Netflix's 'The Queen's Gambit' sparks chess frenzy, websites register millions of new players

Worldwide, Google reported searches for "chess" are at their highest level in 14 years.

Agencies
In modern times, chess had a resurgence during the Cold War.
ET Spotlight
SYDNEY: Hit miniseries "The Queen's Gambit" has led to a surge of interest in chess, with one popular website registering millions of new players and academies reporting unprecedented demand.

Netflix said the show, which follows the turbulent career of a fictional female child prodigy in the 1950s and 1960s, has become its most-watched ever and is currently the number-one ranked programme in 63 countries.

Gaming site Chess.com said the series had prompted a wave of interest -- already piqued by the pandemic and top-flight chess players appearing on the Twitch gaming platform -- with new daily registrations up 400 percent.


"Since the release of 'The Queen's Gambit' we have seen roughly 2.5 million new members join," the website's Nick Barton told AFP.

"Nearly each day of November we've set a new company record for the most members joining."

Worldwide, Google reported searches for "chess" are at their highest level in 14 years.
ADVERTISEMENT

It is just the latest burst of popularity for a game that is believed to have originated in India in the seventh century and was played -- and occasionally banned -- by medieval European kings, before becoming more established in the late 1800s.

In modern times, chess had a resurgence during the Cold War.

That period forms the backdrop for "The Queen's Gambit", and the story of a youthful American taking on a wily Soviet grandmaster is inspiring another generation of players.

"There has been a massive surge in adults interested," according to chess master and Sydney Academy of Chess director Brett Tindall, who called it "unprecedented".
ADVERTISEMENT

Tindall told AFP he has fielded calls from 40-50 adults looking for lessons in the last few weeks, and when carrying academy-branded kit he reports being stopped in the street and asked his opinion about the series.

On school visits, normally ambivalent teachers have gone out of their way to approach him, and some students are tuning in too -- even though the series features heavy alcohol and drug abuse.
ADVERTISEMENT

"I was at a school this morning, and few kids were talking about it, and I was like: 'guys, I don't think you're really meant to be watching this show'," he said.

Chess.com's Barton said the show's focus on female lead Beth Harmon -- played by Anya Taylor-Joy -- had prompted more women to register than usual.

They were now also spending more time on the site than men.

"These shows really help to increase the curiosity value and newcomers are attracted to the game," Vijay Deshpande, secretary of the All India Chess Federation, told AFP.

"We have a lot of good chess players in the country and the number has grown during the lockdown. Young people are hooked to technology and they were attracted to online chess."

Grandmaster and former US champion Jennifer Shahade has said she "loved" the show and had been inundated with people asking her for lessons or tips.

"I'm honestly just blown away by all the positive attention chess is getting right now. People get us in a way they haven't before," she said on a recent podcast.

"Chess is something people need right now -- the introspection, the delightful escape into a smaller world of 64 squares," she said.

According to Tindall, the interest goes beyond just the game.

The series' opulent settings, Cold War kitsch and period chess equipment seem to have captured people's imagination.

"We sell lots of different types of (chess) clocks. I have a lot of older style clocks and recently people want to get the clocks from the show... I'm not joking," said Tindall.

"A while ago, we were just trying to clear them out. They aren't really used in competitions any more. We use digital ones."

Most chess commentators have given the show high marks for authenticity -- perhaps unsurprising, given Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov and US chess author Bruce Pandolfini were consultants.

"It's the best thing I've seen about chess," said French grandmaster Anthony Wirig during an online event about the show.

The "Queen's Gambit" of the title refers to a popular opening that offers a white pawn as a barbed lure to black, which can accept or decline.

Australian grandmaster Ian Rogers said the lead character Beth Harmon resembles US prodigy Bobby Fischer, who also faced a formidable Soviet opponent.

Fischer's politically tinged matches against the USSR's Boris Spassky were watched on television by millions.

