Netflix's The Queen's Gambit is one of the best TV shows of the year
Chess is the absolute business... who knew?
If you had told me a year ago that I'd be obsessed with a TV show based fully on the game of chess, I wouldn't believe you. That being said, a lot of things have happened in the last year that warrant disbelief so we trundle along.
While searching for a new show, I stumbled upon The Queen's Gambit on Netflix. It popped up as a high-ranking chart entry and was generally receiving positive reviews so despite the description, that alluded to an awful lot of chess-related entertainment, I gave it a go.
Fast-forward seven hours.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I lost a full day to this series, a proper binge, and it was worth every moment. If you were under any illusion that chess is a boring activity, this series will change your mind as it beautifully captures the golden age of the game while following a chess prodigy through the swinging sixties with some Cold War tensions thrown in for good measure.
It really packs it all in.
One of our favourite aspects about this series is that you don't need to be a massive fan of chess to enjoy it. Protagonist Beth Harmon, played to perfection by Anya Taylor Joy, enters the world of chess as a novice herself so for the entire series, as a viewer, you truly feel like you're on a journey of understanding alongside her.
Not that we would know any better, but a lot of effort has gone in to this show to portray the competitive world of chess in an honest and accurate fashion. The production team worked with world champion chess masters to avoid errors and the actors themselves were trained on how to play and move pieces like experts.
Another delightful aspect of this show (that we discovered after much googling) is that some of the games within the series are based on actual chess games through history.
The final game in which Beth faces the Russian champion is based on a match played in Switzerland in 1993, we won't spoil it and tell you the result but it's certainly worth the wait.
Taylor-Joy herself is a revelation as the orphaned Harmon, she maintains the control and intensity that (we imagine) professional chess masters must embody throughout the entire series and she's simply mesmerising to watch on screen.
Beth's journey from a pill-popping orphan to a world-class chess champion is a classic rags-to-riches story with true depth that leaves the viewer wanting more.
A highly recommended addition to your watch-list.
The Queen's Gambit runs for seven episodes and is streaming on Netflix now.