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dubbel zout

S01.E07: End Game

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1 hour ago, LeGrandElephant said:

Still odd that there was never any scene where the adoptive mother found out Beth's real age. 

41 minutes ago, dubbel zout said:

I think it didn't matter, especially once Alma and Beth bonded.

Yes, and I thought Alma's line to Beth about it being pretty late in the day/game for her to be getting her first period implied that she knew, regardless of whether or not it had ever been revealed previously off screen.

 

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On 11/22/2020 at 6:29 AM, Haleth said:

I was surprised when Beth said she had been in love with Townes.  A crush, yeah, but love? 

The hug really caught me off guard.  It seemed way too familiar for the limited time they had spent with each other. 

Although it delved into the unbelievable, I enjoyed seeing the guys all gathered together to help Beth win.  Loved the reference back to the fact that the Russians were a part of a team.  It was a nice addition to Jolene being her "family".  

Benny was just the little boy from Love, Actually when he was in his cowboy garb and he was just little David Spade in his casual wear.  I couldn't accept him as a sexy love interest at all.  

I was a little suprised that the trip back to the orphanage was painted in such a negative light (or did I just misinterpret it?).  I understand the heartbreak that brought both Beth and Jolene there.  I understand that an orphanage is certainly no place for a child to grow up.  But couldn't it have been so much worse for two orphans?  There didn't appear to be any abuse.  No fighting amongst the girls.  Beth and Jolene formed a bond like sisters.  The adults appeared competent at their jobs and caring.  I suspect Beth may have had it much worse with an increasingly mentally unstable Mother isolated in a trailer in the boonies. 

I also can't believe her Father or another family member didn't find her.

I was worried for a moment that the ending was a drug induced dream and she was going to wake up in the orphanage.  So relieved that wasn't the case!        

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On 12/8/2020 at 4:18 PM, lasu said:

Definitely everyone can decide for themselves, but for me, if I found out definitively Cleo was a plant, I would remove two of my five stars for this show.  It doesn't fit with the theme (Beth is her own enemy, she doesn't need someone else to be her enemy), and they would have obviously done a piss poor job of fleshing out that character if she was so important to the story.  And if she was a Russian plant, that would make her one of the biggest players in the whole show and they never even mention once about Russian spies or even that her hotel room in Moscow.  The show never implied that the Russians were cheaters (despite what we may know in real life), so I would be extremely disappointed if this particular fan theory turned out to be true.

Actually one of my major gripes with the show is that Beth faced almost no adversity in the form of other people.  Usually when people are successful, lucky, happy, and doing well, other people try to sabotage and tear them down.  I've seen this again and again in real life.  This show was such a fantasy because all of Beth's acquaintances, "friends", and even direct rivals would try to help her.  I found this incredibly unrealistic because I have never seen  this happen in real life.  And the people I know including myself have all experienced much less personal success than Beth did.

Finally, Cleo somewhat answered that, and Jolene admitting to stealing Beth's chess book kind of answered that.  But that's all I got, and if Cleo WASN'T trying to sabotage Beth (no idea why and I don't really care) then that makes me look down on the show even moreso and I have almost nothing to answer this gripe.

I don't necessarily think Cleo was a plant whatsoever.  But it was really insane to me that nobody tried to sabotage Beth for 7 episodes and everyone gazed adoringly at Beth like, how can I help this woman accomplish her goals and do almost nothing for myself in the process?

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53 minutes ago, Ms Blue Jay said:

…But it was really insane to me that nobody tried to sabotage Beth for 7 episodes and everyone gazed adoringly at Beth like, how can I help this woman accomplish her goals and do almost nothing for myself in the process?

6 hours ago, Kiki620 said:

…I understand that an orphanage is certainly no place for a child to grow up.  But couldn't it have been so much worse for two orphans?  There didn't appear to be any abuse.…

After Beth was caught trying to self-medicate her withdrawal symptoms from the orphanage’s induced addiction, she was forbidden to play chess throughout the rest of her time there, to age fifteen——so, for years. 

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At that point she hadn't experienced any personal success yet though.  So I'm not sure how that goes against my point.  She started earning success once she was adopted (another stroke of luck) and her mother gave her money to support her skill.  Her adopted father was certainly a shit towards her though.

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On 10/24/2020 at 6:15 PM, dubbel zout said:

A woman winning the world championship would have been cataclysmic news, and I think the show kind of undersold that aspect of it, though I know this wasn't about the USA vs. USSR. IRL chess chronology, she beat a Russian before Bobby Fischer, who beat Boris Spassky in 1972.

It wasn't the world championship, just an invitational. One that was clearly rigged for a Soviet to win, no less - there were four Soviet and four foreign players. (As an aside, I liked how the Russian announcer introduced the foreign players as "Mr." or "Miss" and the Soviet players as "Comrade.")

On 10/28/2020 at 7:37 AM, dubbel zout said:

He was 36 or something to her teenage when they first met, so yes, a huge gap and definitely very creepy. 

Townes was in college when he and Beth first met.

On 10/30/2020 at 9:34 AM, Ohiopirate02 said:

Was it just me, or did anyone else think Borgov was proud of Beth beating him?  

