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Netflix’s lush, immersive limited series “The Queen’s Gambit,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a midcentury chess prodigy, is both “another risk and another unexpected charmer” from creator Scott Frank, says IndieWire’s Ben Travers in his review. And although the powerful performances from Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, and many others help elevate the series, the stars are aided by gorgeous hair, makeup, and costumes and striking production design (from “Babylon Berlin’s” Uli Hanisch).
If you finished the series and immediately decided to learn how to play chess, this post is for you — we’ve rounded up a few affordable chess sets and some beginners’ books to help you on your quest to become a champion. If you finished the series and have the same amount of interest in chess but you immediately wanted to wallpaper your entire home, then this post is also for you. We’ve taken inspiration from the style and design of the series to select some clothes, accessories, and home goods that will help you live your ’50s dreams.
Read on for our “Queen’s Gambit”-inspired gifts.
If it’s good enough for the US Chess Federation, it’s good enough for us. This chess set — complete with triple-weighted regulation plastic pieces, roll-up regulation vinyl board, and canvas quiver carrying case — comes in a wide variety of colors. This hunter green shows a little personality without being too out-there (the camo cases are fun, but don’t really go with the retro vibe of the show). Manufactured exclusively by the United States Chess Federation (USCF), it exceeds all US Chess Federation and FIDE requirements for official tournament use.
Take a slight step up with this 16″ by 16″ folding chess board made from FSC-certified New Zealand pine with basswood and walnut veneer top. The velvet-lined compartment includes extra pieces — one of each, so 12 extra in total — plus algebraic notations inlaid along the top edge for quick and easy identification of game moves. A soft bag protects against scratches during storage and transportation, and you’ll also get an instruction manual and access to an online beginner’s video course that teaches you how to play.
This elegant wooden inlaid 12″ by 12″ chess board, which also doubles as storage for the metal chess pieces via two velour pouches, has a more regal vibe if you’re looking for a more impressive visual statement.
Now that you’ve got your equipment, you’re going to want to learn how to play. Take cues from real-life chess master Bobby Fischer with “the fastest, most efficient, most enjoyable method ever devised. Whether you’re just learning the game or looking for more complex strategies, these practice problems and exercises will help you master the art of the checkmate.”
Another beginner-friendly instruction book, this purports to “empower you to win your first games in just a DAY!” While we can’t speak to the veracity of that claim, some of the skills the book promises to teach are to easily memorize all the pieces and their movement options in less than two hours, discover the best winning strategies approved by generations of champions, get a competitive advantage over other beginners by learning handy tactics for every phase of the game, develop your chess skills FAST with tried-and-tested practice strategies, and overcome your initial shyness and join an offline or online chess club that’s perfect for your skill level.
While we’re in the book section of this gift guide, you might want to pick up the novel on which the series is based, which follows eight-year-old orphan Beth Harmon’s rise to U.S. and world chess champion.
Beth wears a great deal of geometric-printed clothing, and you can channel that with this plaid dress with detachable belt with bow at the waist (mix it up and use it as a matching headband if you’re feeling daring). Made from 95% cotton and 5% Spandex with a concealed zipper closure, it comes in sizes from US 0 to 18 and in a variety of colors and patterns.
We’re just going to say the magic words: This dress has POCKETS, ladies. And although it looks like separates, it’s actually a dress comprised of a full ’50s-style skirt and a complementary three-quarter-sleeved scoop-neck top.
The hunter green color of this cap-sleeve number would work well with Beth Harmon’s red hair, but would suit all sorts of skin tones and hair colors. Other features include a lapel neck, concealed side zipper, and matching belt. It’s made from 95% cotton and 5% Elastane.
Pair your new retro dress with these vintage-style T-strap heels with a .25″ platform, 2.75″ heel, and round toe with teardrop design.
Listen, you’re aware this is tongue-in-cheek but we want to say it anyway. Now that we’re clear, carry your secret weapon with you like bill with this Marzook minaudiere pill bag in allover Swarovski crystal design, complete with chain wristlet strap, hinged bottom, and magnetic clasp.
Store all your trinkets, or other things, in this polished brass box with Quaalude design from Jonathan Adler.
The Wheatleys’ home, which Beth moves into after being adopted by Alma, is covered in colorful printed wallpaper. Mimic that look with these peel-and-stick panels that will stick to any dry, flat surface with no extra glue needed. (We also like this botanical design.)
A major focal point of Beth and Alma’s house: the sumptuous velvet curtains in the center of their living room. Add that same touch to yours with these extra-long, silky-smooth thick blackout drapes that are machine washable and iron safe and available in all sorts of jewel tone colors.
Now that you’ve gotten your new wardrobe and made a few home improvements, it’s time to rest. Make yourself an extra dirty martini with this cocktail shaker and kit of bartender’s tools, including measuring jigger, mixing spoon, muddler, strainer, ice tongs, wine opener, liquor pourers, bamboo storage rack stand, and booklet of cocktail recipes if martinis aren’t your thing.
Pour your freshly made cocktail into one of these attractive etched martini glasses. The set of four is made of lead crystal glass, and holds 10 ounces of liquid.