Chess Sets Are Flying off Shelves With Popularity of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Lead Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Courtesy of Netflix.
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It seems like no one had Monopoly, Candyland or Hungry Hungry Hippo board games gift wrapped under their Christmas tree last week.

Instead, reports are that there has been a shortage of chess sets across the country, presumably because of the popularity of the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit. The show stars British-Argentine actress Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, a young chess prodigy rising in the ranks to become one of the greatest chess players in the world, all while battling her inner demons.

The Queen’s Gambit premiered on Netflix Oct. 23. According to NPR, since the series debut, sales of chess sets have massively increased. “Our October sales for chess were up 178% over the same period last year,” says Mary Higbe, director of marketing at Goliath Games, a company that sells different kinds of chess sets.

Higbe also told NPR that at the end of October, the company’s “chess sales are up 1,048%.”

Elizabeth LoVecchio, vice-president of marketing at toy company Spin Master, said their chess sales “have increased triple digits” since The Queen’s Gambit hit Netflix in late October. She thinks it’s a combination of the popularity of the series and the fact that people are looking for new ways to entertain themselves since many are staying home over safety concerns with COVID-19.

“[Sales are] unprecedented—and we anticipate our sales rising further,” LoVecchio says.
NPR also reports that chess sets sales are rising on eBay, too. The sale of chess sets on the e-commerce platform has increased by 215% since The Queen’s Gambit started airing.

It’s a good thing people didn’t react the same way when they saw Tiger King earlier this year.