The Queen's Gambit

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'Superb' Time Out
'Mesmerizing' Newsweek
'Gripping' Financial Times
'Sheer entertainment. It is a book I reread every few years - for the pure pleasure and skill of it' Michael Ondaatje
'Don't pick this up if you want a night's sleep' Scotsman

When she is sent to an orphanage at the age of eight, Beth Harmon soon discovers two ways to escape her surroundings, albeit fleetingly: playing chess and taking the little green pills given to her and the other children to keep them subdued. Before long, it becomes apparent that hers is a prodigious talent, and as she progresses to the top of the US chess rankings she is able to forge a new life for herself. But she can never quite overcome her urge to self-destruct. For Beth, there's more at stake than merely winning and losing.

'I loved it. I just loved it, it really drew me in and I know nothing about chess... The writing about addiction is just fantastic. I underlined so many bits of it... I didn't want it to end' Bryony Gordon on BBC Radio 4

'Few novelists have written about genius - and addiction - as acutely as Walter Tevis' Telegraph

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Publishing Year
Paperback / softback

The Staff Recommends

Fascinating to read for those that play chess.

Eight-year old Beth Harmon is quiet, a bit shy and in all ways very normal, apart from the fact that she is an orphan. That is until she plays a game of chess. When Beth is sitting in front of a chess board, for the first time in her life she feels in control and serene. Beth starts participating in tournaments and as her ELO grows, so does her ambition and will to be the best.

At 16 Beth finds herself competing in the US Open, against men twice as old as her. Winning game after game she becomes more isolated and starts to search for answers to her misery in drugs and alcohol.

The Queen’s Gambit won’t be ridiculously entertaining for only those that are interested in chess. This novel is interesting for anyone who has competed and has felt that kind of burning sensation of hunger to win. But Walter Tevis also manages to weave in details about chess for instance information about what opening Beth plays, that make it fascinating to read for those that play chess.

I think this novel compares well to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “Carry Soto is Back.” Both have a very ambitious and highly competitive female main character who wants desperately to be the best. Although The Queen’s Gambit is also about addiction to alcohol and drugs, both novels are entertaining and fast to read as well.

Aarni, harjoittelija, Helsinki Bookhouse