"However Harmon's struggles with pills and alcohol are all her own," Rogers told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Nowadays Harmon would be banned by WADA's drug testers long before she reached the top."

Quarantine And Chill: From ‘Money Heist’ to ‘Parasite’, Shows & Films You Can Watch During Lockdown
1/13

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a screeching halt. With a large chunk of the global population locked up indoors, a considerable number of people are turning to OTT platforms and streaming their favourite content to make the most of their quarantine.

We have prepared a comprehensive list of all the shows and films (both on OTT platforms and television) that you can watch during the lockdown to keep yourself entertained.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a screeching halt. With a large chunk of the global population locked up indoors, a considerable number of people are turning to OTT platforms and strea..
Read More

‘Ramayan’, an old classic from the yesteryears that kept the audience back in ‘80s hooked to their television sets, returned to Indian TV amid Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and took the TRP charts by storm. According to an Economic Times report, the three-decade-old saga by Ramanand Sagar earned a massive 170 million viewers in just four shows.

As viewers re-lived some of their favourite moments from the epic saga like Sitaharan and the iconic moment when Lord Rama defeated Ravana, the TRPs of Doordarshan skyrocketed.

DD National said on April 16, 7.7 crore people across the globe watched the show, making 'Ramayan' the highest watched entertainment program globally.

The last episode of ‘Ramayan’ aired on Doordarshan on April 20. If you didn’t get a chance to catch up on ‘Ramayan’ fret not. DD is now airing ‘Uttar Ramayan’ from 9 am to 10 am and 9 pm to 10 pm every day, which is an official follow up to the original show and chronicles the journey of Luv Kush.

‘Ramayan’, an old classic from the yesteryears that kept the audience back in ‘80s hooked to their television sets, returned to Indian TV amid Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and took the TRP charts by sto..
Read More

Thanks to ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’, Doordarshan had become the most-watched Hindi entertainment channel in the lockdown period. Soon, it was announced that Pogo and Prasar Bharti had joined hands to air ‘Chotta Bheem’ on DD National.

One of the most popular kids series, which features Bheem and his friends in the fictional town of Dholakpur, airs on DD National every afternoon at 2 pm.

Needless to say, the show received a warm welcome from the audience, which consisted mainly of kids who enjoyed their favourite Bheem going on fun-filled adventures with his friends.

Thanks to ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’, Doordarshan had become the most-watched Hindi entertainment channel in the lockdown period. Soon, it was announced that Pogo and Prasar Bharti had joined hands t..
Read More

Way before the battle between Marvel and DC Comics started, Indian kids had only one superhero to look up to, Shaktimaan. The show which originally aired on Doordarshan from 1997 to 2005, made its way back to India TV amid the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

The superhero television show had producer Mukesh Khanna playing the role of ‘Shaktimaan’, who acquired superhuman powers via meditation.

‘Shaktimaan’ airs on DD National on weekdays at 8 pm.



Way before the battle between Marvel and DC Comics started, Indian kids had only one superhero to look up to, Shaktimaan. The show which originally aired on Doordarshan from 1997 to 2005, made its wa..
Read More

No conversation about classic TV shows from the yesteryears is complete without talking about the iconic ‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’. The show is about the Sarabhais, a family living in the posh area of Mumbai. The show is filled with witty dialogues, tongue-in-cheek humour and, of course, the constant bickering between Maya and Monisha over the latter’s ‘middle class’ ways.

Those who have seen the show can vouch for its fresh humour and that it was way ahead of its times. Watch it for Maya’s sass, Monisha’s retorts and more than anything, for Rosesh’s poems!

‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’ airs on Star Bharat every day at 10 am.

No conversation about classic TV shows from the yesteryears is complete without talking about the iconic ‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’. The show is about the Sarabhais, a family living in the posh area of ..
Read More

‘Khichdi’ and ‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’ are two shows whose names are often taken in the same breath. ‘Khichdi’, like Sarabhai, reached cult status and got a massive fan following years after it finished airing. From Hansa’s comical translations from Hindi to English to Praful’s dim-witted demeanour, the show has fun characters, each with their own quirks.

