The Queen’s Gambit happens to be one of my favorite chess openings, along with the King’s Gambit for the white pieces, and the Sicilian Defense for black.
So when Netflix’s chess series of the same title came out, I got naturally curious, although it took me weeks to finally get on board.
I am still on Episode 2, and so far, I am enjoying what I’m seeing from this character-driven series about an American female prodigy named Beth Harmon who blasts the opposition in a male-dominated sport.
The feminist angle of the series is obvious, but the deftly handled narrative avoids a didactic, or worse, a virtue-signaling tone.
As a parent, however, I feel that the more important takeaway from the series is how adults play a role in nurturing athletes, regardless of gender.
In this case, little Harmon is a gifted child but was sent to an orphanage following a tragedy.
It took an elderly custodian, despite his initial reluctance, to uncover her extraordinary talent for chess.
And yet the sport was not forced upon her; she literally discovered its beauty in a dank, poorly lit basement.
She persisted to learn from the wood pushing custodian, and he had to oblige, thus inadvertently nudging her out of her cave into the complex but beautiful world of chess.
The point here is that we parents and adults must not force our interests in sports and other endeavors upon our children, but rather be the guiding hand as they search and figure out for themselves what they really love doing because they’re good at it.
But since not every child is a Beth Harmon, “The Queen’s Gambit” also offers a fine lesson on when to concede and move on, especially when it comes to the limitations of both children and adults alike.