book review essay
"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. So, if I get hurt, I only have myself to blame." - Elizabeth Harmon
The queen's Gambit was written by Walter Tevis in 1960s America and was published in 1983. According to the streaming network, the Queen's Gambit was the most popular limited series to ever air on Netflix, with 62 million households watching it, and became a "phenomenon" on Netflix in 2021. This fiction is pure entertainment and captures people without any knowledge of chess.
Walter Tevis was an American novelist, short story writer, University Professor, and a member of the Authors Guild. He wrote 6 novels and an enormous number of short stories collected in Far from Home. The Queen's Gambit was published in 1983, a year before he passed away in 1984. Three of Tevis's six novels were adapted for major motion pictures, and one for a TV mini-series. With The Queen's Gambit, he explores artistry in sport but concentrates on a genius whose gender makes her path all the more compelling, and the core of it is about how we use talents to destroy and overcome ourselves. Each chapter is considered as her journey to be mature in her mind from a humble beginning, victories, setbacks to championing. When I read each chapter, I found myself growing up, cheering, and feeling empathy as I developed a strong bond with the protagonist, Beth Harmon.
The Queen's Gambit describes the orphan's chess prodigy, Elizabeth Harmon, emphasizing her life to become a young successful chess player while having emotional issues, and using drugs and alcohol for over 10 years. The background of this fiction is in the mid-1950s. In this book, the writer successfully illustrated how Beth struggled to overcome the challenges of orphanhood, adolescence, loneliness, addiction, and insecurity, all while ascending through the world of competitive chess tournaments against increasingly talented and imposing figures.
In the 1950s in Lexington, Kentucky, eight-year-old Beth was transferred to Methuen, an orphanage after her mother was killed in a car collision and she was taught chess by the building's janitor, Mr. Shaibel. The orphanage gave the girls daily tranquilizer tablets to restrain their mental health as was typical at the time, which would become the reason why Beth was addicted to drugs. Because of her ability to visualize, she rapidly becomes a young good chess player. Only after having defeated a group of high school students in a chess competition, did Beth learn that the state has prohibited the use of tranquilizers on youngsters. She overdosed while attempting to monopolize the leftover tranquilizers for herself. Then, Beth was adopted a few years later by Alma and Allston Wheatley, a childless suburban couple. Beth attended a chess tournament while adjusting to her new home and won despite having no prior competitive chess expertise. Alma was initially opposed to Beth's chess interest, but when Beth won her first tournament and got the award, Alma was completely supportive of her adopted daughter's chess journeys. She befriends various individuals, including former opponents of Kentucky State Champion Harry Beltik, United States National Champion Benny Watts, and fellow player and writer D.L. Townes.
Beth's drug and alcohol addiction intensified as she rose to the top of the chess world and achieved the financial rewards of her achievement. She prepared for her toughest challenge yet, a large international chess tournament against the world's finest players in Moscow, with the support of her oldest friend Jolene, who she grew up with in the orphanage. The rest of the novel is about Beth and her struggle between addiction and playing chess.
The Queen's Gambit (novel) - Wikipedia
Beth is the most genius and extraordinary, also an autonomous chess player I have ever read, who rose up to the top rank to become the American No.1 and won the World Champion whose name was Borgov from Russia. The first impression that the book cover brings to me is that she is a gorgeous and intelligent girl in front of a chess board with black and white background. The second impression of the narrative is that she is a rerun of talent triumphing over adversity, similar to Mozart or Van Gogh, both of whom are geniuses with mental illnesses. The writer - Tevis had shown us many concrete pieces of evidence between addition and prodigy. When Beth still lived in the Methuen, she gave tranquilizer pills day by day until the state impose a strict law of this, but she rapidly moved from secret drug addiction to alcohol addiction, and her obsession with chess in all its complexity is a sort of addiction, too. Tevis depicted Beth's addiction with nuance and care, then, he described the allure of alcohol and how it overpowered her, and yet never allowed Beth to lose her autonomy. She was first taught by the janitor, Mr.Shabeil from the easiest chess opening strategy (Sicilian) to the hardest chess strategy, and gave her a book as a gift, when she won her first competition, the Modern Chess Opening.
Beth is an objective introvert, I supposed, throughout the way she responded to other people. Although she could respond and be sensitive to the social environment in which she tried to discover herself, she showed us an invisible barrier that no one can pass and touch her heart actually. In the orphanage, she just made friends with Jolene - her roommate, or even other opponents, but they became friends later. In this point, the writer has shown us a little racism because Jolene is the only black and the oldest girl (10 years old) in the orphanage but she had an out-of-control personal life, as well as a tumultuous sexual life. Beth was got adopted and forged a unique relationship with her mother-in-law, this relationship was heartwarming and heartbreaking. Her mother can live with money nightmares, she traveled and bought a lot of stuff. Hopefully, Beth was not influenced by her disordered lifestyle with wine and money. Hence, when she saw Beth could earn money from a chess competition, she became her manager and made a plan to interview related to her competition. While Beth eventually found the love, her lover is one of the chess champions in Kentucky, which her life has been lacking, she also took on even more of an adult role, caring for her emotionally stunted mother because her mother and father were divorced. When Beth had trouble with tranquilizers or after her mother-in-law passed away because she overdosed on sleeping pills, she went to a bar club to overcome her affliction alone with wine. But there were some arguments about age and females, Beth had broken that ceiling of sexism and ageism in the chess world in the 1960s. However, in other circumstances, there are tournaments in which she has to turn to the help of some male friends to successfully compete, most notably the final competition with Borgov.
Chess, I know how to play chess and how all the pieces move, however, when I read and watch "The Queen's Gambit" I learned some chess matches and chess strategies. The writer gives clear chess guidance for each level with modern chess opening, also the way that the main character. Although Beth is usually under the sway of tranquilizers before each chess contest, . Moreover, Tevis adds a lot of commentary on celebrity worship and the culture around the only successful girl in the chess world, Elizabeth. Once Beth becomes popular enough to be interviewed by reporters, who typically pay little attention to the game of chess or its complexities, instead of concentrating on her gender - as in the fact that a woman is dominating a game that is dominated by males. In this novel, there are no distinctions between male and female characters.
From my perspective, Tevis had described a wide range of images, people and chess guidance for readers may understand as Beth found peace in the world of chess, she and chess are the best friend. With at least 200 pages, the writer led us to each human issue and challenges Beth faced during her successful path. But the ending still does not fit with me, because Beth finally just wanted to have a friend zone with her lover.