Gambit de Dama does not provide many spaces for tragic moments, leaving aside the cause of death of Alma, Beth’s adoptive mother, although Beth Harmon thinks that her mother could have died from hepatitis is something that is never clarified.
Possibly in Lady’s Gambit, Beth’s mother, Alma, has developed some type of non-infectious hepatitis and it is presumed that it was an alcoholic hepatitis that brought her to the brink of death along with her high alcohol consumption.
What was the reason for Alma’s death?
A Lady’s Gambit theory explains that there is a possibility where Alma suffered some type of aneurysm in the liver or another unknown condition, this would clearly explain her sudden death.
How did Alma’s death help Beth?
Ironically, the development of Beth in Lady’s Gambit as a character and her aggressive personality was hampered by the stability and love of her mother Alma, this because the great change of the character can be observed before and after the death of her adoptive mother .
The need in Lady’s Gambit for Beth to experience such a personal tragedy was necessary in order to free her from being always repressed since her childhood, thus making her the best chess player in the world.
While Alma was alive, Beth had no character motivation to overcome her substance abuse problems, especially since Alma was reluctantly allowing the behavior in Lady’s Gambit.
Queen’s Gambit ends with Beth overcoming her problems, which is illustrated through her learning to visualize chess pieces without the aid of tranquilizers. It’s a moment of triumph, made all the more resonant by how far Beth had fallen.
Alma, Beth feels like she has no one to trust but herself, and this forces her to face the fact that she doesn’t love herself very much in Lady’s Gambit. It’s only by facing her problems head-on, with the help of childhood friend Jolene.