Beth Harmon
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Updated On September 27, 2021
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Beth Harmon is a fictional character. Beth Harmon is the main supporter in the Walter Tevis novel ‘The Queen’s Gambit’.

Who is Beth Harmon?

Beth Harmon’s full name is Elizabeth “Beth” Harmon originated in Kentucky. She is a fictional character in a movie and the main protagonist in the Walter Tevis novel ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. And, the Netflix drama miniseries with the same name. There, she is portrayed by ‘Anya Taylor-Joy’.

Moreover, Taylor-Joy’s performance as her was widely praised. Therefore, she won the ‘Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film’ and the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie’.

Beth Harmon

Caption: The Queen’s Gambit’s cover photo. Source: WallpaperAccess

Character’s biography

Beth Harmon is a chess genius who was orphaned at age 9 when her mother died in a car crash. And, while growing up in an orphanage, she was taught chess by the custodian ‘Mr. Shaibel’. Then soon, she became a strong player. In the orphanage, she struggles with an addiction to tranquilizers.

And, in her teens, she got adopted and started her rapid rise in the chess world. Therefore, subsequently challenging the top Soviet players. Moreover, as her skill and profile grow, her struggles with tranquilizers and alcohol worsen.


Diana Lanni is a New York chess player present with Tevis. He contributed the USA at the ‘1982 Chess Olympiad’ in Lucerne, suggested she was at least in part the inspiration for the Beth Harmon character. Also, that her friend grandmaster ‘Larry Kaufman’ was the inspiration for the book’s Harry Beltik character.

Therefore, Diana believes it is plausible she got Tevis’ attention while playing at the outdoor tables at Washington Square Park as the only woman, and as someone with depression and addiction problems. And, other real-life chess players said to have inspired her include Bobby Fischer and Tevis himself.

Nevertheless, Tevis clearly denied any of his characters were based on real-life people. And, he also said he found it more interesting to write a female character.

Beth Harmon

Caption: Beth Harmon playing chess. Source: The Irish Times

Television adaptation

After many aborted attempts to bring the novel to the screen, Netflix disclosed they had acquired the rights. And, along with Anya Taylor-Joy declared as the show’s lead, on 19 March 2019, with a Twitter post by Netflix Queue.