Tuesday, December 08, 2020

The Queen’s Gambit: 10 things you may not know about the hit Netflix show

The Queen’s Gambit has renewed interest into a centuries-old game

Anya Taylor-Joy plays Beth Harmon in hit Netflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit. — Photo credit: Charlie Gray/Netflix

Netflix’s new miniseries, The Queen’s Gambit — a period drama revolving around (fictional) chess prodigy Beth Harmon — has become an unexpected hit. Moreover, it has resulted in massive interest surrounding the game.

Here are 10 interesting facts you may not have known about the show:

1. The popular show is based on a book of the same name, by author Walter Tevis. Due to the show's success, the book entered The New York Times Bestsellers list again after 37 years.

2. It is the most watched scripted limited series on Netflix ever, with 62 million views in the first 28 days. It is featured in the Top 10 list of Netflix in 92 countries and ranked No 1 in 63.

3. The show’s creators consulted actual chess players, including the legendary Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion who held the title for 15 years (1985-2000). He is also the youngest ever world chess champion, winning the title for the first time at age 22. He was asked to play the main antagonist in the series, Vasilly Borgov, but declined.

4. The show includes a star we all remember, but only few have been able to spot. Dear old Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter, Harry Melling, plays chess master Harry Beltik in the series.

5. Beth’s story was made to be very similar to that of another famous American chess player, Grandmaster Bobby Fischer. Widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, Bobby was known to be dramatic, difficult, but most of all, absolutely brilliant.

6. The actors actually played all of the matches in the series. From the slow, classical moves to the blisteringly-fast moves shown, the actors memorised piece movements and positions and played every move themselves on camera.

7. One of the plot points of the series is that Beth oftentimes imagines a board on the ceiling and plays out variations there. While this seems weird, it is not really unrealistic. Players like Vasyl Ivanchuk and American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura are both known to look at the roof a lot during games.

8. While this series came out in 2020, a movie adaptation of this was planned over a decade ago in 2008 and was slated to be directed by the infamous Batman villain, Heath Ledger. However, his untimely passing brought the project to a halt.

9. The show has resulted in a huge boom in chess, with Chess.com, the leading online chess platform, seeing an almost five-fold increase in users. Google searches related to chess also grew by around 92%.

10. The show revolves around a female chess player that breaks down walls and takes on the world’s best, who are all men. This has led to a large number of women also getting into the game, where women have been greatly under-represented for a long time.

The Queen’s Gambit has done a great service by renewing what was arguably waning interest in a centuries-old game. However, whether or not the audience understands or likes chess, the story is sure to keep the hooked all the same!