01x05 - Fork

Episode transcripts for the TV show, "The Queen's Gambit". Aired: October 23, 2020.
Set during the Cold w*r era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world.
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01x05 - Fork

Post by bunniefuu »

Dark's nothing to be afraid of.

In fact, I'd go as far as saying
there's nothing to be afraid of.


The strongest person is the person
who isn't scared to be alone.

It's other people you got to worry about.

Other people. They'll tell you what to do,
how to feel…

Before you know it…

…you're pouring your life out
in search of something

other people told you to go look for.

Someday, you're gonna be all alone,

so you need to figure out
how to take care of yourself.


Beth Harmon?


Uh, this is Harry Beltik.
Uh, from the Kentucky State Tournament.

No, I remember.

I hear you dropped one to Borgov.

I wanted to give condolences.


What were you playing, white?

- Black.
- Oh, it's-it's better that way.

I mean, if you're gonna lose.

Suppose so.

What did you play?

Closed Sicilian.

Rossolimo? Really?

I let him do it to me.

That's a mistake.

Uh, look, I'm in Lexington for the summer,
and I thought maybe…

Maybe what?

Would you like some training?

I-I know…
I know you're better than me.

But if you're gonna play the Soviets,
you need help.

Where are you?

I'm on my way to the Phoenix Hotel.

I'm moving to an apartment on Thursday.
I could come by then.

Why don't you come over right now?

Excuse me, miss.

What happened to that gawky kid
who kicked my ass five years ago?

Apparently, she grew up.

A.I. Deinkopf.

Middlegame Strategy.

I've read that one.

J.R. Capablanca, My Chess Career.

That one, too.

Fornaut, Alekhine's Games 1938 to 1945.


Meyer, Rook and Pawn Endings.

I know, you've read it.


But I have my own copy upstairs.

Well, some of these
are gonna be new to you.

Capablanca played on intuition.

And his natural gifts,
which obviously were considerable.

Unlike Bogoljubov and Grünfeld,
who memorized everything.

Yeah, I know how you feel about them.

I read your piece in Chess Review.

Nice cover photo, by the way.

I see players at tournaments
after their games have finished,

sitting there studying opening variation

or middle-game strategy, endgame theory.

- Like it would have made a difference.
- You don't ever study?

I analyze games.

What actually happened,
not what could have happened.

- And I play it by ear.
- Like Capablanca.

- He would have beaten Borgov.
- Mmm, not every game.

Mmm, every game that counted.

- You think I'm a prima donna, don't you?
- It's chess.

We're all prima donnas.

So, I've replayed your match
with Benny Watts a dozen times now.


- That's ancient history.
- Well, it's not that ancient.

- I'm a different player now.
- In some ways.

You're stubborn, so you get mad.

When that happens,
you can only see what's in front of you.

Anger clears my head.

Anger is a potent spice.

A pinch wakes you up,
too much dulls your senses.

Where'd you get that from,
a fortune cookie?

Mrs. Grecco, my second grade teacher.

- Ah.
- Mm.

But the point is still valid.
You've got to stay open.

If you get locked into one idea,
like this king knight pawn, say,

it's death.


- Now, the knight pawn is pinned.
- So?

So you got to move the king now,
or you get stuck later.

I can see that, but...

But look at the queen-side pawns,
way over here.

- He could do this.
- Try it.


It's a good sequence.

It's from Alekhine.

I'm saying I got it from a book.

I know what you're saying.

Let's eat.

You're not the same person
you were five years ago, either.

- No?
- No.

But I can't figure out what's different.

Um, I've become more profound?

That's not it.

And I, um, got my teeth fixed.

- Yeah, that's it.
- Yeah.

It's the teeth. It was driving me crazy.

I used my tuition money.

My parents are plenty ticked off about it.

It was worth it.

Uh, I should go.

Uh, I'll leave my board here.

I'll take this.

I'll be back in the morning
with more books.


Oh, God.


You see, I'm a little shy.

What seems to be the trouble?

Well, it's difficult to show you
the symptoms at the moment, because…

It comes and it goes.

Oh, it comes and goes?

Yes, it's so unfortunate.

It's always the same
whenever I see a doctor.

When… when I come, it goes,

and when I go, it comes.

Okay, tell me, what was your endgame?

