‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Sends Chess Set Sales Soaring
The Netflix show about a chess prodigy has reignited interest in the game and fueled demand for sets, accessories and timers.
Poela Keta started binge-watching “The Queen’s Gambit” as a break from studying for her final exams at Rhodes University.
“I think I’ve always respected chess,” Ms. Keta, 21, who lives in South Africa, said on Saturday. “I just thought I wasn’t smart enough nor patient enough for it.”
That is, until she saw Beth Harmon, the main character in the Netflix show, masterfully school her opponents as a woman in the male-dominated world of chess.
“Beth’s can-do attitude, the way the board presented itself to her on the ceiling in a drug-induced haze, her mastery, her ego, made me add my own set to my shopping cart and get playing,” Ms. Keta said.
When the chess set she ordered arrived, her 11-year-old sister, who is part of the chess club at her school, helped her position the pieces. Ms. Keta said she planned to dive deeper into the game “the minute I’m done with exams.”
“The Queen’s Gambit” follows Beth, a chess prodigy who rises through the ranks of the chess world as she struggles with addiction.
Over the last year, sales of chess sets in the United States rose by around 25 percent, only slightly faster than the toy industry overall, said Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst with NPD, a market research company. But in the weeks since “The Queen’s Gambit” premiered, she said, sales have grown 125 percent.
“Manufacturers and retailers weren’t likely prepared for this increase in sales,” Ms. Lennett said. “So, if consumers want a chess set to give as a gift, I would highly recommend they buy it now before they sell out.”
At Goliath Games, a toy company that sells several varieties of chess sets, set sales are up more than 1,000 percent compared with this time last year, the company’s director of marketing told NPR.
A spokeswoman for eBay, Kara Gibson, said the company had recorded a 215 percent increase in sales of chess sets and accessories since the debut of the show in October. Of the different types of chess sets, wooden are the most popular and sell nine timesmore than plastic, electronic or glass on eBay, she said.
Vintage set sales have increased seven times, as have sales for equipment, including chess clocks and timers, which are up 45 times since last month.
Before “The Queen’s Gambit,” Ms. Gibson said, chess sets at eBay were already selling 60 percent more than last year, which the company attributes to people spending more time at home during the pandemic.
The sales division of the U.S. Chess Federation reported an increase in sales of wooden sets, which can cost several thousand dollars, since the show began.
“More and more people are playing more and more games than ever before in history,” said David Llada, a spokesman for the International Chess Federation, known as FIDE.
At the beginning of the year, as many as 11 million chess games were played online every day, Mr. Llada said. When the pandemic hit, the numbers grew to an estimated 16 million to 17 million games per day. Sites that required users to be registered reported an increase in new membership of around 40 percent, he said.
Mr. Llada said it was too soon to measure the full impact of “The Queen’s Gambit” on chess, but said it was already comparable to the buzz usually generated around world championships, held every two years. Some matches, like the championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky played during the Cold War, “gave birth to a whole new generation of millions of chess fans,” Mr. Llada said.
“The chess community fell in love with the series because it successfully portrays different aspects of chess in all its richness: It’s easy enough to be fun to play, but also complex enough to pose a challenge,” he said. “It is nerdy, but also cool and fashionable. It is intensively competitive, but full of interesting, creative and colorful characters.”
Streaming platforms like Twitch have also had skyrocketing viewership of chess games.
From March through August, people watched 41.2 million hours of chess on Twitch, four times as many hours as in the previous six months, according to the analytics website SullyGnome. Last month, people watched 4.2 million hours of chess, compared with 2.4 million the same month last year.
In June, an amateur chess tournament called PogChamps was briefly the top-viewed stream on Twitch, with 63,000 people watching at once, SullyGnome said.
And membership in chess organizations, such as the U.S. Chess Federation, the governing body for chess competition in the United States, is also on the rise.
“This month, we’ve had our first bump in membership since the pandemic hit, and we are hearing from our members that many of them are renewing or rejoining specifically because of the series,” said Daniel Lucas, a senior official at the federation.
General interest in the game is “always there under the surface,” Mr. Lucas said, but membership has fluctuated over the years. It boomed after Mr. Fischer won the 1972 world championship, but by the 1980s interest had waned, Mr. Lucas said.
Since then, there has been a steady increase in part because of school chess clubs, Mr. Lucas said. The federation reached a high of 97,000 members this year.
White men still make up the largest demographic of members, he said, but efforts have been made to recruit players from underrepresented communities, especially through scholastic programs. Female membership has increased to 14 percent from 1 percent in the early 2000s, he said.
