Lessons from chess

Anne Schmidt
3 min readNov 17, 2020


I’m not one to binge tv shows in a couple days, but I’ll fully admit that when I found The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix last month I thought to myself, “this is something to take my mind off the election.” So I got curious. Chess is not something I know anything about, and the fiery redhead on the cover of the show caught my attention. I had also not heard a single thing about this show yet so I felt like I was actually finding something wonderful before the masses got crazy about it.

What a fabulous show! Without giving anything away I will simply tell you that this seven episode, limited series, follows the early life of girl genius Elizabeth Harmon, orphaned, totally messed up childhood, a heartbreaking adoption, and throw in the most amazing 60s fashion and a little drug dependence, and here we are. I was hooked.

I finished the show in three nights and have even gone back weeks later and watched the final episode again; it’s just that good. But it wasn’t until I was done with the show that word of mouth started spreading like wildfire and I began seeing my friends find it too and started reading articles about it. It’s easy to watch this show and think, “OK. Genius girl, great chess player, rough life. Just another diamond in the rough story.” But it wasn’t until I read a Vanity Fair article that made me think about the show, and the final couple episodes, in a totally different way.

Here’s a snippet of what Cassie De Costa writes in her article:

“It’s easy to interpret The Queen’s Gambit, showrunner Scott Frank’s Cold War–era miniseries about an orphaned Kentuckian chess prodigy with a substance abuse problem, as a women’s empowerment parable….The Soviets depicted in this series put less stock in exception than in shared passion. In their country chess is a national sport and pastime, and grandmasters are icons. High intellect is not a quirk or an elite status but a point of communal pride, shared among those willing to put their minds and hearts to the task….The Queen’s Gambit is so thrilling because it offers a kind of fantasy to Americans engaged in a daily hustle designed to reward the most mediocre offerings with praise and capital. Beth and her friends show us a different kind of endgame: one in which victory is never achieved alone.”

You can read the full article to get the entire picture, and I highly recommend you do, but the point is pretty obvious.

We don’t win on our own.

Not at anything. At life, at chess, nothing. So maybe this was a perfectly timed show for this turbulent time that we’re living in when it’s easy to feel like we’re all alone. It’s in our societal DNA to think we need to lift ourselves up out of that, and for what? Pride? Ego? Some selfish form of achievement? The only way we are going to be successful in life and in our business is by surrounding ourselves with those that help us succeed. Because in the end, the win is always sweeter when it can be shared with others.

Now, if you will excuse me, season four of The Crown has been released and I have a date with my couch.



Anne Schmidt

Born and raised Mainer now living in Houston, TX. Trying to find meaning and home wherever that may be.