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Queen's Gambit cover image
Walter Tevis image Walter Tevis (1928 - 1984)

The Queen's Gambit Chapter Thumbnails

 

updated: 23DEC17

The idea behind this page is to act as a scene spotter, but also to tally Beth's wins and losses as she progresses. (After each match, 1-0 means white won, of course, and 0-1 means black won. To see if Beth won a particular game you need to compare her record after that game with her record after her preceding game.) Obviously, in her eleven year odyssey, Beth played more than the 97 or so games tallied by the end of the book. The tally only includes games that were mentioned in the text; some are described in detail of course, others are mentioned off hand, and others are simply alluded to. For instance, in Chapter One Beth takes five games straight off Mr. Shaibel. That was specific enough for me to add the five to the tally. But later, in Chapter Five, she won three huge tournaments while dropping just one game. Her tally only shows the loss because her wins are never specified. (I suppose you can assume an average of 6-7 wins in each of the three tournaments...I should/could probably add 20 or so to her win column after chapter 5.)

 

ONE (p3)

orphaned • glad to get the little pill • haircut • some kids go quickly • volleyball lesson • it's called chess • hoarding tranqs • SCHOLAR'S MATE 1-0 (0-1) • ceiling chess • SECOND GAME 1-0 (0-2) • First Win 1-0 (1-2) • two wins last week (3-2) • Shaibel barely wins (3-3) • the squares have names? • 20 moves (4-3) • mentally replaying nine games • six pills = deep warmth • Playing White (Levenfish) (5-3) • 8 YEARS OLD (and astounding) • White trash cracker bitch • Modern Chess Openings • "thumb" sucking • five games straight (10-3) • Mr. Ganz (Najdorf) (11-3), (Reti) (12-3) • Shaibel-Ganz Simul (14-3) (16-3)

 

TWO (p22)

Field Trip • Imagine five games • No more tranquilizers • Duncan High School simul/massacre (28-3)• backward pawns (30-3) • PHARMACY BREAK-IN • "no more chess" • Best bed in the ward • ALMOST 10

 

THREE (p40)

ALMOST 13 • Mr. & Mrs. Wheatley • Going Home • Own Room • 7th Grade • Fergussen visits • Ben Snyder's • Morris's Bookstore • "Goddam brain" • magazine theft • Morphy's miss • Letter to Mr. Shaibel • stealing from Margaret • $5 from Shaibel

 

FOUR (p60)

KENTUCKY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP • Annette Packer (Sicilian) 0-1 (31-3) • Beltik d. Cullen • Cooke 1-0 (32-3) • Kaplan 0-1 (33-3) • Klein 1-0 (34-3) • Townes (Sicilian) 0-1 (35-3) • I could have done this at eight • Goldmann 0-1 (36-3) • getting her period • Sizemore 0-1 (37-3) • Mr. Wheatley's gone for good • Beltik (French) 1-0 (38-3) • Son of a bitch!

 

FIVE (p82)

Chess pays • CINCINNATI • Pirate demos Reshevsky • (39-3) • Ohioan (Sicilian) (40-3) • the master (41-3) • Rudolph (42-3) • 10% • Houston • Easy win, with a draw (43-3-1) • Charleston, Atlanta, Miami: one loss (43-4-1) • 1881 • trip to NYC • Life Magazine article • AGE 14 • Apple Pi • Kansas City • missed US Open • at SIXTEEN

 

SIX (p99)

LAS VEGAS • photo shoot and skittles in Townes' room • beer • (7 wins against Townes?? p102+7) • Oklahoman (44-4-1) • New Yorker (King's Gambit) (45-4-1) • Benny Watts 0-1 (45-5-1) 40-minute move • High School • Russian lessons

 

SEVEN (p109)

Russian class party • weed • 1st party • 1st sex • 17 • learning to drink • graduation • 2243

 

EIGHT (p115)

MEXICO CITY, and Manuel • Mom says relax • beer & Borgov at the zoo • Octavio Marenco 0-1 (46-5-1) • Diedrich (QGD) (47-5-1) • Alma still sick (Oaxaca crossed with Denver) • Goodbye Manuel • Girev age 12 • "seal the move" • Mexican in 20+ (Sicilian) 0-1 (48-5-1) You make a man feel helpless • Girev, resumed QGA 1-0 (49-5-1) • 2370 • Solomon 1-0 (50-5-1) • Borgov (Ruy Lopez, Howell) 1-0, 17 moves (50-6-1)

 

NINE (p133)

Tequila sunrises • goodbye mother • Beltik moves in • Knight odds • Beltik moves out • she was glad to be alone/she hated being alone • Morphy

 

TEN (p147)

OHIO • Resnais (Sicilian, Rosso-Nimzo) 0-1 (51-6-1) • skittles with Benny 0-1 (51-7-1); 1-0 Sicilian (51-8-1); (52-12-2) • Californian (English) 0-1 (53-12-2) • Doesn't everybody? • Tuesday & Wednesday (55-12-2) • Benny Watts (Sicilian) 0-1 (56-12-2)

 

ELEVEN (p157)

Beer with Benny • Going to NEW YORK • boardless game on the road with Benny (Levenfish) 0-1 (57-12-2) • Benny's NYC apartment • scrutinizing Russians • Intense, impersonal study • three new friends • simultaneous (60-12-2) (63-12-2) • 16 moves (64-12-2) • Intimacy? • Poker game • Next morning (Sicilian, Levenfish) (65-12-2)

 

TWELVE (p172)

FRANCE • Dutchman (Reti) 0-1 (66-12-2) • 18 • Frenchman (67-12-2) • Englishman (68-12-2) • Dutchman #2 (69-12-2) • Borgov (Sicilian, Boleslavski) 0-1 (69-13-2) • Back to Kentucky • A father's love • Buying the house • running errands • "A Gibson...On the rocks." • spectacular drinking • more than a hangover • KENTUCKY STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS • Foster 1-0 (69-14-2) • What is waste? • Mayday, mayday.