Mr. Lucas, whose father taught him to play chess when he was six, watched “The Queen’s Gambit” over a weekend with his wife and daughter. He said it showed “some of the best chess ever put on screen.”
Time will tell whether chess is merely the latest pandemic fad, fated to go the way of banana bread baking and binge-watching “Tiger King,” but Mr. Lucas believes the heightened interest in the game is here to stay.
“I’m fond of the axiom that ‘the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,’” he said. “And people have been playing chess for 1,500 years.”
Antique Chess Sets – A primer on identification and value
Antique Chess Sets
There are not a whole lot of brick and mortar chess stores out there, so I realize we fill a very particular niche in the chess world. Because of that, we get a lot of requests for things we do not normally handle. Probably the most common? Questions about antique chess sets. How much are they worth? What are they made of? Sometimes just a search to find out a little more about a chess piece set that has been passed down in the family.
While answers are often extremely hard to come by, I thought it would be a service to write a quick explanation on why it is so difficult as well as give some suggestions for finding out more.
The problems with valuation and Antique Chess Sets
So you have antique chessmen, and you want to know what they are worth. There is good reason to want to find out – chess sets vary in value from worthless to tens of thousands of dollars in some rare instances. It is important to realize they are as much an art form as an sculpture or painting, so some of them, by the right manufacturers, can hold a great deal of value. Likewise, there are tons that are from other manufacturers with less brand recognition. The vast majority are made overseas where it is difficult, if not impossible – to track down the original artist, so a lot of guess work is involved.
I have come up with a few questions you should ask yourself when looking to value or identify antique chessmen.
Question 1: Who is the Manufacturer and Where was it made?
Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of different artisans and manufacturers that have made chess piece sets over the years. They have been made from all manner of materials; exotic woods, stone, brass, ceramic, unusual other materials. Some brands, such as Jaques of London or Drueke have some value due to the history of the company itself. More often than not, however, a chess set is a limited edition item, or even a hand-crafted item by an unknown artist. These may have skill in manufacture, and may be valuable in their own right – but certainly not to the level of those special ‘name brand’ options.
Look to see if there is a signature or brand emblem on the chess piece set. A good place to check would be under the chessboard or beneath the chess pieces. It could range from a symbol to an actual signature. If you find something, you can reach out to the company – even if the set is decades old – to see what additional information you can find out. If you are lucky, there might be a collectors market – for example for Franklin Mint chess items, or the before-mentioned Jacques of London Staunton chess pieces.
More often then not, you will not find anything without the original box the antique chess set came in or any sort of certificate the chessmen might have come with. This does not make it worthless, but without being able to track down the original manufacturer you can’t know how much it ever sold for as new. This is hugely problematic as art, and the costs of art, can be hugely subjective.
What you might think is an awesome, intricate, exclusive piece may be a copy of many produced as souvenirs overseas and sold for only tens of dollars. Sometimes it is hard to determine if an item is actually hand made or done by machine or assembly line. It’s a real problem! Unfortunately, if you can’t find the answers you might have to assume the worst.
Question 2: What are the chess pieces made out of?
Material can go a long way in determining value, especially if you do not know the manufacturer. Brass, Ivory, Jade, precious metals and exotic woods – obviously these can increase the value significantly.
Beyond that, the material can sometimes give clues to where it was manufactured. Onyx and Malachite sets are almost always from Mexico. Alabaster and Brass are from Italy. Wood chessmen are often from India.
Feel free to reach out to manufacturers of similar items – they might not be able to tell you about the specific set, but might be able to at least give you an idea about how much a set of a certain size and certain detail may cost for materials alone.
Question 3: How old is the chess set?
This is what really puts the “antique” in antique chess sets. There are chess sets many hundreds of years old. Most antique chess sets brought to us are from the past 75 years or so. If you have something that old or older, there is considerably more value.
Who do I ask these questions to?
This is the biggest issue. Most of the time you cannot answer these questions and you’re looking for an expert. Sadly, this is hard to come by – chess sets are made everywhere by every one, and no retailer can know everything. It’s often hard for us to know the differences from antique chess sets and currently produced ones!
An antique dealer is really a good place to get started – especially if it is an older set. Once you can narrow down some of the questions – where it was made, how old it is – maybe a retailer can give you some sort of range or help.
The best bet would be to contact a chess museum. They exist! For example, the long island chess museum:
Collectors in many cases know better than retailers, and they are the best resource to find. There may be other chess museums, or similar organizations, more local to you. If not, Chess Collectors International is a group of collectors – the closest thing to experts out there and the a wealth of knowledge about antique chess sets. You can find more about them through the long island chess museum or the world chess hall of fame.
