As you undoubtedly know by now, The Queen’s Gambit was Netflix’s must-binge drama of the fall, and precipitated a surge of interest in chess thanks to Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance as prodigy Beth Harmon. The show was also praised for its exquisite period aesthetic and music, but there were also plenty of subtler details which were easy to miss on first viewing. A new video from Netflix UK rounds up some of the Easter eggs that were woven into the seven-episode miniseries.
In Beth’s first game of chess against orphanage custodian turned mentor Mr Shaibel, he plays white, placing him at an advantage. In her climactic game against Borgov at the end of the series, Beth is the one who plays white, foreshadowing her win.
Each game in the show was planned out by a real-life chess consultant to ensure verisimilitude. These consultants included Russian grand master Garry Kasparov and chess coach Bruce Pandolfini.
During one scene, Beth’s adopted mother Alma mistakenly refers to chess champion Benny Watts as “Bobby.” While this could be interpreted as a characteristically tipsy slip of the tongue, it is in fact a reference to real-life chess player Bobby Fischer, on whom Benny was based.
Many of the chess games in the show were inspired by real-life matches, such as the game where Beth wins against her opponent in fewer than two dozen moves, which was based on a game by 17th Century player Gioachino Greco.
Beth is the queen
Throughout the show, Beth is surrounded by men, due to the fact that chess in the 1950s and 1960s is such a male-dominated sport. Despite this, she is the most powerful character, mirroring the status of the queen on a chessboard.
The episode structure
The Queen’s Gambit consists of seven episodes. This was by design, as it echoes the seven squares a pawn must cross on a board to become a queen—again, a symbol for Beth’s journey.
The ceiling chess
A recurring motif in the show is Beth lying in bed, visualizing chess games playing out on the ceiling above her; it is frequently hinted that this is when she feels the safest and most confident. In each of the ceiling games, the chess pieces are those she used when learning to play chess with Mr Shaibel.
The color green
The green pills to which Beth becomes addicted at a young age are a big part of the show’s imagery; this is referenced in the green hat she wears while hungover, and the green dress she wears when she plays against Borgov while still drunk.
Daniel Parker, the makeup artist on the show, planned that as Beth continues in her ascent, her lipstick would become bolder in color, an “ode” to her mother Alma, who with her death leaves behind a striking lipstick print on a teacup as a symbol of her absence.
Crisscrossed lines can be seen all over the set and costume design of The Queen’s Gambit, from the plaid clothes worn by Beth, to the wallpaper and bedding in her hotel rooms. Beth’s costuming also starts out simple and understated, like that of a pawn, while she ends up dressed like a queen.
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