My father introduced me to chess. I was 8-an apt time to start training to become a master someday, only if I had the aptitude. (*light chuckles*). My first ever recognition of extra curricular activities in school was a 2nd place certificate in a Chess Tournament. I have played less of chess as the years passed, becoming lousier by the day, but I have always remembered what a stunning game it is. When Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit came in, I knew I had to watch the show. After finishing the series in 2 days, I have a fuzzy feeling inside of me. The last episode, End Game, was heartwarming, not just because it wraps up the plot, and we bid goodbye to all the characters, but because it simply is.
Be aware, spoilers ahead.
The Queen’s Gambit is many things. It is without doubt a show with a class, portraying complex dynamics of genius, madness, addiction, fear, family, friendship. After the last episode, I have been thinking that the show is also about grace. The grace to win, the grace to lose, the grace to overcome, and the grace to be. It is grace that takes Beth from good to great, it is grace that makes Luchenko and Borgov the Grandmasters they are. It takes grace for Jolene to give up her savings for Beth. It takes grace for Harry and Benny to help Beth from a thousand miles away. It takes grace for Beth to let go of her addiction. And it is grace that allows her to be herself with the people of Moscow in the final few minutes of the series.
One of my favorite moments from the last episode is with Luchenko and Borgov, the two grandmasters.
“I resign with relief,” Luchenko says with a look of joy as Beth makes her move. Not a single strain of defeat visible on his friendly face, only grace to have played a great match. Borgov smiles as he realizes his moves have been outwitted-no anger, no resentment, no loss on his face. He gives his Black King to Beth and hugs her. He claps, a gesture that a new champion has arrived. (Oh and the background score that plays!)
In the first episode, Openings, Mr. Shaibel teaches Beth about resignation. This scene is used as a flashback at times when she loses, taking her loss mostly with anger and resentment. But the way Luchenko and Borgov accept their defeats is a graceful act on their own. I think they taught Beth how to accept both victory and loss, and perhaps us viewers too.
When the time comes, roads must be opened for the new to come in. That doesn’t mean the bygones are forgotten, it merely means there is time for everything, to win and to lose, to reign and to resign, to progress as the pawn from the front file, and to be Queen at the center of the 64 black and white squares.
I’m looking forward to reading the novel the series is based on. Hope it has arrived to this part of the world by now. Perhaps it would tinge more emotions in me as a reader.