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The Queen's Gambit

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,474 ratings  ·  244 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)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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
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
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
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
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.
"Her mind was luminous, and her soul sang to her in the sweet moves of chess."

This was a reread for me. I had never heard of Walter Tevis, but the description of this book interested me, so I bought it. It wasn't until later that I learned Walter Tevis was the author of The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth, both of which were made into movies. I have on idea why "The Queen's Gambit" was never filmed. It certainly should be. I haven't played chess since I was in junior high and I've forgotte
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".
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
Auntie J
4/8/15 Kindle Daily Deal $1.99.
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
I found this book lying on a table at the library one day and started reading it. A great story--I keep recommending it to people but I don't think anyone's taken me up on it yet.
Erik Hanberg
A joy to read from front to back. Whether you know chess or not, I would highly recommend this book. Loved it.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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La Stamberga dei ...: La regina degli scacchi di Walter Tevis 3 19 Sep 21, 2013 07:14AM  
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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

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