I thought it was a mix of professional respect and an almost fatherly pride/protectiveness. BTW, I love that this show portrayed the Soviets from different walks of life as the warm and gracious people that most of them were/are. Most of them weren't invested in the Cold War (just like Beth wasn't), they were just living their lives.

On 11/5/2020 at 6:04 PM, Mabinogia said:

That was my guess, and given that her mother's name was on some kind of mathematical book or whatever (can't think of the word I'm looking for right now)

The word is "monograph."

On 11/6/2020 at 6:59 AM, dubbel zout said:

That's exactly who he was—Beth's bio dad and (most likely) her mother's college professor.

The mother authored that monograph while working in the department of mathematics at Cornell. *She* was the professor.

On 11/6/2020 at 10:28 AM, Ohiopirate02 said:

That man was Beth's father, but the situation was more complicated than married professor banging his student.  In a previous episode, we are shown in a flashback where Beth's mom took off with Beth and kept him away from Beth.  I interpreted this scene as they had had a more committed relationship that may have lasted years before Beth's mom's mental illness got to be too much.

Yes, exactly. He said he'd spent a month looking for them.

On 11/19/2020 at 5:06 AM, peggy06 said:

It was interesting to me that they didn't really delve into the mom's mental illness. It was just there. Perhaps the book does so more thoroughly.

Spoiler

The book barely mentions Beth's mother, and Beth wasn't in the car with her when she crashed. The entire backstory with Beth's parents was added by the show.

Re: Jolene being the "Black Savior," the show does give that impression, but

Spoiler

in the book it was Beth who frantically searched for Jolene when she hit rock-bottom with her drinking. They reconnected and Jolene helped her stop drinking and get in better physical shape, but she did not give Beth the money to go to Russia. I think if the show had done it this way it would have been much less of a trope.

 

Edited by chocolatine
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I didn't read the whole 4 pages, but regarding the bugged room/telephone

Beth had a very long conversation with New York. Lasting for hours. Do we really think Borgov could have listened to all of it before the match? If they taped it to give it to him, he would not have the time to hear it all. They were talking until almost the match time.

My husband said in the final scene that she became the queen, but we didn't realise that this means she is now able to move where she wants. Nice catch

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6 minutes ago, Snow Fairy said:

My husband said in the final scene that she became the queen, but we didn't realise that this means she is now able to move where she wants. Nice catch

Ooo. I missed that too. I wish there had been a fragment of dialogue emphasizing Beth’s newfound autonomy. 

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On 12/22/2020 at 6:02 AM, shapeshifter said:

Ooo. I missed that too. I wish there had been a fragment of dialogue emphasizing Beth’s newfound autonomy. 

I don’t. Then people would complain that we are being hammered over the head with the symbolism. Show runners can’t win.

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I'm surprised at how much I loved this little series, it was so nice! 

I agree with everyone who thinks that the Jolene thing was very trope-y, they should make up for that by giving us a spinnoff with Jolene as the main character, she seemed really compelling to me.

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On 11/22/2020 at 7:29 AM, Haleth said:

I love, love this show.  Best show I've seen in years.  Not only was the story engaging and the acting top notch, the whole 60s vibe with fashion and music was interesting.  People are getting sick of listening to me rave about this show.

When Benny called Beth and we saw that all her friends/opponents were there to help coach?  Bawling.  When she cleared her mind and looked up to the ceiling?  (And everyone else looked up too?)  More bawling.  Then Borgov hugged her.  Lovely.  When she sat down at the end to play a game with the man who looked so much like Mr Scheibel?  Even more bawling.

I've had Classical Gas as an earworm for a couple days now.  Adding Venus to that too.  What a fantastic soundtrack!

I kind of agree about the opportune reappearance of Jolene as (Black) savior.  I'm glad she even fought back against that role.  It was nice to see that she was successful in spite of growing up in an orphanage though.  But in the end the character was just a device to bring Beth back to the beginning so she could begin to rebuild herself.

I was surprised when Beth said she had been in love with Townes.  A crush, yeah, but love?  Beth didn't seem to have such strong feelings for anyone.

 

 

I loved this series. I thought they did such a good job of showing human strength and weakness which is so rare these days. 

Bolded above are mine-I felt the opposite. And I don’t write this to sound antagonistic but differing. I hated both scenes. When the “team” called her I feared I had switched to a Disney film.  When she looked up- I didn’t need that- she’s a master chess player- this viewer didn’t need a throwback to the orphanage/looking up scenes. It felt very cheesy in such a non cheesy series. 

And I recognize and since talking to friends and family I’m in a minority and I’m ok with that. I loved the series- hell I marathoned it  in one day with my loyal dog by my side but no to the ending.  Just let her win- drop the sugar. 

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11 hours ago, luvenan said:

I agree with everyone who thinks that the Jolene thing was very trope-y, they should make up for that by giving us a spinnoff with Jolene as the main character, she seemed really compelling to me.

