Is Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Based on a True Story?

The Queen's Gambit

Netflix drama series, The Queens Gambit, is captivating audiences around the world.

An inspiring story starring rising actor Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma), the mini-series focuses on Beth Harmon, an orphaned chess prodigy, who struggles with addiction from the age of nine.

The seven-part series follows Harmon for nearly a decade and a half, beginning just after her mother dies in a car accident. Leading the young girl to an orphanage, it is here her addiction to tranquiliser drugs begins.

After a new friend tells her that the drugs are best taken at night, Beth unlocks a part of her brain, and subsequently a hidden talent, while learning to play chess with the orphanage’s custodian.

Beth’s dream is to become a chess grandmaster, however, she must deal with her drug addiction to get there. It truly is gritty and one to watch if you haven’t started streaming it yet.

Unfortunately, The Queen’s Gambit is not based on a true story as such, as there was no such child chess prodigy named Beth Harmon. The series is, however, adapted from a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis who drew much of his inspiration from his own experiences.

“I first began to play chess with my sister and the kids on my block,” Tevis said in an interview with The New York Times in 1983.

“I once won a prize of $250 and became a Class C player. I now play against a computer so I don’t have to face a real-life opponent sneering at me—I can always pull out the plug. I’ve played well enough to know what a good game is. I can beat the average person, but I’m afraid to play those guys who set up boards in the street on Broadway.”

Tevis, who died the following year, also had an addiction problem after being diagnosed with “rheumatic heart and given heavy drug doses in a hospital.”

The author considered his novel to be a “tribute to brainy women,” and liked Beth “for her bravery and intelligence”.

“In the past, many women have had to hide their brains, but not today,” he said during the same interview.

The series has actually been in production for over four decades, with even the late Heath Ledger (who was both an addict and chess champion himself), set to direct and star in a film before his death in 2008.

While the series is proving to be very popular, it is unlikely that there will be a second instalment.

Stream The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix now.

Read more stories from TheLatch— and follow us on Facebook.