Chess player says she dealt with more sexism than ‘Gambito da Rainha’

  • Modern Beth Harmon Alexandra Botez told Insider that “The Queen’s Gambit” was the “best representation of chess” she has ever seen on the screen.
  • Botez also refers to how Harmon’s character was not taken seriously as a player.
  • But Botez said the show was not as sexist as the real world of chess, especially considering the time frame.
  • Visit the Insider home page for more stories.

Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” is the most accurate portrayal of chess in Hollywood, but it doesn’t go far enough to portray sexism ingrained in sports culture, influential female Alexandra Botez told Insider.

Botez is a Twitch chess streamer who started training with her father when she was just 6 years old. At the age of 8, Botez won his first national championship.

She said she won six more championship titles when she graduated from high school. She holds the title of the International FIDE Master Chess Federation for Women.

“It’s amazing what you’re doing with chess in terms of the average person knowing about it,” said Botez of the Netflix series, which follows the fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon, as she grew up in the 1960s. ” something like that because chess has always been a super niche. “

Online chess has become increasingly popular during the coronavirus pandemic, especially since the program’s launch, Insider reported earlier.


Botez plays a chess tournament in high school.

Courtesy of Alexandra Botez

Botez says that if the show had been historically accurate, Beth would not have been able to compete in any world championship event

One thing “The Queen’s Gambit” got right is how chess can be eaten, Botez said.

As he grew up, Botez was so focused on chess that he said he seemed to be living in an alternative universe built for the game.

“Beth is totally involved in the world of chess, it seems that nothing else exists, except these games, training, the community and chess,” said Botez of the character. “The way it is portrayed is extremely accurate.”

And while the character deals with sexism in the male-dominated game, Botez said he doesn’t come close to the reality of misogyny in the chess world, especially for the period of time the show takes place.

“If the show had been historically accurate, Beth would not have been able to compete in any world championship event,” Botez told Insider, citing first Grandmaster Susan Polgar, who qualified for the 1986 World Chess Championship and was denied the chance to compete because of their gender, according to their biography.

“She qualified for Candidates, which is a tournament where, if you win, you will be competing for the world championship,” Botez told Insider. “It means that you are at least the second best player in the world, and she qualified for your ranking.”

She also says that some men’s behavior towards chess players is much worse in real life

In addition to competing, the show’s portrait of men’s behavior towards women in chess also misses the mark, according to Botez.

“The way they supported her a lot when she won is inaccurate,” Botez told Insider. “If you read the real stories of women playing back then, people wouldn’t even shake their hands or look at them.”

In a recent interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Polgar remembers a male player cleaning up all the pieces on the board in frustration after losing to her.

“I had to face sexual harassment, physical intimidation and, regularly, verbal and mental abuse,” Polgar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of his experience in competitions in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today’s chess players still look down on women, according to Botez

Botez said he experienced sexism in chess communities while growing up.

“Sometimes it is the people who are your closest friends who think that women are genetically worse at chess,” she told Insider.

Botez said he always heard comments like “you’re playing the girl, it’s an easy win”.

In a recent interview with Insider, Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player in the world, said he still sees sexism in the chess world.

“In general, chess societies have not been very kind to women and girls over the years,” he said. “There certainly needs to be a small change in culture.”

Botez and Carlsen said that misogyny in chess is more common in older players than in children. Botez added that most of the girls she knew who played chess at school stopped playing when they were in high school.

“There is not so much difference between boys and girls. Clearly, the difference is later,” said Carlsen.


Botez plays a chess tournament at the elementary school.

Courtesy of Alexandra Botez

When she experiences sexism in chess, Botez says that all she can do is focus on the game and play her best.

“It gets in your head when you hear it for so long and it messes with your sense of confidence,” she said. “Maybe you start to doubt yourself a little more, but you just try to keep fighting those thoughts.”

“The Queen’s Gambit” is being streamed on Netflix.