Back in the early ’90s Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov faced off against Brit Nigel Short in a series of games which was, inexplicably, shown on television.
Chess is the game of kings but it doesn’t exactly lend itself to gripping viewing, no matter how exciting Carol Vorderman and the team tried to make the coverage.
It was, unsurprisingly, a ratings disaster.
Fool’s mate? They certainly were.
Netflix have managed to make the game interesting with The Queen’s Gambit, a drama about a chess prodigy, played by Anya Taylor-Joy.
She’s a chess whizz but unlike most grandmasters she’s less of a highly-focused boffin, more of a troubled waif.
This young woman comes from a broken home and has a frightening substance addiction; her hunger for tranquilisers is only matched by her desire to learn more about how to play chess.
Of course, the game is an escape from her life.
The genius of The Queen’s Gambit is bringing the chess sequences to life. You don’t have to know who Bobby Fischer is to appreciate what Anya’s Beth is doing to win her games. It’s explained neatly and, I never thought I’d be saying this about watching someone capture their opponent’s pawn, grippingly.
Move over, The Crown. There’s a new Queen on Netflix’s block.
The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix
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