Episode 2 : Exchanges

The beginning

Jolene describes Beth how she was like when she had the jar oftranquilizers in her hand. Beth’s only concern is to be able to understandand remember all the chess moves presented in the book. It seems thatnone of what happens can distract her from that. Beth announces to herbasement’s opponent that she’s not allowed to play chess in theorphanage anymore because of whatshe did. “Exchanges” is showing a part of Beth’s life where she didn’t compete inchess tournaments, but learned and mastered chess moves until shebecomes a teenager.

A family adopts Beth

Beth and Jolene, both teenagers, discuss at the orphanage. A couple wantsto get Beth with them to become their daughter. The director of theorphanage is telling the couple what Beth has achieved throughout herstay at the orphanage. Beth meets the couple that wants to adopt her.After that, she’s told to prepare for departure. The couple decides to adoptBeth. Beth tells Jolene that she’s sorry for the fact that no family wanted toadopt her friend. Jolene is very aware of her thin chance of being adopted because she’sblack. She expresses it in the first episode. That was the case in the periodwhere the two girls live.

Discovering how her new mother is

Beth discovers how her new home looks like. Her new mother is makingher visit all the rooms of the house. Her room is presented to her. At hergreat surprise, the room is larger than what she expected. The morningafter her arrival, she comes out of her room and listen to her adoptivemother playing piano. Beth asks about where her adoptive father is. Thewoman answers that her husband went away for business reasons. The two come to discuss about children. The mother tells Beth that she andher husband had a child once. The marriage of Beth’s adoptive parentshave suffered a loss that still haunts them. Adopting Beth is some sort of alast chance.

Beth feels alone in High School

Beth’s beginning to attend high school. One her first day, she spends timewatching how the other students are; What interests them and how theyare dressed. Beth answers a pretty hard question during a mathematicalcourse and the other girls trash talk to her by calling her “another fuckingbrain.” Beth eats her lunch alone. She talks to another girl and demands ifthe high school has a chess club. The response she gets is deceiving.There is no Chess club, but there are social clubs. A girl can attend that ifonly she gets invited. During the period where Beth lives, a normal girl is not expected to playchess.

Beth wishes to have a chess set

Beth and her mother are searching to but new clothes for Beth becauseher father noticed that she always wears the same outfit. After they’vebought the clothes, Beth asks her mother to buy a chess set for her. Heremother answers that Beth has to buy the chess set herself by savingmoney for it. The day after that, Beth goes to the library and asks the manin charge if there are books about chess. The librarian responds that thereare only books about grandmasters—highly skilled chess players. Bethtries to find the said books and encounters two students having adiscussion on her way.

Beth wants to work

Beth thinks only about chess but her current situation forces her not toplay. She wants to change that and thinks about ways that could allow herto be someone important in the chess world. In this second episode, Beth’sparticular way of thinking is really demonstrated. On the way to buycigarettes for her mother, Beth sees a chess magazine in a shop. The seller forbids her to read the magazine unless she buys it. Beth takes themagazine without paying. Beth’s mother tells her that they have financialdifficulties at the moment. Beth is talking about finding a job and workingin order to have some money and finally be able to participate in a chesstournament. The mothers tells Beth that no one hires a girl of her ageunless the girl is black. Beth has the idea of asking tournaments to let herplay for free and pay the fees when she wins the tournament. She doesthat by writing letters to numerous tournaments.

Beth has money to play in a tournament

Beth goes out of the house to get her mother’s drug. They’re the sametranquilizers she used to take. She takes and stores half of the bottle shereceives. During the night, she still thinks about chess moves.Surprinsingly, someone sent Beth a letter and some money the day afterthat. It seems that the money was given to her so she can participate in atournament.

Beth is finally competing in a tournament

In “Exchanges,’ Beth’s competing for the first time. That first tournamentis where she tries out all the moves she learned and gives her experiencesthat she lacked. Beth arrives at the tournament and she wants to play despite the fact thatshe’s told there are no women’ section. In the first round, she’s up againsta girl and she has no difficulties beating her. Then, she has the chance toobserve the game of two state champions. Beth manages to force heropponent to resign in the second round. Her third round opponent is Townes, with whom she’s exchanged duringthe tournament. Townes makes Beth nervous. The game begins and Bethmakes great moves that gives difficulties to Townes. She beats him andhe’s very surprised about how good Beth is even if she is very young. Bethhas her period for the first time and some girl gives her a hand becauseshe doesn’t know what to do.

The departure of the father:

Beth’s new family shows some signs of trouble at the end of episode 2. It’squite normal given the obvious tension that was demonstrated in thefamily all along the episode. Beth sees her mother looking upset whileplaying piano as she gets home. She goes to her mother’s bedroom to getpills and sees that the phone is off-hook. Her adoptive father went away.Her mother tells Beth that she will lie when talking to the authorities inorder to keep Beth at her side. Beth’s mother wants to be a “ real mother”for her if she doesn’t go to denver.

Getting to Play against a talented opponent

Beth gets to the final of the tournament and she has to play Harry Beltik.The latter is said to be best amongst all the players and is also the statechampion. Harry is arrogant during the final game against Beth. Beth is alittle bit troubled by Harry’s capacity. The state champion knows greatmoves and plays fast. She quit the table suddenly to go to the bathroomand take tranquilizers. She talks to herself badly and says that she canbeat Harry.

Her First Tournament win

After the bathroom episode, Beth plays more confidently and puts Harry ingreat difficulty. The state champions don’t want to concede victory toBeth. The two plays the game until Beth manages to beat Harry. Thepublic applauds Beth’s victory and Beth are making the buzz in herlocality. Her prize for winning the tournament is a $100. It impresses hermother as she didn’t know there was that much to win. Beth and hermother go to the bank to open an account where to place Beth’s money.

The Second Episode’s End

At the end of the second episode, Beth purchases a chessboard for herself.She finds, by her mother’s mouth, that there is a tournament in which thewinner wins $500. Her mother arranges everything for her to attend thetournament.