The verdict is in: The Queen’s Gambit is not just doing wonders for Netflix’s viewership, it’s also doing wonders for chess.
Viewers have been alternately raving about Netflix’s latest smash hit The Queen’s Gambit even while questioning the show’s depiction of Beth Harmon’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) dependency on pills in order to excel at matches, but one thing is clear, it’s reignited an age-old passion for the game.
The miniseries has been watched by over 62 million households globally and is the streaming service’s biggest scripted limited series to date. No surprise then that the novel the show was based on is now on The New York Times bestseller list, 37 years after it was first published.
Meanwhile, search queries for the game of chess on Google have doubled, while searches for “how to play chess” have hit a nine-year peak. Downloads for chess.com’s app have skyrocketed in the weeks since The Queen’s Gambit was first released on Netflix, and similarly, the number of daily players on free chess server site lichess.org peaked at over 11 thousand thanks to the show.
Even in Asia, where the game has remained popular amongst aficionados of all age groups, chess has become a popular search query in Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The show made it to the Top 10 Netflix programmes watched in 92 countries, and in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Thailand, it stayed in the rankings for over a month.
In fact, the show was so well-received that it even gained some famous fans on social media, including Thai singer-songwriter Nat Sakdatorn, who called it a “truly great work of art in every way”.