You just saw it.

What was your plan?

To b*at you?

- I don't know what it was.
- Exactly, you're still just improvising.

I just wiped you out five times.

I'm a master,

and I've never played better in my life.

So modest.

But I'm nowhere close
to what you'll face in Paris.

I could b*at Borgov
with a little more work.

You can b*at Borgov with a lot more work.

Years more work.

Borgov's not some
Kentucky ex-champion like me.

He is a world champion

who could have beaten
both of us when he was ten.

Do you even know his career?



Read it.

Read the games from Leningrad, 1962.

Look at the way he plays
rook-pawn endings.

Look at the games
with Luchenko and Spassky.

You might learn something.

No, this way.


"Look at the games
with Luchenko and Spassky,

you might learn something." f*ck.

"I'm a master."

It was so bad.

Summer's coming.

Come on.

I'll turn it down after this. I just…

I love this song.

Are you coming?

"In a fight,
you want the first blow to be the last."

"And you better be the one to throw it."

"Few things
are as ment*lly brutal as chess."

"Attackers may sometimes regret
their moves,

but it is much worse to forever regret

an opportunity
you allowed to pass you by."

So, it's not always about attacking.

Sometimes, it's much better
to take a piece back.

So, this is Smyslov versus Botvinnik.

Now, as you can see,

Botvinnik should have taken
the pawn with the queen.

He must have been very tired,

or someone must have drugged his tea.

I always thought that was interesting.

"I'm a good
player, but I play people half my age."

"I don't know
how long I can keep winning."

"I can fight against anyone but time."

I'm moving out of the hotel tomorrow.

Into my apartment.

Whoa. Uh…

Play pawn to king five.

Humor me.

- That's unusual.
- Yeah.

Player named Mikėnas
came up with that one.

- How far away is it?
- Huh?

The apartment.

Oh, um, New Circle Road.

- Hm.
- I won't be coming by so much.

It's not so far away.

No, but I'll be taking classes,
and I should probably get a part-time job.

You could move in here if you want.
You know, for free.





- Sorry, I…
- Uh… no. No.

- Um…
- I-I just wasn't ready.

I'm ready now.

Now or never.

So, um…

Should I stay here or go back to my room?

Whatever you want.


Good night.

Good night.


Beth Harmon?

Margaret Neil.

Well, Margaret Johnson now.

Fairfield High?

Right. Hi.

Mike and I tied the knot
right after graduation.


Not long after,
we were blessed with this little one.

What's her name?

Jean, after Mike's grandmother.

I read about you.

The chess and the traveling.

It must be exciting.

It is.

Being around all those boys
is a real thrill.

You wanted to know
what the boys were like,

if I dated any of them.

That time I came over to your house
with the Apple Pis.

Oh! Gosh!

That seems, uh…

like a million years ago, doesn't it?

I should probably get my errands done,
before this one gets…

Really fussy,
and the window of opportunity,

as we like to say, slams shut.

It was nice to see you.

You, too.

I think there's more to life than chess.

Yeah, one of my heroes is Philidor.

This French musician,
used to play chess blindfolded

in Paris and London.

Diderot wrote him a letter.

Now, you know Diderot?

French Revolution?

Yeah, it's close enough.

So, uh, Philidor was doing
blindfold exhibitions

and burning out his brain,

or whatever it was they thought you did
in the 18th century. Anyway…

Diderot wrote to him
and said something like,

"It's foolish to run the risk
of going mad for vanity's sake."

Now, I think about that sometimes,

when I'm analyzing my ass off
over a chess board.

I, um… I saw your picture
on the cover of Chess Review,

and those pictures
Townes took in Las Vegas,

for the Lexington paper.

They were beautiful.

- I thought maybe the two of you were...
- No, we weren't.

Truth is…

I was waiting for you to come back.

You're why I got my teeth fixed.

Didn't Koltanowski
use to play blindfolded all the time?

And he wasn't crazy.

No, no, no, he's-he's not. It was, um…

It was Morphy who went crazy,
and Steinitz.

Morphy thought
people were trying to steal his shoes.

Well, maybe he thought
shoes were bishops.

Yeah, maybe.


Let's play chess.


Two packs of Chesterfields, please.

This, too.

Sure you wouldn't rather just steal it?

