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  • Writer's pictureThe Spartan Press

The Queen's Gambit and the Rise of Chess

By Veronica Leon '24

(A scene from The Queen's Gambit. Photo: Netflix)

The Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit, based on the book written by Walter Trevis, has made quite the influence in the chess industry.

Since its release on October 23, 2020, the series has been viewed by people all over the world, including in Russia, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, and Australia. According to Netflix, the show ranked #1 in 63 countries, making it the biggest-ever scripted limited series on Netflix.

The Queen’s Gambit follows Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy, an American-Argentine-British actress) on her journey of becoming the best chess player in the world in a male-dominated society while struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

Due to the amount of attention the show has gotten, the sales of chess-related items have skyrocketed. Just three weeks after the show’s release, unit sales of chess sets rose 87% in the United States and the sales of chess books rose 603%, according to The NPD Group. Julie Lennet, toys industry advisor for NPD, said that the sales of chess sets and books had been declining for years until the miniseries came along.

Not only did The Queen’s Gambit increase sales, but it also increased the amount of people who are playing chess online. David Llada, a spokesman for the International Chess Federation, told The New York Times that there were 11 million chess games played online everyday at the beginning of 2020, but when the show premiered, the amount of people who played chess online rose to 16-17 million per day. The COVID-19 pandemic might also be a factor in the rise of online chess games because of the many people seeking a new hobby.

After watching The Queen’s Gambit series myself, I definitely recommend it to anyone who needs something new to watch, or if you are a bookworm like me, try reading the book. Seeing how the series has influenced so many people to play chess goes to show that it is worth watching. The series has been a significant influence on people to play chess, which shows it is a series that you wouldn’t want to miss. If you need something new to do, try picking up chess and add more women to this male-dominated hobby.


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