Much like its contemporary ‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’, ‘Khichdi’ is one show which is perceived to be ahead of its time in terms of humour and plot.

You can catch up on ‘Khichdi’ on Star Bharat every day at 11 am.

‘Khichdi’ and ‘Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai’ are two shows whose names are often taken in the same breath. ‘Khichdi’, like Sarabhai, reached cult status and got a massive fan following years after it finish..
Read More

‘Money Heist’, originally, ‘La Casa De Papel’, is a Spanish heist crime drama that premiered in 2017 and is currently streaming on Netflix. The show is about a mysterious man named ‘Professor’ who recruits a group of eight people to rob the Royal Mint of Spain. Each of these eight people have city names and their own character traits which make them interesting.

As the crew takes over the Royal Mint of Spain, they face a series of challenges from rebellion among the hostages to the tactics of the elite police force. They end up stealing 2.4 billion euros and return in the next season to rob the Bank of Spain.

‘Money Heist’ is streaming now on Netflix.

‘Money Heist’, originally, ‘La Casa De Papel’, is a Spanish heist crime drama that premiered in 2017 and is currently streaming on Netflix. The show is about a mysterious man named ‘Professor’ who re..
Read More

‘Panchayat’ is one show that enjoyed massive success, thanks to the lockdown. Starring the talented Jitendra Kumar, veteran Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav in titular roles, the web series is the story of an engineer, Abhishek, who, due to the lack of a better job option, joins a remote panchayat office as the secretary.

‘Panchayat’ received critical acclaim and widespread recognition upon its release. While critics appreciated it for its simple yet layered narrative, the audience loved the show because of its humour.

You can watch ‘Panchayat’ on Amazon Prime Video.

‘Panchayat’ is one show that enjoyed massive success, thanks to the lockdown. Starring the talented Jitendra Kumar, veteran Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav in titular roles, the web series is the stor..
Read More

It’s not common to see a streaming giant, with the stature as high as that of Netflix, come up with a reality television game show. ‘Too Hot To Handle’, is one show, which thanks to the lockdown, was binge-watched by several Netflix subscribers.

The reality show is hosted by ‘Lana’, a virtual assistant that sets the rules which need to be followed by the contestants throughout the season. The show follows an original group of ten singles who are taken to a special villa to find love and earn $100,000. However, soon, the contestants are told that the prize money will be deducted if anyone on the island engages in sexual activity.

‘Too Hot To Handle’ became the #1 television program on Netflix in the week of April 20 and sparked a series of meme trends on social media platforms.

All episodes of the show are streaming now on Netflix.

It’s not common to see a streaming giant, with the stature as high as that of Netflix, come up with a reality television game show. ‘Too Hot To Handle’, is one show, which thanks to the lockdown, was..
Read More

Starring Vir Das, Manoj Pahwa, Ranvir Shorey and Ravi Kishan, ‘Hasmukh’ is a dark comedy web television series which premiered on Netflix on April 17,2020. The story follows a small-town man who also happens to be a serial killer.

‘Hasmukh’ landed in controversy after the High Court sought Netflix response to a lawsuit alleging that the show maligns the image of lawyers. The suit alleged that episode 4 of the first season alleges lawyers to be thieves, scoundrels and goons.

All episodes of ‘Hasmukh’ are streaming now on Netflix.

Starring Vir Das, Manoj Pahwa, Ranvir Shorey and Ravi Kishan, ‘Hasmukh’ is a dark comedy web television series which premiered on Netflix on April 17,2020. The story follows a small-town man who also..
Read More
Download
The Economic Times Business News App
for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.
READ MORE
ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE:

LOGIN & CLAIM

50 TIMESPOINTS

More from our Partners

Loading next story
Text Size:AAA
Success
This article has been saved

*

+