I don’t recommend TV shows to people all that often.
I’m choosing to make an exception for The Queen’s Gambit, a limited Netflix series that showed up during the last half of 2020.
Now, before anyone points this out: I know that it’s a book first, and no, I haven’t read it (although certainly will now). Let’s talk cinema first.
The story follows Beth, a chess prodigy who picks up the game from a custodian at her orphanage. She takes to the game immediately, and from there the story really starts to kick off.
Without telling anyone, her next move is entering a chess tournament. The tournament gives her a feel for higher stakes. The game is officially on.
She proceeds to the U.S. Open in Vegas, with a hell of a lot of twists in the middle.
That’s probably where I should stop describing the plot and insist that bridge players add this to their watch-list.
The show has plenty of elements from competitive tournaments that bridge players will find familiar. (It also happens to be a show that people can connect with even if they don’t give a damn about chess at all. The plot works.)
It’s good, and I don’t mean that lightly.
It reminds me of the Oliver Stone Doors movie, but instead focused around the world of competitive chess.
I know many people who don’t imagine chess as an exciting pastime. I also know that this series can probably convince them to take it up immediately.
The show mentions strategies and moves in ways that makes practical sense. If you’re a chess player at all, you’ll have fun with this. (And if you don’t care about chess, you’ll barely notice its presence.)
The Queen’s Gambit is character-driven, dramatic, fiery, and it makes chess players look like gods. That’s the point, and that’s why it works.
It’s going to be a classic, I’m almost sure of it.
Have you seen it yet? What did you think, bridge players?