OMG I would totally watch that. It would be fascinating to see her go from unwanted orphan to , was she a lawyer? It's been a while since I saw the show so I forget what exactly she did, just that she seemed well educated, fairly successful and an activist type, all of which would make a great story and couldn't have been easy for a poor black female orphan in the 60s. Also, I liked the actress so I'd be happy if she continued as Jolene.  

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1 hour ago, Mabinogia said:

OMG I would totally watch that. It would be fascinating to see her go from unwanted orphan to , was she a lawyer? It's been a while since I saw the show so I forget what exactly she did, just that she seemed well educated, fairly successful and an activist type, all of which would make a great story and couldn't have been easy for a poor black female orphan in the 60s. Also, I liked the actress so I'd be happy if she continued as Jolene.  

Yes she had a new vehicle and maybe more courtesy of a partner at her law firm- pretty sure he was married. 

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47 minutes ago, KnoxForPres said:

Yes she had a new vehicle and maybe more courtesy of a partner at her law firm- pretty sure he was married. 

Yes, she said he was married and getting "divorced".  

On 12/20/2020 at 7:23 PM, chocolatine said:

The word is "monograph."  The mother authored that monograph while working in the department of mathematics at Cornell. *She* was the professor.

I thought it was the mother's dissertation?  ETA:  I found the scene, and it was the mother's Ph.D. dissertation in mathematics from Cornell. 

It did bug me that Beth had never repaid Schaibel, or kept in touch with him.  It broke my heart when she opened that envelope from him, and the five dollars were five well-used dollar bills.  That showed it was a sacrifice on his part.  That said, he would have been happy with a postcard more than the ten dollars she had promised.  I am sure he had been told that he would lose his job if he continued to talk to or interact with Beth after the pill incident.  

I absolutely loved this series, but wish they had not brought back the bio-dad so many times, because I kept expecting him to show up at some point.  But they did a great job showing bio-mom's despair and mental fragility.   

The clothes!  The music!  THE SPACIOUS UPHOLSTERED AIRPLANE SEATS!  

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29 minutes ago, freddi said:

I thought it was the mother's dissertation?  I'll go back and look if I can remember which episode that was in.

The byline was "Alice Harmon, Ph.D." If it had been a dissertation, she wouldn't have had the title yet. It also would have said something like "submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" on the cover. If you want to check for yourself, it was in the first episode in the first 10-15 minutes.

29 minutes ago, freddi said:

And I thought Townes had said he was 35 when they first met, after he asked her how old she was, then said "don't tell me".  

Townes never mentioned his age, but one of the twins said that he was in college at the time of Beth's first tournament. When they met again in Vegas he was working for the Lexington Herald Leader, and then a few years later in Moscow he said he was assistant editor like it was a recent development, so it sounded like he was still relatively early in his career. He did ask Beth her age when they first met, then immediately thought better of it and told her she didn't have to answer, so she jokingly replied that she was 36.

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3 minutes ago, chocolatine said:

The byline was "Alice Harmon, Ph.D." If it had been a dissertation, she wouldn't have had the title yet. It also would have said something like "submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" on the cover. If you want to check for yourself, it was in the first episode in the first 10-15 minutes.

Townes never mentioned his age, but one of the twins said that he was in college at the time of that tournament. Townes asked Beth her age, then immediately thought better of it and told her she didn't have to answer. So she jokingly replied that she was 36.

Thanks, I had corrected the Townes reference right after I posted!

And reviewers also agree this was the mother's Ph.D. dissertation.  I've seen plenty of bound copies (they are bound after they are approved) with Ph.D. on the cover; I make my living dealing with dissertations!   And this was also the dissertation format -- 8 1/2" by 11" paper, about 60 pages, typical of a mathematics dissertation.  I'll add that getting a mathematics dissertation at Cornell as a woman in the 1950s would stress the best of us, yikes.  

Also just realized they had used a third "Beth" in that opening episode to play the five-year-old Beth (in the credits).  That helps with the timeline of the father.  

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12 minutes ago, freddi said:

And reviewers also agree this was the mother's Ph.D. dissertation.  I've seen plenty of bound copies (they are bound after they are approved) with Ph.D. on the cover; I make my living dealing with dissertations!   And this was also the dissertation format -- 8 1/2" by 11" paper, about 60 pages, typical of a mathematics dissertation.  I'll add that getting a mathematics dissertation at Cornell as a woman in the 1950s would stress the best of us, yikes. 

That's really interesting - is that common practice in all academic disciplines? In computer science in the early 2000s we didn't get the fancy leather binding, and all the electronic versions the university saves are pre-title as well.

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1 hour ago, chocolatine said:

That's really interesting - is that common practice in all academic disciplines? In computer science in the early 2000s we didn't get the fancy leather binding, and all the electronic versions the university saves are pre-title as well.

In my experience, it is up to the author of the dissertation to decide whether to get the fancy bound copy.  I did mine pre-2000, and the university library automatically did a plain bound copy for its holdings (name and title on the spine).  Some people did order and pay for the fancy bound copies with the imprinted gold letters, and basically, you can say what you want on the cover!  But if it is for professional use or distribution, it would include title, author's name, university name at a minimum. The last one I received from someone in a format like that (fancy binding from the author) was a gift about ten years ago -- and of course by then, I already had a pdf of the entire dissertation.  In Alice Harmon's time, it was a lot harder to get copies of dissertations, so having some good bound copies was more standard.  

