The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix: Is Beth Harmon based on a real person?

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The Queen’s Gambit was released last week, Friday, October 23, on Netflix. The new mini series tells the tale of Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), a chess genius who becomes a star in the 60s. Despite the social stigma, Beth defeats male opponents with ease but suffers her own internal struggles as a result of the mounting pressure.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from The Queen’s Gambit.

The Queen’s Gambit follows the journey of orphan Beth from eight to 22.

From an early age, she is seen to have a talent for chess and enters regional competitions where she usually comes out triumphant.

Her goal is to become a chess grandmaster but to do this, she will need to become a world champion.

However, while her career is on the rise, her mental and general health decline as she continues to secretly take tranquilisers to calm her nerves.

Is Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit based on a real person?

Beth is the protagonist in The Queen’s Gambit, who quickly creates a name for herself as a chess prodigy.

However, while Beth is glamorous and captivating to watch, she is not based on a real person.

The character of Beth is fictitious and was thought up by author author Walter Tevis for his book of the same name in 1983.

At the time of writing the book, there were very few world famous female chess players for Tevis to be inspired by.

The first woman to be named chess grandmaster was Hungarian Judit Polgár who wasn’t given the title until 1991.

While the story of The Queen’s Gambit may not be true, the Netflix series had an expert on hand to help with all of the details.

Producer William Horberg explained: “I produced the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer and one of the people I met in the course of making that was Bruce Pandolfini, who’s a chess grandmaster.

“The character Ben Kingsley plays in that movie is based on him. Pandolfini was the first guy I called when [writer and director] Scott Frank and I finally realised we were going to revive this project..

“I brought him to lunch, and it turned out he had been hired by the publisher to be Walter Tevis’s consultant on the book

” It was a real moment of kismet to find that he had a connection to the author and original material, he even came up with the title.”

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Another expert which worked on the series was legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov whose life had some similarities to that of Beth Harmon.

Holberg said: “The beautiful thing about Garry is that not only did he consult with us about the actual chess in the show, but he was the person who has an autobiography that mimics the main character.

“Indeed, Kasparov came of age roughly around the same time as the Harmon character and was also a child prodigy when she was coming to prominence. “He had so much to give on a personal level about what it’s like to be seven or 10 years old and a genius, taken out of regular circumstances and having your life changed—family dynamics, the KGB, going to tournaments. That was gold for us.”

The Queen’s Gambit is a limited series based on Tevis’ original book.

As there is no more source material to based more episodes on, it does seem unlikely The Queen’s Gambit will return.

However, given the show has so far gone down well with subscribers, the creators could delve into the unknown to create a second series.

So far though, there has been no talk of The Queen’s Gambit coming back for another season.

The Queen’s Gambit is available to watch on Netflix.

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