"Adjournment" is the sixth episode of The Queen's Gambit. Along with the rest of the series, it was released on Netflix on October 23, 2020.
People will settle for anything, just to say they have something.
After another memory of Alice Harmon giving Beth Harmon advice, Beth and Benny play chess in their heads and practice Russian together while driving to Benny's home in New York. On arrival, Beth incorrectly guesses where his apartment is located, until she finds herself underground in what amounts to a large concrete box containing a single bedroom and half bathroom, the shower and kitchen out in the open and limited furniture. With the absence of a couch, she has to sleep on an inflatable mattress while Benny takes the only bedroom.
You could never be a model. You are pretty enough, but you are much too smart. Models are empty creatures. The camera lens fills them with color and texture, and, once in a while, even mystery. But just like there is no mystery to a vacant lot, it’s just there until you put something interesting on top of it… Models are the same. They are just what you put on them.
Benny wastes no time and jumps straight into chess training, studying books and playing matches. At one point, he invites over several masters and Cleo. Cleo introduces herself to Beth while Beth cooks for the men, mentioning that she met Hilton Wexler and Grandmaster Arthur Levertov when they stopped her from killing herself. She tells Beth a bit about her life story, and her profession as a model, before Beth goes to play Benny, Levertov, and Wexler in a 1 v 3 simultaneous in speed chess. She defeats them all, and then beats Benny numerous times, winning $10 bets each time. At length, Benny concedes and everyone leaves his apartment. Beth and Benny have sex afterward, although Benny ruins the moment by talking about chess. Beth becomes annoyed at this, and turns over angrily in bed, leaving Benny questioning what he did wrong.
Afterward, Beth flies to Paris for the next tournament with Borgov. She banters with biting questions from the press, and when they ask her if she reviews her old game with Borgov, she responds in Russian, "especially that one" so Borgov can understand. Beth and Borgov burn through the ranks of the tournament, with Beth taking every possible opportunity to study for her match with Borgov.
The night before the final match, with Borgov, Beth plans to study and sleep but is contacted by Cleo. Although reluctant to spend time away from her practice, Beth eventually goes downstairs for a drink with her, and Beth talks about living a life of excess in Paris. Cleo talks to Beth about love, and soon enough Beth wakes up in a drunken stupor in a bathtub, as depicted in the cold opening of "Openings", with Cleo asleep in her bed. Beth then rushes to her match with Borgov and apologizes. Throughout the match, she is visibly hungover and consumes a large amount water during the match, even having the pitcher refilled at one point. Beth is handily defeated, causing her to shed a tear before leaving without shaking Borgov's hand. Benny calls to comfort her, but she's too despondent, preferring to get wasted rather than returning to him.
Return to Lexington
Back home Kentucky, her lawyer calls her and informs her that Allston Wheatley went back on his word that she could keep the house she lived in with Alma. He disavows her as his daughter and demands the house so he can sell it, so she agrees to pay him for the equity in the house, minus the costs of burying Alma. After that bitter exchange, Beth renovates parts of the house and pays a neighbor to help her with landscaping.
They want us to beat Communists for Jesus.Benny, on the Christian Crusade organization
Crawford Walker of Christian Crusade gets in touch with Beth about supporting her transport to the Moscow Invitational, in the USSR, to play against Borgov once more. Benny advises her to take their money, because "they're loaded" and would pay for her fare, a plus one, and more if she needed it. He says he misses her and wishes she would return to New York, but she wants to stay in Kentucky and isn't even certain she wants to go to the Moscow Invitational.
After practicing for a time, she goes out for dinner and gets drunk. Although Harry Beltik calls in concern, she hangs up on him and spirals into a series of binges that even the neighbors notice, due to all the bottles. At the end of her binge, she recalls how far gone her own mother was, near the end, until finally collapsing. Beltik drives by and knocks on her door, worried about her, but she's passed out cold. She finally wakes up when a local tournament director calls her for a photo shoot at the original high school where she won the Kentucky State championship.
She arrives with only a couple minutes to spare, and asks for aspirin when she does. She meets Annette Packer there, the first person she ever defeated in any tournament. Packer earnestly thanks Beth, although Beth has little to say and it's painfully clear to Packer that Beth is spiraling out of control. Shortly after, Beth goes outside for a quick smoke and finds Beltik there, who's worried about her becoming a drunkard. Defensive, Beth insults his Assistant Manager job at the local supermarket, although he remains calm and says he likes the job while he attends college simultaneously.
Shamed, Beth returns home and closes the blinds. When someone raps insistently at her door, she totters toward the door, falls down the stairs, and opens the door in a rage, thinking it's Beltik. However, she shocked to see not Beltik, but Jolene from Methuen.