CRAFT STUDIO: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT IS A SPORTS DRAMA
What I Was Reading
In “The Queen’s Gambit” Is a Sports Drama, Manuel Betancourt draws parallels between the story of chess prodigy Beth Harmon’s triumph over the trauma of her childhood to become a world-class chess champion to sports dramas like Rocky and Friday Night Lights:
Visually, the drama finds new ways of making chess (yes, chess!) as exciting a spectator sport as anything else. Her match with Harry Beltik (Harry Melling) in that first tournament of hers is shot almost like a fencing duel, each move a calculated strike; a later speed chess matchup feels as dynamic as a squash game; while her later games in Moscow, against the best from the best from the Soviet Union, lean heavily on the pageantry of it as a spectator sport, like a soccer match being watched in hushed silence.
What Moves I Notice the Writer Making
- This paragraph contains only two sentences: one short and one very long. The writer definitely did not use a hamburger paragraph graphic organizer for this one!
- The addition of “(yes, chess!)” to the first sentence addresses the reader directly, making us aware that they know we may have a hard time believing what they are going to say, but they are confident they will convince us if we read on. This small interjection adds energy and voice.
- The second sentence contains an incredible amount of detail, but it works because of the pattern of an example from the show + an example from the world of sport + a semi-colon. Each specific scene from the show the writer has chosen to support their point is paired with a spectator sport described in a way that a fan of the sport will completely relate to.
Possibilities for Writers
- Use this paragraph as part of a punctuation inquiry. Ask yourself what you notice about the author’s punctuation choices, what conclusions you can make, and what patterns you see emerging.
- Model a sentence of your own after this one by incorporating semi-colons and commas.
- Experiment with addressing the audience directly to show you have anticipated what they might say about your ideas.
- Read this passage as a writer to notice and name interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.