Finally, there are a lot of knowledgable chess collectors out there in web forums. Search around for chess forums and you’ll find many with chess enthusiasts happy to help identify or value your antique chess set. Talkchess is just one example:
Talk Chess Forum for Chess Lovers
I hope you found this post informative.
Can't Find A Chess Set? You Can Thank 'The Queen's Gambit' For That
Anya Taylor-Joy plays a swaggering chess prodigy in the new Netflix hit, The Queen's Gambit. It's success may lead to a shortage of chess sets this holiday season. Phil Bray/Netflix hide caption
Anya Taylor-Joy plays a swaggering chess prodigy in the new Netflix hit, The Queen's Gambit. It's success may lead to a shortage of chess sets this holiday season.Phil Bray/Netflix
Who could've predicted chess sets might become as difficult to find as toilet paper during the early weeks of the pandemic? Not Gerrick Johnson. The toy analyst with BMO Capital Markets found himself stymied while searching for a particular Cardinal chess set a few weeks ago.
"It was sold out everywhere I went," he says.
Sales of chess sets have skyrocketed, says Mary Higbe, director of marketing at Goliath Games. The company sells six different kinds of chess sets, including those familiar red-boxed Pressman sets you've probably seen in the toy aisle at Walmart.
"Our October sales for chess were up 178% over the same period last year," Higbe says. That's a big increase. But something else unexpected happened at the end of the month. Now, she says, "our chess sales are up 1,048%."
Every so often a game comes along that captures the popular imagination. In November 2020, that game is chess. The reason? A Netflix period drama that debuted in late October.
"Ever since The Queen's Gambit launched, our chess sales have increased triple digits," marvels Elizabeth LoVecchio, vice-president of marketing at Spin Master. The huge toy company has a division of classic games — such as chess, checkers and backgammon — that owns about 70% of the market share in the United States.
LoVecchio says sales of these games started spiking back when people first hunkered down last spring and played games with people in their bubbles to keep themselves entertained. But what's happening with chess sales since The Queen's Gambit is "unprecedented — and we anticipate our sales rising further," she adds.
Chess sets sales are rising in the secondary market as well. eBay registered a 215% increase in chess set and accessory sales since The Queen's Gambit hit Netflix, with shoppers seeking out wooden chess sets nine times more than plastic, electronic or glass ones, according to an eBay spokesperson. Toy analyst Gerrick Johnson now warns that demand will outstrip supply.
"Six months ago, a year ago, these retailers weren't saying, let's load up on chess sets," he notes. "Good luck finding a chess set this holiday!"
Both LoVecchio and Higbe agree a chess shortage may be added to 2020's woes.
"Oh, for sure. I believe it," Higbe says.
Chess has long been alluring, even dramatic. But The Queen's Gambit makes it seem accessible, Higbe adds. And that just adds to the appeal of a game that's both eminently affordable and pleasingly different every time you play it.
"You have to have patience. You have to really think about strategy. You have to plan ahead," she says.
Valuable skills for playing chess — and getting through the dark few months before us.
Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) destroys an opponent (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in the Netflix chess drama, The Queen's Gambit. Phil Bray/Netflix hide caption
Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) destroys an opponent (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in the Netflix chess drama, The Queen's Gambit.Phil Bray/Netflix
So many crappy wooden chess sets for sale - any recommendations??
Like how much different? I been looking at TheChessStore quite alot and notice a few oddities with their set listings. Specifically i've been eyeing the Fierce Knight set and after browsing their site for hours for weeks on end I noticed something interesting.
This is the 3" King Fierce Knight set, with pieces only, look at the Bishop and Rook specifically
That is a good eye and you are onto some of TheChessStores games! They sell a quality built set but their photos are NOT representative of what you will get. They use templates for different set auctions and have switched manufacturers, while still using old photos!
The set I received is far different. Its the "Exclusive Staunton 4" King Set" (listed way above) but the bishop looks nothing like that. The head is waay fatter, and thicker. Also, the pieces are generally "fatter" and fuller in stature. The knights almost look laughable. Below is a photo I found on their site of the exact one (minus color choice) I received with the fatter, weird looking pieces. Compare this to the original ebay auction link I posted above. Not even close
That being said, the build is of great quality, they are just sending you something other than what you've seen. They Definitely need to clean up their act and sales method. Thats unacceptable. I am waiting on the replacement set that supposedly "matches the one listed in auction". So we'll see how this one looks...
Set ebay wooden chess
.Handmade European Wooden Chess set (watch)
- Cartoon dog tongue
- Ezcater coupon codes
- Cnh mountville pa
- Majestic wood fireplaces
- Full body workout pinterest
- Mtb knee brace