Insight & Analysis

Checkmate!

Published: Dec 2020

The Queen’s Gambit has been a runaway Netflix success this year, propelling its lead actor to stardom and also having a phenomenal impact on the popularity of chess.

All chess set with a timer

The story is based on the 1983 novel written by Walter Tevis. Anna Hambleton is a Canadian chess grandmaster (there are very few female grandmasters, as the Queen’s Gambit explained) and she has praised the realism of the show, telling Global News, ‘it’s not like taking a bunch of stereotypes like ‘chess is for nerds.’

An unexpected side effect of the show’s runaway success some 30 years after the publication of the novel is that chess is now becoming incredibly popular, with sign ups at Chess.com going through the roof and sales of chessboards also skyrocketing. In the US alone, over the last year sales of chess boards were comparable with the toy industry overall but in the weeks since the Queen’s Gambit premiered, sales have grown by 125%.

Given that manufacturers and retailers were likely not anticipating such an increase, if anybody is planning a Christmas gift in homage to the flame haired star of the film, then you had better start looking now, as these are likely to be hard to get hold off in the coming weeks.

At Treasury Today we are delighted to see chess’ resurgence in popularity. In a year full of trial and sadness it is wonderful to hear that peoples’ lives and minds are being enriched by one of the oldest games in town!

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