‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Breaks Netflix Record as Chess Interest Explodes on Google and eBay

The Scott Frank-created limited series was reportedly watched by 62 million households over its first 28 days.
"The Queen's Gambit"
"The Queen's Gambit"

Netflix has confirmed “The Queen’s Gambit” is its biggest scripted limited series in history, launching to a record-breaking 62 million households over its first 28 days of release, the streamer claims. That opening number figure puts “The Queen’s Gambit” in the same league as some of Netflix’s biggest original movie debuts, including “The Kissing Booth 2” and “The Irishman.” The Scott Frank-created series starring Anya Taylor-Joy has also proven to be a hit overseas, cracking the streamer’s top 10 list in 92 countries and ranking number one in 63 countries, including the UK, Argentina, Israel, and South Africa. It’s also inspired sales of chessboards to skyrocket.

“I am both delighted and dazed by the response,” Frank said in a statement. “It’s just all way beyond what any of us could have imagined.” But speaking for my fellow producers and the entire cast and crew of the show, every one of whom made me look better than I actually am, we are most grateful that so many took the time to watch our show.”

“The Queen’s Gambit” is an adaptation of Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel about a young chess prodigy who overcomes a family tragedy and substance abuse addiction to become the best chess player in the world. Taylor-Joy leads an ensemble cast that also includes Marielle Heller, Bill Camp, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

“Three years ago when Scott Frank first approached us about adapting ‘The Queen’s Gambit,’ we felt it was a compelling tale,” Peter Friedlander, Netflix vice president of original series, said in a statement. “Beth is an underdog who faces addiction, loss and abandonment. Her success — against the odds — speaks to the importance of perseverance, family, and finding, and staying true to, yourself. However, I don’t think any of us could have predicted [the series] would become the global phenomena it is today, or our biggest limited scripted series ever.”

“It’s a true testament to Scott’s skill as a writer and filmmaker that he was able to bring the drama and detail of the many chess matches to life on camera,” Friedlander added. “Scott also had tremendous help from the series’ talented crafts team. Costume designer Gabriele Binder’s exquisite use of checkerboard patterns in Beth’s wardrobe, composer Carlos Rafael Rivera’s suspenseful score, editor Michelle Tesoro’s gripping montages, production designer Uli Hanisch’s vibrant choices that pop off the screen in every scene, and cinematographer Steven Meizler, whose work transformed every match into heart-pounding drama.”

Friedlander concluded by noting “The Queen’s Gambit” has reinvigorated interest in chess around the world. Not only is Tevis’ novel back on the The New York Times bestseller list, but “Google search queries for chess have doubled, while searches for ‘how to play chess’ have hit a nine-year peak.” Additionally, inquiries for “chess sets on eBay are up 250%” and Goliath Games says its chess sales have “increased over 170%” since the show debuted. The International Chess Federation also confirmed conversations around the show have led to “significantly higher interest in next year’s World Championship.”

IndieWire has prepped its own guide to chess sets and other gifts inspired by “The Queen’s Gambit.”

“The Queen’s Gambit” is now streaming on Netflix.

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