In episode 3 of The Queen's Gambit, Beth and her adoptive mother travel the country to compete in many chess tournaments. During their travels, Beth is acquiring more and more fame all the while she is absent from her high school classes.

In one montage, we see that Beth's adoptive mother contacts the high school numerous times to call her daughter in sick with a severe cold or even a bad case of the flu.

How could the school possibly keep believing all these calls while Beth had basically become a national chess hero in the meantime? They would most certainly have known if one of their students attained such status?

  • @Paulie_D It was USA, other then that, yeah. I doubt OP knows many grandmasters...
    – Mithoron
    Dec 26, 2021 at 19:12
  • Oops, good point, my error. Had a English feel for me but that's a good thing in my opinion. ☺
    – Paulie_D
    Dec 26, 2021 at 19:39
  • @Paulie_D That could very well be the case. On the other hand, in the series, there's quite some emphasis on how extraordinary it is that America's next chess prodigy is a girl. I would've imagined that maybe one of Beth's teacher would be somewhat into chess and had read about her in some magazine. But then again, it's entirely plausible that none of the school personnel gave two flying f's about chess and thus completely missed Beth's rise to fame. Dec 26, 2021 at 21:01
  • 1
    I was an adult before I heard the name “Bobby Fischer”. I bet most Americans still might not know who he is. Dec 27, 2021 at 0:47
  • Yeah, Bobby Fischer, you know, Princess Leia's brother... :p
    – CGCampbell
    Dec 29, 2021 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


She's a rising star in an extremely narrow niche. Consider the following. I am an American. The US has many exceptionally gifted chess players who would have some form of celebrity and name recognition within the chess community. One or more of which are likely from my state and city, as it's a fairly large one. And I know who absolutely none of them are. And I have the benefit of 24/7 access to nearly all of human knowledge in my pocket. And I don't know because I don't much care about chess, like the vast majority of people. Similarly, modern day students/adults/etc. can be up to all sorts of things in their lives and yet their school/employer/etc. will have no idea. Because why would they? Why would they have that particular information? Why would a portion of their own, independent, potentially busy lives be spent acquiring the information?

Now rewind back to before the internet existed. Beth's celebrity star rises entirely within the confines of the chess community and its publications. All of which are physical, typed productions that have to be physically produced and distributed. Such information spreads slowly. It's not until local chess aficionados start taking note and she starts picking up a bit of mainstream appeal that the school is really going to have a chance to pick up on things. It's simply not something you'd expect a basic suburban high school to know about by anything short of sheer volume or pure coincidence. And once that happens, we don't see this sort of excuse being bandied about any more. Beth is, presumably, absent with the knowledge and blessing of her school at that point.


I think it's a plothole but can be easily fixed with rewriting it to an official leave of absence:

It's unrealistic, but what might not be unrealistic is that Beth gets a leave of absence for a sports tournament which can be seen as representing the school, which is indeed a common (and hence realistic) thing that schools do.

  • 1
    So they knew the excuses were fake, but let her go anyway because of the good publicity it was bringing them?
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 14, 2022 at 13:52
  • @F1Krazy I think it's a plothole but can be easily fixed with rewriting it to an official leave of absence. Thanks for asking. I'll edit.
    – BCLC
    Apr 14, 2022 at 13:55
  • @BCLC While this is likely the case (that it is probably a plot hole), no one can "fix" it because the series has already been made and have said plot hole. Your answer might work better by simply explaining that the Q's inquiry is accurate, in that it would not happen this way in real life (and if you could find examples that would be even better!), but the rest of your answer goes into a hypothetical that also would never happen in real life and thus nearly discredits it. There is no "rewrite". Apr 14, 2022 at 20:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .