October 26, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Chess fans praised Queen’s Gambit for promoting a male-dominated sport

Chess fans praised Queen's Gambit for promoting a male-dominated sport

It took just two days for the chess drama to start Queen’s Gambit To become Netflix’s most watched Top 10 series – and it has not been a budget since.

It has been a streaming giant ever since The largest script to date is a limited series, But the show’s popularity was not limited to the screen. Chess enthusiasts believe that this will bring more people to the game and, historically, make it more accessible to a group that has largely shunned it – women.

“Once the series arrives on Netflix, you will feel the buzz around the club,” said Steve Sklenka, president of the Calgary Chess Club. Although the COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the club’s physical location, it did not stop inquiries. “We have [people] We purchase memberships online even when closed. “

According to Sklenka, the match played by American chess champion Bobby Fisher with Russian Grandmaster Boris Spassky since 1972 caused a worldwide sensation. Now, the Sklenka Club is fielding daily calls and emails from people asking when it will reopen.

Slenka was not the only one to notice a resurgence of interest. According to the marketing company NPD GroupSales of U.S. chess sets rose 87 percent in the weeks leading up to the show in late October, while chess book sales rose more than 600 percent. An executive at a major US games company told NPR of their sales Increased by 1,000 per cent Fans around the world are connected to the series.

“It’s an international show with an international cast, whether it’s a more universal, quote uncoat, sports or pastime or a hobby,” said Daniel Feinberg, a TV reporter for the Hollywood Reporter.

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See | ‘I’m crying big kids’ – The Queen’s Gambit Chess Stars in the World:

Canadian chess players Kiu Zhou and Andrea Botez discuss what Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit means to young women like them, and about the world of competitive chess – right and wrong. 4:43

Feinberg argued that while playing chess around the world, other potential pastimes such as football, baseball or hockey could not be successfully connected to international audiences. “Chess doesn’t really know boundaries, so everyone enjoys a certain level of connection and understands what level they are at.”

Slenka said there was another benefit to the show.

“It’s a good thing for chess and This is a good thing for women players, “said Schlenka,” because it adds unprecedented exposure. ”

The show has seemed a bit unfocused in recent episodes.

Queen’s Gambit The orphan and chess prodigy follows the life of Beth Hormone (pictured by Anya Taylor-Joy), who has grown into the greatest player in the world. Of course, there has never been a female chess world champion, although many have played at a very high level.

This includes Hungarian athlete Judith Polger and the only woman to make the top 10 in the world. In 2005, Polgar became the first woman to play for the World Championship title. After seeing the hormonal journey inside Queen’s Gambit, Polgar had a reaction to the portrayal of male players.

“They were very nice to her,” she said Told the New York Times.

Polgar’s experience echoes the experience of Canadian chess champion Kiu Zhou. The 20-year-old University of Toronto Economics and Statistics Major has been playing chess since she was four and currently holds the title of Woman Grandmaster.

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Queen Gambit Netflix – starring Anya Taylor-Joy – and a big hit with the chess world. (Ken Voroner / Netflix)

Zhou said he encountered male players who did not take her seriously. “I beat the older kids because I beat them … and they were like, ‘How did I lose a six or five year old kid?’

Zhou, who grew up in Finland, played in the “open” sections of tournaments for all genders because no other girls competed. Despite her success – becoming the fifth youngest winner at the Finnish National Chess Championship – loneliness can push young players away, Zhou said.

“If I’m really a young woman playing chess and there’s no one around me to befriend, do I really want to play the game? Not necessarily,” she says. “We’re all social people, I believe, especially when we’re young – making friends is really a crucial part.”

Earlier this year, Zhou signed a deal with CounterLog Gaming, an American sports company, after growing into a chess streamer on the video game streaming platform Twitch.

Zhou says he faces sexism in the chess world. She often gets online comments about her dress or how she behaves – the comments she makes are not equated at male rivals.

See | Queen’s Gambit Trailer:

“I think people have an opinion on how to be a female chess player, and they really want to push on girls,” Zhou said.

‘Most men in top streamers’

Andrea Botez, a Canadian chess streamer, says that even now gender is often a “barrier” to women.

“Most of the top streamers are men, and if there are women … people will say that you only attract attention because you are attractive, you are not good at the game,” Bottez said.

Like Polgar, Botez believes Queen’s Gambit Sexism was “reduced” in the world of chess, but it also strengthened the sport. Its popularity on Netflix and social media is not just about bringing more people into chess, she says – it is bringing in young people.

“The most important audience is the teen audience,” Botez said. “They’re watching Netflix. It’s very popular on social media, TickTalk and Stuff. And I think it’s very important for growth. [of] Chess. “

For Zhou, the question of why Queen’s Gambit The simple answer that caught the most attention.

“There’s always been a conspiracy about chess … but it always takes pop culture and the mainstream media to push everyone to where they want to be, ‘We can really play this game and have a lot of fun,'” she says.

“I’m not entirely surprised, but you know chess is an art, a science and a sport, I always thought were all the same.”