- 1. Mom!
- 2. Well, now.
- 3. Welcome.
- 4. Got a cigarette, doctor?
- 5. I asked for a pleasant room,
- 6. and I believe they gave me one.
- 7. - I'm Beth.
- Harmon. Kentucky State Champion.
- 8. Nice to meet you.
- 9. There are two games a day,
and the time control is 120/40.
- 10. You get two hours to make 40 moves.
- 11. Welcome to Cincinnati.
- 12. Thank you.
- 13. And the rook comes to the seventh rank.
- 14. That right there…
- 15. that is a bone in the throat.
- 16. Guy takes one look at this,
he pays up, 20 bucks.
- 17. The Caro-Kann Defense, genuine bummer.
- 18. What's wrong with Caro-Kann?
- 19. It's all pawns and no hope.
- 20. Here, look, I'll show you, all right?
This is Caro-Kann.
- 21. - I'd take the knight.
- 22. You're, um…
- 23. Aren't you that kid from Kentucky
who wiped out Harry Beltik?
- 24. If you take his knight,
then you double his pawns.
- 25. Big deal. Like I said, it's all pawns…
- 26. and no hope.
- 27. Let me show you how you win with Black.
- 28. Watch this.
- 29. What does White do here?
- 30. Queen takes pawn.
- [man 2] Queen takes pawn.
- 31. Rook to king eight. Check.
- 32. Queen falls.
- 33. - That's Mieses-Reshevsky.
- [man 2] Yeah.
- 34. - [man 1] From the '30s.
- Very good. Margate, 1935.
- 35. - White played rook to queen one.
- What else has he got?
- 36. All right, I gotta go.
- 37. Hey, you know what?
- 38. Reshevsky, he was playing like that…
- 39. back when he was your age, little girl.
- 40. Or even younger.
- 41. Are you playing?
- 42. Oh, what, here?
- 43. Nah, nah.
- 44. Just come through, see some old friends.
- 45. And plus, playing too many opens…
- 46. it can only hurt me, you know what I mean?
- 47. Good luck.
- 48. - Hello.
- 49. Beth Harmon. Where am I playing?
- 50. It's table 15, right over there.
- 51. - Thank you.
- You're welcome.
- 52. - Beth Harmon.
- 53. Hey!
- 54. - Harmon?
- What are you two doing here?
- 55. Losing mostly.
- 56. We're on the university team now.
Second and third alternate.
- 57. Oh, I'm sorry we won't get to play.
- 58. We're not.
You destroy everyone you play, Harmon.
- 59. - I can only lose so much.
That's the truth.
- 60. - I said slow down!
- 61. Isn't that skating rink
a little close to the bowling alley?
- 62. - Do you mind?
- 63. Sorry.
It works out. You see, it…
- 64. It keeps the bowlers cool,
and you automatically…
- 65. What are you doing?
- 66. Replaying my earlier games.
- 67. What on earth for?
- 68. Looking for weaknesses in my play.
- 69. I see.
- 70. And?
- 71. There aren't any.
- 72. Good girl.
- 73. It's so much more exciting
than I imagined.
- 74. Did you watch the whole game?
- 75. Of course.
- 76. Beth.
- 77. When he brought out his rook,
then took that pawn…
- 78. I thought you were done for.
I should have known better.
- 79. Yes, you should have.
- 80. Elizabeth,
- 81. aren't you going to introduce me
to your friends?
- 82. Sorry.
- 83. Matt, Mike, this is my mom.
- 84. Mike, nice to meet you.
- 85. - Nice to meet you.
- And I'm Matt.
- 86. - Mm. A pleasure.
Nice to meet you.
- 87. Well, I don't know about you young people,
but I'm famished.
- 88. - There's a restaurant in the hotel lobby.
- Mm. Show us the way?
- 89. Sure.
- 90. I can't make up my mind
which one is more handsome.
- 91. I'd like to play in the US Open.
- 92. You might win it.
- 93. Would that lead to playing abroad?
- 94. In Europe, I mean?
- 95. No reason why not. They have to know you
before they invite you.
- 96. Would winning the Open
make them know about me?
- 97. Hell yes!
- 98. Benny Watts plays in Europe all the time
now that he has his international title.
- 99. How's the prize money?
- 100. Pretty good, I think.
- Hm? What's pretty good?
- 101. More than in the States.
- 102. What about Russia?
- 103. The Soviets are murder.
- 104. They eat Americans for breakfast there.
- 105. I don't think there's been an American
with a prayer against them in 20 years.
- 106. It's like ballet.
- 107. They pay people to play chess.
- 108. We should probably go.
We don't wanna be late.
