Book reviews

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Gosh, how do I even begin reviewing this read? I suddenly feel inundated with the many aspects I enjoyed about this book.

For the record, I don’t how to play chess, though I did read up on it when I was younger, when I was still attempting to learn the rules of the game. Also because my father kept a collection of chess books displayed on one large bookshelf at our childhood home. I mean, you wouldn’t miss it as it came in multiple volumes, much like an encyclopedia serial collection. But yeah, I tried learning chess but was never successful at it.

Nevertheless, readers of The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis need not learn how to play chess in order to understand the plot of the novel. I’d like to think there’s a certain advantage if you at least know some of the basic chess rules, as the book gives much attention to detailed gaming strategies and techniques, but if I was able to get through it unscathed and still impressed, then you’ll be just fine. There’s certainly more to the story than winning chess tourneys.

One of the reviews printed on the book cover stated a phrase that goes along the lines of “do not read this if you don’t want to lose sleep”, and let me just say how spot on that review is. Once I started reading about Beth and her chess adventures, it’s just impossible to stop. I have to keep on reading. I have to find out what happens next. In other words, I was hooked. And to my fellow readers out there, you know what it means when we get hooked on a new read. If we must brave sleepless nights, then so be it. Haha.

Beth is such a complicated character and her background is full of contradictions. She’s a young orphan who discovered her talent for chess but was not allowed to hone it. Then she got adopted but under complicated circumstances. She turns out to be a brilliant chess player, but struggles with many personal issues hindering her potential. This push-pull storyline is what makes this book so intriguing. When things are seemingly turning around for Beth, the author suddenly takes it all back, keeping readers wanting more.

This book also provides good insight on metacognition. As a reader, I was always included in Beth’s thought process. Her analysis of chess moves. Her contemplations about her thoughts and actions. So much so that at times I found it exhausting, as if I am to digest everything that passes through her mind. As if I was really there with her as a spectator of her life story.

I definitely recommend this book, so I’m giving it 4.5 stars. I am impressed with how the author was able to show skill, strategy, self-reflection, metacognition, and character development in under 250 pages — 243 to be exact.

It also comes as a Netflix series starring Anya Taylor, which I have yet to see. But based on my experience with and reaction to the novel, I am nothing but excited to watch all the wonderful aspects of this read come to life.

  • Title: The Queen’s Gambit
  • Author: Walter Tevis
  • Year published: 1983
  • Publisher: Orion Books
  • Total number of pages: 243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-474-62257-8
  • Purchased from: Book Bean (IG: @bookbean)
  • Purchase price: Php 599.00

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