I must confess that I was at first a bit put off by The Queen’s Gambit – everyone was raving about it, but a series about a girl who plays chess, really? Even though the trailer on Netflix tried to make it look like she was living a wild life, I mean, she was a chess player. How wild could that life really be?

Don’t get me wrong. I play chess and I enjoy the game in all its intricacies. I just don’t think it’s the stuff of a primetime series.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had to have the series winning the Golden Globe for Best Limited Series and Anya Taylor Joy winning the same award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, among a number of other awards from less famous institutions, rubbed on my face to actually sit down and start watching it. I didn’t stand up until I finished it 7 episodes later.

The story is gripping – an orphan girl who is astoundingly good at a prevalently male game, and who carves her way through this masculine world not by using her beauty (even though she’s beautiful), not by using her charm (even though she can be charming), but by excelling at her job. She is really good at what she does, and although some men resent her for it, in the end, they bow to her with respect. And that is really empowering.

There are a lot of positive messages for women in this series. Beth, the main character, is gifted, that is true, but she does not only turn a switch in her head and magically learn how to play. She reads countless books and spends many sleepless nights practicing, perfecting her game, sending people out there the message that it takes a lot of hard work to make a true champion.

Another very important message that we get from this series is the importance of a support network. Even though Beth is a genius, she’s flawed, and every time she falters, her friends are there to support there. Without going into spoiler terrain, if you still haven’t seen this masterpiece, her friends will rally around her when she’ll need them the most and when she’ll least expect their help.

If, for some reason, you still haven’t seen The Queen’s Gambit, don’t miss it. It’s available on Netflix and it’s really a must-see.

by Cris Gontow