The Queen's Gambit: 10 Important Chess Terms

      Now that Netflix got chess back on the modern arena with the epic miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, many people started questioning the terms used there. Don’t worry, they are real and they are used in real-life chess. 

      The seven-part sequence, based on the novel by Walter Tevis, discusses feminism, childhood trauma, problems of drug abuse, and, of course, chess. Everything a modern person from the XXI century needs. The series was praised as impressively accurate by real chess lovers and experts, no doubt considering the time and effort director Scott Frank put into the details. So let’s check out 10 important chess terms used in The Queen’s Gambit series.

10. Castling 

       In other words the King’s leap. There were different types of early chess that were called the King's Leap. The king could make a longer jumping move on his first move, or sometimes once in a game. It moved like a knight in some ways, and it was a two-square move in others. In those days, before the king was finally defeated, the game was played and those moves also acted as a kind of reprieve.

9. Grandmaster

      A Grandmaster is the highest chess title attainable. Kinda like the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Vasily Borgov is the Soviet Grandmaster, the World Chess Champion, and the toughest opponent of Beth. Beth and her friends also frequently speak about the games and tactics of famous Grandmasters and the called openings after them.

8. Speed Chess

      We’re guessing that’s where speed dating came from. As you could have guessed from the title speed chess, also known as rapid chess or blitz chess, is a normal chess game with an incredibly brutal time limit, typically five minutes or less per player. The normal time regulation is 90 minutes in a chess match.

       Benny challenges Beth to several rounds of speed chess during their downtime at the US Open in the 'Fork' episode. In every round, he beats her, but Beth can watch Benny and learn his strategy. Never again would she lose to him.

7. The Caro-Kann Defense

10 Important Chess Terms

      The Caro-Kann Defense is an opening that Harry Beltik used in the Kentucky State Championship when he lost to Beth. The first time Beth encounters him, Benny Watts is also seen to speak negatively about Caro-Kann. "He observes that it is, "all pawns and no hope." The moves are used by the Caro-Kann 1. E4 c6 to fight the pawn opening of the King which is somewhat similar to the Defense of Sicily. In case you want to try it yourself.

6. Fork

10 Important Chess Terms

      And a spoon…A Fork is a chess strategy that is used to strike the pieces of two opponents at once. Using a Knight is sometimes played. In the image above, in his next move, the White Knight will take either the Rook or the King. "Fork" is also the name of the series' fifth episode. 

5. Draw

      An opponent may give a draw in chess, and the game will end with no player winning or losing. It becomes an integral part of Beth's play to deny a draw. An opponent is giving her a draw in her first chess tournament. Behind him, Townes shakes his head, and she refuses. He's offering a draw in Beth's final match with Borgov, too. She goes on to win the game though Beth refuses.

4. The Marshall Attack

       Beth tells her mother in the episode 'Doubled Pawns' that she played 'The Marshall' in the U.S. Uh, free. The Marshall is an advanced version of the Ruy Lopez opening for Black. It is named after Frank Marshall, the American chess master, and is largely out of use today.

3. Adjournment/Sealing A Move

        In chess, when a chess match lasts for a certain period of time, the five-hour mark is also called an adjournment. The player whose turn it is must write down their next move and seal it for the arbiter to hold in an envelope until the game resumes the next day.

       When she faces more difficult enemies later in the miniseries, Beth encounters adjournment. In her match against the young Geriv, the first time an adjournment is seen is in the episode "Middle Game."

2. The Sicilian Defense

       A very common defense used by Black against White's opening is The Sicilian Defense. Beth learns from Mr. Sheibel about this technique, and it becomes something of a signature move for her. An offensive opening, the Sicilian Defense suits well with Beth's aggressive chess style. There are many variants, including the Rossolimo and the Najdorf, used throughout the series.

 1.The Queen’s Gambit

       Of course, the most significant chess term of all is the namesake of the series, the Queen's Gambit is an opening in which a pawn is sacrificed by White to gain possession of the board. Compared to Beth's life, the opening was metaphorical,- sad and full of loss, but strong and cunning. During her final match with Borgov in Moscow, Beth will play the Queen's Gambit.

       We’re not sure if you’ll begin playing chess after this article, but for sure you now know a little bit more about one of the oldest game mankind knows and for those of you who still haven’t checked out the awesome Netflix series, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for! Enjoy!