Everyone is talking about the hit series The Queen’s Gambit. It’s created by Netflix and based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name.
In just one month, it became the most-watched miniseries ever on Netflix. And just like other great movies and TV shows, The Queen’s Gambit turned out to be a brilliantly and precisely executed piece of art.
And like any other piece of art, there are numerous details viewers might have missed. We have compiled a list of the most interesting details, and you will definitely find them interesting. They might even make you watch the series again.
Beth is wearing a stylish all-white outfit with a hat in the last episode. There was a bubble on the top of the hat, and it turned Beth into a visual interpretation of the white queen chess piece.
"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 told the Vogue.
One of the most interesting details that most viewers have perhaps missed was this one shared by one Reddit user. In the scene, Alma is seen looking in the hotel mirror—the set resembles a famed visual pun illustration by the 19th-century artist Charles Allan Gilbert called "All Is Vanity." The illustration shows both a woman staring into a mirror and a human skull. This is the scene where we see Alma for the last time.
Cleo is a mysterious French fashion model who meets Beth the night before her game against Borgov, and she tempts Beth into an alcoholic spree. It's quite a coincidence, and there is a theory going around on Reddit that Cleo was working for the Russians to sabotage Beth. In that light, it makes sense why she doesn't appear ever again after Beth's match.
Also, there is a scene in the last episode when Beth asks Townes how he managed to get a visa at the last minute, and he says that the Russian embassy may have helped since they believed he would distract her. Cleo was the only person to whom Beth disclosed her feelings for Townes. So, how would the Russian embassy know that Townes could be a distraction for her?
Throughout the series, there are many scenes where Beth is picturing a chess game on the ceiling. In each of those ceiling games, the chess pieces are the same as the ones she used when learning to play chess with Mr. Shaibel.
If you are a chess player, you've probably noticed how authentic all the matches portrayed in the show are. Netflix revealed in one of their press releases 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 the game's authenticity, The Queen's Gambit brought in an expert Bruce Pandolfini and Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
Among all the newspaper clippings commending and recognizing Beth's success that Mr. Schaibel has saved in his office, there's one with an introduction line saying, "Beth Harmon proves not all women are stupid." This detail is yet another clue underlining the misogyny Beth had to deal with.
"The Queen's Gambit" series consists of seven chapters. The show's composition might be echoing the seven squares a pawn must cross over on a board to become a queen.
In the first episode, Beth is seen taking a book written by her mother, Alice Harmon, titled "Monomial Representations and Symmetric Presentations." This scene was an clue given to the viewers that the girl's mom was a talented mathematician. Beth seems to have inherited this characteristic.
Beth goes shopping after she won her first cash prize and buys her first-ever chess set. In the last episode, when she goes into her hotel room to work out how to beat Luchenko, she is still using that same chess set.
Most of the actors in the show didn't know how to play chess—each game and the playing style of each character were prepared by real-life chess consultants and coaches. Then the actors had to learn how and when to place each piece for certain shots.
For illustration, Harry Beltik's playing style was based on the Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. "We each choose a character," the 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."
Margaret is the girl from Beth's high school who bullied her because she had chunky brown shoes. Beth later catches Margaret making out with her boyfriend in the library. In that scene, Margaret says: "I wouldn't be caught dead in Ben Snyder's." A few years later, Beth runs into Margaret while shopping at Ben Snyder's. This was a genuinely satisfying full-circle moment.
Many of Beth's outfits have checks and plaids. "I always try to mirror what is happening inside a character with what they are wearing on the outside, and the checks are something that I thought would be immediately interesting to Anya's character, as she would intuitively choose to wear pieces that are connected to chess. 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 told Vogue.
There's a secret message behind the lipstick shades Beth wears as the show progresses. "Alma's dark lipstick is one of her key characteristics. Makeup designer, Daniel Parker, planned that as the series progresses, Beth's own shades of lipstick are more and more similar, as an ode to her second mother," Netflix revealed in a video.
The "Dutch tilt" or "Dutch angle" is a cinematic shot in which the camera is skewed to one side. This technique is typically used to portray anxiety or tension in the subject being filmed. When Beth realizes she's about to lose from Benny Watts, the camera begins tilting and creating the "Dutch tilt."
Beth was bullied on her first day of high school for wearing chunky brown shoes. In that same scene, the camera shows that all the girls are wearing black and white Oxford-style shoes.
Later in episode two, Beth wins her first cash prize and goes shopping. She then buys her first chess set and a dress. But she also bought a pair of Oxford shoes, and you can see her wearing them in the next episode.
In her first game against orphanage custodian Mr. Shaibel, Beth plays black, which places Mr. Shaibel at an advantage. It all comes a full circle when Beth has the white figures in her final game against Borgov.
Beth is wearing a light grey dress with a collar in the first episode. And in the last episode, during the final match, she is wearing the same color clothing that also has a collar. "In episode one, Beth is wearing a dress that her mother made for her, tenderly embroidered with her name. The color of this dress represents Beth's sense of 'home.'
We wanted to create a moment when she could once again come 'home,' which is why she is wearing the same color dress in her final tournament in Moscow—the dress she is wearing when she is winning. We wanted to use this color to show that she finally feels confident and that her mother is with her," the show's costume designer Gabriele Binder told Vogue.
Throughout the show, there are quite a few allusions to famous real-life women who were successful in fields mostly dominated by men. For illustration, in one of Beth's classes, the teacher reads a quote from a poem 'Not Waving But Drowning' written by Stevie Smith. She is the winner of Queen's Gold Medal for poetry and Cholmondeley Award for Poets in 1966.
In the third episode, when Townes was taking pictures of Beth in his hotel room, he asked her to say "Ruy López!" which is one of the most popular chess game openings.