- 109. This one's for all the marbles.
- 110. Five hundred of them to be exact.
- 111. That's Rudolph. He's a master.
- 112. Beth cannot be happy
about being crowded into an ending
- 113. with a rook, a knight, and three pawns.
- 114. It's so complicated.
- 115. Uh-oh.
- 116. And that's check.
- 117. And that's mate.
- 118. I've allowed 12 dollars
for our celebration supper tonight,
- 119. and two dollars for a small breakfast
in the morning.
- 120. That makes our total expenses,
so far, $172.30.
- 121. Which leaves over 300 dollars.
- 122. Beth…
- 123. I was thinking…
- 124. perhaps you could give me 10%,
as an agent's commission?
- 125. Let's make it 15%.
- 126. Which would be 49 dollars and 54 cents.
- 127. They told me at Methuen
you were marvelous at math.
- 128. "Schoolgirl beats
Grandmaster in Pittsburgh."
- 129. "Onlookers were amazed
at her youthful fine points of strategy."
- 130. "She shows the assurance
of a player twice her age."
- 131. That's national recognition, dear.
- 132. I'm afraid she's had a bit of a relapse.
- 133. The doctor wants to keep her in bed
for a few more days.
- 134. I'm sure she'll be better by Monday.
- 135. One of the worst colds
I've ever seen in a child.
- 136. The poor dear.
- 137. We're gonna be late.
- 138. Yeah.
- 139. Lots of liquids.
- 140. - Thank you.
- 141. There's a tournament in Houston
over the holidays, starting on the 26th.
- 142. I understand it's very easy
to travel on Christmas Day
- 143. since most people are home
eating plum pudding or whatever.
- 144. I saw that one, too.
- 145. I believe we could fly to Houston,
- 146. have a very pleasant
winter vacation in the sun.
- 147. Do girly things.
- 148. I hear they have
a very lovely beauty spa at the hotel.
- 149. Yes, Mother.
- 150. She has a fever of 101.
- 151. - Must be the flu.
- 152. She won't be back
until after the holidays.
- 153. They're calling you a wunderkind.
- 154. I might have to start keeping a scrapbook.
- 155. How's your meal?
- 156. This might be
the best Christmas I've ever had.
- 157. Is that a martini?
- 158. Gibson.
- 159. I find the onion
slightly more refined than the olive.
- 160. I should probably learn
how to speak Russian.
- 161. Do they teach that at Fairfield?
- 162. I'd have to take a night class
at the junior college.
- 163. The kids would all be older than you.
- 164. And by kids, I mean boys.
- 165. They say you're the real thing.
- 166. That's it, honey,
hold it up so we can see it.
- 167. So, can you tell
the readers of Life how it feels?
- 168. I mean, to be a girl among all those men?
- 169. I don't mind it.
- 170. Isn't it intimidating?
- 171. I mean, when I was a girl,
I wasn't allowed to be competitive.
- 172. - I played with dolls.
- 173. - Chess isn't always competitive.
- No, but you play to win.
- 174. Yes, but chess can also be…
- 175. What?
- 176. Beautiful.
- 177. You're an orphan, Beth.
- 178. Yes, I know that.
- 179. No, yes, of course you do.
I was wondering how you learned to play.
- 180. - Mr. Shaibel taught me.
- 181. He was the janitor at Methuen.
- 182. A janitor taught you how to play?
- 183. - Really?
- When I was eight.
- 184. I imagine…
- 185. it must have been such a distraction
from life in such a depressing place.
- 186. You must have been very lonely.
- 187. I'm fine being alone.
- 188. Do you imagine
that you saw the king as a father,
- 189. and the queen as a mother?
- 190. I mean, one to attack, one to protect?
- 191. They're just pieces.
- 192. - And it was the board I noticed first.
- 193. The board?
- 194. Yes.
- 195. It's an entire world of just 64 squares.
- 196. I feel…
- 197. safe in it.
- 198. I can control it, I can dominate it.
- 199. And it's predictable.
- 200. So, if I get hurt,
I only have myself to blame.
- 201. How interesting.
- 202. Tell me, Elizabeth.
- 203. Have you ever heard
of something called apophenia?
- 204. No, what's that?
- 205. It's the finding of pattern or meaning
where other people don't.
- 206. Sometimes, people with this condition
get feelings of revelation or ecstasies.
- 207. Sometimes, people find patterns or meaning
where there aren't any.
- 208. Hm. What does that have to do with me?
- 209. Creativity and psychosis
often go hand in hand.
- 210. Or, for that matter, genius and madness.
- 211. You think I'm crazy?
