CategoriesChess Players

Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Makes Its Move into Gaming

In a world where gaming and streaming collide, Netflix is leveling up its offerings with the release of its latest mobile game, “The Queen’s Gambit Chess.” This unique venture draws its inspiration from the eponymous Emmy-award winning series that rekindled a global love for the strategic board game of chess.

The Queen’s Gambit, Credit: Netflix

The acclaimed series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” weaves a tale of chess, grit, and personal growth. It won worldwide praise and an impressive 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, catapulting lead star Anya Taylor-Joy‘s career into Hollywood stardom. Now, the tale extends from the screen into the hands of fans and chess enthusiasts.

What is “The Queen’s Gambit Chess” Game?

“The Queen’s Gambit Chess” is designed to deliver a rich gaming experience that merges the captivating storyline of the series with the intellectual allure of chess. The game invites players into the world of Beth Harmon, the series’ protagonist, allowing them to follow her footsteps in the chess world.

Game Features

The Queen’s Gambit, Credit: Netflix

One of the exciting aspects of this game is the multitude of features it offers. Gamers have the opportunity to take chess lessons, solve chess puzzles, and engage in matches against friends, immersing themselves further into Beth Harmon’s world. And the game isn’t limited to the chess board alone. Players can interact with familiar faces from the series such as Mr. Shaibel and Borgov. The game also promises a scenic tour with iconic locations from the show, including Beth’s house, the Methuen orphanage, and the Las Vegas tournament.

“The Queen’s Gambit Chess” Game Release Date

“The Queen’s Gambit Chess” is crafted by Ripstone Games, renowned for their previous successful game, “Chess Ultra.” The game, slated for release on July 25th, will be available to Netflix subscribers on iOS and Android platforms, ensuring it reaches a wide array of fans and gamers.

The Queen’s Gambit Chess Game, Credit: Netflix

Netflix’s Venture into Gaming

Netflix’s launch of “The Queen’s Gambit Chess” isn’t a standalone endeavor but part of a broader strategy. This move marks Netflix’s assertive foray into the gaming realm, with 21 other games planned for release this summer. These games, like “The Queen’s Gambit Chess,” are expected to tie into some of Netflix’s most popular series, bridging the gap between on-screen storytelling and interactive entertainment.

So, are you ready to challenge yourself with a captivating game of chess while navigating the life of Beth Harmon? Mark your calendar for July 25th and get ready to step into a world where chess and drama collide. We’re eager to see how this fusion of series-based games shapes Netflix’s engagement with its audience. One thing is certain, “The Queen’s Gambit Chess” promises to be a bold move from Netflix, one that could very well checkmate traditional mobile gaming.


Artificial Intelligence and Chess: An Evolving Landscape

As the last pawn moves into place and the final piece falls, one might wonder: does the thrill of a hard-won chess match still hold the same exhilarating joy when your opponent is a machine? 

Welcome to the evolving landscape of chess in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). This intricate dance between man and machine is reshaping the centuries-old game, marking a pivotal shift from the secluded nooks of royal courts to the lightning-fast processors of modern computers.

In this exploration, we dive into the intertwined world of AI and chess, where silicon minds challenge the human intellect and the love for the game sparks fascinating technological innovations. We will revisit epic milestones where AI made checkmate history and delve into the ongoing debate surrounding AI’s role in the game. 

Our journey will lead us to confront AI’s limitations in interpreting complex visual information, like the unique landscape of a chessboard, and uncover the implications these challenges pose. As we navigate the realm of AI, we’ll examine the enduring significance of chess as a tool for human cognitive development, especially in an era increasingly dominated by automation.


A Brief History of AI and Chess

Garry Kasparov takes on Deep Blue, IBM's formidable chess-playing computer.
Garry Kasparov takes on Deep Blue, IBM’s formidable chess-playing computer

In the world of chess, every move matters, every strategy carries weight, and every game unfolds as a unique blend of struggle and intrigue. But what happens when your opponent isn’t just an ordinary player? When the calculating mind across the board is a supercomputer, or even more intriguingly, an artificial intelligence?

