The Netflix miniseries Queen’s Gambit has probably been one of the best things to have happened in 2020. We hardly know a person who hasn’t given this one a binge watch, but just in case you haven’t had this slice of cake, go no further, spoilers ahead!
The Netflix miniseries is based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name and became the most-watched scripted miniseries in the history of Netflix within a month. Not only that, it’s got millions of people trying their hand on a chessboard, even adding to the sales for the game this year!
Queen’s Gambit is pure genius and basically, a work of art! And not only just that, it’s full of so many beautiful metaphors and hidden details, that we cannot but marvel at the creators.
Here we are with the most interesting details we all probably missed in Queen’s Gambit.
1. Whenever Beth plays chess on the ceiling, it’s always with Mr. Shaibel’s original set.
Throughout the series, every time Beth plays Chess on the ceiling of her room, it’s a scene to marvel at. But what we didn’t notice is that she always plays it on the first-ever chess set she started playing on, Mr. Shaibel’s original set.
2. The structure of the show follows the 7 Squares a pawn must cross on a board to become a queen
If you look closely, the Queen’s Gambit consists of 7 episodes, which could mimic the 7 Squares a pawn must cross on a board to become a queen. If this is true, we are already applauding!
3. Beth’s all-white look in the final episode is a representation of the white queen in the chess victory.
In the last episode, when Beth finally wins the queen from the world champion Borgov, she steps out in an all-white outfit, with a bubble on the top of her hat, just like the queen of the chessboard.
“The idea, of course, is to convey that she is now the queen on the chessboard and the chessboard itself is the world,” the show’s costume designer Gabriele Binder said in an interview with Vogue.
4. Cleo might have been Russian sabotage to get Mel drunk!
Before Beth’s final match with Borgov, Cleo, the french model turns up unannounced in Russia and tempts Beth to come for a drink. The night however turns into an alcoholic binge. Redditors believe that this might have been a Russian conspiracy, given that she doesn’t appear at all in the show after she wins.
If that doesn’t convince you, in the finale, Townes also mentions how the Russian embassy may have helped because they thought he would distract Beth.
5. Harry Beltik’s playing style was based on a real chess player, Magnus Carlsen.
The cast didn’t really know how to play chess. The show had a chess coach named Bruce Pandolfini, who helped them script their moves, often asking them to pick up a real chess player.
Actor Harry Melling told Vulture “I focused on a real chess player, Magnus Carlsen. He’s very interesting because he’s very quick and his hands are very straight in line with the pieces.”
6. The movie features a “Dutch angle shot” the first time Beth begins to lose.
Once Beth begins to lose for the first time, we can see the camera tilt, known as a “Dutch angle” shot. The tilting camera mirrors the uneasiness and discomfort in the character and makes the audience feels it too.
For most of Beth’s games, the camera is super symmetrical, with Beth’s face resting on her hands, the Las Vegas tournament, when she realizes she’s about to lose to Benny Watts, the camera begins tilting and moving asymmetrically around Beth and the chess table.
7. Beth’s dress during the Paris match against Borgov, contrasts with her tranquilizers. It’s also the day she breaks her sobriety.
When Beth was in the orphanage, they were given tranquilizer pills (xanzolam) in order to keep them calm and sedate. Later, they get banned by law, but Beth gets addicted to them already.
In the coming years, during one of her matches with Borgov, Beth is wearing a dress with the exact same contrasting shades of green as her tranquilizer pills. This also the morning when Beth breaks her sobriety. On that specific day, she takes more of them, even though she is too hungover, eventually losing.
8. One of the newspaper clippings Mr. Schaibel saved features this opening line: “Beth Harmon proves not all women are dumb.”
When Beth finds newspaper clippings in Mr. Schaibel’s place, there also is a news clipping “Not All Women Are Stupid.”. This only shows the misogyny and misrepresentation that Beth and many women of that time would have faced by the press and society. This theme remains constant throughout the show.
9. Beth still uses the first chess set she ever bought. You can see it on her hotel room table in Russia.
Beth uses her first winning at the local chess tournament to buy her personal chess set. In the finale, Beth is in the Russian hotel room so she can work out how to beat Luchenko, using the same old chess set.
10. Beth Harmon dresses up as Elizabeth Taylor to distract Georgi.
Beth plays Georgi, a 13-year-old Russian boy, who tells her how he is a big fan of American stars, like Elvis Presley, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor. Georgi is a tough game for Beth, as they both spend hours on their match.
The next morning she arrives in a yellow sleeveless top and long skirt, winning eventually as she spends the match distracting Georgi.
11. Beth keeps wearing checked-clothes, throughout the series, just like Chess boards.
Throughout the show, Beth wears a lot of plaids and checks.
“The contrast of the check print also mirrors the nuances of the game itself—it’s decisive, it’s win or lose—which you would not have with, say, a floral print,” the show’s costume designer Gabriele Binder said in an interview with Vogue.
12. From playing ‘Black’ for the first time with Mr. Shaibel in the orphanage to playing white in the end with Borgov, it all comes full circle.
In Beth’s first game of chess against orphanage custodian Mr. Shaibel, he plays white, placing him at an advantage. It all comes a full circle when Beth plays white in her final game against Borgov.
13. Alma’s death could have been foreshadowed very clearly here.
Reddit / NETFLIX
In a scene, Alma is seen looking in the hotel mirror, a scene that has close references to Ecclesiastes. A comment on one of the subreddits mentioned– “The setup is way too identical in terms of concept, framing, lighting, angle, perspective, placement, and accessories.”
14. The games in the show are quite authentic
Like most of us, if you aren’t much into chess, you won’t notice this but the matches played in the show are quite authentic. In fact, Netflix mentioned that that one of their main objectives “was to ensure that if a chess pro sat down to watch the series, they wouldn’t be taken out of the story because of the inaccuracy of any moves.”
To ensure that the team also brought in chess coach, Bruce Pandolfini, and Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
15. Beth inherited her traits from her mother
In the first episode, Beth picks up a book that’s written by her mother, Alice Harmon, titled “Monomial Representations and Symmetric Presentations.” This scene intended for the audience to know how Beth had inherited her traits from her mother. Later, again, she is the only student who can explain what a “binomial” is in her class.