- 212. - No, of course not. I was just asking—
- I think that's enough.
- 213. Beth has homework to finish.
- 214. She is, after all,
still a young woman in school.
- 215. - Just like all the other kids her age.
- 216. - It was an honor to meet you.
- 217. You know…
- 218. you might try bridge.
- 219. - I hear a lot of chess players enjoy it.
- I'll show you out.
- 220. "With some people, chess is a pastime."
- 221. "With others, it is a compulsion,
even an addiction."
- 222. "And every now and then,
a person comes along
- 223. for whom it is a birthright."
- 224. "Now and then, a small boy appears
and dazzles us with his precocity,
- 225. at what may be
the world's most difficult game."
- 226. "But what if that boy were a girl?"
- 227. "A young, unsmiling girl, with brown eyes,
red hair, and a dark blue dress?"
- 228. We started a chess club.
- 229. "Into the male-dominated world
- 230. of the nation's top chess tournaments,
- 231. strolls a teenage girl
with bright, intense eyes,
- 232. from Fairfield High School
in Lexington, Kentucky."
- 233. "She is quiet, well-mannered,
- 234. and out for blood."
- 235. "Beth Harmon…"
- 236. Where was I?
- 237. It's all Greek, all of a sudden.
- 238. It's okay, I've heard enough.
- 239. I don't know why my body
is so intent on sabotaging my brain,
- 240. when my brain is perfectly capable
of sabotaging itself.
- 241. It's mostly about my being a girl.
- 242. Well, you are one.
- 243. It shouldn't be that important.
- 244. They didn't print half the things I said.
- 245. They didn't tell about Mr. Shaibel,
- 246. and they didn't say anything
about how I play the Sicilian.
- 247. Beth, dear, it makes you a celebrity.
- 248. Yeah, for being a girl.
- 249. Did you ever think maybe
it's the drinking that's making you sick?
- 250. Oh, please.
- 251. I've flirted with alcohol most of my life.
- 252. If anything, I think it's high time
I consummated the relationship.
- 253. To motherhood.
- 254. Beth?
- 255. We're having a pledge party,
- 256. Friday night, my house.
- 257. The other Apple Pis
asked me to invite you.
- 258. - Friday night?
- 259. Can you make it?
- 260. It was really something to see you
in the newspaper all those times.
- 261. All those places you've been,
which was your favorite?
- 262. I liked Houston.
- 263. But now that my rating's up to 1800,
I hope to go to Las Vegas
- 264. to play in the US Open next month.
- 265. What about the boys?
- 266. Are they good-looking?
- 267. Do you date any of them?
- 268. - There's not really much time for that.
- But if you had the time…
- 269. is there anyone you've met
that you'd like to…
- 270. - trade rooks with, or whatever?
- 271. I mean, I trade rooks all the time,
but it's not—
- 272. I bet you do.
- 273. Now, ladies and gentlemen,
- 274. Hullabaloo proudly presents
your favorite band from Turtle Creek…
- 275. - Thank you, Dora.
- …The Vogues!
- 276. - Who wants a cupcake?
- 277. I love this song. Turn it up.
- 278. I'm gonna use the bathroom.
- 279. Harmon?
- 280. Townes?
- 281. That is you.
- 282. My stars! You look…
- 283. Wow!
- 284. Thanks.
- 285. You're welcome.
- 286. I thought we might bump into each other
- 287. when I saw your name
on the tournament list.
- 288. - I didn't see yours.
- I'm not playing.
- 289. Chess Review sent me to write it up.
- 290. Must confess,
I was hoping to see you here last year.
- 291. I was supposed to.
- 292. I even paid the fee,
but my mother got sick.
- 293. - And I didn't want to come alone.
- She all right?
- 294. Fine.
- 295. I should have come on my own,
- 296. but I told myself that the Open's
not as important as the US Championships.
- 297. Oh, no. No, it's not.
- 298. But I'm sure glad you came.
- 299. It's probably a good idea for me to play
- 300. in something other
than the events I pick for the money.
- 301. - Looks like you're making a lot.
- Yeah, I guess so.
- 302. Still, you could become
a world-class player, be a real pro.
- 303. - I started taking Russian at night.
- Oh, that's smart.
- 304. Don't wanna plateau.
- 305. No, plateaus are the worst.
- 306. And you're far too old
to be called a prodigy anymore.
- 307. I should do something on you
for the magazine.
- 308. - I was on the cover last month.
- Of course.
- 309. I must have got it mixed up
with the one in Life magazine.
- 310. I also work for the Herald-Leader.
- 311. In Lexington?
- 312. I could do a half-page
on you for Sunday's paper.
