The Queen’s Gambit is now a chess game you can only play on Netflix
2020 saw Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit (opens in a new tab) becoming something of a lockdown hit: The show, based on a 1981 novel of the same name, follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon on her journey from playing in basements to playing world’s best in the Soviet Union. Now, Netflix has decided to belatedly capitalize on the show’s popularity by…creating a Netflix-only chess client.
The Queen’s Gambit Chess is a strange old bird. It was unforgettably introduced by Geoff Keighley as “not just a chessboard”, because of course it’s not like chess was a good game per se, but he later overcame that by selling some of the slots ambitious that you can play, including… the orphanage in which Beth grew up and learned the game.
Video games! To be serious for a moment, this is a very interesting move by Netflix. The game includes replays of some of the show’s encounters with great opponents, chess puzzles, chess lessons, and most notably online play. It will be part of any standard Netflix account and thanks to the popularity of the show is sure to attract a sizable player base to the game of kings.
The mark here looks like a Trojan horse. The trailer makes it clear that the game includes a whole bunch of different ways to visually play the game and a wide selection of chess games to unlock. It’s not like chess is underserved online, there are a bunch of fantastic options out there with large player bases, but the Netflix ecosystem is so huge it could easily carve out a sizeable niche among gamers. who would never have dreamed of searching for something like chess.com.
“What happened recently after the phenomenal success of The Queen’s Gambit shows that the passion for chess is still there,” former world champion Garry Kasparov told us last year. (opens in a new tab). “Unlike other games, chess has survived for about 1,500 years. And the game has always adapted to the demands of modern times.”
Queen’s Gambit Chess is probably destined to be looked down upon by the more hardcore chess crowd, but I think it will be a very successful re-presentation of one of the most important games in history. PC Gamer once spoke to Kasparov about the game of kings in the computer age (opens in a new tab) (he was a key consultant on The Queen’s Gambit), even if he sneaks in on Hearthstone’s weird turn or two (opens in a new tab).