As a result of the popularity of The Queen's Gambit, Google search queries for chess reached 100 points after the show premiered in November 2020, double the search figures from the previous year. Meanwhile, the chess.com website gained its highest annual influx of new members, adding around 3.2 million new members after the show's debut. As for the sale of chess-related items, sales figures have jumped to around 125% after the show premiered. The series also sparked new conversations around gender inequality in male-dominated games. The rest of the available quantitative insights and other findings surrounding the impact of the Queen's Gambit on sales, beliefs, and attitudes were presented in the section below.
- The Queen's Gambit is a Netflix original show about a female chess prodigy and her extraordinary quest for chess stardom while dealing with addiction problems.
- As a result of the popularity of the show, the chess game itself is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as millions of new chess enthusiasts have visited the chess.com website to engage in chess games, learn more about chess, and solve puzzles. This gave the website its highest annual influx of visitors since its inception in 2007. After the show was first shown in October, the site added around 3.2 million new members.
- The show also generated heightened interest in chess. Google search instances for "chess" jumped from an index of around 50 prior to the show's October 2020 debut to 75 points after it was shown. In November 2020, search queries for chess reached 100 points, double the previous year's number.
- Meanwhile, search queries for "how to play chess" reached a nine-year-high.
- The Queen's Gambit also propelled the demand for chess sets, related paraphernalia, and timers.
- Various sellers reported an increase in sales on chess sets and accessories.
- Across the U.S., sales of chess sets has increased by an average of 25%, almost a tie with the rate of sales in the overall toy industry. This was prior to the premiere of the Netflix show. Weeks after the show debuted, sales have jumped to around 125%. This caught manufacturers by surprise as they were not prepared for the explosion in the demand for chess set sales.
- Etsy, an online craft marketplace saw a 364% jump in search queries for chess-related products on their site after the show premiered.
- Goliath Games, a toy firm that retails various types of chess sets saw its annual sales for this item increase by 1,048% after the show premiered.
- Spin Master, one of the market leaders in the classic games segment also reported an increase of triple digits in their sales of chess sets.
- The sales of chess-related books also experienced a growth of around 603%. Prior to the debut of the show, sales have plateaued and have been dropping for the past years. Some of the popular chess-related book titles include the following: “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess,” by Bobby Fischer; “Chess Fundamentals,” by Jose Capablanca; “Chess for Kids,” by Michael Basman; and “The Complete Book of Chess Strategy: Grandmaster Techniques from A to Z,” by Jeremy Silman.
- The Queen's Gambit book which became the basis for the show also benefited from the premier of the series. It got included again in the New York Times bestseller list after it was published 37 years ago. The book was penned by Walter Tevis in 1983.
- Meanwhile, eBay saw a 215% jump in the sales of chess sets and related items since The Queen's Gambit premiered in October. Wooden chess sets are the bestsellers and "sell nine times more" than other chess sets made of other materials such as plastic, glass, electronic, and others.
- Sales of antique chess sets also ballooned seven times. Same goes for related accessories such as chess clocks and timers which saw a 45 times sales increase after the show's debut.
- For the sales department of the U.S. Chess Federation, the show also caused a windfall for them as they have seen an increase in the sales of their wooden chess sets.
- These wooden chess sets are usually worth around several thousand dollars.
- The following chart shows the growth of chess-related products prior to the premiere of The Queen's Gambit:
- According to a spokesman of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the show also captured the heart of the chest community as it accurately depicts the various facets of chess in all its glory, with all its colorful characters.
- Historically, the game is considered as a mind game that is usually dominated by men.
- The Netflix series sparked a new debate around gender inequality in the chess world.
- According to Judit Polgar, the youngest female grandmaster in the history of the game, the treatment given my men to women chess players in the show is somewhat milder than what she experienced in real-life. In reality, men typically blurt out inappropriate and degrading comments about her expertise.
- Nevertheless, Ms. Polgar acknowledged that The Queen's Gambit can help transform the traditional dynamics of the game. It is seen as an avenue to help talented girls succeed and reach their peak potential.
- The show also bolstered the interest of the younger generation in the game. With this, the series has provided the older generation and their kids with a new shared passion. Fathers have been leveraging their daughters' interest in the show and chess to connect with each other.
- The show and the game also became solid springboards for more critical talking points such as "sportsmanship, sharing strategy, patience, and always being purposeful with your moves."
- As for Twitter users, which are mainly composed of millennials, they were "81.5X more likely" to express their interest to learn chess after watching the show. They were also 7.7X more likely to say that they "used to play chess or were part of the chess club in school."
- The show also depicted the challenges encountered by women in their quest for equality in the chess-playing world. Due to this, there was also an uptick of discussions about feminism in popular forums. Feminism topics that are related to the show were discussed in popular forums 6.6X compared to the other channels.
- However, despite the overwhelmingly positive impact of the Netflix series on the chess world, there has been a "negative downside" due to the massive number of people who are joining the community. One problem is the massive increase in cheating on chess-related sites such as chess.com. In November 2020 alone, the administrators of the site have to shut down 18,000 accounts due to cheating issues.
- Some users cheat to get their hands on the large bounties from tournaments. Some want to be notorious. For others, the lure of a title such as a "Grandmaster" can drive them to cheat.
- Given this problem, chess platforms are now putting in additional measures to prevent cheating. They have placed special algorithms to expose cheating players based on their behaviors.