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The Biggest Changes Netflix's The Queen's Gambit Made To Beth

Spoilers for The Queen's Gambit ahead!

The miniseries The Queen's Gambit has captivated Netflix audiences since its release in October 2020. Contrary to popular belief, the show isn't based on a true story, but on the 1983 novel of the same name, written by Walter Tevis. The book being adapted into a miniseries allows the creators to dive more into the psyche of Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy). While attempts were made to translate the book into a feature-length film, it ultimately landed on Netflix's doorstep in serialized form. The Queen's Gambit has remained solidly in Netflix's Top Ten Shows in the days after its arrival, and hopefully, the series encourages fans to read the novel. 

The book and miniseries are incredibly similar. They both follow the main plot beats of Beth being orphaned as a young girl, learning how to play chess and going on to become a phenomenon in the sport. However, if you read the book, you may realize there are some pretty significant differences, particularly when it comes to Beth's character. Take, for instance, a plothole that Digital Spy recently outlined. At the end of the story, Beth is participating in the world championship when many of her friends arrive to cheer her on. This may not make a lot of sense to some people, because Beth has been so cold and standoffish throughout the previous episodes. However, if you read the book, then you realize there are a couple of disparities that make that final moment make a bit more sense. 

Beth shows more vulnerability to Jolene in the book

Beth's first real friend when she arrives at the orphanage is Jolene (Moses Ingram). Jolene has a bit of a potty mouth on her, and she's far more aggressive than the meek, timid Beth. Ultimately, Beth ends up getting adopted while Jolene stays at the orphanage, but they reconnect many years later. In the miniseries, Jolene contacts Beth later in life. In the novel, the opposite happens. 

The book shows Beth as an adult in an emotionally-vulnerable state of mind when she reaches out to Jolene. It's a moment that's out of character for the chess genius because she normally hasn't had to ask for help throughout her life. It shows how desperate she's become and how far she's sunken into her addictions where she feels the need to call Jolene and ask for her assistance. 

Beth is not as passive in the book as she's depicted in the show. She eventually reaches a breaking point where she needs to ask others for help, while the miniseries shows her as more distant all the way through. 

The novel shows Benny rallying his friends to support Beth

Beth has a deeper relationship with her on-again, off-again lover Benny (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) in the novel, which works to Beth's advantage when she competes in the grand championship. In both iterations of this story, Beth takes a special interest in Benny's poker-playing. They form a connection with each other over how they haven't been able to keep up real relationships with anyone else. 

The book has Beth making a confession that never explicitly comes up in the series. In the novel, Beth finally admits to herself that she misses Benny more than anyone else. Benny returns Beth's affections by organizing a team of people to go to Moscow to give Beth the support she needs. Their relationship is more organic, so when Benny goes to help Beth, even though she hurt him earlier, it makes more sense. In the miniseries, a group of people come to support Beth in Moscow without her having to admit for herself that she misses Benny. The show allows Beth to remain cold and distant, but she still sees that there are people in her corner rooting for her. 

A few changes here and there haven't hurt The Queen's Gambit as a miniseries. It's still a thrilling tale about a chess prodigy that probably won't get a season 2, considering there's no sequel to the novel, but at least we have seven engaging episodes to bring us into the mind of a troubled genius who just wants to be loved.