Sent to an orphanage at age 9, Beth develops an uncanny knack for chess — and a growing dependence on the green tranquilizers given to the children.
Suddenly plunged into a confusing new life in suburbia, teenage Beth studies her high school classmates and hatches a plan to enter a chess tournament.
The trip to Cincinnati launches Beth and her mother into a whirlwind of travel and press coverage. Beth sets her sights on the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.
Russian class opens the door to a new social scene. In Mexico City, Beth meets the intimidating Borgov, while her mother cozies up to a pen pal.
Back home in Kentucky, a shaken Beth reconnects with a former opponent who offers to help sharpen her game ahead of the U.S. Championship.
After training with Benny in New York, Beth heads to Paris for her rematch with Borgov. But a wild night sends her into a self-destructive spiral.