The Queen’s Gambit is clearly the best thing that has happened to chess since the height of the Cold War in the 1960s and 70s. Despite being a global sport, chess did not see a significant following since the middle of the twentieth century until Netflix came up with this spectacular series in late 2020.
In a short time, this hugely successful series brought the current generation back to the chessboard. This phenomenon was last witnessed in the 1970s when prime Bobby Fischer was bossing the chess circuit worldwide. After seeing a lull for quite some time, The Queen’s Gambit has finally brought the storm to the chess arena.
Global Chess Generates Enormous Calling Following The Queen’s Gambit’s Release
Recent surveys have confirmed that online registrations to chess platforms and academies have increased manifold after the show’s release. Millions of new players have registered themselves on the top online chess portals in the months following the rage that the show managed to conjure up.
One of the novel features of this recent hype around chess is that more women players are now embracing this classic strategy game. This is not surprising since Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit revolves around the protagonist Beth Harmon. This female chess prodigy battles her personal problems to climb up to the peak of the chess hierarchy.
The fictional character of Beth Harmon resembles the real-life person of Bobby Fischer, who had to battle mental issues while trying to end the Russian dominance over international chess in the 1970s. The American Fischer achieved his target when he defeated the then reigning world chess champion Boris Spassky in 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland.
That The Queen’s Gambit has been able to capture the imagination of an entire generation speaks volumes of the show’s quality. In more than 63 countries, it was the number 1 ranked OTT programme for the whole of its run time.
Chess.com has declared The Queen’s Gambit as the principal reason millions of new users have started playing chess on their site in the latter half of 2020. The show’s timing, released during the Covid-19 lockdown period, also helped garner the attention of people who were devoid of outdoor activities then.
The game’s notable faces, such as current world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and American GM Hikaru Nakamura, came to play online games regularly. So, everything worked perfectly for the Netflix show to weave its magic on an entire generation. It is no wonder Chess.com has seen a 400% rise in registrations immediately after The Queen’s Gambit began ruling the charts in late 2020.
Global search-engine giant Google has also benefited from the humongous success of the Netflix series, with searches related to chess reaching a high not seen in at least 14 years!
The Netflix Effect – The Queen’s Gambit Has Brought The Much-Needed Glamour Back To Chess
The chess game is widely believed to be an evolved version of an Indian board game known as ‘chaturanga’. It took time for chess to become popular in Europe amidst calls for its removal from European courts from time to time. However, it survived repeated onslaughts from unfavourable personages. Finally, it established itself as a global sport by the end of the nineteenth century.
Chess peaked in its popularity in the middle of the twentieth century. This was a time when the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were engaged in a protracted period of tension termed the ‘Cold War’. This was when the Soviet Union was leading in the race to dominate international chess competitions, with both men’s and women’s world champions coming from its robust chess foundation.
The plot of The Queen’s Gambit is quite convincingly set amidst this backdrop. The protagonist, Beth Harmon, played by American actress Anya Taylor-Joy to perfection, comes face-to-face with the Russian chess heavyweights on her quest to become the best chess player in the world.
Whoever has watched the show in its entirety will know that for someone to become good at chess, it would require a great deal of focus and concentration. It would also take years of practice and dedication, that goes without saying. This is what viewers get to witness while watching one episode after the other.
To become great at anything requires struggle and sacrifice. And that is precisely what Beth Harmon must endure on her way to becoming a formidable force in the global chess fraternity. The younger generation of chess players can benefit from the lessons shared through the show, such as the hard work and discipline needed to achieve anything in life.
Life is similar to a chessboard, with each move alluding to our accurate life decisions. To win a chess match, one must continuously ponder multiple possibilities, the same as in our daily lives. You never know what will happen; thinking about the possible outcomes and then opting for the best is the wisest choice. All this and more anyone can take away from The Queen’s Gambit.
How The Queen’s Gambit Brought About A Generational Shift In Chess
The stupendous success of The Queen’s Gambit has brought the younger generation toward the chessboard and ignited the passion for the game in the minds of adults worldwide. The pandemic has played a considerable role in this sudden vogue that chess is commanding in present times. With most people stuck at home in 2020 and the year after, when the show was storming the ratings, many men, women, and children were hooked on chess, none more so than women in particular.
Reports coming from different corners of the globe point toward the same truth, that chess has found a newfound acceptance not seen in decades. Director Brett Tindall of the Sydney Academy of Chess is in total awe of the new chess movement. He mentioned in a recent interview that the number of inquiries he had received in the aftermath of the show’s success had been nothing less than “unprecedented”.
More and more students have begun queueing up for chess clubs and chess lessons in schools and colleges. Downloads of several chess applications on Google Play Store and Apple App Store saw a steep rise from when the show hit the screens. Several former chess players have been requesting quick tips and lessons from all and sundry.
Former two-time US women’s chess champion and incumbent US Chess Federation Programme Director Jennifer Shahade is of the view that The Queen’s Gambit impact on chess will only be understood in a few years’ time when the complete “generational shift” reaches fruition. Only then could it be gauged how much force the show has been able to put on the minds of the people partaking in its popularity.
The Queen’s Gambit has brought back a large chunk of chess players who had lost interest in the game due to the fast pace of the contemporary lifestyle. The Netflix effect, along with the time that the Covid-19 lockdown period was able to give to millions on a global scale, allowed people to sit back and relax a little. This was when The Queen’s Gambit chess set took over the personal space of many individuals. In other words, a large number of people were given a shot at transforming their mental energy into the 64-squared board.
While discussing The Queen’s Gambit impact on chess, the All India Chess Federation secretary, Mr. Satish Deshpande, threw light on the show’s contribution to making chess a much-talked-about sport in India. It is no coincidence that this year’s World Chess Olympiad, being held in Chennai, has drawn a record number of chess enthusiasts from across the country and overseas.
The city of Chennai and the nearby Mamallapuram, where the match centres are located, has become a magnet for chess aficionados. This has been a massive leap from the previous editions of the Olympiads, where attendance levels were much lower.
To cater to its subscribers’ demands, Netflix has developed the novel idea of transforming the show into a game. This would allow a user to play chess with a CGI version of Beth Harmon. All those fans out there will now be able to fulfil their wish to play a match with the show’s standout star, Anya Taylor-Joy.
Not only does a player get to compete against the virtual version of Beth Harmon, but Netflix is also providing the user with chess lessons and tactics on the go. This has the potential to become the stepping stone to chess for any chess newbie.
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So, get on the chess bandwagon and enjoy the ride!