You gonna be there?

That tournament?


Good luck.

Keep it.

For the first time.

Whoa, that doesn't look right.
Your knight is hanging.


You're missing it.
It's a much stronger move than it looks.

Okay, watch.

The knight takes,

and the pawn moves up.

If he didn't move it up,
the bishop would be locked in.

When he does…

…the other pawn falls.

- What about the other bishop here?
- For Christ's sakes.

It's check once the pawn moves,
and the knight trades.

Can't you see that?

- No, I can't. I can't find it that fast.
- Well, wish you could.

You're too sharp for me.


Breakfast is almost ready.

I have taught you everything I know.

Which, admittedly, is not a lot.

I've got to start studying.

I'm supposed to be an electrical engineer,
not a chess bum.

Where are you gonna go?

I'm moving to that apartment.

It's closer to the university.

- I'm gonna leave you...
- You're wrong, you know.

You've taught me a lot.

I'm really glad you called.

I'm glad I could be here with you,
you know?

After you lost your mom.

It's more than that.

You've really helped me.

I guess you've helped me, too.

You've helped me realize something.


That I don't love chess.

No, it's okay.

I just don't love it
as much as I once did.

I'm not obsessed with it
the way one has to be to win it all.

The way you are.

I'm gonna leave you…


You have a lot in common.


Morphy was a lawyer or something,
in New Orleans.

You look at his games,

the way he played.

He sacrificed knights and bishops
like he had a dozen instead of two,

and then he'd move in on the king so fast,
his opponents would just freeze up.

It's too bad Morphy and Capablanca
hadn't been alive at the same time.

They could've played each other.

Yeah, it's too bad Morphy
fell into a muttering paranoia and d*ed.

He would stay up all night,
in Paris, before his games,

drinking in cafes,
and talking with strangers.

And then he'd play
the next day like a shark.

Well-mannered, well-dressed,
moving the pieces

with these small, ladylike hands.

Crushing one European master
after another.

You know what they called him?

"The pride and the sorrow of chess."

And then he retired at 22.

- And you think that's gonna be me?
- I think that is you.

I think maybe…

It's always been you.

Be careful, Beth.

Why, hello, Beth.

Why, hello, Benny.

I read about your game with Borgov.
That must have felt terrible.

- I felt like a fool.
- I know that feeling.


It all goes, and you just…

Push wood.

Who have you got up first?


That shouldn't take too long.

Highest-rated players
in the whole f*cking country,

and yet here we are
at some second-rate university,

playing on cheap plastic boards
with cheap plastic pieces.

If this were
a golf or tennis tournament,

we'd be surrounded by reporters,
as opposed to…

…whoever these people are.

You should see where
they play in the Soviet Union.

I'm planning on it.

You have to get past me first.

I'm planning on that, too.

Now, most players, they lack
the courage in their convictions.

The key is to not be tentative.
You have to play with absolute confidence.

I can tell, on the first move,

whether someone's got that or they don't,
just from how they move that first piece.

What advice would you give
to any young players

who wanna follow in your footsteps?


I'd tell them to read my book.

Obviously. Um…

Yeah, play through all the games.
You know, I'd tell them to get in shape.

Most people think about chess players,
they think about people who look like you.


Wait up.

Found you a reporter, I see.

Funny. Ha.

What did you do to that poor guy
you played in the third round?

He looked like he wanted to k*ll himself.

Uh, which poor guy are you talking about?


Hey, uh, some of us have been, uh,
heading down to the student union,

having a couple beers,
playing some speed chess.

You should join us.

No, thanks. I have to study.

Thought I'd go back to the dorms,
read your book.

You know, get in shape.

You do realize
that we have the whole day off tomorrow?

Can I ask you a question?


Depends on whether or not
the answer will give you an edge.


Are you that nervous?

- Was that the question?
- No! What's with the Kn*fe?

What do you mean?

I mean, why do you carry it around?

This is for protection.

- From what?
- Whatever.

Study hard.


Beth Harmon,
this is Danny Weiss and Dave Friedman.

Nice to meet you.

Actually, we met.
You b*at me the other day.

Me, too. Rather badly, in fact.

- Sorry.
- Don't be.

After I finished weeping in my room,
I replayed the game.

