BINGE IT!: Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ teaches the game of life through chess

WALB's BINGE IT! with Kim
WALB's BINGE IT! with Kim(Kim McCullough)
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 1:20 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Bingers, this month we are back in our safe space to discuss an award-winning Netflix hit that Rotten Tomatoes critics are calling “an absolute win.”

Every month, Digital Content Producer Kim McCullough will choose a popular binge-worthy show to watch and discuss with tv lovers.

The latest binge, “The Queen’s Gambit,” teaches us the game of chess and life through the eyes of a drug-dependent prodigy.

Just after weeks of its airing in October 2020, the series became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries, according to Deadline.

The series has won two Golden Globes Awards for Best Limited Series or Television Film and Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays protagonist Beth Harmon, also won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries and was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.

Additionally, the Queen’s Gambit received a 97 approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, according to the critic’s website.

The drama is rated TV-MA for language, smoking, drug use and sexual content.

For the fans suddenly interested in chess because of the series, let’s move these pieces around and get to the story.


During the 1950s, the game of chess was mainly a man’s game. And for Beth Harmon, it was something she never thought she would grow to love before entering an orphanage because of the death of her biological mother.

After discovering Mr. Shaibel, the orphanage’s janitor, playing chess solo in the basement, she begs to learn how to play the game.

Beth becomes obsessed with the game, dreaming about the board and every possible move with the help of tranquilizers first given to her by the orphanage.

Soon, her skills are introduced to the world after a few exhibition games at a local high school, defeating all the boys who felt they were superior.

At this point, Beth starts to heavily depend on the tranquilizers, even getting in trouble just to get to them.

As she gets older, she finally gets adopted to a not-so-happy couple. Soon after that, Beth and her adopted mother find themselves alone. But when her mother discovers her winning chess power, she hatches a plan to support themselves through prize money.

By now, Beth is in high school and she’s not so popular. She starts to realize her mother’s weakness, alcohol. Still supportive and caring, her mother starts to become more and more ill because of excessive drinking.

As Beth starts to win more tournaments, she is focused on one goal — becoming a grandmaster. But loses her confidence after experiencing her first loss.

That loss took Beth over the edge unfolding her journey of alcoholism and enabling her drug use.

Even with the downfall, she is still a threat in the chess community, even imitating a grandmaster in Russia and former world champions.

After losing again in Mexico City to the grandmaster, she falls even deeper in sorrow when she finds herself alone again.

After spending time with an old chess friend, she goes to Ohio and accomplishes “partial” success in the U.S. Championships and gets invited to New York with the other champion. In the big city, they studied chess, worked on openings, moves and gave in to sexual tension.

Now it’s time for Paris where she was up against the Russian grandmaster a second time. But after a long drunken night with a friend, she isn’t prepared or focused.

Yet again, she falls deeper into her alcohol and drug use.

After being visited by her first friend from the orphanage, they travel to a funeral and revisit the orphanage finally letting out emotional stress and baggage.

Moving forward, it’s now time for the Moscow Invitational and Beth is able to get to Russia where she is loved by the women and gaining several fans.

She proves herself by beating the greats and even getting praise from them.

When it was time to match up against the Russian grandmaster for the title, without drugs, she successfully started the game with the Queen’s Gambit changing the flow of the game.

To see Beth’s full journey through the world of chess, you have to watch it for yourself.

Kim's Binge It! rating:

Kim’s rating system is simple and straight to the point:

  • 1 – Hard to finish: It may be new but it’s not good. Definitely hard to finish the season.
  • 2 – Boring: I finished the season, but it wasn’t that exciting or engaging.
  • 3 – At least the storyline was decent: It was good, but the show didn’t pull me in.
  • 4 – It was good: The show was engaging and interesting.
  • 5 – I was hooked: I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

The Queen’s Gambit received a 5 in our Binge It! series.

The storyline, the production quality, the perfect 1950s costume and the fully-rounded characters make this series the masterpiece that it is. With every episode, the characters become more alive and Beth’s journey became hard not to watch.

This is a limited series, which means there will not be more episodes.

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