Interesting tidbit:  There is actually a dissertation with almost the same title from the University of Birmingham in 1998:  "Monomial Representations and Symmetric Generation" (the last word in Alice Harmon's title was "Presentations").  That could be a coincidence, but that is quite a coincidence, if so!  

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On 12/22/2020 at 10:53 AM, Snow Fairy said:

My husband said in the final scene that she became the queen, but we didn't realise that this means she is now able to move where she wants. Nice catch

Metaphor and imagery may not be for everyone - but for me, it is an intrinsic part of this story.

From a personal perspective, I was humbled to discover that in The Queen’s Gambit I have encountered one of the most beautiful masterpieces of fiction to this day, albeit slightly removed from US and USSR Cold War chess-world historical fact. Yet, being fiction paralleled with reality, perhaps a more powerful story and the message that it brings is able to be delivered than historical fact itself might provide.  

For me, the Queen’s Gambit is not only about the joy, challenge, humanity and beauty of chess - these attributes and more are utilised to create the foundation for something greater. It is not only about overcoming addiction - whether that addiction has been forced upon the innocent or whether it is a consequence of choice. It is not only about rising above life’s jarring knocks and its subtly-developing strangleholds. It is not only about uncertain mental soundness being associated with intellectual capacity and astounding gifts which manifest themselves to wondering eyes and minds. But because it is about all of these, it becomes something more.

This is the coming together of particular skills and passionate effort of a number of exceptionally talented people, from author to director, producer, costume designer, cast, film crew, lighting specialists, extras – the vision, plotting, planning, the ultimate blending and unification of all such endeavours hewn out from the rock of creative gifts from both the intellect and that inner being residing deep within, not least the bringing to life of the very real Beth Harmon by the one who became her in very thought, feeling and understanding, Anya Taylor-Joy. All this amalgamated together in an exquisite production of pure quality, creates for me as close to perfection as it gets. And this perfection culminates in the final scenes.

Remember the final appearance of the other orphanage queen, Jolene, who had refused to let her disadvantages prevent her from succeeding in a male-dominated mid-twentieth century world. How she heard about the victory of her self-declared blood-sister not only in the game against the existing chess master but, because of this, victory over the reverses on life’s playing-board of traps and pitfalls, now sealed by conquering the one and final stumbling block – the end game. Jolene’s words could have been the words which would place the crown firmly upon the queen’s head, cementing the prior conceding of the king - the handing over of the representative piece - by he who knew he had encountered the rightful owner: She was to take it, it was her game and nobody else’s.

So now, it is not simply about the white queen ruling herself instead of herself being ruled by circumstances, but it is about the whole board and all of its pieces finding the one uniting element – the perfected piece, the essential missing link. She wins, yes, but not at any cost. She does not care about being the colour that must move first; she resists the dogmatic requisites of a religious organisation to declare others inferior; she transcends the demands of State with its divisive patriotism by refusing to voice its agenda. No, she wins, but she wins for Mr Shaibel and the immense support of those who have backed her with their hearts, and in so doing she unites the ones who count, the ones she has not yet met – the essential pieces who must all be there so that the game may be played.

In the literal sense Beth has claimed the chess crown of the world – in a metaphysical sense she has hacked the necessary grappling hook into the mountainside of evolutionary endeavour to enable the raising of the whole race to a peak thus far unknown to it.

She removes herself from the car, knowing the area hosts what she has already passed through uncrowned – a real life chess board with living pieces who she has vivified and invigorated by her battles and final victory – pieces seated in squares within a larger square. She walks into the midst of the board where her own recognise her; where all pieces, heads once lowered, are overjoyed - and who relish her presence, eager to greet her in heartfelt gratitude and admiration for what she has done for them.

There is a wall of well-wishers consisting of the other greeting pieces who have come to welcome her from their various squares on the chess board. The wall parts in unison to reveal a seated, smiling, knowing old man. He is representing, by consensus, who she really cares about.

Yet, whether members of the humanity that the old man represents recognise it or not, as an inextricably linked macrocosmic consequence, he also represents the humankind that has just been raised up to a new plateau by her unique and unparalleled victory over not only the greatest grandmaster in the world, but also over the difficulties she has encountered from the tragic circumstances of orphanhood to the downward spiral aided by intrusive mental images and obsessive addiction.

She had sacrificed her assistance, whether it be chemical or whether it be that which opposes her own sensitivities and morality. Under these self-imposed conditions in order to be centred in the power necessary to win, she had begun the only game which would enable her to achieve her ultimate goal - not just to win the game of chess but also to win the game of life. It is surrendering the lesser to gain the centre ground on the board - a queen’s gambit.

She is now at the centre of those who recognise and applaud her contribution; she has finally arrived; she has found the freedom that has always eluded her but which deep-down she knew was there; she had previously stated that she feels safe in a world of 64 squares, and now the whole world for her had actually become a chess board. All is complete.

