The Queen’s Gambit Has Caused a Huge Surge in Chess Set Sales and Online Classes

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit (2020).
Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit (2020). / Phil Bray/Netflix © 2020
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The Queen’s Gambit, a new miniseries about a chess prodigy named Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), is one of the most popular dramas on Netflix right now—but it’s not just the show itself viewers are talking about. If you’ve debated taking up chess once you’ve finished binge-watching the show, you’re not alone. In fact, eBay reported a 273 percent increase in searches for chess sets within 10 days of the show’s release, while the word chess nearly doubled in Google searches from the previous year.

In addition to curious users searching for chess-related articles online, they're also flocking to video platforms to learn how to play. As reported by Salon, chess master Levy Rozman went from an average of 70,000 views a day on his GothamChess Twitch channel to 500,000 shortly after the show came out. His most popular video? “How to Play the Queen’s Gambit.”

Chess apps have also seen a huge increase in interest, with the game app reaching the no. 3 spot in the strategy games category on U.S. iPhones in mid-November, according to App Annie. In the overall game download category, has moved up 256 spots since the show's debut, settling in at no. 62 in the U.S.

The buzz is thanks in part to the show’s efforts to produce chess tournaments that feel as authentic as possible. Garry Kasparov, regarded as one of the world’s greatest living chess players, served as a consultant on the series, along with famous chess coach Bruce Pandolfini (who also consulted on the original 1983 novel). Together, they “created a bible of games and positions,” according to The New York Times, and worked closely with actors to ensure that each of the show’s 300-plus games felt as authentic as possible.

If The Queen’s Gambit has inspired you to give it a shot, a chess class on Skillshare or MasterClass can help you learn the game and hone your skills. Once you can at least name all of the pieces on a chess board, you’re ready to start playing. Investing in a classic board ($39) is always the best option—it can serve as a nice display piece in addition to a game set—but you can also indulge your other pop culture interests at the same time with a Harry Potter ($34) or The Lord of the Rings ($40) board. As Beth Harmon says, “Chess isn’t always competitive. Chess can also be beautiful.”

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