The Queen’s Gambit Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Walter Tevis’ novel, written in 1983, gained some popularity among English-speaking readers of the time. The book sold quite well, but in the end, all Tevis fans became fed up with the repeatedly re-read plot, the book began to “slow down”. The director of Marley & Me, the screenwriter of Logan Scott Frank took up the film adaptation of the novel. Initially, they planned to release one or two films based on the plot of a literary work, but Frank came to the conclusion that the story needed to be told as fully as possible and supplemented with professional direction. So the series was born, consisting of seven episodes. The story tells of an orphan boy who discovers his great abilities in a game called chess.

A reference to Scott Frank’s The Queen’s Gambit

The 1950s was the period of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, which drew many countries of the world into the well-known arms race. The protagonist of the series and the work of the same name is a chess prodigy. From the first to the seventh episodes, it tells about his life and fate from the age of 8 to the entry of a young man into adulthood.

The beautiful Anna Taylor-Joy, whom we know from The New Mutants, took part in the filming. She was invited to the cast by executive producer Alan Scott, who wrote the script for The Witches. Anna plays one of the key characters in the events taking place on the screen – Beth Harmon. Throughout the episodes, her role in the storyline is rather controversial: addiction and sexism are mixed in her with the highest ambitions. The chess genius aspires to the title of champion.

In the early fifties, Beth ends up in an orphanage located in Kentucky. Doctors at home give her sedatives, explaining their effect as beneficial for the girl’s state of health. In fact, these turn out to be tranquilizers, from which Anna becomes addicted – this will directly affect her difficult fate. Winning competition after competition, the girl understands her destiny in chess. However, the complexity of her potential career is a tradition of the chess community of the time. The predominant contingent of men in the game cannot calmly look at Anna beating them.

The path of a chess careerist leads Beth to the reigning world champion of that time – Soviet professional Vasily Borgov. A fight with such an opponent should go down in history, and the girl understands that she simply has to show the maximum, revealing her talent to the fullest. But she cannot fight with an opponent not at all because of the organization of the tournament – the girl’s constantly emerging dependence on alcohol and drugs cannot leave her path without certain problems.

Will Anna be able to overcome herself? Will she be able to take on the reigning champion and show what she is truly capable of? The series finale reveals the plot’s outcome.

The penultimate series – our “chess queen” meets with Vasily Borgov in a chess confrontation. Having spent the night before the tournament drunk, she cannot coordinate her actions, think over moves in advance – a simple hangover affects. The girl loses.

Defeat introduces Anna into the deepest psychological crisis. Beth’s depression is due to the morbid state of her psyche, shattered by alcohol and drugs.

The next character in the dramatic story, a friend of a chess player named Jolene, turns out to be there just in time. She helps the girl get rid of the addiction that torments the latter and does not allow Beth to reveal her abilities. Anna is coming out of a severe depression: now she is already changed and ready to take on a chess battle with the world champion.

The Meaning of Scott Frank’s The Queen’s Gambit Series Finale

Outside in 1968. Anna Taylor-Joy arrives in the Soviet Union to fight for the honorary title of winner of the Tournament of Champions in Moscow. The girl understands herself and finds that drugs and alcohol are not at all a source of inspiration, as she used to think, but the root of evil that gives rise to her state of insanity at critical moments. Now Beth relies only on her strength, her intellect and, of course, her talent.

The main character wins the fight. She becomes the world champion and realizes that all this time she was supported by friends and even former rivals. Such an optimistic finale shows the viewers the main point of the series: do not give up and do not let troubles build barriers to your goal, and then you will catch the “wind of luck”.

In November 2020, fans of intellectual films with meaning could watch the American mini-series The Queen’s Gambit, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. Despite the fact that the theme of the series was chess, the film aroused wide interest even among those who had never been fond of this game. In the film The Queen’s Gambit, the meaning of the plot captures the viewer so much that he is ready to sit for 6 hours without looking up from the screen.

Queen’s move: summary

It will be much easier to understand the meaning of the movie “Queen’s Move” if you remember the content of the picture. The action of the series covers the period from the mid-50s and early 60s. The main character is an American girl Beth Harmon. The whole story is divided into 7 episodes lasting about an hour.


After the death of her mother in a car accident, Beth is sent to a girls’ shelter. All education in this institution comes down to pumping the pupils with tranquilizers, which allow them to keep the girls in obedience.