Our journey begins in the mid-1990s, a time when artificial intelligence was starting to make its mark. The stage was set for one of the most iconic battles of wits: the reigning World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, versus IBM’s Deep Blue. This confrontation wasn’t just a match between man and machine. It was a symbolic confrontation that would shape the future of chess and artificial intelligence alike.

In 1997, the unthinkable happened. Armed with raw computational power and the capacity to evaluate 200 million positions per second, Deep Blue managed to outmaneuver Kasparov, securing a landmark victory for artificial intelligence. This was not just a leap in AI technology but also a turning point in our understanding of chess. The game of kings was no longer a human stronghold.

As the new millennium dawned, AI’s journey in chess continued to evolve. The launch of AI systems like Google’s AlphaZero took the fusion of AI and chess to a new level. Unlike its predecessors, AlphaZero wasn’t preloaded with historical games or programmed with established strategies. Instead, it learned from scratch, mastering the game solely through self-play and deep learning. This transformative approach shifted the paradigm, proving that AI could not only emulate human players but also innovate, devise new strategies, and even challenge conventional chess wisdom.

Today, AI has firmly entrenched itself in the chess landscape. It is a virtually unbeatable opponent, an invaluable learning tool, and a source of insightful game analysis. As we marvel at these technological marvels, it’s clear that AI’s journey in chess is far from over.


What are the Implications of AI and Chess?

The fusion of AI and chess isn’t simply a tale of machines conquering a human domain; it’s a dynamic narrative about the transformation of a game cherished by millions worldwide.

AI’s most significant contribution to chess is undoubtedly its role as a relentless tutor and invaluable tool for analysis. AI-powered chess engines, such as Stockfish or AlphaZero, can sift through millions of potential moves, offering players a level of strategic insight that was unthinkable in the pre-digital era. Today, professionals and hobbyists alike can pit their skills against AI opponents, analyze their games in meticulous detail, and learn from their missteps. The result? An accelerated learning curve and a global chess community that’s stronger and more connected than ever before.

However, not all are enthralled by this modern coupling of silicon and strategy. Critics voice concerns that the AI’s dominance might undermine the inherently human aspect of chess. They argue that chess risks transforming from a contest of human intellect into a computational arms race as AI delves deeper into the game. This tension between tradition and innovation ignites debates: is chess still a creative, intellectual endeavor when our moves are guided—or even dictated—by an AI’s calculated suggestions?

While the influence of AI on chess is undeniable, it’s essential to remember the beating heart at the core of the game. It’s not the black and white squares or the intricately carved pieces that make chess captivating—it’s the human minds behind each move, the passionate players who love the game, and the vibrant communities that chess nurtures. As AI continues to leave its mark on chess, it falls upon us, the human players, to balance the scales between tradition and technology and to ensure the game’s enduring spirit remains undiminished.


The Visual Capabilities and Challenges of AI in Chess

When it comes to artificial intelligence, perception is everything—quite literally. The journey of AI in chess is not just a story of processing power and learning algorithms, but also one of sight and understanding.

Currently, AI boasts impressive capabilities in image recognition and creation. This is no small feat; the ability to analyze an image and accurately discern what it represents is a cornerstone of our efforts to replicate human intelligence. This visual prowess is particularly relevant in a game like chess, where the placement of pieces on the board determines everything.

Imagine a high-stakes chess game, each piece meticulously poised on the checkered battlefield. An AI can analyze this visual tableau, identify the position of each piece, and infer the state of the game. The artificial neural networks that power these AIs can be trained to recognize different chess piece types, understand their placements, and even predict possible moves. This all becomes part of the AI’s decision-making arsenal, allowing it to formulate winning strategies.

However, as impressive as it may be, AI’s visual perception is not yet flawless. The complexity of real-world visual information presents unique challenges. For instance, what happens if the chessboard’s image is taken from a skewed angle or under poor lighting conditions? What if a piece isn’t perfectly centered on its square? These seemingly minor inconsistencies can confound an AI, leading it to misinterpret the board’s state.

Moreover, AI still struggles to understand context and make sense of imperfect information—tasks that humans usually manage effortlessly. While a human player might intuitively know that a blurry, brownish blob in a chessboard’s image is probably a misplaced bishop, an AI might not make the same deduction.

