Touch Move: How The Queen’s Gambit Captured the Heart of a Non-Chess Player

Touch Move: How The Queen’s Gambit Captured the Heart of a Non-Chess Player

“The strongest person is the person who isn’t scared to be alone.”

– Alice Harmon, The Queen’s Gambit

*trigger warning: this post may talk about childhood trauma*

If there is any good that this quarantine has brought us, it would be the luxury of time to binge watch anything in Netflix in the comfort of your own homes.

I am no chess player. Actually, when I was younger, I remembered that there was one time where my cousin attempted to teach me how to play chess. Basically, the movements of each piece, their capabilities and limitations, and how I never learned how to play it (lol). I did get a few but I couldn’t say I really know how. I can barely remember what a checkmate looks like.

But not knowing how to play did not stop me from watching The Queen’s Gambit. A netflix limited series. Initially, I thought I’ll get bored since I’m afraid not to understand the series. But the series hit my emotions more than just the art of playing chess itself. The Queen’s Gambit tackles a lot of emotions, subjects, realization and human experiences which I am very willing to discuss.

Let me try to discuss my opinion about the limited series, piece by piece.

It wasn’t all about chess

I’m sure there would be much excitement if the viewer knows how to play chess. Since some scenes show the board, one would probably know if the game is towards winning or losing. Since I don’t know how, I based my guess on their facial reactions — how their eyes talk and of course, the background music. But it wasn’t all about just the game itself. It talks about a lot of things.

The characters were distinct to one another

There aren’t many characters really. You can count the mains with your fingers but all of them showcased their personalities distinctly. Aside from Beth Harmon, who was the protagonist, my second pick would be her mom who was Alice Harmon. She had very few scenes in the whole series but every appearance turns into something. Her lines will hunt you. I love how weirdly she teaches young Beth things about life (like all the cruelty and sadness and misery). I think doing so enlightens children what it’s like to live even in their early age. Although we might want to tame down our teachings and make it subtle. Alice’s lines were straight forward and hardcore.

Childhood Trauma and how a it can be forever or not

There were a lot of scenes where Beth remembers what happened during her childhood like how problematic her Mom was and how growing up adopted affected her. Though it was minimal, the series was able to establish how someone remembers traumatic experiences from her past.

The use of drugs and alcohol and how we ran to it whenever, wherever

It wasn’t just Beth alone who became dependent on tranquilizers. But also her foster mother Alma Wheatley. Alma was a lonely human and was pretty much into alcohol to cope up with her emotions. In the latter part of the series, Beth had a time in her life when she became obsessed with alcohol. I think most people would relate to this — how we ran to alcohol whenever we feel sad or to painkillers when something hurts. We take strengths from earthly things.

Human’s thirst for victory

Beth always wanted to win her games. Whenever she loses, she studies again the game she had and what went wrong. Similarly to human beings, we are always thirsty to win and be successful. We always want to be number 1 because we think we can. This ideology can be for the good or the worse depending on how much we fuel ourselves to be the best in whatever endeavor.

We aren’t always the best, are we?

We can’t always win our battles. Over time as we age, we will encounter people who are better than what we do and it’s okay. We just have to accept that in life, even if we’re second best, our worth remains the same.

Friends, because we can’t do it all alone

Jolene, Benny, Harry, Townes and so much more were all rooting for Beth. In life, it is always nice to have people who got your back. At some point, all our achievements are bound to oblivion if no one was there to witness our success and failures. I love how some of the characters who were Beth’s former opponents turn into team mates.

I resign

A chess player says this phrase when there are no moves left for him which equates to defeat. In life, we all have moments where we want to quit. And even if quitting means losing, what else is left to do when the end game waiting is also a defeat?

Check your moves

The series showed how Beth envisions her moves in every game or during games where she might be losing. I think this technique also applies in life. We are free to make choices of what we want to do, achieve or even dream about. But in any path we take, we are our life’s only player. A reminder for each one of us to check our moves before someone else eats us alive.

I really enjoyed my time watching this series. It was suspenseful in not a scary way but in a sense that you are also rooting for the character and that you also feel bad every time she loses. I would definitely recommend The Queen’s Gambit to anyone who’s looking for something unique to watch.

10/10