Despite efforts to make the chess scenes believable, there are still areas where the series fails. The most obvious is the speed at which players move during tournaments. As a tournament director in Beth said before a competition in Cincinnati, each player has two hours to make 40 strokes, which was, and still is, a standard time control for such games. But in every game, Beth and her opponents make their every move after taking just a few seconds to think about it. At such a rate, they would finish their games in minutes, not hours. The speed is understandable for filmmaking, as watching players sitting on a set for hours, barely moving, is not fascinating. But that is not correct either.
There is also no question of making the competitors talk during certain matches. Other than proposing a draw – basically agreeing that the match ends in a tie – players don’t talk to each other during matches. This is not only considered bad sportsmanship, it is also against the rules. But on several occasions, such as in Beth’s match against Harry in Episode 2, in which she gloats towards the end, and in her match against a young Russian prodigy in Mexico City in Episode 4, Beth and her opponents come together. engage in verbal exchanges. The dialogue makes the games more understandable and spices up the drama, but again, that’s not true.
Although “The Queen’s Gambit” is a work of fiction and the characters in it never existed, there are fleeting references to players who did, including world champions José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik and Boris Spassky.
There is also a curious moment when Harry compares Beth to Paul Morphy, an American, who played this famous game at the Paris Opera in 1858 and who is widely regarded as the greatest player of the 19th century. The comparison seems to be in the wrong direction. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Beth does not look like Morphy. She is closer to a female version of another champion: Bobby Fischer.
It may not be accidental. Walter Tevis, who wrote the 1983 novel on which the series is based, was an avid and knowledgeable amateur gamer. In making the protagonist a woman playing a game that had long been dominated by men – and continues to be so today, though no one knows the reason – Tevis may have expressed hope that a day there would be real gender equality on the board.