I was asking for some recommendations from my sister about what new shows to watch recently and she said in passing 'The Queen's Gambit', among others. She told me, it was a show about chess. I didn't give too much thought about it even though I have been actively playing casual online blitz chess myself in the last 3 years or so. 

I can't recall what I was doing before I finally started watching The Queen's Gambit. Oh yes. I did ask a friend whom I used to play chess with quite regularly last time if he had watched it and he said it was nice. 

I didn't get my expectations up and didn't know it was starting to get some great reviews when I started. The only thing I knew was that I recognised the name of the lead actress, Anya Taylor-Joy which was from Split - one of my favourite movies in recent memory - except the terrible ending (sorry M. Night Shyamalan).

I finished all seven episodes within 3 days earlier this month. It's definitely binge-worthy material. 

A few things I really loved about the series personally: 

1. The story

In a lot of ways, the story feels like it was a based on a real person's story but in fact, it's fictional. I guess this could be due to the fact that many events in the show are based on history. Everyone loves a good story where the protagonist succeeds against all odds — and here was Beth Harmon, rising above things within and outside of her control - like her life's circumstances and addiction.

There's one running theme that I could relate in some ways  about male dominating the chess. Well, to think about, I think it's a fact that males do dominant in every sporting activity. I'm not a competitive player and I don't have any kind of FIDE ratings but I joined the chess club in school for sukan (lol) and they are dominated by males students. Most peculiar, I found out that quite a number of female students also joined the chess club then because the sport (arguable depending on who you're speaking to)... well, doesn't requires much physical movements and you didn't have to go under the sun. This was despite them not knowing how to play and they did not have any intentions to learn how to play either. I digress. Still, even today when people find out that I can play chess, I'll get that "Oh, you play chess?" though not the condescending kind but of fascination. Lol. 

I know a lot of people see Beth Harmon with the lens that she's a strong female character who finally overcame her demons. But she didn't do it alone. She had a lot of support —  especially from her male counterparts — even if she doesn't realises it. 

2. The costumes

Now, I'm not a person who's crazy about fashion. I don't even pay attention to what people wear most times (and apparently people do pay a lot of attention to other people's outfit, from personal experience). But my, you could tell this must be one of those shows that has a great wardrobe. As I Googled to learn more about these costumes, I realised how much thought was put into each outfit.  The devil is in the details indeed. 

3. Anya Taylor-Joy

I feel like the first episode lays down good foundation for Beth Harmon's character development, but I suspect viewers who have no clue about what they're watching might just drop off because most parts of it were about the orphanage and what it's like (learning how to play chess in the basement with a janitor that doesn't talk much? not creepy? ok), as chess slowly takes the centre stage. And that would mean viewers won't be able to catch much of Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth. Sidenote: Shoutout to Isla Johnston as young Beth Harmon.

I like this description here about Anya Taylor-Joy's performance. She’s stoic-happy, or stoic-sad; stoic-spiteful; stoic-drunk; and stoic and wide-eyed. Lol, it's so true in so many ways. But it suits the character and I thought I really enjoyed how she brought the character to life. Little things that make such big impact, like the way she changes the way she walks according to Beth Harmon's age. Good stuff.

4. Chess

The series is fascinating - because I've learned more than one thing or two about the game. Like some of the chess moves: I don't know the names even if I know how to play it. 

Anyway, if you haven't watch this series yet, give it a try? Maybe you'll like it as much as I do.

Last but not last... My favourite line from the series: "It's an entire world of just 64 squares. I feel safe in it. I can control it, I can dominate it. And it's predictable."