Last year, a new TV series produced by Netflix hit screens around the world. The Queens Gambit triggered not only hype around the show but also a real chess boom. The success lies not only in a convincing leading actress but above all in the staging of the great chess scenes. Nobody less than ex-world champion Garry Kasparov was on board for the selection of these games. In this way, the creators get credible settings embedded in an exciting story that has gained more success when ot was expecyed.
That is about the orphan Beth Harmon. In the orphanage home, she developed a hand on intoxicants. There she learns to play chess with the help of the caretaker. It does not take long for him to recognize her incredible talent, as a result, he starts promoting her. The sensational talent begins to play the local and then the national chess greats on the wall. What sounds quite simple at first glance is highly ingenious. The outstanding leading actress Anya Taylor-Joy controls The Queens Gamit. She gives the torn central character depth and credibility. Although the series traces dramatic events, at times, it feels like a comedy. Netflix subscribers appreciated that.
Chess Is Fashionable Again
The Queens Gambit immediately set a new record for an in-house miniseries. No less than 60 million households wanted to see the series in the first month. The media was suddenly full of chess. Online chess and live tournaments experienced an unprecedented boom. The directors shot the show over extended periods in Berlin. The city serves as a backdrop for numerous other locations, like Paris, Moscow and Kentucky.
The author Walter Tevis processed his own experiences in his book. He also grew up in an orphanage home and became addicted to pills. He could not do anything with his roommates, so he took refuge in a game. But he was not enthusiastic about chess but about billiards. The result was a book called Sharks of the Big City. That was made into a prominent film in 1961 with Hollywood star Paul Newman in the lead role and developed into a classic movie. Walter Tevis, who had also written the script for the film, made his breakthrough as a writer then.
The model for his Beth Harmon was undoubtedly the chess genius Bobby Fischer. He attracted attention in the 1960s and soon dominated the chess scene. Tevis created a feminine version of him and sanded down some of the edges of the original. Fischer became world champion in 1972 and also triggered a vast chess boom. That was repeated decades later. But this time, it was not a real player responsible, but a fictional character in a novel. The Queens Gamit is Netflix’s most-watched series worldwide. The book made it onto the bestseller lists again 37 years after its publication. The success is also due to the involvement of Garry Kasparov. The excellent equipment contributes to making The Queens Gambit a serial event.