- 313. - Won't be as big a deal as Life, but—
- Yeah, sure.
- 314. If you want to.
- 315. I got a camera in my room.
- 316. In your room?
- 317. Chess boards, too. We could play.
- 318. Okay.
- 319. Let's go up.
- 320. Why don't you sit over by the window?
- 321. - Uh, may I…
- Oh, yeah, just toss them.
- 322. I wasn't ready.
- 323. You look great.
- 324. Scooch to your left.
- 325. That's right.
- 326. Say…
- 327. "Ruy Lopez."
- 328. You could go by the board.
- 329. Okay.
- 330. I see you've done this before.
- 331. Do you want me to play?
- 332. Sure. Black to move.
- 333. All right, slow down.
- 334. Yeah, that's more my-my speed.
- 335. Um…
- 336. - You've grown up, Harmon.
- 337. You've even gotten good-looking.
- 338. - I don't even know your first name.
- Everyone calls me Townes.
- 339. Maybe that's why I call you Harmon,
instead of Elizabeth.
- 340. - It's Beth.
- 341. I like Harmon.
- 342. - Oh, hi.
- 343. - Roger.
I'm not interrupting, am I?
- 344. Th-That's okay. Uh, we're just…
- 345. Beth Harmon, this is Roger Dione.
- 346. Harmon? The chess prodigy.
- 347. - I've heard so much about you.
- Nice to meet you.
- 348. I thought you were gonna play
- 349. Thought I'd quit while
I was behind and go read by the pool.
- 350. You two carry on.
I'll be gone in a minute.
- 351. - Let's play chess.
- 352. Thanks.
- 353. Right.
- 354. - Here we go.
- 355. Pleasure to meet you, Beth.
- 356. You too.
- 357. Dinner's at nine.
- 358. Don't forget.
- 359. Marge, did your aunt
leave you everything?
- 360. I was her only heir.
- 361. Where have you been, honey?
- 362. You've been gone for hours.
- 363. - Playing chess.
I don't wanna talk about it.
- 364. - Practicing.
- 365. That's all?
- 366. Yeah, that's all.
- 367. Well, it's the perfume I use
that makes me smell so nice.
- 368. Do me a favor
and hand me a beer on the desk?
- 369. What do you want?
- 370. I think I've got one.
I think I've got a gimmick.
- 371. A gimmick is an angle that works for you.
- 372. To keep you
from working too hard for yourself.
- 373. - Simple.
Specifically, what is your angle?
- 374. Specifically…
- 375. I suppose you've never had beer.
- 376. All right, Sam.
- 377. Come here.
- 378. My father used to work here
as a mill hand.
- 379. So did mine. When he was sober.
- Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not so fast.
- 380. Now, you're even.
- 381. Now, I'm even.
- 382. I was 21 when I took it over.
It had 3,000 workers then.
- 383. It's got 30,000 now.
- 384. Ran as far as that gate,
now it goes down to the edge of the river.
- 385. And I did it all by myself.
- 386. - Without Walter, without—
- I'd like another.
- 387. All by myself.
- You really shouldn't.
- 388. Half of this should make quite a score.
- 389. All right.
- 390. But if you're gonna have one,
get me one, too.
- 391. That's what I had in mind.
- 392. You went out of here
a dirty kid once before,
- 393. that can happen again.
- 394. Escape from clothesline drudgery,
- 395. but listen to Jinx first.
- 396. When you buy
your dryer, be sure you get the best kind,
- 397. a gas dryer.
- 398. Your most delicate fabrics
are safe in a gas dryer.
- 399. See? A gentle stream of warm air
sends the clothes' moisture away.
- 400. My first match
was against this guy from Oklahoma.
- 401. It was all over in two dozen moves.
- 402. Ouch.
- 403. Then, this guy from San Francisco.
- 404. I played the Marshall.
- 405. Um, sacrificed my queen,
the way that Paul Morphy did one time.
- 406. Mm-hm. One more.
- 407. What about, um…
- 408. What's his name?
The one you told me about.
- 409. Bobby something?
- 410. - Benny Watts.
- Yes, him.
- 411. No losses, but one draw.
- 412. Queens Gambit Declined
is so well respected.
- 413. I've seen him a couple of times.
- 414. Always got a crowd around him.
- 415. Well, of course, he's the US Champion.
- 416. He's Benny Watts.
- 417. Some people say
he's the most talented American player
- 418. since Morphy.
- 419. I read about a game
he played in Copenhagen,
- 420. a draw against Najdorf.
- 421. That was in 1948,
- 422. which means that Benny
was eight years old.
- 423. I've seen a picture of him at 13
in front of a whole bunch of sailors.