Closed Beth tries to stay away from students and teachers. But with pleasure she communicates with the cleaner Scheibel, whom she accidentally stumbled upon when she went down to the basement. The janitor is fond of chess and teaches the game to a girl, discovering her extraordinary talent. Taking tranquilizers enhances Beth’s extraordinary abilities, she easily defeats members of the school chess club.


After a while, Beth is adopted by the Whitley family. Elma’s adoptive mother turns out to be an alcohol addict. In addition, she is addicted to the same tranquilizers that were issued in the shelter. This enables the girl to continue taking pills stolen from her mother.

Beth’s passion for chess leads her to a chess tournament and she quickly reaches the final of the competition. Before the decisive match with the best player Harry Beltik, the girl panics. Hiding in the toilet, she takes another pill. This brings her victory in the competition and the title of state champion.

Double pawns

A new life begins for Beth. She travels around the country, participating in various chess competitions. During one of the trips, Harmon meets the national champion Benny Watts. The game with him ends with the first defeat of the girl.


Beth signed up for an evening Russian language course. In parallel, she goes to parties, smokes weed, drinks alcohol and drugs.

After graduating from high school, the girl goes to an international tournament, where she defeats the Soviet child prodigy Georgy Girev. But Harmon failed to beat the Soviet champion Vasily Borgov. Beth’s adoptive mother suddenly dies and she is forced to return home to take care of the funeral.


Harmon takes part in the US Chess Championship, where Benny Watts becomes her opponent again. The girl loses the first few games, but she emerges victorious from the final game.

After the championship, Benny offers to help Beth prepare for the Paris tournament.

Postponing the party

Thanks to training with Benny, Beth’s skill level is much higher. But alcohol prevents the girl from expressing herself properly.

Suffering from a hangover at a game with Borg, Harmon loses the game.

Returning to Kentucky, the girl meets at home one of the pupils of the orphanage – Jolene.


Harmon dreams of going to Moscow to play with Bargov again, but she does not have enough money for this. Jolene helps out by giving away the money she has set aside for her studies.

At the Moscow Championship, the chess player reaches the final, where she must meet Bargov. But the Soviet champion postpones the game.

Interesting! Initially, the role of Bargov was offered to the famous Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov, but he refused, agreeing only to advise on chess games.

The match continues the next day. Harmon refuses Bargov’s proposal to recognize the draw.

The championship is over. Bat drives to the airport, but as he drives past a park, he gets out of his car and joins the local amateur chess players on the benches.

Plot Explanation of The Queen’s Gambit

Somewhere in the middle of the series comes the understanding that The Queen’s Gambit is not a film about chess. At the same time, in order to understand the meaning of the series The Queen’s Gambit, you need to concentrate as much as possible, as during a chess game.

The authors touched on such important topics as:

  • addiction;
  • feminism;
  • loneliness;
  • mutual assistance.

In addition, in the film The Queen’s Gambit, the meaning of the story is to find yourself and your own place in life. Throughout the film, the viewer watches Beth struggle with herself. From an ordinary teenager, the heroine turns into an ambitious girl with a character that has been tempered over the years of her formation. This helps Harmon find her own way of building relationships with the world and loved ones.

What is the essence of the ending

The film ends with the victory of the heroine. Harmon’s dream came true – she beat the Soviet champion. It would seem that such a predictable ending can cause disappointment. But the true meaning of the ending of the film The Queen’s Gambit is revealed after assessing the depth of all the changes that have occurred with the heroine.

At the beginning of the series, a secretive, withdrawn teenager appears before the viewer, an individualist who has no friends and is able to step over people’s feelings. But gradually the views of the girl are changing.

The impetus was the death of her first teacher – Scheibel. Arriving at the funeral, Beth finds their only joint photograph and her letter in the janitor’s things. This shocked the girl and prompted her to take a different look at her relationships with people.

Before Harmon’s last game, all the American champions, united, try to help the girl with advice. Thanks to this, the chess player gets a second wind, she wins. And for the first time, Beth did without tranquilizers, using only her own talent, given to her by nature.

This suggests that in the film The Queen’s Gambit, the meaning of the series has another important meaning. The heroine did not just win a chess victory. She managed to overcome her own addiction. Will Beth be able to hold on to the most important victory of her life and give up alcohol and pills forever? The answer to this question is left to the discretion of the viewer.

Chess is not an easy game. You can’t sit down in it and just move the pieces around the board. In chess, you have to think. This is what the authors suggested to the audience – to think and, perhaps, reconsider their lives.

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