"The Chess Queen" is a Netflix original series, released on the well-known streaming platform on October 23, 2010, based on the novel of the same name by Walter Trevis. The original title of both works, “The Queen's Gambit”, refers to a famous chess opening: the woman's gambit. The TV series sees a few episodes, with variable duration like all the latest TV series designed for streaming, with a never slow and boring pace. The titles of the episodes refer to easy-to-understand technical terms, a note appreciated because it announces the tone of the series.

Screen

The protagonist of the series is the young Beth Harmon, chess prodigy, and her career in this world. Since the book is a Bildungsroman, we follow Beth for fourteen years of life, from eight to twenty-two, in the vicissitudes and misadventures that affect her. The story opens with Beth's arrival at the orphanage, where she is given tranquilizers daily. The meeting with the caretaker Shaibel brings her closer to the world of chess and the passion that will keep her bound for a lifetime. The adoption comes seven long years later and with an absent adoptive father and a mother in crisis, Beth manages to continue with her passion and win the first chess tournaments.
Over the course of the series, from victory to victory, Beth will fall into a spiral of drugs and alcoholism, to the point that she needs help several times to get her life back on its feet.

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Issues

In addition to the obvious theme of chess, treated with professionalism and precision, the series also addresses the theme of addictions, emotional stability and the figure of the woman. Being set between the fifties and sixties, we have the opportunity to see the practice (fortunately finished) of psychiatric drugs taken in orphanages, together unfortunately with a certain veiled racism (black girls are not adopted) and in general the role of women in society.
Alcoholism is one of the other big themes, although in the series it has little space, its presence is constant and each episode takes a few minutes to show us the slow but inexorable fall of Beth under the yoke of alcohol.

Interpreters

In a series like this, the actors usually have to be a strong point on which the script can express itself. In this case the expectations are more than confirmed and we have several candidates who could aspire to an emmy. The protagonist Anya Taylor-Joy, despite her young age, manages to give the necessary depth to a character and all his selfishness, confirming that nomination for the 2017 BAFTA as best emerging star.
Illustrating the series of the way in which Beth Harmon manages to relate to the world through chess, there is also a praise for Harry Melling, light years from his previous role as Dudley Dursley of the Harry Potter saga, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster for having us given two points of view far removed from the average stereotypical chess player.

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Technical aspect

The photography and the soundtrack are the strengths of this production, supporting the narration in every important moment. The last episodes then offer particular plays of lights and shots to better express the great Russian chess tournament.

The reaction of the chess community

The chess community has obviously split unfairly on this TV series. Context adherence was generally praised, with the women's community complaining about the lack of games played by women (intended as table moves) while the world chess champion described the series as lackluster and too imaginative.