 

THIRTEEN (p191)

Where's Jolene? • Dinner at Toby's, Jolene's plan • Sweating • Cleaning house • Christian Crusade • SAN FRANCISCO • Andy Levitt 1-0 (70-14-2) • SF loves Beth! • Goodbye Mr. Shaibel • Road trip with Jolene • Methuen • No Christian Crusade • No Benny • No Money • No help

 

FOURTEEN (p212)

Long wait at Orly • Flight to MOSCOW • Pre-tournament orientation • Viktor Laev (Sicilian, Boleslavski) 0-1 (71-14-2) • Time to relax • Official dinner • Duhamel 1-0 (72-14-2) • Borgov takes a peek • Park chess players • Hellstrom & Shapkin (74-14-2) • Luchenko (adjournment) • Borgov gets help • Flento (English opening) 1-0 (75-14-2) • 19 •  Luchenko (resumed) 0-1 (76-14-2) gracious resignation • Borgov (Queen's Gambit, Albin - adjournment) • Photos & Interviews • To the rescue! • Borgov (resumed) draw refused, mate in nineteen 1-0 (77-14-2) • Post party • Back to the park


Beth's loss to Borgov at the end of Chapter 8:

White Vasili Borgov
Black Beth Harmon
Event Mexico City, 1964

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. O-O Nxe4
6. d4 b5
7. Bb3 d5
8. dxe5 Be6
9. Qe2
[HAIR-SPLITTY DETAIL IF YOU PLAY THIS GAME OUT WHILE READING: "...Borgov, his face smooth and impassive, picked up his Queen and set it in front of the king, on king two." Borgov did indeed move 9. Q-K2 (9. Qe2), but not in front of the King; he castled back on move 5 and at this moment his King was not on K1 (e1) but on KN1 (g1).]
9...Na5
10. Nd4 c5
11. Nxe6 fxe6
12. c3 Nxb3
13. axb3 Qb6
14. Be3 Be7
15. Qg4 O-O
16. f3 d4
17. Bh6 1-0

NOTE:
After watching Borgov move 17. Bh6, Beth thinks that she "would have to bring her rook up to protect," (17...Rf7) after which Beth fears that Borgov would "take the knight with his Queen" (18. Qxe4) and she would take his Bishop on h6 with her pawn (18...gxh6) and Borgov would then capture her Rook on a8 with check (19. Qxa8+) "and the whole thing would blow apart," so she resigns. Now, it's all theater anyway when you're down a Knight—to the World Champion, no less—but don't take the Bishop. 18...Rd8 (or 18...Rff8) maybe keeps White to a three point advantage...for a while at least. (19. Bf4 b4 20. C4 Rdf8 21. Bg3 Bg5 22.Qd3 Be3+ 23. Kh1 Bf4 24. Bxf4 Rxf4)


In Chapter 11 Benny challenges Beth to a boardless (spoken) game on their drive to NYC.

White Benny Watts
Black Beth Harmon

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 g6
6. f4
Some confusion here. Benny says "P to B four," (6. f4) and Beth repeats "P to B four," not because she also is moving a pawn to bishop four—she can't: her only pawn on a bishop file is blocked by the Knight on f6. No, here Beth is simply in disbelief. (She's basically saying "Really. P to B four.") He confirms his move by identifying the Levenfish opening. The confusion only deepens now, as Beth, exasperated, tells Benny to "play your knight." Benny bristles and says "Don't tell me what to move." After a tense few minutes Benny accedes: "You're right, I'll move Knight to B3." So...did Benny take back the Levenfish pawn move (6. f4) and is now moving his Knight to B3? The next thing Beth says is "I'll take the Knight," so what Knight move of national championship caliber (these are the top two chess players in the USA after all!) would allow Beth to capture a B3 knight? The only one that makes any kind of sense would be 7. Nf3 *after* Beth's 6...Bg4, a move that is never mentioned. What's worse is, given the moves that follow...
     Beth: I'll take the Knight
     Benny: Pawn takes
     Beth: P-K5
     Benny: Pawn takes again
     Beth: Queen takes Queen
     Benny: King takes
...the ONLY possible continuation is one in which Benny and Beth have—I shit you not—switched colors:
6...Nc6 (I'll move Knight to B3)
7. Nxc6 bxc6 (I'll take the Knight; Pawn takes)
8. e5 dxe5 (Pawn to King five; Pawn takes again)
9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 (Queen takes Queen, check; King takes)

(Side note: In the Sherlock Holmes
movie A Game of Shadows for some reason the director and/or editor had Holmes and Moriarty switch colors while playing through the actual "Game of Shadows," a famous game played in 1966 between Bent Larsen and Tigran Petrosian, in Santa Monica, CA.)
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12DEC04