The true story that inspired the Queen’s Gambit –

It is no secret to anyone that one of the most popular series currently created by the largest video streaming platform, Netflix, is Queen’s Gambit, which tells the story of Beth Harmon, who we could define as a chess genius. But is she that the true story that inspired Queen’s Gambit?

As in many cases, being set in a past reality (fifties-sixties of the last century, onwards) many doubts arise about the veracity of its story, that is, if what it narrates is mere fiction or if it is a discovery of a mastermind silenced by history.

The reality is that this title, produced by Scott Frank in collaboration with Allan Scott, is inspired by a 1983 novel written by Walter Tevis, so we will have to go back to the history of Tevis to find out the origin and truth of Beth.

The real case of the Queen’s Gambit

The first thing you should know is that the story of this Netflix series is completely a work of fiction. At least when it comes to leading lady Beth Harmon. However, it is important to clarify this, since there are elements that are true and that are the product of the historical context in which the series is developed, likewise, some parts are extracted from the history and personal experience of its writer, Walter Tevis.

Who is Beth Harmon inspired by?

The protagonist is created by Tevis as a tribute to the women of the post-world war period. Keep in mind that those who were born in those years found themselves in a world in which a rigid structure of society was still maintained in which certain tasks and attitudes were inextricably associated with each gender, in short, gender roles were quite clear.

It is also important to note that the protagonist of Queen’s Gambit is ultimately a tribute to that revolution of 68 or social movements of the late sixties in which many voices were raised, among them, the voice of womenthat began to demand equal conditionsreduction of inequalities and rethinking themselves as active members of the public spheres of society.

This is fundamental because it allows us to understand why figures such as those of Beth HarmonDespite their exceptional skills at, in this case, chess, they were perceived as inferior or underestimated by male figures.

As we have said, there are also elements of their own that are subtly intermingled with the historical context, for example, the author of the novel that inspires this series told in his interviews that he also played chess as a child (like Beth) and that he suffered from an illness that made him stay in a hospital and be subjected to drug treatments similar to those given to Beth.

There are also elements that are extracted from reality, although not from hospitals. It is believed that the author was inspired by certain narcotics that used to be supplied in orphanages to children in the United States since the 1960s. Although in the series they refer to these calming or calming pills as Xanzolam (which is not real) there seems to be an analogous pill called Librium.

Therefore, queen’s gambit It also has a vindictive component for all those adults today -children during the sixties- who suffered from these ineffective medical treatments and focused more on the search for order and self-consciousness instead of the search for creativity and fun of the little ones.

On the other hand, returning to the Netflix series as such, its creator Scott Frank confessed that there is a concrete influence coming from a documentary made about the chess player Bobby Fischer (directed by Edward Zwick) that allowed him to understand the keys to focus on at the time of a duel (not so much on the board, but on the faces of the participants).

Precisely this player, Bobby Fischer, who was the undisputed leader in the sixties, was a source of inspiration for the character of Beth Harmon. In fact, he develops in parallel -temporarily speaking- and his favorite move was known as king’s gambithaving a particularly aggressive and offensive style of play.

famous female chess players

Though Queen’s Gambit is not inspired by the figure of a chess player, it should be noted that several women have achieved great results in this sport. For this reason, we will make a brief historical tour of some of the historical ones.

Nona Gaprindashvili

The Georgian is considered one of the most important figures of women’s chess Being the first woman to reach the Grandmaster title or rank. However, that title is only a consequence of her great work both in terms of results and popularization of the discipline among women.

Maia Chiburdanidze

Georgia seems to be the land of pioneer women, since Maia, as well as Nona, was also one of the first to receive the title of Grand Master. We remind you that the title is, in both cases, masculine because the sport -at least at high levels- was an exclusive category for men, the only ones who led the chess scene (until the arrival of these women).

Vera Menchik

Ahead of her time, she never gained any recognition as Nona and Maia did due to their deaths during World War II, but we can consider her the absolute leader of the discipline until then. Menchik paved the way for Nona and Maia’s generation who benefited from living in a world that was beginning to open its doors to women in the big headlines.

Polgar Sisters

Susan and Judit are two Hungarian sisters who also deserve to be recognized for their great skill on the board. On the one hand, Susan was the third to receive the Grandmaster title, on the other, Judit is known for taking down opponents without needing to look at the board.

Finally, there are still elite players today, such as China’s Hou Yifan and Peru’s Deysi Cori. As we can see, chess is not a thing for men, but you do not know the genders and, in fact, there are women who have been and are excellent chess players.

Image gallery The true story that inspired the Queen’s Gambit