Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Queen's Gambit” as Want to Read:
The Queen's Gambit
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Queen's Gambit

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,195 ratings  ·  218 reviews
Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she's competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional ...more
Paperback, 243 pages
Published March 11th 2003 by Vintage (first published June 1st 1983)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Queen's Gambit, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Queen's Gambit

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Eight by Katherine NevilleThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoChess Story by Stefan ZweigThe Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Chess-themed Fiction
8th out of 54 books — 67 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniWitch in the Woods by Taylor Ann BunkerThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
Best Books You've Probably Never Read
51st out of 290 books — 284 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,947)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeremy Bagai
I so adore this book.

The twin passions of games (order, clarity, focus, beauty, creativity, competition, transcendence) and addiction (chaos, release, abdication, destruction, waste). Loneliness and alienation. Redemption.

Tevis works these themes in all his books. The Hustler (most similarly), The Man Who Fell to Earth (most wrenchingly).

But I think Queen's Gambit is his best. The writing is pure and invisible. The tension, excitement, and suspense brought out by the chess matches is unreal, an
...more
Andrew Smith
I read somewhere that this is one of Lawrence Block's favourite stories. Well, if it's good enough for LB...
I'd enjoyed chess as a child and recall the hype and excitement surrounding the world championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, in the 70's. This book captures the excitement chess can evoke (trust me) - and you don't even have to have played the game to enjoy it.
The story of an eight year old orphan who transforms her life through chess is brilliantly told. I was sad whe
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I read this in less than two days, among my fastest. The action is both on and off the chess board. The star is Beth Harmon, a female chess prodigy who was orphaned at eight and learned chess by at first watching, then playing with, the janitor at the basement of the orphanage's school basement. As punishment for stealing tranquilizers (to which she became addicted when the orphanage officials gave these to their wards regularly before) she was banned from playing the game for several years. She ...more
capobanda
Mr. Magoo

Di per sè, la storia di una giovane orfana che si emancipa da una condizione difficile grazie al suo talento sembrerebbe destinata ad offrire al lettore quel tipo di soddisfazione che ogni tanto -agli stremati dagli sguardi sull'abisso, dalle domande inevase e insomma dal senso di frustrazione generale che di solito comportano le buone letture- è necessaria come il pane.
Quel genere di piacere di bassa lega che attraverso l'eroe (ex sfigato) che ce la fa ti illude che c'è un ordine delle
...more
Sheela
Jun 03, 2010 Sheela is currently reading it
I found this book on a stoop and it sat on one of my shelves for months if not years. I pulled it off the shelf to give to a co-worker at a new job. I thought he looked awfully bored and was letting his potential go in a mind-numbing position. But I started reading the book on my way into this job and never put it down. I enjoyed the way Tevis created a girl who was real, surreal, and stronger as a female than often portrayed. Her wicked mind in chess captivated me. The book was meant for ME to ...more
Daniel
Greatness is this book.

Tevis upset my understanding of writing and literature with "The Man Who Fell to Earth," and he did it again with this book. The prose is incredible in its transparency, while Tevis's storytelling is so straightforward as to be mind-boggling. There are no tricks, no boon-doggles, no fast-ones, and no gimmicks: the story unfolds the way the story needs to unfold, and all of it makes for great reading. And protagonist Beth Harmon? I will never forget her, and I will always h
...more
Steve
This book got me into chess in a very big way. Sounds trite, but it literally changed my life.

=-=-=-=-

21SEP13. I saw that the above two sentences garnered a second like yesterday, but I knew when I saw it that (if not on Goodreads than somewhere) I'd written more than just those two sentences about this amazing book. Regarding some details mentioned below, I will reiterate that I'm still a chess-head as I approach the ninth anniversary of my first reading. I have way more than fifteen chess book
...more
Sandra
Premetto che non so giocare a scacchi.
Nonostante ciò questo romanzo -che racconta la vita di Elizabeth Harmon, da quando inizia a giocare a scacchi con il custode nello scantinato dell'orfanatrofio in cui vive dall'età di otto anni, fino a quando non diventa una campionessa mondiale di scacchi a diciannove anni- mi ha incatenato fino all'ultima pagina.
Elizabeth è una ragazza sola, incapace di instaurare rapporti umani, quasi un'aliena. E' una donna sola nel mondo maschilista degli scacchi, dove
...more
Emir Never
Sometime last year, I have read Michael Weinreb's The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team and gave it a three-star rating. I could have rated it higher if not for Weinreb's obvious ignorance of chess notation, apparent in so many pages it was vexing, which made me took him as a complete chess patzer, a sportswriter who did not care enough to know what he was writing about.