The old man gestures in a polite yet commanding sweep of his arm for her to take a seat, the same kind as his seat, and yet the one seat reserved for the queen at the centre of the game of life. There is no need to heed the world’s practicalities now - yesterday and tomorrow have no place here. This is the only moment that matters now, yes, the only moment that exists. Let’s enjoy a serious game!

 

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On 10/31/2020 at 12:26 PM, truther said:

So maybe this is a crazy thought, but did anyone else think Beth is going to defect? 

i don't think she was going to defect, but it did cross my mind.  The agent was worried that she was going to miss her flight by walking, and then on top of that she stops along the way to play chess?  She does know the language.  But I don't think that was the intent, the Soviet Union in the '60s would not have been a good life for her.

I guess I didn't realize how conditioned I've become by today's television to constantly expect the worst.  I really appreciate how upbeat this story was overall, none of the bad things a modern viewer suspects came to fruition, and I for one am thankful for it.  Maybe people are hungry for some less cynical viewing like this, because how else does a series about chess get to be #1 on Netflix?

I really think this is the best series or movie on chess that I have ever seen.  I wouldn't be surprised to see this create some sort of chess boom, maybe some future grandmaster will be inspired to play because of this series.

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7 minutes ago, rmontro said:

I guess I didn't realize how conditioned I've become by today's television to constantly expect the worst.  I really appreciate how upbeat this story was overall, none of the bad things a modern viewer suspects came to fruition, and I for one am thankful for it. 

That is one of the things I liked best in a show that was full of things to like. We have, as an audience, been groomed to expect terrible things to happen in the name of drama so it was wonderful to see a show that was full of fascinating drama not rely on any of the typical drama. I was riveted the whole series without Beth ever being beaten, raped, or overly victimized. She had a crappy childhood, but it was a realistically crappy childhood rather than a sensationalized version. 

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I don't think anyone else has mentioned that the British broadcaster at the Moscow tournament is the same actor (John Hollingworth) who played Elizabeth's friend Porchey/Lord Porchester in The Crown.   You never see him face on, but I knew I recognized the voice.  It drove me crazy for a couple of hours. 

And I realize it's the wrong thread, but Cleo was definitely a Russian asset.  Maybe only part-time, but yeah. It would be such a Cold War thing to do.  I don't think there are too many models who hang around with chess players (the ultimate in geeks) and don't know where in the world they might be from week to week. 

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On 10/24/2020 at 9:24 PM, dubbel zout said:

I like that we really have no idea if Beth will continue to play chess or if she'll decide to do something else. In one of the earlier episodes, when she was at a tournament at a university, it looked as if she was seeing that college could be an option. 

I don't think there's really any question that Beth is going to continue to play chess.  It's pretty clear that there isn't anything else that she's interested in that even comes close for her, it's what she truly loves.  It's not like anyone forced her into playing.  In fact, when they wanted to punish her, they took chess away from her.

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Enjoyed the show, was predictable that she was going to beat Borgov.

I don't really know about the chess world but it really surprised me that the men she beat were all very gracious, all the way to Borgov himself.  I guess Shaibel kind of foreshadowed that, teaching the young Beth that the honorable thing to do was to resign if there was no way to win or avoid checkmate.

While I can believe Harry and Benny both befriending her, as well as sleeping with her, they had to be a little peeved that this upstart teen girl came out of nowhere and basically relegated them to has-beens in the little chess fiefdoms that they'd built up?

Especially if there was so much money involved, you'd think it's be a bit of a cutthroat culture.  I don't know exactly what it was like with the Fischers and the Spasskys but probably not all kumbaya?

Also the money seems inconsistent.  Beth was winning enough but also getting magazine covers.  Maybe there wasn't the same machinery but probably could have monetized her celebrity more.  She was out of money to go to Moscow and one of the reasons was she spent too much on dresses?  Why wouldn't designers comp her dresses since she was getting so much attention?  She was bigger than The Monkeys as that State Dept. guy said.

Meanwhile Benny is living in a hovel so while she would have more money than him, seems like he wouldn't be as strapped.

She stayed in these swanky-looking hotel suites when she went to tournaments.  They drank and dined well.  But she had to borrow money to go to Moscow where she is in another large hotel room with a driver and a car?

Also the adulation in Moscow was surprising too.  Yes everyone was into chess there but why would they favor her over their national/world champion?  The Soviet propaganda probably would had slut-shamed her, her flashy style, her heavy drinking, the decadent starlet from the decadent West.

No doubt she'd have been a huge star in the US, probably be on TV frequently, doing some red carpet events, etc. since she was so photogenic.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, aghst said:

The Soviet propaganda probably would had slut-shamed her, her flashy style, her heavy drinking, the decadent starlet from the decadent West.

Her drinking would not have been considered "heavy" by Soviet standards.

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On 2/16/2021 at 6:42 PM, chocolatine said:

Her drinking would not have been considered "heavy" by Soviet standards.

I went to a party hosted by Russians once. I swear we were toasting something with vodka (To all the children of the world!) every few minutes. 
 

I enjoyed the series. These days, I’m happy as long as things aren’t too dumb, predictable, or incongruous. This fit the bill nicely. Now to find the next thing to watch. 

