In a move that surprised even Netflix, The Queen’s Gambit is now its most-watched limited series ever. According to the streaming platform’s internal numbers, the chess drama starring Anya Taylor-Joy has been watched by a “record-setting 55 million households” during its first four weeks. The Queen’s Gambit has also been an global hit as the show made the Top 10 in 92 countries and ranked No. 1 in 58 countries.
Of course, Netflix doesn’t share its numbers with third parties for verification, but it does point to external signs that The Queen’s Gambit is making an impact on the cultural zeitgeist. According to a press release from Netflix, the original 1983 book The Queen’s Gambit has reappeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and the show is driving demand for all things chess. Google searches for “how to play chess” are at an all-time high and sales of chess sets are through the roof as Goliath Games has seen a 170% increase in chess set purchases while eBay is reporting a 250% increase. On top of that, the number of players on Chess.com has increased “five-fold.”
It also didn’t hurt that Taylor-Joy worked intensely on her chess skills to bring authenticity to The Queen’s Gambit, and she recently described to us how it felt like learning dance choreography:
Thomas [Brodie-Sangster] and I had the best time in the speed chess matches because chess is historically a solitary game. But when you’re learning sequences, you have a dance partner. You cannot move until he moves. So we both felt very chuffed and very proud of ourselves whenever we would finish those sequences, because it was like, “Oh, we achieved something together. You were great. I was great. This was great.”
The Queen’s Gambit is currently available to stream on Netflix.