But he was writing only about chess, right? Ex
...more
Ben Loory
An hour later she drew Goldmann and Board Three. She walked into the tournament room at exactly eleven, and the people standing stopped talking when she came in. Everyone looked at her. She heard someone whisper, "Thirteen fucking years old," and immediately the thought came into her mind, along with the exultant feeling the whispered voice had given her: I could have done this at eight.

Roger Hecht
Walter Tevis is known mainly for his novels, The Hustler, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and The Color of Money. I’ve read none of them, but I have read Queen’s Gambit, his novel about world class chess. Few novelists tackle chess, yet it is one of the most competitive games known to man—mano a mano, boxing for the mind, the ultimate war game. Its struggle is mental, though the means are in many ways physical and in all ways personal. (The Queen’s Gambit is a chess opening, where a push of the Queen ...more
Luke
Picked up a used copy of The Queen's Gambit after reading favorable (gushing, actually) blurbs from Michael Ondaatje and Jonathan Lethem on the back cover. The novel traces the coming of age of its protagonist, Beth Harmon, orphaned at the age of eight, who turns out to be a chess prodigy and is playing against the best players in the world by the time she's a teenager. The writing is exquisite, especially the earlier passages when Beth is living in a Kentucky orphanage and first learning the ga ...more
L.A. Starks
This book, first published in 1983--a year before Tevis' death--features a strong, appealing female protagonist focused on winning at chess. Beth Harmon carries the book with her story as a savant who visualizes complex chess plays as readily as people breathe.

I recommend this book for the unusual Asperger's-like characterization of Beth, her genius, and her courage. However, readers should be aware that The Queen's Gambit is dense with arcane chess terminology.
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel Gonçalves
Having read two sci fi books by Tevis, this surprised me in a different way. I guess he wrote this novel, which doesn't really classify as one given that there is very Little plot, to chess fans. I am not one and never really understood nor had the desire to grasp the complexity of the game.

But, if you enjoh chess, then you will have fun with this. If not, read "The man who fell to earth".
Sasha
I read this book when I was 13 years old, when it first came out. I probably re-read it at least twice and I have never forgotten it.

It's hard to distill the reasons I like Beth Harmon and her journey, she is (as other reviewers have mentioned) not easy to like.

But she feels real to me, and she felt real to me when I was 13. She has what she loves, Chess, and she has what she needs, tranquilizers, to which she became addicted in the orphanage and with which she will struggle throughout her jour
...more
Stephen Curran
It is a testament to Walter Tevis's craftsmanship that he can structure a novel around a game as unsexy as chess and still make it gripping. It's the rhythm of the sentences, the marks he hits while describing the numerous games, that make it remarkably engaging. He knows how to string a reader along.

The Queen's Gambit can be seen as a sister book to The Hustler, mainly because it is structured around a succession of tournaments. The main character here, though, is an outsider in her field: firs
...more
Stuart
Things I learned from this book: (1) Almaden is better quality cheap wine than Gallo, (2) Librium pills are green, (3) orphanages are mean, (4) the Russians are really good at chess, (5) sex between chess masters is boring, (6) the English opening is pretty much the Sicilian defense reversed, (7) black girls don't play chess but they make good personal trainers, (8) speed chess played for money is called "skittles," (9) Tevis really never really gets the hang of writing from a female perspective ...more
emi Bevacqua
Beth Harmon is an 8 yr old orphan in Kentucky; she is plain and unpopular, but she is bright and takes an interest in watching the surly in-house janitor's solitary chess play. From there she goes on to battle addiction, self-doubt and isolation, and yet manages to reach the very pinnacle in her field!

I personally have little experience with the game, but Tevis is such an extraordinary storyteller, he makes the details about chess strategy thrilling. It didn't seem right that her adoptive mom s
...more
Lynn Green
Walter Tevis may be best known for his novel about pool players called The Hustler, but his novel set in the world of professional chess players shows that he understands the psychology of chess as well or even better than that of pool playing.

Chess will never have the broad appeal and media exposure of athletic sports or even game like Poker. Chess is a war game that is played more in the players' heads than it is on the board. This book does a better job of getting into the mind of the chess p
...more
Wendy Chard
The quiet, chess-like subtleties of this book were what made me love it. One particular example. Beth's arch nemesis throughout is the unbeatable, poker-faced Russian world champ, Borgov, who never seems remotely moved by her, while their meetings- and even just thoughts of their meetings- leave her flustered and out of character. Borgov's refusal to consider Beth (a female, an American) as a threat to his title is something that she's relentlessly dealing with. Anyway, by the end Beth is meetin ...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
E' un romanzo particolarmente avvincente, che riesce a tenere desta l'attenzione dei lettori come pochi altri dall'inizio alla conclusione. Conoscere il gioco degli scacchi non è indispensabile, così come nel romanzo L'arte di vivere in difesa si può ugualmente apprezzare la storia pur non sapendo niente di baseball.

