The game is set. Each piece looking regal, standing straight, expressionless. On the other side, the release of Sony’s PS5 has been overshadowed by the oldest game known to us.
To say that the release of the Netflix mini series, The Queen’s Gambit, was highly anticipated would be wrong. The story revolves around chess, a game not necessarily known for its sensory flair. In short, it’s a board game. A tactical game.
But the show has proven to be a hit with viewers, taking over as the most watched series on the platform. The Edmonton Public Library has also noticed an increase in demand for the book on which the miniseries is based, written by Walter Tevis in 1983. At time of writing, there were 56 holds on the book, 50 holds on the audiobook, and 71 holds on the eBook.
The series isn’t the only thing that’s popular, though. Chess is trending on Twitter and online chess games are surging on Twitch. People are putting aside their consoles for less Fortnite and more Knight to E5.
John Engel, owner of Mission Fun & Games in St. Albert says that sales in chess sets have tripled since last year.
“Most sets are selling at the $30 – $60 range. Puzzle sales are way up and we have worked very hard to have the biggest selection in the Edmonton area,” says Engel, noting that the store’s drive through has been helping them immensely.
Brian Flowers, owner of Table Top Cafe, says that this time of year usually sees an increase in puzzles and board games.
“They are primary Christmas items and people stuck at home for the pandemic are turning to entertainment options that do not require staring at a screen,” he says.
Flowers says that board games, over all, have been on a steady incline for the past few years. The pandemic is adding more to their popularity. Newer games are more fun, inclusive, cleaner and faster, compared to their older counterparts, he says.
Game cafes are currently not open but are operating as retail stores. Edmonton’s chess clubs are also on pause, but don’t let that stop your game. Whether you play online or not, chess is not a board game (last joke, promise).
And if you want to show off with a quick win, try: the Fool’s Mate Runs, 1. G4 E5 and 2. F4 QH4.