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Binged this over a week and, after a slow start during which I  considered abandoning the series, I enjoyed it.

I remember the women in my family wearing those clothes. And the cars and home decor. And the Twiggy eye makeup!

From the moment she appeared on the screen, "Jolene" caught my attention. Looking forward to more work from this fine actress. I think I remember Benny from "Hustle and Flow."

I didn't like the Mary Tyler Moore ending, with Beth striding through Moscow to play chess with the old geezers (who seemed to be real folks). I would have been content with her enjoying her win and heading toward the airport.

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On 2/16/2021 at 4:23 PM, aghst said:

Also the adulation in Moscow was surprising too.  Yes everyone was into chess there but why would they favor her over their national/world champion? 

I think it's plausible because the fact that she was female made her enough of a novelty that she was able to rise above the cold war atmosphere.  Plus the Russians had dominated chess so thoroughly that I'm sure they could afford to be magnanimous.  I've watched a lot of tennis over the years and tennis crowds appreciate good tennis and behavior, no matter what country the player might be from.  I could see chess in Russia being somewhat similar.    

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Chess in the Soviet Union was a big deal; it was often used as a proxy Cold War fight, which is one reason Bobby Fischer's win was so stunning. An American—an American Jew, at that—beat the Soviets at their own game? Huge.

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On 2/16/2021 at 1:23 PM, aghst said:

Also the adulation in Moscow was surprising too.  Yes everyone was into chess there but why would they favor her over their national/world champion?  The Soviet propaganda probably would had slut-shamed her, her flashy style, her heavy drinking, the decadent starlet from the decadent West.

Chess was like a religion in the Soviet Union and anybody who played it well would have been respected, add to that her beauty and glamour - she would have dazzled them.  Don't assume that somebody is immune to beauty and glamour because they call themselves communist.

As for "slut-shaming" - that would be more an American thing, the Puritan way and all.  Even dour Soviet Union would have had more in common with Europe in certain ways than with the US.  As for her drinking - not excessive by Russian standards.

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Finally got around to watching this.

I thought the mirroring of what the russians do, with all the other chest players coming to her aid, would come in the earlier match, but of course for dramatic reasons it was better in the finale.

I don't like that Townes was gay and "just confused for a minute". Wouldn't it have been more interesting if he was Bi and Beth just pushed him away and wouldn't let him explain? But I guess we can't have Bi characters in television. Also wasn't he a bit open about it for the time? I know it was more liberal in some ways before the AIDS crisis in that in bigger cities people just pretended not to notice, but that also on the other hand meant that gay men still at least pretended to hide it, especially those who wanted to make careers in respectable profesion, like reporter...

Anyway, apart from that gripe, really, really good show.

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On 10/28/2020 at 3:37 PM, dubbel zout said:

He was 36 or something to her teenage when they first met, so yes, a huge gap and definitely very creepy. 

Was that stated somewhere? I thought when she was a teenager he was supposed to be in his early 20s. Wasn't he still in college and then when they met the next time just starting out as a reporter?

I mean it doesn't really match the actors age, but a woman in her mid twentees played an early teen here, so.. eh?

On 10/28/2020 at 6:37 PM, Neurochick said:

When the show ended, she was only 20, so during the series she was very young. 

They never said how old she actually was, did they? The whole running gag through the show was that she never got her real age out, people would always interrupt. The same happened in the last episode. We only know she is 20-something.

On 10/29/2020 at 6:26 PM, showme said:

So as a friend, he stayed in her hotel room over night (very likely in the same bed) and then bring her coffee in the morning and lovingly touching her arm to wake her up? I'd like a friend like that.

Meh. I like to sleep alone. If I have to share my bed with somebody they better do me first. 😉

On 11/14/2020 at 9:27 PM, Ohiopirate02 said:

Well said.  The return of Jolene, and Townes, and Benny, Harry, and the twins all have a thematic purpose as well. 

Were they twins? I kept wondering why they kept showing up together even after they wouldn't have been in the same chess clubs anymore. Then I thought maybe they were boyfriends, then I noticed they looked kinda similar, so maybe they were brothers, but I thought surely the show would have told me that. I guess I really see faces weird...

On 12/15/2020 at 11:41 PM, Ms Blue Jay said:

Actually one of my major gripes with the show is that Beth faced almost no adversity in the form of other people.  Usually when people are successful, lucky, happy, and doing well, other people try to sabotage and tear them down.  I've seen this again and again in real life.  This show was such a fantasy because all of Beth's acquaintances, "friends", and even direct rivals would try to help her.  I found this incredibly unrealistic because I have never seen  this happen in real life.  And the people I know including myself have all experienced much less personal success than Beth did.

Well, she is pretty. People try to help pretty people all the time.  It's burried somewhere deep in our lizard-brains.

On 2/16/2021 at 10:23 PM, aghst said:

Also the adulation in Moscow was surprising too.  Yes everyone was into chess there but why would they favor her over their national/world champion?

Everybody loves an underdog. When the german national team beat Brazil 7-1 in the world cup, german fans in the stadium started cheering for the brazilian team in the second half.