We have been exploring the creation of text-to-speech image-generating tools, which currently can be used for creating some truly fascinating and visually stunning results. However, when throwing chess sets into the mix, these tools tend to struggle with the accuracy of the intricacies and details of the chess board and pieces.

These hurdles emphasize that while we’ve come a long way in AI development, we still have miles to go. Understanding context, interpreting unclear visual information, and managing uncertainty are all frontiers that AI has yet to conquer fully.

So, while AI continues to be a game-changer in chess, we’re reminded of the unique complexities of human intelligence. It’s these very complexities that keep our game and creativity fascinating, our strategies fresh, and our love for chess alive. As we continue to enhance AI’s role in chess, we’re not just building better machines—we’re learning more about ourselves and what makes us human.


How Does Chess Help With Human Cognitive Development?

Chess is more than a game—it’s a mental workout. This cognitive challenge continues to inspire and engage players of all ages. As we navigate the sweeping impact of AI on chess, it’s essential to remember the enduring significance of this timeless game in stimulating human intellect.

At its core, chess is a brilliant exercise in strategic thinking. Every move on the chessboard demands careful planning, sharp focus, and an analytical mind. It’s a dance of decisions that engages multiple cognitive faculties, from problem-solving and memory recall to pattern recognition and creativity. Whether you’re plotting your next attack or predicting your opponent’s strategy, chess keeps your mind sharp and active.

Playing chess has been linked with a range of cognitive benefits. It enhances memory, as players remember intricate move sequences and learn from past games. It bolsters concentration, demanding sustained attention across extended periods. Chess also hones our decision-making abilities, pushing us to weigh the pros and cons of every potential move.

But perhaps most importantly, chess is a powerful tool for promoting cognitive resilience. In an age where AI is increasingly performing cognitive tasks for us—whether it’s suggesting the fastest route to work, recommending movies, or even playing chess—engaging in challenging mental activities like chess is more vital than ever. Such pursuits ensure our minds remain active, adaptable, and robust, even in an automated world.

So, whether you’re a grandmaster or a novice, whether you play against humans or machines, remember: every game of chess is a step towards cognitive growth. It affirms the uniquely human qualities that machines, however advanced, cannot fully replicate. As AI continues to shape the chess landscape, let’s cherish chess not just as a game but also as a celebration of human intellect and creativity.


What is the Future of AI and Chess?

As we peer into the chessboard of the future, the influence of artificial intelligence is impossible to ignore. This fusion of code and cognition promises a captivating vision—a chess landscape shaped as much by silicon as by the human mind.

For a novice player, AI can become a great tool for learning and developing your gaming strategy. Every player can now access an AI tutor, offering strategic insights and personalized learning experiences. This AI doesn’t necessarily replace the human opponent; it would augment the player, fostering new levels of strategic mastery and understanding of the game.

With these tools, chess is becoming more accessible than ever. With AI’s capacity to adjust its skill level, anyone could find a perfectly matched opponent. Meanwhile, AI-driven analytics could provide unprecedented feedback on our games, identifying patterns, suggesting improvements, and accelerating our learning.

But no matter how sophisticated AI becomes, it’s crucial to remember one thing—the soul of chess will always be human. Chess isn’t just about who can calculate the most moves ahead. It’s about the shared experience, the friendly rivalries, the tension of a well-matched game, and the camaraderie that emerges around the chessboard.

The AI might analyze the board state, but the human player feels the thrill of a well-planned move unfolding, the dread of a looming checkmate, and the elation of a game well won. These emotional layers of the game, this human element, is something that AI cannot replicate.

So, as we stand on the cusp of an AI-shaped future, let’s remember: in chess, as in life, the human touch truly counts. The future of chess with AI is not about machines replacing humans; it’s about AI enabling us to experience, appreciate, and excel at chess like never before—while we cherish the human spirit that makes the game truly captivating.

CategoriesChess History

The Timeless Tradition of Chess in Central Park

The Origin of Chess in Central Park

As we traverse the captivating narrative of chess in Central Park, we journey back to a time when the park was still in its infancy. The tradition of chess playing in the park dates back many decades. Yet, its precise origin remains as elusive as a checkmate in a grandmaster’s game. What we do know is that this practice has been woven into the fabric of Central Park for as long as most can remember.

