The chess games played in the series to the extent that they can be followed have been analyzed on YouTube. Most of them are based on real games played by Grandmasters. I recognized the final position from a famous Paul Morphy game from around 1859. One difference is that Paul Morphy played the brilliant game while blindfolded.
At one point in the show someone presents Beth Harmon with a 3 move chess problem. This problem appeared online somewhere. This particular problem should have been at least somewhat difficult, but I just happened to pick up on the answer within a few seconds.
Composed chess problems have a rule where the first move can't be a capture or a check. This sometimes means that the losing side is placed in zugzwang, which means that it is unfavorable for him to have to make a move. These problems are much more subtle than positions from real games.
Because these problems are often very difficult, I have a technique where I imagine a couple of moves for the losing side and then given those moves I look for a way to win. If I can't solve it then I know that the solution involves preventing those moves from happening.
I have some thoughts on what the possible symbolism of the ending of the show might mean. I would like to discuss it with somebody who has seen it.
Hollywood tends to make fictional movies about people who are so talented that they quickly rise to the top of some competitive sport without really having to earn it. In reality, a game like chess is immensely difficult to master, and the top-level players spend decades of full-time effort to get to that level. You almost have to be a little bit crazy to be a top tier chess player.
So I resisted at first watching Queen's Gambit, but as a drama about chess, it is good. There is also a major theme about substance abuse. These together make a pretty good story.
Obviously, there is also a theme of female empowerment. This is interesting because during the 1950s and 1960s in which this story takes place, there weren't that many women chess players and none at the higher levels. Things have improved quite a bit since then, first with the Polgar sisters becoming top tier players, and more recently with Chinese star Hou Yifan. Yet, chess is still a game dominated by men, maybe because women find it less interesting. Men more than women prefer competitive sports, especially one as egotistical as chess.
The ending is a draw as stated, but I think that if the pawns are on f4 and f5 instead of g4 and g5, then it is a win for White. (After putting the pawn on a7 and the rook on a8 then the Black King can't go to f7 because Rh8! wins for White, because after Rxa7 White has Rh7+.) So White eventually wins the f5 pawn with his King, and then White marches the f pawn up to f6 throwing the Black King off his g7 and h7 defensive squares. I just confirmed this with endgame tablebases.
What I have a hard time wrapping my head around, is why doesn't this same strategy work with a G pawn? The answer is that Black can set his king on g7 and give checks with the rook. With an F pawn then the Black King either ends up on f7 which loses to Rh8, or it ends up h7 allowing White to play f7 threatening to queen.
I find the name Dinesh D'Souza on the U.S. Chess Federation website. I don't know if this is the same person because it could be a common Indian name, and a great many people from India play chess. The membership of the person on the USCF website expired in 2005 and he lived in California where Dinesh D'Souza also lived at the time so it could be the same person.
In response to the video I wrote the following comment:
"Speaking as someone who is barely ranked at the Expert level, I think that men and women have different inclinations toward competitive sports, where chess is a somewhat ego-driven sport. Women by their nature prefer activities that are more cooperative. Studies have shown that women are less inclined to engage in analytical thinking even though they are equally capable of it.
I haven't watched the show yet, but my concern is that Hollywood movies are full of heroes who rise to the top with little or no effort. This is not reality, and chess is an incredibly difficult game to master."
I have not yet watched the Netflix series, "The Queen's Gambit", but in episode 6 this composed chess problem was presented to the character Beth Harmon to solve. White to play and mate in 3 moves. I saw it on a youtube video. Almost every chess game in that show has been analyzed extensively on youtube.
Composed mate in 3 problems can be quite difficult to solve, but I've solved this one faster than any composed mate in 3 that I have solved before. Like 20 seconds. The Black pieces have few moves available making the puzzle easier. I asked myself, what would happen if the Black King ran away to h6 or f8, or what if the Black King just ended up on its original square?
Some really difficult composed chess problems have taken me 30 to 60 minutes to solve. I have a knack for Mate in 2 problems, but Mate in 3's can be exponentially more complicated.
It is possible to play the ending out on this website, which tells you the best moves on the righthand side.
This ending is normally thought to be quite difficult, but this is one of the critical positions and it is fairly easy if you know what to do. (The other critical position is called the 3rd rank defense, and it is harder.)
White easily wins is with a triangulation after 1. Qe5+ Ka7 2. Qa1+ Kb8 3. Qa5 arriving at the starting position with it being Black to move instead of White to move. Now Black is forced to move his rook away from the king. Then White can check the king until he is able to fork the rook.
For those interested in these things, Mangus Carlsen explains his thinking. As I entered the game into the computer, the analysis indicated that Magnus had the advantage but threw it away, and then his opponent gave it back to him.