What is a queen's gambit? Name of one of the most viewed Netflix serie in this year

Image of the queen's gambit serie
Anya Taylor-Joy y Marcin Dorocinski in the 'Queen's Gambit' series.

The title of Netflix´s serie refers to one of the most used openings in the game of chess.

Queen's Gambit has been one of the most viewed series of the year on the Netflix platform. This serie shows the story of Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a girl who learns to play chess in an orphanage. There she falls in love with this sport and starts to show her great skills. When she starts to emerge she is adopted by a family and from then on the plot centres on Harmon´s sports career, which starts with school tournaments and ends with the best competitions in the world.

Queen's Gambit is a serie based on the novel "The Queen's Gambit", published in 1983 by the American author Walter Tevis. I wouldn't like to go into more detail about the series itself in order not to enter into possible spoilers, but I would like to highlight the great veracity that everything "chess" has throughout the seven chapters that make up the audiovisual work. It is easy to appreciate the advice of specialists in the field (it is said that the former world champion, Garry Kasparov, has been one of them) not only in the verisimilitude of the games, but also in other moments, as in the conversations before and after the games or in the players own attitudes. Obviously, there are concessions to fiction, such as the fact that there are no games that end in a draw, the speed of the moves or the conversations between players during the games.

But we are not here to analyze the serie, there will be time for this. The question that concerns us today is what is a Queen's Gambit?

What is a Queen's gambit?

To explain the concept referred to in the title of the series we must explain two previous things: what is a gambit and what is the queen.

The term "gambit" refers to the sacrifice of material, usually a pawn and in the opening (first part of the game), in exchange for having some development of pieces. This development will usually allow the sacrificed pawn to be recovered or, failing that, to obtain a positional advantage to compensate for this loss. There are many gambits in chess: King, Queen, Volga, Morra, etc.

The Queen's Gambit is characterized by the moves 1. d4, d5. 2. c4 (1. P4D, P4D. P4AD, according to the system of descriptive notation, used in the serie) In this way, Black would have the option to play 2...dxc4 and eat the pawn of White, obtaining a momentary material advantage. According to Yottabase, more than 650.000 official games have reached this position. From here there are several options, which can be converted into other more specific openings: Slave, Semi-Slavev, Chebanenko, Orthodox or Lasker, among others.

Chess board with the opening Queen´s Gambit
Chess board with the opening Queen´s Gambit.

Why this opening in the serie?

We already know what a Queen's Gambit is, the name of the work, besides being one of the first openings that Beth Harmon uses, has a relationship with the life of the protagonist and is a metaphor in itself. Harmon is a girl who, at the beginning, has no family and, later, she expresses her problems to relate to everything that has nothing to do with chess. Harmon sacrifices everything about having a "normal" life as a teenage person to be able to beat the best players in the world. This sacrifice has a compensation in the plot, because as the chapters go by, our protagonist is achieving her sports objectives and is able to recover from any external setback to continue with her successes. For more inri, the final game that confronts her with Borgov begins with this opening as well.

Queen´s gambit is a serie completely recommended for all publics but, specially, those who are part of the chess world appreciate the verisimilitude of each of the scenes in which our sport appears.

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