10 “The Queen’s Gambit” Quotes That Deliver Emotional Checkmate

Chess is supposed to be a game of the mind. It is a world where emotions do not reach, where only logic reigns. However, someone forgot to mention it at The Queen’s Gambit, Netflix’s surprisingly moving new miniseries starring Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. Harmon, a child prodigy turned world-renowned chess player, loves chess (and winning at chess) more than she does anything else in the world, and that passion carries the seven-episode series. This is why these The Queen’s Bet The quotes are proof that a show about a tabletop sport can be as romantic as any love story.

The Queen’s Bet is based on the novel by Walter Tevis, the American novelist known for The Hustler, the color of moneyand The man who fell to earth. Although The Queen’s Bet is one of his lesser known novels, it has a cult following. Having its lines spoken by stars like Taylor-Joy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Harry Melling brings them to life in a beautiful way.

The Queen’s Bet is more of a sports series than anything else, but sports movies are known for their passion. These inspirational quotes are a reminder that even though they play on plastic boards with plastic pieces, everything about The Queen’s Bet takes place on a larger scale.


Chess isn’t always competitive. Chess can also be beautiful. This is the board I noticed first. It’s a whole world of only 64 squares. I feel safe in it. I can control. I can overpower him. And that’s predictable, so if I get hurt, I have only myself to blame.” -Beth Harmon

This statement from Beth to the reporter from magazine of life sums up why she fell in love with the sport. It’s the place where she feels most secure and in control of her life, the one place where she can’t be hurt through no fault of her own.


“My tranquility needs to be renewed.” -Alma Wheatley

Beth’s substance use disorder occurs at an early age, while she is still at the orphanage. But her addiction to “green pills” is reinforced after she is semi-adopted by Alma, a lonely woman who takes her in as a companion. In the series, the pills, called Xanzolam, probably replace chlordiazepoxide, which was popular at that time as “mother’s little helpers”. Beth’s relationship with these pills is almost her undoing.


“The strongest person is the one who is not afraid to be alone.” -Alice Harmon

Beth doesn’t have many memories of her birth mother, but it seems pretty clear that Alice Harmon was deeply troubled. When she says this line to a very young Beth in a flashback scene, the quote is full of sadness. It seems Beth took that advice to heart, as she has spent most of her life alone.


“Do you want to start my clock?” – DL Townes

Throughout the series, there are several variations of this quote, in which the men ask Beth to start their clock or offer to start hers. In this case, it’s Beth who has a crush on Townes, and her offer pisses her off a bit. Who said chess can’t be sexy?


“I don’t know why my body is so determined to sabotage my brain, when my brain is perfectly capable of sabotaging itself.” -Alma Wheatley

Another quote from Alma, this one comes after her addiction to pills and alcohol suddenly left her unable to continue reading. This can also be seen as Beth’s problem later, as her own experiences with substance use consume her life.


“Creativity and psychosis often go hand in hand. Or, for that matter, genius and madness.” -Jean Blake

This line is pronounced by the magazine of life reporter who interviews Beth early on. Beth bristles at its implications, which means she can recognize the potential truth behind the words.


“Anger is a powerful spice. A pinch wakes you up; too dulls your senses. -Harry Beltik

Beth’s biggest problem early on is that she’s not used to losing, so when someone crosses her on the board, she goes super crazy. It closes her mind to all the different avenues she might take to get out of it. When Harry takes over training, his first act is to break the habit.

TBH, I think we could all learn something from this quote, whether in chess or in life.


“Do you ever rewatch games in your head? When you’re alone, I mean. Play them to the end? – Beth Harmon

“Isn’t everyone? – Benny Watts

The closest person to a kindred spirit Beth meets over the course of the series, Benny, is just as obsessed with failure (and winning) as she is. Their relationship was always doomed because they were too much alike. But when their romance works, it borders on legend.


“I’m not your guardian angel. I’m not here to save you. Shit, I can barely save myself.” – Jolene

Beth’s best friend on the show is Jolene, a fellow orphan who takes an interest in the young girl and helps her navigate the orphanage. When Beth hits rock bottom later in the series, it’s Jolene, who has become both a radical wannabe and the candle mistress of a high profile lawyer, who shows up to save the day. Though she’s modest about the role she plays in Beth’s life, Jolene’s tough love is what Beth needs to lift herself up.


“Let’s play.” -Beth Harmon

The show’s latest quote comes after Beth finally defeated her most prominent opponent, “The Russian,” Vasily Borgov. But instead of going back to the States and making the rounds of the media, she jumps out of her car and does what she wants the most. She finds Russian men playing chess in the park, who remind her of the old janitor who taught her the game. They treat her like a huge celebrity among them as they invite her to sit down. And then they play.

The Queen’s Bet is on Netflix now.

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