Plains-Fanwood student in a survey. “I think oftentimes when I have seen child prodigies portrayed in television and film they are treated like adults and the adults around them set many expectations onto them, which can be detrimental to the child’s development and quality of life.”


For history buffs, the series is a compelling example of a period piece with the series taking place during the Cold War, accompanied by a groovy soundtrack and fashion that pays homage to the 1950s and 60s.  With stars like Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, “The Queen’s Gambit” will be an excellent addition to your Netflix watchlist.