Chess sets experience massive surge in popularity following Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit

Fans of the show are spending the second lockdown inflicting checkmates of their own

Sarah Young
Wednesday 11 November 2020 10:56 GMT
The Queen's Gambit trailer
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Chess sets have experienced a huge surge in popularity following the release of Netflix's The Queen's Gambit.

The series, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, is based on a 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis.

It follows a young orphan who develops an “astonishing talent” for the game as she rises up the ranks in the male-dominated world of competitive chess to pursue her dream of becoming a grandmaster.

Since the show’s release on 23 October, it seems that many people have been inspired to coax out their own inner-chess genius during the second lockdown, which began at midnight on 5 November and is set to end on 2 December.

According to eBay, there was a 273 per cent increase in searches for “chess sets” on the online auction site in the 10 days following the show’s arrival on Netflix, which equates to one search every six seconds.

Nouman Qureshi, Toys Category Manager at eBay UK, said: “We’re seeing shoppers turn to more traditional forms of entertainment during this second lockdown.

“This includes a big uptake in the classic game of chess, which if things continue as they are, we might all be pros at by 2 December.”

While chess is typically played in-person, across the table from an opponent, other people have found ways to adapt to social distancing guidelines by taking the game online.

Earlier this year, a 71-year-old man and his seven-year-old grandson demonstrated that chess over FaceTime can be just as fun.

During the first lockdown, Mick Phillips and his grandson Ruben began playing chess via video call after their usual weekly activity of watching football came to a halt.

“They have always been close and when the news broke that my dad would be isolated, Ruben was really upset,” said Mick’s son and Reuben’s father, Chris.

“He started thinking about ways he could still see his grandad. It was all Ruben's idea to set up the game and on Saturday they both set up their chess boards. The set up was tricky but they worked out a grid system, similar to battleships, and it worked.”

You can read more about the different ways people are staying entertained during the second lockdown here.

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