Popular Netflix series boosts interest and chessboard sales

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A popular Netflix show is helping a classic board game make a comeback.

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ centers around a young woman’s skyrocketing chess career. The assistant manager of a Rockford business tells us the show’s attention has chess boards flying off the shelves.

Netflix’s limited series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is having many people say “checkmate.” It’s become one of the most-watched shows for the streaming service.

“We just had a new sophomore join and one of the primary hooks she mentioned was watching the show,” said Erik Czerwin, a chess coach and teacher at Guilford High School.

Erik Czerwin has been the chess coach at Guilford High for seven years. He says the team has grown over the years.

“I think the biggest draw is that there is a direct relation between the work you put in and the work you get out. Everything you learn in chess, if you know one thing more than your opponent you’re just going to win. The more you learn and the more you win–and it goes back and forth,” he said.

The team is now playing chess online but the interest is still there.

“Being pushed inside and being pushed to do socially distance activities, chess has emerged as something readily available with everyone. And of course with Netflix and the ‘Queen’s Gambit,’ it’s driving interest through the roof,” Czerwin added.

Sales for chess related items are up 300% and stores like Hobbytown are seeing a boom.

“I feel like we sell more than double of last year and I’ve been here for almost ten years. You kind of see the demand so you know what people ask for and I feel like chess has been very popular this year,” Assistant Manager Ashley Hieronimus said.

And its not just chess; there’s a new demand for many retro games.

“Chess is super popular. Other board games back when we were kids so checkers, operation. and monopoly any of those board games, puzzles have been super popular flying off the shelves,” Hieronimus said.

“I think it just comes down to there’s nothing to do you can’t go out, you can’t go anywhere everything is shut down so people are wanting to do things together. They just want to do things together as a family,” she said.

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