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The Queen's Gambit [Paperback]

Walter Tevis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1989
Eight year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting. Engaging and fast-paced, The Queen’s Gambit speeds to a conclusion as elegant and satisfying as a mate in four.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Dell Books (Paperbacks); Reprint edition (April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440502160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440502166
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,329,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Walter Tevis (1928-1984) was an American novelist and short-story writer. He is best known for his novels The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth which were adapted for film. He wrote three more novels -- Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun and The Queen's Gambit - and a collection of short stories, Far From Home. He died in 1984. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the collection 31 Jan 2004
Format:Paperback
I first read this in my teens, and could thoroughly relate to Beth's character. I lost the book during one of several housemoves, but subsequently found the same in a charity shop in London, hurrah! Then I moved again, and once again this little gem of a book got lost. I have now bought this book for the 3rd time, and am determined to keep it in my collection permanently! It is one of those stories that sticks in your mind, years after reading it. If you didn't like chess before you started, you will after finishing the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual novel with a difference. 6 July 2003
Format:Paperback
Beth Harmon lives in an orphanage, who exists on tranquilizers.
The janitor teaches her to play Chess and she soon surpasses his skill. It is a story about a girl growing up, feeling a misfit. At eighteen abandoned by her lover, destroyed by drink & drugs.
It is also about a skill, a supreme talent and a consuming obsession. This is a fantastic rare treat, that I have read again and again. No one could not relate to our heroine, the effect of life on a teenager. The fascinating black & white universe of International Chess competition, where in Moscow she has to play the greatest player in the world.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Isn't it primarily a game for boys?" 13 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
Even though the notion expressed on the title of this review has been disproven throughout the years, chess is still a game where males vastly outnumber female players. This was even more pronounced at the time this book was written. But at that same time, an educational experiment by Laszlo Polgar had started, with the idea that kids can achieve exceptional achievements if they were properly trained by a specialist, from an early age. Thus, his three girls became chess players and in 1983, when Tevis wrote this novel, Susan, the eldest, was already a forced to be reckoned with. It was not until years later that the youngest of the three sisters, Judith, really proved that women can compete with men in this sport at the highest level.

I am fairly sure that the Polgar experiment is what Tevis used as the basic premise for writing this book, but then he complemented the idea with a really complex main character, which has to overcome the difficulties set to her by the cards she was dealt in life. This is a really uplifting and emotional story, and Tevis shows his skills as a writer by drawing us into the world of chess with great descriptions of the personalities that populate the royal game. And to tell you the truth, chess is just the vehicle chosen in this case, but the story could have been written with other competitive sports without losing any of its flair, since what is more important is the struggle Elizabeth Harmon undergoes during her childhood, teenage years and young adulthood.

Some people may think I have lost my mind, but I believe that those that do not play or understand chess will have a better time reading this book than serious chess players. There are two reasons for this assertion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about chess 9 July 2007
Format:Paperback
I'm a man but still found this story of a loner girl, compelling and inspiring. I read it many years ago and a few times since. I was a bit of a loner once, and found a skill which I developed, in my case running, so maybe that is why I could empathise with Beth. Her determination to win and the way she picks herself up is inspiring.

After reading this, I did want to play chess.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quenn's Gambit a winner 17 May 2013
By Alison
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. As someone who understands the rules of chess, but that's it, it never got boring or too detailed. It was exciting, great character development and such a change from the run of the mill books
It was hard to put down and I was sorry when it ended. A great read
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