Chess.com is seeing 100,000 sign-ups a day following the success of Netflix series 'The Queen's Gambit' — and the site is now pitting users against Beth Harmon bots
- Since the release of "
The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix, chesswebsites such as Chess.com have smashed daily membership records.
- In mid-November, more than 100,000 new members registered for Chess.com each day. This is roughly five times higher than average.
- The website has even launched Beth Harmon bots, so that users can play a game against the series' protagonist.
- The popularity of chess may be here to stay as people increasingly look for ways to develop new skills and self-improve, a Chess.com spokesperson told Business Insider.
Millions of people across the world are turning to online chess following the release of Netflix's hit series "The Queen's Gambit."
Searches for chess sets on eBay almost tripled after the show's release, but most fans are looking for their fix in online matches. Both Chess.com and its accompanying app "Chess" have soared in popularity.
Nearly every day in November, the website set an all-time record for new members joining in a single day, Nick Barton, Chess.com's director of business development, told Business Insider.
In the third week of November, more than 100,000 new members registered for the website each day. This is roughly five times more than average.
The website's previous weekly peak in new registrations was back in mid-March, when 378,000 new players signed up in a week as national lockdowns began.
Though some of the popularity in November can also be attributed to the pandemic — many European countries and US states have re-entered lockdown — the release of "The Queen's Gambit" has had an "undeniable" effect on Chess.com's growth, Barton told Business Insider.
The website has even launched Beth Harmon bots, so that users can play a game against the series' protagonist.
Around half of all Chess.com games are played on its app, which integrates with its website so players can play against desktop players from their phone.
But online chess isn't just being played by newcomers, Barton said.
Last week, chess grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky played Titled Tuesday, a major online tournament with thousands of dollars in prizes, from his phone on an airplane.
"This isn't an isolated occurrence and top players regularly play from their phones while traveling to and from tournaments," Barton explained. "Online chess is unique in this respect."
Around 1 billion smartphones now have some sort of chess app downloaded on them, according to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), and when the pandemic hit the number of games played online each day grew by about 50% to roughly 6.5 million.
Some of the new players will be fans for life, Barton said.
"Over the past several years, we've seen a worldwide culture shift in which self-improvement or learning a new skill are more highly-valued than ever before," he said.
"Getting better at chess isn't about getting better at chess, it's about getting better at life. You want to take those skills like creativity, pattern recognition, time management, discipline, patience, and apply them to other aspects of your daily life."
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