Real-Life Fashionable Chess Players Like Queen Gambit's Beth Harmon

Masters of chess and style

After binge-watching Queen's Gambit, you may have wondered if Elizabeth Harmon is a real person. The many articles that will appear after you search for answers on Google will tell you that she's a work of fiction based on a 1983 book by Walter Tevis. If it's her style you fancy, don't fret. Beth Harmon may not be real but that's not to say fashionable female chess players don't exist in reality. Meet the real-life Beth Harmons who are just as captivating as the fictional heroine we all love.

Dorsa Derakhshani

In her public appearances including in this TED Talk, Dorsa frequently dons delicate fabrics such as lace and often in beautiful figure-hugging silhouettes — a far cry from what is often expected from women from the Middle East. We also love her "off-duty" looks that are just as daring but have a more carefree touch like this cute colourful piece with frills and plunging neckline, this mesmerising butterfly-like maxi skirt and this tropical-print jumper.

Originally playing for the Iran team, International Grandmaster Dorsa Derakhshani is now representing the United States after being banned by the Iranian Chess Federation for not wearing a hijab in the 2017 Gibraltar Chess Festival. In her opinion piece for the New York Times, Derakshani wrote, "To me, the choice to stop covering felt morally right, and I never felt a shred of guilt about my decision." 

Anna Rudolf

Due to similarities in appearance (especially that now-iconic hairstyle) and her own journey in chess, Hungarian International Master Anna Rudolf has frequently been dubbed the real-life Beth Harmon. Her style is often a mix of chic separates in jewel and pastel tones, very much like Beth's. She's also not afraid to wear bold colours like in this look, where she paired a bright yellow top with a more subdued pair of jeans and topped it off with a pastel blue newspaper boy hat. Anna is very much a fan of sleeveless tops as well; she pairs them with a variety of bottoms: textured black top with jeans or athleisure skirt or an a-line skirt — something the fictional Beth Harmon also does.

Like Beth, Anna started as an underdog who had to battle her way in a still male-dominated field to win her current title. Her unlikely triumph in the 2007 Vandoeuvre Open led other players accusing her of cheating via a supercomputer hidden in her lip balm, an allegation that was disputed. Since then, Anna has risen from the ashes of the controversy and has become a popular personality and commentator in chess tournaments. 

Alexandra Botez

Woman FIDE Master Alexandra Botez has won chess matches under the Canadian team even winning the Canadian National Girls Champion several times as a young player. Aside from being a chess champion, Alexandra is very much a style inspiration with her Instagram filled with sleek outfit ideas for competitions and beyond. We particularly love her wearable casual looks like this pretty floral yellow number and this red tank top matched with (non-tacky) cargo pants.

Now, Alexandra is running a chess-centric Youtube account with sister and fellow chess player Andrea. Recently, she reviewed the Queen's Gambit and shared her own experiences as a chess master, remarking that the show depicts "what would have happened if chess was less sexist." 

Harika Dronavalli

A true real-life Beth Harmon, Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli has been playing chess since very young — and stylishly at that. Harika often wears flowy pieces with decorative patterns or smart ensembles that scream "winner". While she wears elegant simple pieces during competitions such as this millennial pink long-sleeved top, beyond the board she puts on elaborate looks such as this pink piece with beautiful hanging sleeves

Harika has amassed many awards that culminated in her getting the coveted Grandmaster title (the second woman from India to do so) in 2011. 

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk has an impressive resume — and an equally impressive style. She shares not just some chess moves with Beth but also her sense of style; Alexandra also wears sleek ensembles and even chess board-inspired ones. Even in her early years as a chess player, Alexandra brings her keen fashion sense during matches; just check out how she sports this sophisticated asymmetrical top. Alexandra also doesn't shy away from menswear-inspired silhouettes and dons them beautifully like this very stylish and sleek suit with a checkered tie.

Not only is she able to become a notable chess champion but she's also modelled, did some acting and a is a peace advocate

(Cover photo from: @netflixph)

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