Il raffronto fra i due libri non è stato fatto per caso. Per quanto possa sembrare strano, gli scacchi sono uno sport a tutti gli effetti (in Italia una disciplina affiliata al CONI)
...more
Nicole
I picked this book up at the library completely on a whim because Michael Ondaatje blurbed it and I love his writing. If he liked this book enough to announce so publicly on its cover, I feel pretty okay about giving it a shot. And I'm really glad I did. There's something very cool to me about getting to see characters with a remarkable skill use that skill. And, for as neat as fantastical skills can be, it's even cooler when it's a real-world skill. I'm terrible at chess, have only the vaguest ...more
Piewacket
I just finished this book for the 2nd time and I think I liked even better than the first. I shoud add I rarely re-read books. Tevis is a master at creating compelling characters and the thrill of competition. It takes a kind of single minded focus and obsession to be a great chess player or a great pool player and Tevis truly understands that. You really have to love the game itself to give yourself over to it.

I found it amazing that he was able to describe the matches in a way that even a novi
...more
Matt
Mar 16, 2010 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Matt by: Michael Ondaatje (via the front cover)
This quick read was absolutely gripping and tons of fun! By the author of the novels that The Hustler and The Color of Money were based on, this one focuses on a young orphan girl chess prodigy. Even if you know next to nothing about high-level chess, this novel is great at sucking you in and putting you on the edge of your seat as the young American pushes her way into the male-dominated world of competitive chess in the mid-'60s, culminating with a showdown with THE RUSSIANS! (As a side note, ...more
Paul
This is a very enjoyable book. How Tevis makes fictional chess matches as exciting as he does is beyond me, but there is definite tension in those scenes. The main character, Beth Harmon, is very flawed but immensely likable and it's impossible not to root for her. It's also notable that this story is so enjoyable for a person (like me) who doesn't know how to play chess. Various part of matches are described in detail, move by move, but it's done in a way that doesn't detract from the enjoyment ...more
Erik Hanberg
A joy to read from front to back. Whether you know chess or not, I would highly recommend this book. Loved it.
Davide Nole
Questo libro ha due giudizi per me: c'è il giudizio della persona sentimentale e che ha ancora un cuore, che gli darebbe 4 stelline, mentre la persona con il solo raziocinio starebbe sulle 3.

La vicenda è bellissima e palesemente ispirata alla vita di Bobby Fischer, solamente che il Bobby non è un Robert ma una ragazza. Sinceramente questo mette in evidenza "solamente" la freddezza iniziale del mondo scacchistico all'ascesa al trono della protagonista, tanto che il sesso della protagonista sembra
...more
Kimberly Brown
Let me start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about chess, except that it's complicated and male-dominated. This book confirmed what I knew and then schooled me on so much more. Without giving away too much, The Queen's Gambit centers around Beth Harmon, an 8 year old orphan who finds that she's a natural when it comes to the game. She learns this as a ward in an orphanage that regularly sedates it's children with tranquilizers, for which she becomes addicted, later on adding alcoholism ...more
Piperitapitta
Assolutamente niente, ma questa una storia il cui minimo comune multiplo tra la maggior parte dei lettori aNobiiani che l'hanno amata quello di non saper assolutamente giocare a scacchi.

una bella storia di solitudine e disagio, di crescita e formazione, di scompiglio interiore e apparente impenetrabilit.
Beth Harmon ha soli otto anni quando, gi orfana di padre, le muore la madre e, sola al mondo, viene portata nella Methuen Home in Kentucky.
una bambina solitaria, ripiegata su se stessa alla q
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 98 99 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
La Stamberga dei ...: La regina degli scacchi di Walter Tevis 3 19 Sep 21, 2013 07:14AM  
  • King of the Hill: A Memoir
  • The Benchley Roundup
  • Foster
  • Black Tickets: Stories
  • The Education of a Gardener
  • Years of Grace
  • Much Younger Man
  • The Gay Place
  • Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back
  • Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
  • The Inn at Lake Devine
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
  • A Kiss Before Dying
  • The Second Shift
  • Early Autumn (Spenser, #7)
  • The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team
  • The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions Into Chess Mastery
4448408
Walter Stone Tevis was an American novelist and short story writer. Three of his six novels were adapted into major films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth. His books have been translated into at least 18 languages.
More about Walter Tevis...
Mockingbird The Man Who Fell to Earth The Hustler The Color of Money Steps of the Sun

Share This Book