Russians had been dominant for so long in chess, I'm sure the people were glad to cheer for somebody else for a change, especially for a woman.

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So people tried to help Beth both because she's pretty and an underdog?  🤔    

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1 hour ago, Zonk said:

Well, she is pretty. People try to help pretty people all the time.  It's burried somewhere deep in our lizard-brains.

I heard a quote from Anya Taylor-Joy somewhere of her saying she didn't think she was pretty enough to be an actress.  She has an unusual face, but she makes it work for her.  I was a little surprised by all the fashion aspects in the show, and the way they evolved her look.  They wouldn't have done that with a male chess player as the lead,  Although they definitely gave Bennie a style.

As for Townes, there were gay people in the '60s.  From what I recall, they didn't usually let it be known publicly, but would confide to close friends and associates.  I thought the show was rather coy about the whole thing, which surprised me because I don't think Netflix in 2021 has any qualms about such things.  If anything, they'd probably want to broadcast it to virtue signal.

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51 minutes ago, rmontro said:

I heard a quote from Anya Taylor-Joy somewhere of her saying she didn't think she was pretty enough to be an actress.  She has an unusual face, but she makes it work for her.  I was a little surprised by all the fashion aspects in the show, and the way they evolved her look.  They wouldn't have done that with a male chess player as the lead,  Although they definitely gave Bennie a style.

As for Townes, there were gay people in the '60s.  From what I recall, they didn't usually let it be known publicly, but would confide to close friends and associates.  I thought the show was rather coy about the whole thing, which surprised me because I don't think Netflix in 2021 has any qualms about such things.  If anything, they'd probably want to broadcast it to virtue signal.

Showing openly gay characters is “virtue signaling?”

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23 minutes ago, DangerousMinds said:

Showing openly gay characters is “virtue signaling?”

Depends on their motive.

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7 hours ago, rmontro said:

  I thought the show was rather coy about the whole thing, which surprised me because I don't think Netflix in 2021 has any qualms about such things.

Many aspects of the show were subtle, subtextual, and easy to interpret one way or another. The very light touch they used in writing is, in my opinion, one of the show's greatest strengths. 

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16 hours ago, DangerousMinds said:

What would Netflix’s motive be to do that??

To do what, show openly gay characters?  Could be doing it to serve the story, to write a good story.  Or they could be doing it to show how the world really is.  Or they could be doing it to give what they consider an underrepresented group more exposure.  Or they could be doing it to show how tolerant and inclusive they are, which would be virtue signaling.  Or they could be doing any of the above because they think it will earn them more money, which is at the root of most things. 

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Wonder if they will be motivated to do a second season.

Big Little Lies was suppose to be one and done but they threw enough money at the producers and the stars and they put something together.

Has NF ever made similar decisions, the popularity and great critical reception causes them to continue a series, including mini-series?

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On 3/4/2021 at 5:24 AM, Ms Blue Jay said:

So people tried to help Beth both because she's pretty and an underdog?  🤔    

I didn't say people were helping her because she was an underdog, only that the public was cheering for her because she was an underdog. I think the chess players who helped her knew how good and dangerous she really was and didn't see her as an underdog.

But in general, yes, these attributes can stack. If somebody is precieved to be an underdog and pretty at the same time, people will be much more likely to help them. Humans unconciously assume pretty people deserve good things and ugly people deserve bad things. So if a pretty person doesn't have good things, they will be precieved as an underdog, who had bad luck in life.

I don't like it, but it's how our lizard brains work.

On 3/4/2021 at 6:29 AM, DangerousMinds said:

Showing openly gay characters is “virtue signaling?”

It's extremely unrealistic for the time. It's not like somebody opened up about being gay after they knew each other for a while. Townes' boyfriend just waltzed into the room and upon seeing that there was a stranger there, didn't even try to hide that the two of them were an item.

I don't think erasing the struggles gay people had to face in the past is particularly great or progressive...

If it is virtue signaling? Well, you'd have to ask the writers.

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I'm not a fan of watching a show and working backwards to justify the writers' decisions.  I prefer to question what I don't find realistic.  Personally, I did not find it realistic that nearly everyone in Beth's life tried to help Beth achieve success and I don't think that when people have tried to sabotage others in real life it's because those people being sabotaged are ugly.  

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38 minutes ago, Ms Blue Jay said:

 Personally, I did not find it realistic that nearly everyone in Beth's life tried to help Beth achieve success

The part at the end where they all band together to help her work out her strategy was very credible, I thought.  She was one of them, she was an American playing the Russians, and they saw her as part of their group, she was representing them.

Speaking more generally, there were certainly people in the show who weren't trying to help her.  Her father, the lady at the orphanage who took chess away from her, the government that wouldn't pay for her trip, etc.  But I found the idea that there were people who were supportive of her very uplifting.  There have been so many comments on this forum about how we were expecting some darker turn that didn't come.  That's one of the reasons this show was so successful IMO.

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21 hours ago, aghst said:

Wonder if they will be motivated to do a second season.

Big Little Lies was suppose to be one and done but they threw enough money at the producers and the stars and they put something together.

