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10 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the collection, 31 Jan 2004
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
This review is from: The Queen's Gambit (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about chess, 9 July 2007
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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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
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. First, the author does a great job in describing the games without giving specifics, but using instead a more general approach to the position at hand. This allows him to infuse the situations with excitement for those that would not be able to follow the action otherwise. But the second, and most important, reason is that in some of the passages in which specifics are given, there are serious mistakes. This is going to annoy chess players, while other people will not notice. I was really surprised that Pandolfini proof-read this book and did not correct some of this errors. Just to give a few examples, Tevis talks about a Sicilian defense game that starts with white moving his queen pawn two steps forward, he talks about black going into the Levenfish variation, and even mentions how the Queen's Gambit creates a more complicated middlegame than the Sicilian.

If there were no chess-related mistakes in this novel I would have given it the highest rating, since the story draws you in quickly and keeps you hooked until the end. Chess players will definitely enjoy this book, but my recommendation is to breathe deeply and try to ignore the mistakes, you will have a much better time. I was not completely successful at following my own advice, but the final result was very positive anyway.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quenn's Gambit a winner, 17 May 2013
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This review is from: Queen's Gambit (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 14 May 2013
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This review is from: The Queen's Gambit (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I think this is the best 'Chess book' that i have ever read, and i am surprised that it hasn't been adapted into a movie yet. I read it first when i was 12 years old and it made such an impression on me...the character Beth was someone that I identified with so strongly. It's an entertaining ride even for people who know nothing about Chess (or rather, who don't play the game).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen's Gambit, 11 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Queen's Gambit (Hardcover)
a great read not only for chess lovers and surprised that the same author wrote The Hustler as well...well done!

Richard Downing (author of The Devil's Tattoo and Gaijin House)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book - Queen's Gambit, 6 Mar 2010
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I read this book as a teenager years ago and never forgot the subtly and tension of the narrative. Unfortunately i did forget the title and the author. So that's the beauty of Amazon - I typed in 'novel about chess' and up it popped. Enticingly low price, arrived within a couple of days, and it was every bit as engrossing as I'd remembered. Go on people - search for those half-remembered favourites.....
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queens Gambit ..You Wont be Sorry, 21 Sep 2003
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This review is from: Queen's Gambit (Paperback)
I first read this book 20 yrs ago, while I was in the Merchant Marine and it was the last book in the ships library that I hadnt read. With nothing else to do I took it to bed to read it expecting to be asleep very soon.
I walked onto the bridge to start my watch the next morning and I hadnt slept but I had finished this book.
Its about Chess and I stole it from the ships library...........well not really no one had read it so they gave it away.
I gave the book to my wife who was a magazine reader and hadn't a clue about chess,and has a short attention span. It was 5 o clock in the morning when she put out the light and she had read half the book
You should never judge a book by its cover.........I promise you, you will not put this down until the last page
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual novel with a difference., 6 July 2003
This review is from: The Queen's Gambit (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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The Queen's Gambit (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Queen's Gambit (Penguin Modern Classics) by Walter Tevis (Paperback - 27 Aug 2009)
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