How ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ makes all the right moves
As the Netflix series shows, what we really want right now is an old-fashioned bedtime story
“I am both delighted and dazed by the response,” announced Scott Frank, on the news that The Queen’s Gambit had become the most popular scripted limited series in Netflix history.
In the four weeks since landing on the streaming service, the drama has been watched by 62 million subscribers, ranked at No 1 in 63 countries, and come within the top 10 in 92. For all the pomp and ceremony that attended its arrival last month, the real hit of the new schedule has been a gentle adaptation of a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis about an orphaned chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, and her quest to become the world champion.
Even Frank, the showrunner, co-creator and director of the series, seems astonished that it has been so successful. A female-centred drama about a board game: are you kidding? Rather like Alexei Shirov’s “Jaw-Dropping Bishop Sacrifice” in 1998, unanimously voted by the staff at Chess.com as being the greatest chess move, the show’s popularity has been dazzling...