Sales of chess sets, books surge following premiere of 'The Queen's Gambit'

Chess show sets record as Netflix's most-watched scripted limited series

Sales of chess sets and chess books have surged in the three weeks following the debut of Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit," according to a new report by the NPD Group.

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The miniseries, which premiered on Oct. 23, saw its total viewing time in the U.S. rise to 40.8 million hours over its first nine days, NPD said. Meanwhile, the research firm reported unit sales of chess sets jumped 87% in the U.S., while chess book sales rose 603%.

“The idea that a streaming television series can have an impact on product sales is not a new one, but we are finally able to view it through the data,” NPD's toy industry adviser Juli Lennett said in a statement. “The sales of chess books and chess sets, which had previously been flat or declining for years, turned sharply upward as the popular new series gained viewers.”

ONLINE CHESS CLASSES SEE RECORD INTEREST AMID PANDEMIC, AND AFTER RELEASE OF NETFLIX'S 'THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT'

U.S. Retail Tracking Service data from NPD shows week-over-week chess set sales in the U.S. were relatively flat for 13 weeks prior to the show's debut.

Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Services, US Toys POS; Subscription Video Track; NPD BookScan, 2020.

A similar rise in chess book sales was revealed by NPD BookScan, which reported higher U.S. print book unit sales for the titles “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” by Bobby Fischer, “Chess Fundamentals” by Jose Capablanca, “Chess for Kids” by Michael Basman and “The Complete Book of Chess Strategy: Grandmaster Techniques from A to Z,” by Jeremy Silman.

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Set in the 1960s, “The Queen’s Gambit,” based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name, revolves around a young girl named Beth, who reveals an astonishing talent for chess and begins an unlikely journey to stardom while grappling with addiction. The series stars Anya Taylor-Joy, alongside Marielle Heller, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling and Bill Camp.

Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, takes on Townes, played by Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, in ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“The Queen’s Gambit” set the record as the most-watched scripted limited series to date on Netflix, with 62 million member accounts tuning in to the show in the first 28 days.

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