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The Queen's Gambit Effect: How a Netflix Series Sparked a Global Chess Revival

The Queen's Gambit Effect: How a Netflix Series Sparked a Global Chess Revival

jack_connelly
| 24

I’m sure that the majority of you reading this have seen or heard of the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, released this past October.  In fact, this series has become so popular that it became the number one show in 12 countries, including where I live in the United States.  The seven episodes enthralled viewers with its dynamic plot, excellent cinemaphotography, and, of course, chess.  The game that was once labeled “boring” by some is now cool and in style.  Today, I, motivated by some commenters of this blog, will write a succinct outline of The Queen’s Gambit and its effect on the now exploding chess community.

The Summary

Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) begins as a young orphan living in a strict all-girl orphanage.  In this orphanage, she learns to play chess from the custodian, Mr. Shaibel, and it is evident that she has a supreme talent for the game, as she is able to play through entire games in her head (only looking at the ceiling).  After finding her adopted mother, Beth begins to play in tournaments as a young teenager, winning every single one and becoming a grandmaster.  Through tragic deaths, crippling addictions, and the untrue stereotype that “women cannot compete in a sport that is dominated by men,” Beth reigns supreme as she bests the number one player in the world, Borgov.

The Effect on Chess

The “Queen’s Gambit effect” on chess was colossal.  According to CNN, the orders of chess sets spiked up 87%, while the sales of chess books went up a staggering 603%.  The Queen’s Gambit has driven millions to online chess sites like Chess.com and has helped the game reach new heights.  This has also contributed to the boom of chess YouTube channels, such as Levy Rozman’s “GothamChess” which is growing at an exponential rate, as well as streamers such as Hikaru Nakamura and the Botez sisters.  While chess was before seen primarily as a nerdy sport played mainly by men, it has now become popular to play for both boys, girls, men, and women across the world.  In my own personal experience, I was the sole chess player in school for a couple of years, and may have been seen by some as “strange” for liking it so much.  Now, with the rise of chess and The Queen’s Gambit as an aid, chess is blowing up in my and others’ high schools.

Let me know what you think in a comment, and I will get back to you.

Cheers!

JC