Like many others we loved watching the Netflix TV series, The Queen’s Gambit, starring the astonishing Anya Taylor-Joy, so much so that I wanted a deeper understanding of her character and the game of chess. I bought the book and was really not disappointed.
The series was seven hours of TV and follows the book closely, until the last quarter or so. In the book she gets lots of help from others after a major drugs and booze melt down. In the book, she basically does it all herself. She asks an old friend from the orphanage for help with physical training and gets support from others but basically she drags herself back. In the final competition in Moscow, the TV has a nonsense romantic episode along with a suggestion that the tranquilizers helped her visualise the game. This really didn’t ring true for me, and it’s not in the book. What the book does give you is her internal dialogue and her approach to the games. This is obviously difficult to portray on screen. In the final game, she closes her eyes for an hour as she addresses the various moves she could make. Not good TV! I loved it; I was really engaged and moved even though I knew what happened. A good book keeps you going not to find out the ending but to stay inside the story and it’s a great story.
The author also wrote The Color of Money and The Hustler, both also major movies. I may have to get these books too?
I started playing chess at high school, and was briefly in the lower school chess team, but not for long, as I really didn’t have the patience for it. We play now and again at home and I always lose. I wonder if I should buy a book on chess openings?