- The Netflix series is based on the 1983 novel by the same name, which was written by Walter Tevis.
- Chess experts overall have praised the show as more believable than other on-screen adaptations.
- Although much of the show takes place in Kentucky, it wasn’t shot in the US.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
According to David Hill’s reporting for The Ringer, Tevis learned to play chess at 7 years old, but he wasn’t a prodigy and didn’t go on to compete professionally until he was an adult. Although he never ascended to Beth’s level, he still appreciated the intricacies of the game.
Tevis also spent time in a convalescent home as a child due to medical complications, during which time his parents effectively abandoned him.
Carers at that facility regularly drugged him with phenobarbital three times a day, and Tevis credited this early experience with drugs as a precursor to the alcoholism he developed as an adult — a parallel that is clear in the book.
He eventually wrote a short story that he later expanded into a novel, which inspired the namesake film, “The Hustler” (1961).
Other books Tevis later wrote were adapted into movies including “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Color of Money,” which was a sequel to “The Hustler.”
In a November interview with Slate, Kasparov said that several of Tevis’ game descriptions were a bit “amateurish,” so he made sure they were properly translated to the screen.
“So I said, ‘I will talk to Bruce, we’ll pick up the key games,” he said. “I will collect some games and I will basically slightly upgrade them — change them to make sure that those are real games that will look exactly as described in the book.'”
On top of facilitating those adjustments, he also provided invaluable insights into Soviet chess culture that further added to the realism of the series.
Fischer died in 2008 at the age of 64. In his obituary, The New York Times described his playing style with words that could also fit Beth’s particular flair: “volatile,” “dramatic,” “difficult,” and “brilliant.”
“You can freeze-frame anything, and it’s a real chess setup,” Frank said. “There’s even a whole sequence where you never see the board, but they’re still actually moving the pieces where they’re supposed to. The actors always knew exactly where every piece was supposed to go.”
Nevertheless, she said that she finished reading “The Queen’s Gambit” book in about an hour and was so thrilled about the role that she ran to meet with Frank to talk about it.
“It’s still the only job that I’ve ever physically run to,” she said. “I was so excited.”
You may also recognize him from his more recent roles on the BBC One series “His Dark Materials” based on the books by Philip Pullman and in the 2020 Netflix films “The Old Guard” and “Devil All the Time.”
But way back in 2003, he also played Sam in the instant holiday classic “Love, Actually,” a role he reprised in 2017 for the UK’s charity short called “Red Nose Day Actually.”
Before she ascended to those heights, her older sister, Susan Polgár, fought for the right for women to qualify in the World Chess Championship in 1986.
Until that point, the word “men’s” had been in the name of the event, but she worked to replace that title with “open” and base the tournament’s eligibility on skill rather than gender.
Carlsen became a grand master at 13 years old, was going up against the best players in the world by 16, and gained his first world championship title at 22.
In 2020, he is the current reigning world champion, having defended his title three times.
She told Vulture in October that she kept switching the camera’s focus to varying things during different matches, like the ticking clocks or the player’s hands, to fit the games into the overall arc of Beth’s story.
During the Paris tournament where Beth is clearly hungover, the pieces move around the board in a way that Tesoro described as being like a “Gumby” effect, a reference to the famous green clay character.
Screenwriter Allan Shiach, who writes under the pen name Allan Scott, had been working with Ledger on this adaptation, and he said Ledger resonated with Tevis’ novel and was also an incredibly gifted chess champion who was close to becoming a grand master.
According to Binder, Beth’s all-white final outfit on the finale unmistakably shows Beth in control as the white queen.
“At the end, Beth wears the white coat with the white pants and cap,” Binder said. “The idea, of course, is to convey that she is now the queen on the chessboard and the chessboard itself is the world.”
Deadline also reported the show seemed to make the game more popular.
They reported a spike in eBay searches for chess sets, a doubled number of Google searches on the topic, and a five-fold increase of players on Chess.com.