“It’s the board I notice first. It’s an entire world of just 64 squares. I feel safe in it, I can control it, I can dominate it, and it’s predictable. So if I get hurt, I only have myself to blame.”
– Beth Harmon
By some chance you haven’t seen The Queens Gambit on Netflix because you were abducted and weren’t allowed to watch Netflix, I forgive you. For the rest of you, let’s talk about the marvelous character of Beth Harmon.
Who Is Beth Harmon?
Elizabeth “Beth” Harmon is the protagonist in The Queens Gambit.
At 9 years old, Beth was introduced to the game of Kings when she stumbled across a janitor playing Chess in the basement of the orphanage she was living.
Chess can also be… beautiful.
– Bath Harmon
Nearly every game Beth plays in the show could be classified as “notable”. But we’re including three of the best games in the show.
Harmon vs Beltik
This is the first notable game in the series. Beth entered the Kentucky state tournament and is in the final game against Harry Beltik. This game was based on a game Rashid Nezhmetdinov vs Genrikh Kasparian from 1955.
Beth Harmon vs Vasily Borgov (1st game)
Harmon faced Borgov a few times throughout the show. This is the first game they played.
This game was based on the real life game, Leonid Stein vs Aleksandar Matanovic in Yerevan on Sep-27th, 1965.
Elizabeth Harmon vs Vasily Borgov Final Game (With PGN Annotation)
This is the final game in the show between Beth Harmon and Borgov. Like the other games seen throughout the show, this game was based on a real life game between Russian Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk vs Patrick Wolff in 1993. That PGN is shown below after we go through the game that was played in the show.
Here is the exact game between Harmon and Borgov that was played in the show, the final game in Russia.
The world champion himself, Magnus Carlsen made an analysis of this game.
The Real Game That This Game Was Based On
Up until move 44, this was a real game that was played between Vassily Ivanchuk and Patrick Wolff in 1993.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Beth Harmon a Real Chess Player?
Although the show wasn’t based on a true story, the character of Beth Harmon was likely to be based on a real Chess prodigy from the past. It is likely that the character of Beth Harmon is mostly based on Bobby Fischer. The same character referenced in one of the best Chess movies, “Searching For Bobby Fischer”.
What Drugs Does Beth Become Addicted To?
During her time living at the Orphanage, the kids were given “medication” on a daily basis. Turns out these pills were tranquilizers. Women were commonly prescribed them by doctors in the 1950’s.
How did Beth’s mother die?
As Bath and her mother Alma Wheatley travel to Mexico City for, Mrs. Wheatley explored a love interest with a pen pal Manuel. Shortly after that ended, Beth’s mother died from what the coroner expected to be hepatitis, an inflammatory condition of the liver. Likely the result of alcoholism as we see throughout the show.