The Strategist

The Times: 'The Queen's Gambit' sparks surge of interest in chess

09/08/2021 - 05:46

The last year’s release of the mini-series The Queen's Gambit provoked a surge of interest in chess.

Pietro Naj-Oleari
Pietro Naj-Oleari
Such interest, says The Times, had not been seen since the 1972 world championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, which also sparked a wave of chess enthusiasm. The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced people to spend more time at home and find something interesting to do, contributed in no small part to a new upsurge in popularity of the game.

Since the release of The Queen's Gambit,  stores that sell chess regularly report a shortage of merchandise. Regency Chess, Britain's leading purveyor of expensive chess sets, has put a comment next to sold-out sets stating that "merchandise is sold out because of The Queen's Gambit. According to its owner Julian Deverell, after the release of the series sales in his store increased fivefold and even the stock that had been built up just in case was sold out.

The British Chess Federation told the newspaper that the number of active players in its online clubs rose from 2,800 to 6,000 during the pandemic. The number of users of the game platform from December 2020 to date has grown from 50 million to 72 million. 55 million games of chess were played on the game service Lichess in March 2020, and 100 million were played in March 2021. Given this excitement, the English Chess Federation called on the government to give chess the status of a sports discipline and allow chess associations to receive government funding.