The Queen's Gambit: A Novel
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Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Engaging and fast-paced, The Queen’s Gambit speeds to a conclusion as elegant and satisfying as a mate in four.
him and whispered, “Who are they?” “Beltik and Cullen. Beltik’s the State Champion.” “Which is which?” Beth said. The tall man held a finger to his lips. Then he said softly, “Beltik’s the young one.” That was a surprise. The Kentucky State Champion looked to be about the age of Fergussen. “Is he a grandmaster?” “He’s working on it. He’s been a master for years.” “Oh,” Beth said. “It takes time. You have to play grandmasters.” “How much time?” Beth said. A man in front of them by the
was going to the Apple Pi Club, Mrs. Wheatley was clearly pleased. “You look just like a debutante!” she said when Beth tried on the dress for her. *** The white woodwork of Margaret’s living room glistened beautifully and the pictures on the walls were oil paintings—mostly of horses. Even though it was a mild evening in March, a big fire burned under the white mantel. Fourteen girls were sitting on the white sofas and colored wingback chairs when Beth arrived in her new dress. Most of the
board and moved the pieces. It was difficult not to look at him as he walked around. When he came close to her and held a little light meter near her face, she found herself catching her breath at the sensation of warmth from his body. Her heart was beating fast, and when she reached out to move a rook she saw that her fingers were trembling. He clicked off the last shot and began rewinding the film. “One of those should do it,” he said. He set the camera on the nightstand by the bed. “Let’s
crazy. And Steinitz. Morphy thought people were trying to steal his shoes.” “Maybe he thought shoes were bishops.” “Yeah,” he said. “Let’s play chess.” *** By the end of the third week she had gone through his four Shakhmatni bulletins and most of the other game books. One day after he had been in an engineering class all morning they were studying a position together. She was trying to show him why a particular knight move was stronger than it looked. “Look here,” she said and began moving
out her hand. “Nice to meet you.” It felt strange to Beth to have all these people in Benny’s small living room. It seemed as though she had lived half her life in this apartment with him, studying chess games, and it was outrageous for anyone else to be there. She had been in New York nine days. Not knowing exactly what to do, she sat down at the board again. Wexler came over and stood at the other side. “Do you do problems?” “No.” She had tried a few as a child, but they did not interest her.