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Netflix's 'The Queens Gambit' tells the story of a young girl competing in the man's world of international chess. What does addiction have to do with it?

‘The Queen’s Gambit’: The season finale ending explained

The Queen’s Gambit has finally reached its conclusion and we have all your questions answered.

From an orphan to full chess stardom, Beth Harmon goes from being a control freak to understanding the true meaning of life. The seven-episode miniseries The Queen’s Gambit was created by Scott Frank & Allan Scott. They presented a strong adaptation of the Walter Tevis 1983 novel.


Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) is described by The New York Times as a chess prodigy struggling with a severe addiction to drugs & alcohol. Throughout the series, we watch Beth navigate the chess tournament scene, described by the Times as “a man’s world”. The series identifies the mastery of chess alongside Beth’s deepest insecurities. By the final episode, both are fully exposed.

The Russian

The final episode shows how after all Beth Harmon’s obstacles in her life, she was never truly alone nor did she need the help of her little pill-popping friends. The episode concludes with Beth finally having a rematch with the top Russian chess player, Vasily Borgov (Marcin Dorocinski).

Vasily Borov defeated Beth Harmon before in Paris, France. Since then, Beth has not been able to admit her defeat. Beth talks about Borov in the terms of the “Russian” as he may be Russian, but Beth focused on how chess was an invention created by the Russians. To be the best, Beth wanted to beat the best.

Beth Harmon previously lost against Vasily Borov due to her late night fiasco. Beth decides to enjoy a booze-filled night out with her random French friend, Cleo (Millie Brady), who happens to be the worst supporter for a struggling sports addict. Waking up with a hangover and with impaired vision, Beth lost miserably against Borov.

Means to an end

The final episode shows Beth Harmon’s pill-popping is a means to an end. Beth Harmon throws out her old pills and decides to play against Vasily Borov fully sober. As CinemaBlend recalled, Beth’s friends surprised her at the tournament with the help of Jolene’s (Moses Ingram) funding. With her friends by her side, Beth ended the game with a chess move called The Queen’s Gambit.

The move, which The Queen’s Gambit was named after, is as symbolic as it was strategic. The strategy forces the opponent to take Beth Harmon’s pawn, but the game is now in her favor. The symbolic meaning behind her move, was that she sacrificed something she cared about for a bigger purpose.

Marie Claire stated that this move relates to what Beth Harmon had to overcome, such as her loss with her “birth and adoptive mothers, her difficult childhood and her substance abuse”

The Park

After Beth Harmon plays her victory match in Moscow, Beth is sent to the airport for her next engagement. Supposedly, she’s on her way to the White House to be acknowledged by the President of the United States, but as far as the audience knows, Beth never arrives. We see Beth stopping the car and playing chess with old men at a nearby Russian park.

These old men symbolize what Beth Harmon has been searching for. The Russian men aren’t experts like she is, so Beth has nothing to lose. Screenrant explained when Beth plays chess with the seniors, she plays to “reconnect with her humanity”. Beth plays for the joy of the game and no longer sees the competitive nature.

Beth’s mother’s death

The series also concludes with the topic of Beth Harmon’s mother’s death. According to CNET, although Beth’s mom (Chloe Pirrie) commits suicide by driving into an upcoming car, flashbacks explain why Beth suffers emotional issues and feels alone. Beth knew her mother wanted to kill them both in that car accident, but luckily Beth decides to overcome this tragedy while playing against Vasily Borov sober.

Beth’s next engagement

Some viewers want to know if Beth Harmon will remain in Moscow. Although the ending is unclear, fans believe that whether she stays or goes back to the U.S., she will be “content” with where she is internally. Beth’s next move, just like the game of chess, won’t be known until it is already done.

In an interview with Refinery29, Anya Taylor-Joy expressed her thoughts about the show’s final episode and her character’s (Beth Harmon) development. In a joyful tone, she exclaimed: “I was so happy for her. She has found this sense of contentment. Where she wasn’t in pain or fighting something so intensely.”

The Queen’s Gambit finale provides the ending to a perfect addiction story. It touches on how feeling isolated during the darkest times is never the end. As Anya Taylor-Joy perfectly stated, “everyone’s out there on the edge with you”.

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  • oh please stop – this woman was a substance abuser from the age of 10 – do you think she just magically withdrew from all those drugs and alcohol and never went through withdrawal or rehab and just so easily said no. The pathetic “Rocky Ending” – was an easy way out for the writers who, up until then got the abuse realistic. It would have been better if they dealt with her past issues and got them resolved and then she moved on to get over her addictions and win. You just don’t go from abuser, with issues to someone who gets up one day and stops using and everything ends happily ever after! Why it’s the magic Kingdom fairly land! Typical of Americans to still want the BS ending rather than a realistic one. So simplistic, if only real life worked that way!

    November 28, 2020
    • What a bundle of fun you are. Bet you sit there watching ‘Pretty Woman’, saying to your boyfriend, “oh sure! There’s a slice of reality for you. Richard Gere would never fancy a hooker.” lol Maybe depressing documentaries are more for you :)

      May 16, 2021
  • Not a bad Series

    May 16, 2021

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