A distinctive feature of the series is its verisimilitude despite the almost fantastic history of the heroine. The only thing the viewer can really doubt is the hallucinogenic chessboard that Beth sees almost every night. But given the heroine's addiction to alcohol and sedatives, this detail is quite understandable.
The series draws a surprisingly precise parallel to the real game. The episodes are not just named by the stages of the chess round: in each episode, we see a new slice of the heroine's life that affects her behaviour, her attitude towards her career and life in general. Frank has created a strategy with killer precision, just as the heroine does. Harmon analyses and replays her rounds, and the viewer gets the information about Beth's past, when she was not yet in the orphanage, in each series. Frank consistently explains the heroine's behaviour, but constantly hints at her excessive fixation. "Don't think about what has already been done", says her foster mother Harmon.
No matter how much a phenomenal chess player tries to think ahead, sooner or later she loses control: whether it's a week-long gambling or an unexpected move by her main opponent, Russian player Vasily Borgov. Harmon is much easier to part with people in real life than with the pieces on the field – and the one she loses once again is rightly affected by her insanity at the game. She does not understand girls' parties and dreams of a traditional family, does not attach importance to the size of the winnings, and the first intimate experience for her is just a tick that can be immediately forgotten. So all that is left to others is to accept Beth as she is and not let her get drunk "in the junk" as the heroine dreams after losing the game. No frustration in her personal life drives Harmon out of the picture like a defeat – which is something unbelievable in case of her career.
The heroine does not understand why she is put in the first game with the only girl in the tournament, why an article about her tells about the phenomenon of women in chess and not her merits, and why men are much more offended by losing to Harmon and not someone else. Chess is still a very sexist sport: rating systems are divided by biological sex, and a woman is not allowed to participate in a championship on an equal footing with men. For Beth, this is absolute savagery, and her case is truly unique, because chess players rarely receive international recognition. In the series, the idea of feminism is a background one and therefore organic. It is true that chess is predominantly a male game, but that does not mean that anyone will play giveaway with a girl.