Learned a lot from it, so thank you.

- You're welcome.
- Beth, take a look at this.

It's White's move.

What would you do?

Typical mid-game Ruy Lopez.

Well, yeah, we know that,
but what's the move?

- You see?
- Maybe you're right.

No, I know I'm right,
and Beth sees things the same way I do.

The pawn move is too weak, right?

The pawn move
only works if he plays his bishop.


- Bye, boys.
- Whoa, hold on.

How about some speed chess?

Or we could play some skittles, or blitz,

or bughouse?

No, I'm just gonna get some coffee,
and then I'm gonna go back and study.

Well, Weiss will get you some coffee,
won't you, Weiss?

Uh… yeah.

Sugar, cream?


- Thank you.
- Uh, get me an apple juice.

But not one of those, uh,
crappy plastic cups.

Get me a-a milk glass.

Yeah, sure.

Please, sit.


One game.

- Got it?
- All right.


Shall we say…

Five bucks a game?

- I haven't even had my coffee.
- Well, look, here it comes right now.

- There you go.
- Thank you.

All right, you take a sip of that coffee,
and I'll punch your clock.

Go ahead.





- I need to see proof.
- Calling me a liar?

It's gonna be you or me.

- Are you trying to psych me out?
- No, I don't need to do that to b*at you.

Listen, I'm sorry about yesterday, okay?
I wasn't trying to hustle you.

- Weren't you?
- Come on, Beth.

You're the best player here.

And I've been watching your games. You…

You att*ck like Alekhine.

You held me off well enough yesterday.

But that doesn't count.
That's speed chess.

I'm better at speed chess than you.
I play a lot in New York.

- You b*at me in Las Vegas.
- That was a while ago.

You were too hung up on doubling my pawns.

I don't think
I could get away with that again.

Do you ever go over games in your head?

When you're alone.
Play all the way through them?

Doesn't everybody?

Well, I never thought
you'd let me trade queens.

I didn't think so, either.

Thirty moves, man, Jesus.

That many?


Looks like you can outdrink me, too.

I really appreciate
how you're taking this.

- I'm raging inwardly.
- Well, it doesn't show.

Should never have played
that g*dd*mn bishop pawn.

- No, probably not.
- What are you gonna do about Borgov?

I don't know.

I don't even have a passport.
Or the right clothes.

I hear it's pretty cold in Paris
that time of year.

I'm not talking about Paris.
I'm talking about Moscow.

What, do they not deliver mail
in Kentucky?

What's in Moscow?

The Moscow Invitational.

The US winner gets invited.
You didn't know that?

- Yes, ma'am.
- A couple more, please.

- Uh, no, thanks. I'm still on my first.
- Well, I'll drink them both.

Easy there, tiger.

How do I get to Moscow if I go?

Uh, well, I mean, when I went,

the Federation paid for my ticket,
and then this church group

covered the rest of it.

Did you have a second?

- Weiss.
- Weiss?

It would be tough to go to Russia alone.

- Here you go.
- Oh, thank you.

You always drink this much?

Sometimes, I drink more.

Who else will be playing in Moscow?

Four top Russians,
and four other countries.

If you keep doing this,
you're gonna end up washed up

by the time you're 21.

I like your hair.


Yeah, sure you do.

What about Moscow?

Four Soviet chess players
is a lot of Soviet chess players.


But you're the only American

I can think of
that might be able to do it.

I went to pieces
with Borgov in Mexico City.

When do you go to Paris?

In five weeks.

Well, you'll need a good trainer.

Not Harry Beltik.


- Better.
- Mmm.

Someone more, um, mature.

Who'd you have in mind?

Can you come to New York?

I don't know.

You can sleep in my living room,
and you can leave for Paris from there.

That's very nice of you,

but I'm not even so sure
I wanna go to Paris anymore.

What are you gonna do instead, huh?
Get drunk?

Now that you mention it,
yeah, sounds pretty good.


Borgov made me look like a fool.

- That's 'cause you weren't ready.
- I don't know if I'm good enough.

You're the best there is.

You b*at me.

Okay, fine. I'll come to New York.


We'll leave from here. I'll drive us.

- When?
- Tomorrow. Afternoon.

Once everything here finishes up.

Oh, and about sex…

Forget it.
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