The Good, The Great, and The Grace: The Queen’s Gambit

Episode 7: End Game (Spoilers Ahead)

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.

Growing Up #18: A Storm Wave

There are days, aren’t there, when you feel as if the entire universe is imploding inside of you. They say our bones have composition of the stars, so indeed the universe does exist inside of us. We are all made of stardust. And this very stardust begins to ache from every corner for reasons we cannot yet decipher.

The crippling anxiety of growing up has become like a dance of the expanding universe, it keeps spreading away, stretching with it a part of us. It hurts, as it did when our bones expanded when we were younger. We were at least assured that we are going to be two inches taller soon. But the expansion of life feels rather unsure. What will become of it, what roads do they meet with, what are the realities and realms it will pass through? Nobody knows an answer, and all the answers are vastly different from one another.

Admitting we are unique, one of a kind, comes with the burden of accepting that our roads are bound to be very different. And yet we inch closer towards the crossroads of comparison. Isn’t it injustice? But wait, isn’t that just what we have been doing our whole lives, maybe even deriving some hidden pleasure out of it.

It is much more convoluted than what meets the eye. The heart is so very capable of feeling circumstances our minds will, perhaps, never be able to lay out on the table and segregate piece for piece; jumping from the apogee of a happy day to the nadirs of despair, the stomach turning itself inside out in its imaginary yet painful process. How capable is the heart and mind on their own, disobeying the commands of the master they have been given to.

What can we do then, when hit by a storm wave of thoughts that have no beginning and seem to have no end. They come, unannounced invited by the lyric of a song, the words of someone around, a memory both distant and close, circumstances we couldn’t alter. And they leave dilapidating the house we have so closely guarded our soul in.

This too shall pass, they say. Maybe it will.


A weekly blog on Growing Up – every Saturday because Saturdays are perfect for overthinking. 

Growing Up #10: What Have We Done to Our Homes?

I’ve always been a fan of retreats, but then it struck me this time. What have we done to our homes that we must go far far away from it to find our peace back? Isn’t home supposed to be the inviolable place we rested our minds, the impermeable barrier that kept us safe, the impervious door no evil could pass?

This is of course not to say travel and retreats are a waste. It’s just very ironic that our schedules have made us their slaves. We’re always connected, and a few minutes of disconnection can feel like a year of missing out.

I’ve been reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and a line from the book about the domestication of wheat strikes so familiar to what technology has done to us:

We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us. 

Perhaps technology has domesticated us. Harari calls us a hackable creature, thanks to technology again. Read about it here.

I’ve known myself as someone who has always loved being home. I might be the classic introvert that personality quizzes describe. I love being at home – wiping dust off the book shelf, arranging and rearranging toiletries on the rack, or just playing the keyboard.

These days though I find stress creeping into the walls of my room, insecurity emerging out of social media taking over my dusty study desk, unnecessary emails gnawing up my creating time.

And I ask myself, what have I done to my home?

I must change it. It must be changed. Drawing lines – it might just be as simple, undecorated and acetic as that. Just as hard.


Growing Up is a weekly series on well, growing up, published every Saturday (Cheat week this Week as I wrote this on a Tuesday). It’s been 10 consecutive weeks I’ve been writing this specific column in my blog here. Can’t believe it’s 10 weeks already. They were right: time passes any way.  

Growing Up #5: To see oneself from somebody else’s eyes

A strange desire overcomes me. I would like to see myself from somebody else’s eyes.

Would they see me as someone whose inbox is filled with rejection letters? Someone who’s unable to walk the linear path of life, someone who does not understand the way the world runs? Someone who cannot connect the dots of her career, jumping from one area into another? Someone who is not clever enough to navigate through the spider webs of life, someone who doesn’t know where all of this is heading?

If I could see myself from somebody else’s eyes, what would I see? Maybe I wouldn’t see much of anything.

I’d be busy in my own spider webs.


Growing Up, a series on well growing up. Every Saturday, breaking the rule this week (again! because what a Saturday it has been).