- 424. He played against the entire team
at Annapolis without losing a game.
- 425. Sounds like someone else I know.
- 426. When I was nine,
I was playing Mr. Shaibel in the basement.
- 427. Anyway, I'm not afraid of him.
- 428. I don't suppose
there's anyone you're afraid of.
- 429. There is one player that scares me.
- 430. Who?
- 431. The Russian.
- 432. Borgov.
- 433. It's a lot more
of a dynamic game than the Caro.
- 434. Which is not the case
with QGD versus Slav.
- 435. You're Beth Harmon.
- 436. Yes.
- 437. I saw the piece in Life.
- 438. Game they printed, that was a pretty one.
The one with you and Beltik.
- 439. Thank you.
- 440. I'm, uh, Benny Watts.
- 441. I know.
- 442. We met a couple of years ago
- 443. Didn't meet, but we spoke.
- 444. - Cincinnati?
- You didn't play that year.
- 445. Okay, I'll take your word for it.
- 446. Guess I'll see you tomorrow.
- 447. You shouldn't have castled.
- 448. In your game with Beltik.
- 449. I needed to get the rook out.
- 450. Well, you could have lost your advantage.
- 451. I don't think so.
- 452. He plays pawn-takes-pawn.
You can't take back.
- 453. - Wait a minute.
- I can't.
- 454. I got an adjournment I gotta go play.
But set it up, think it out.
- 455. Your problem is your queen knight.
- 456. I don't want to set it up
and think it out.
- 457. Beltik could have beat me.
- 458. But he didn't.
- 459. Yes, but he could have.
- 460. What's worse is I didn't even see it.
- 461. Benny Watts, just by reading
about a player he knows nothing about,
- 462. he picks it up.
- 463. I was so proud of myself
when I found an error in a Morphy game,
- 464. and now someone's done it to me.
- 465. Stop thinking about
what might have happened in the past,
- 466. and get some sleep.
- 467. So stupid!
- 468. Pawn to bishop four, right?
- 469. - Yes.
- 470. I thought he could see
what I was planning.
- 471. I thought he could hear my heart beating,
and know how panicked I was.
- 472. He still had time to get out of it.
- 473. But he took the piece just as I planned.
- 474. I went into that game
with a perfect score.
- 475. Benny had two draws,
so a draw would give me the title.
- 476. I wanted to win.
- 477. I wanted to hammer his weaknesses.
- 478. I wanted to show that pirate
that I could beat him,
- 479. even though I didn't play
the way he thought I should.
- 480. Then, he captured my center pawn,
my protected pawn,
- 481. the pawn that had held his queen
to her corner for most of the game.
- 482. I don't understand.
- 483. He forced an exchange of queens.
- 484. Oh.
- 485. Couldn't believe it.
- 486. And then I saw what it meant.
- 487. With the pawn gone,
I was open to a rook-bishop mate,
- 488. because of the bishop
on the open diagonal.
- 489. I could protect my retreating knight
by moving one of the rooks over,
- 490. but the protection wouldn't last,
- 491. because his fucking,
- 492. would block my king's escape.
- 493. The more I looked,
the worse it all became.
- 494. Caught me completely off guard.
- 495. It was brutal.
- 496. It's the kind of thing
I did to other people.
- 497. Kind of thing that Morphy did,
and I missed it.
- 498. I'd been thinking about doubled pawns.
- 499. You were thinking about winning.
- 500. What did you do?
- 501. I needed a counterthreat.
- 502. A move that would stop him in his tracks,
but there wasn't any.
- 503. I spent half an hour studying the board,
- 504. and decided that Benny's move
was even sounder than I thought.
- 505. I thought maybe
I could trade my way out of it
- 506. if he attacked too fast, but…
- 507. he was careful.
- 508. I had to retreat, but he kept coming.
- 509. I wanted to scream.
- 510. You resign, now.
- 511. Tough game.
- 512. You'll split the prize money.
- 513. You'll be co-champions.
- 514. You will still get a trophy,
albeit a smaller one.
- 515. It happens all the time.
- 516. I made some inquiries.
- 517. - The Open Championship is often shared.
- I didn't see what he was doing.
- 518. You can't finesse everything all the time.
- 519. Nobody can.
- 520. You don't know anything about chess.
- 521. - I know what it feels like to lose.
- Yeah, I bet you do.
- 522. And now you do, too.
- 523. - Harmon!
- 524. I'm sorry.
- 525. Why?
- 526. I know how badly you wanted to beat Benny.
- 527. You'll get another shot.
- 528. Doesn't matter.
- 529. Give my best to Roger.
- 530. Beth.