On Friday, October 23rd, Netflix released The Queen’s Gambit, a new 7-part series which portrays chess prodigy Beth Harmon’s rise in the chess world of Cold War America. Less than a week after its release, the hit series has become the most watched series on the streaming service, and received widespread praise from chess fans and movie critics all over the world.
The Queen’s Gambit follows the story of Beth Harmon, who ends up in an orphanage in the late 1950s after losing her mother. She picks up the rules of the game, and soon discovers that she has a huge talent for chess but also develops an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. While the rising star fights for glory on the board, she also has to fight off the board with her own addictions and personal demons.
Beth Harmon is portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy (Peaky Blinders, Glass, Split, Emma) and appears to have captivated Netflix’s roughly 200 million subscribers. The Queen’s Gambit is currently the most watched TV show globally and ranks 1st in 27 countries, including the USA, UK and Russia – something few would have expected for a show in which chess is so central.