In the episode 6 - Adjournment - of the Queen's Gambit series, Beth is preparing for the big game with the Soviet champion Borgov. However, on the evening before, she receives a call from Cleo - a model that Beth has met before only once, during the "chess party".

Cleo invites Beth for a drink, even while the latter protests and says that she needs rest. This ends with Beth being hungover in the morning and losing the game to Borgov.

Did Cleo try to sabotage Beth's chances or was she genuinely trying to "have some fun" with Beth? She insisted on meeting that evening ("tomorrow I might be away!"), she kept pouring new drinks, she insisted on meeting some guys in the hotel's lounge bar... Earlier on, she admits (although jokingly) that she is jealous of Beth's talent.

So was Cleo acting out of malice?

  • Was actually the hotel's lounge bar, not a pub, and Cleo is seen sleeping in Beth's bed when she hurries away to play Borgov. Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 13:42
  • @AndreaMori it doesn't matter was it a pub, lounge bar or a disco - it was a place that you shouldn't probably hang around drinking when you have important things to do the next day. Judging by the fact that there were empty bottles in the room, Chloe and Beth continued to party in Beth's room. But that doesn't answer the question - was that a purposeful sabotage?
    – Yasskier
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 18:47
  • I agree that is not important, but just for the sake of precisition. Besides, probably the motivations of Cleo are not important either. The point is that Beth's mind wasn't fully set on her goals yet, that she had yet to come to terms with herself. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 13:27
  • 1
    Unless someone can find an authoritative quote from the director,etc, this can only be opinion, so my opinion is : No, I don’t see that in her. She had an empty existence that she wanted to fill with “fun”, etc. When we see her pouring the drinks ... well it’s clearly a LOT later than when Beth came down, and both had already had multiple. So IMHO she was self-centred but not vindictive.
    – racraman
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


My opinion is that Cleo was a Russian spy sent to sabotage Beth. It's clear from the scene in the elevator that the Russians know she had a substance problem. Beth meets Cleo in NY where she is a model who likes to hang out with chess players (?!) and seems genuinely interested in Beth. Then she conveniently shows up in Paris the night before Beth plays the Russian and coerces her into coming out drinking. Lastly, Townes shows up to the final match in Russian and literally says that the Russian embassy made it really easy for him to be there because the Russians thought he would distract her. Cleo is the only person Beth ever told about her crush on Townes.

I think one of the best things about this show is its subtlety but it's pretty clear that Cleo was a Russian spy.


Chloe is a known chess groupie of Ben Watts. He met her at a Paris tournament and she is the kind of model that over stays her welcome because she’s bored with glamour and the fact that as she puts it, “we’re bodies that the clothes go on to show off, nothing more”. She wasn’t deliberately trying to sabotage Beth, again she is bored. I would say Beth giving into her impulses to find an excuse to drink and Chloe unknowingly enabling her is all takes for Beth to slip. So, no, there was no bad intent in Chloe asking her for a drink. Beth has no recourse for her actions when it comes knowing what is best for her (being healthy, not drinking, ignoring good influences and taking good advice, partying with strangers and having a lot of sex with most of the top players that befriend her. One might say she is flusy. Anyone would tell you she reacts to any impulse %100 or not at all. I think she enjoys the thrill!


I didn't think it was a sabotage and the show doesn't focus on that element much. But I wonder if that element was cut out of the show?

Townes, in the final episode said, the Russian embassy helped him get a visa perhaps to distract her. How would the Russians or anyone know she had feelings for Townes? Nothing really happened b/w them. She'd revealed to Cleo about her feelings for Townes in that drunken night.

Cleo also doesn't know chess but hangs out with chess people and was involved with Benny for a while. She could have ditched him when he was no longer a threat. She watched Beth destroy them at speed chess and realized she's brilliant.

The show didn't focus on Cleo though, so she could be totally innocent. It's only because of Townes' comment about the Russian embassy helping him that makes this theory fit.

It's possible the show went with Cleo being a Russian plant, but may have decided to cut it out.


At first I was sure it was sabotage. Chloe admits to being jealous of Beth, and doesn’t stop her after one drink, as a good friend would. However, after reading one of the answers here, about Chloe ultimately being bored, I think that’s true, Chloe is more bored with her life than anything so it’s the boredom first that causes her to let Beth put on a show, malice may be as a result.

But- Whether it was actual malice or just boredom, because of Chloe's ability to be introspective (models are empty) (and that comment about Benny, how no one can love him as much as he does himself) it makes me think Chloe was well aware of what she was doing. This was confirmed, for me, when Chloe appeared at Beth's game against Borgov, she came to watch the finale, her finale! The one she created for herself. I think that fits her character.


I’d say Cleo genuinely likes Beth, but I have the same feeling that there was a level of sabotage motivating her meeting with Beth that night. If we recall the conversation between the two in the hotel bar, there’s a loaded conversation about Beth sleeping with Benny and Cleo makes a comment about unrequited love. There’s an edge to the conversation, and Cleo does appear to have some jealousy over the nature of Beth’s relationship with Benny and Benny’s admiration for Beth’s mind. Something Cleo can’t possibly compete with.

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