Considering how badly that went, I hope they just leaves this as a nearly perfect one and done. I hate when a concept that really should be just one story gets expanded because of ratings (money) and pretty much becomes a sad shadow of what it was. 

 

2 hours ago, rmontro said:

The part at the end where they all band together to help her work out her strategy was very credible, I thought.  She was one of them, she was an American playing the Russians, and they saw her as part of their group, she was representing them.

Yep. She was one of them, and she was someone that those particular men had an affection for. She was one of their own, she was an American they thought could "take down" the Russians during a time when the US and Russia looked for any way to beat each other and she was something totally unique at that time, being female in their male world. She'd already beaten them so it's not like she was the competition anymore. and not every player she ever defeated rallied behind her, it was just this little group who cared about her. I'm sure there were plenty of players she'd defeated that were cursing her left and right and hoping she failed but that wasn't what this show was about so we didn't see it. 

 

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7 minutes ago, Mabinogia said:

Considering how badly that went, I hope they just leaves this as a nearly perfect one and done. I hate when a concept that really should be just one story gets expanded because of ratings (money) and pretty much becomes a sad shadow of what it was. 

It really was nearly perfect as a one and done.  

"Season Two opens as we see Beth, newly defected to the Soviet Union and addicted to vodka, preparing with her new coach Borgov for her match against US champ and former friend Bennie.  Meanwhile, the CIA has hired Cleo to gain her trust and secretly assassinate her, as a frantic Jolene tries to find a way to get word to her and warn her."  Yeah, maybe they should just leave it.  

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Just finished it and really liked it. I kind of how Netflix does these big, really well done mini-series that are actual mini-series. Especially since I think I am a bit to young to have lived through the days where the network event mini-series was a thing.

Not sure I liked the ending and how beating the Russian made Beth's really serious issues all better, it might have been a bit too Rocky IV for me.

I did like how they portrayed someone competing at an elite level. Too many shows seem to have it where being this good at anything is all natural talent. But here even though Beth has the natural talent she was always reading and practicing and thinking about chess. Seemed a lot more like how actual people are. It also reminded me of the Michael Jordan documentary and how as much as he also has a ton of natural talent it is obvious that even years after he retired that he was super focused on basketball way more than anyone else.

On 11/15/2020 at 9:49 PM, lucindabelle said:

Also, if her mom had a family, how come nobody took her in?

(also I wondered how her high school kept accepting her sick notes when she’s in the paper for winning tournaments)

Beth's mom went from getting advanced degrees in mathematics at an Ivy League university (in the 40's & 50's) to living in a trailer in Kansas. I sort of just assumed that her family had gone through a lot and had just completely written her off at that point, possibly for years. 

As for Beth's high school, I think in the first episode where she gets sent to basement to clean chalk brushes it sets up that even outside of chess she is super smart. So I can see her being able to skip school and still pass her classes. Plus if her only goal was play chess it's not like she would need top grades in high school.

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On 2/6/2021 at 4:57 PM, Mabinogia said:

That is one of the things I liked best in a show that was full of things to like. We have, as an audience, been groomed to expect terrible things to happen in the name of drama so it was wonderful to see a show that was full of fascinating drama not rely on any of the typical drama. I was riveted the whole series without Beth ever being beaten, raped, or overly victimized. She had a crappy childhood, but it was a realistically crappy childhood rather than a sensationalized version. 

I liked that too.  I watched this show with a friend and the first thing she said about young Beth'  initial meeting with Mr. Sheibel was,  "I hope he doesn't molest her".  We really have been conditioned to expect the worst of people.  Young Beth did have a troubled childhood, her birth mother tried to kill her and committed suicide. Being raised in an orphanage is never ideal and while well-meaning they did get her addicted to tranquilizers there.  But she wasn't some Dickens orphan.    Her adoptive mother was certainly flawed _ what a great performance! - but on the whole she and Beth developed a loving relationship that was mutually beneficial.  Her adoptive father was a mostly absent ass though. Which caused Beth some financial stress but no "Woe is me" drama.  Her first sexual experience was an unsatisfying seduction, but hardly traumatizing - it may be quite familiar to quite a few of us. 

I don't know where people are getting the idea that Townes was 36 when Beth first met him. Was that in the book?  He was a college student and seemed to be in his twenties to me.  I don't believe in sugar coating sexuality, he was clearly having a sexual relationship with a man but also was clearly sexually attracted to Beth - which would make him bi.  I think symbolically he was meant to be the unattainable first love. 

As to most of the male characters being attracted to Beth, she is a beautiful young  woman with a great sense of style and a chess genius.  Only realistic that men would swarm around her.

I so appreciated that they didn't fall into the cliche of making her main Soviet opponent a mustache twirling villain.

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1 hour ago, magdalene said:

I don't know where people are getting the idea that Townes was 36 when Beth first met him. Was that in the book?  He was a college student and seemed to be in his twenties to me.

It was a joke Beth made that seems to have been misinterpreted. At the first chess tournament when she was in her early teens, Townes asked her how old she was, then immediately realized it was a rude question and told Beth not to answer. She said something to the effect of "no worries, I'm actually 36" and they both laughed.

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