The chess culture of Central Park owes much to the immigrant communities that have shaped New York City’s diverse heritage. The game of chess, with its roots tracing back to the 6th century in India, gradually spread to the Middle East and Europe before crossing the oceans to America. As people from across the world sought a new life in the bustling metropolis of New York, they brought with them their traditions, their languages, and their love for chess.

Picture this: the year is 1910. Immigrants from Eastern Europe, Italy, and beyond disembark from ships onto Ellis Island, their hearts filled with hope, their suitcases carrying cherished mementos from their homelands. Among these treasured possessions are often simple, well-worn chess boards. As these new New Yorkers start to settle in and find their place in the city’s vibrant tapestry, they naturally seek the company of their fellow compatriots in the welcoming greenery of Central Park. Here, beneath the dappled shade of the park’s towering trees, they lay out their chess sets, and the air becomes charged with the silent tension and intellectual rigor of the game.

Thus, Central Park’s chess tradition was born, nurtured by the city’s diverse inhabitants who found common ground over the chessboard’s checkered expanse. It’s a tradition that continues to thrive today, offering a living testament to the city’s multicultural heritage and the universal appeal of chess.


The Chess & Checkers House

Chess & Checkers House

Nestled within the lush foliage of Central Park, near 64th Street, lies a charming pavilion known as the Chess & Checkers House. Built in 1952, this dedicated hub for chess, checkers, and other board games has quietly stood the test of time, inviting countless park-goers to indulge in their love for these intellectually stimulating pastimes.

Constructed from red brick and limestone, the Chess & Checkers House resembles a quaint cottage straight out of a storybook. Twelve game tables grace its spacious terrace, while inside, the warmth of the room invites visitors to delve into a game or simply observe the fascinating dynamics of play.

But the Chess & Checkers House is not just a physical space; it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of chess in Central Park. It serves as a gathering place for board game enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, providing a communal space for the exchange of ideas, strategies, and friendly competition.

Over the years, the Chess & Checkers House has played a pivotal role in promoting the game of chess, hosting numerous tournaments and casual matches. It offers free game piece rental, encouraging park visitors to engage in a spontaneous game and immerse themselves in this centuries-old tradition. Through these endeavors, the Chess & Checkers House continues to play its part in nurturing Central Park’s rich chess culture and inviting a new generation to participate in this timeless game.


The Vibrant Street Chess Culture

Credit: Charley Lhasa

Beyond the confines of the Chess & Checkers House, the chess culture of Central Park spills onto the sidewalks and park benches. The street chess scene, pulsating with energy and camaraderie, is as much a part of Central Park as its iconic greenery. This open-air chess phenomenon brings together a broad spectrum of enthusiasts – from wide-eyed beginners to seasoned pros, each contributing to the lively atmosphere with their unique style of play and personality.

The park’s regular players often set up portable boards, waiting for a passerby eager for a friendly match or even a small wager. These impromptu games, played amidst the hum of park life, encapsulate the spirit of Central Park chess.

The street chess culture in Central Park isn’t just confined to the park; it has permeated popular culture too. The film “Searching for Bobby Fischer” beautifully captures this thriving scene, featuring the park’s stone tables as a backdrop for young prodigy Josh Waitzkin’s chess encounters. This pop culture mention underscores the significance of Central Park’s chess scene as a training ground for budding champions and a symbol of New York City’s love for the game.

Whether it’s the contagious excitement of a nail-biting match, the heartwarming sight of a child learning to move the pawns, or the old-timers spinning tales of legendary games of yesteryears, street chess is the heartbeat of Central Park. It’s a culture that celebrates diversity, intellectual pursuit, and the shared love for a game that transcends age and background. This is the chess culture of Central Park – alive, welcoming, and vibrantly New York.


Celebrity Visits and Famous Games

Central Park’s storied chess tradition has caught the attention of several renowned players over the years. One of the most illustrious names associated with the park’s chess scene is none other than Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players of all time.

As a teenager, Fischer was said to frequent the park’s chess tables, honing his skills in intense matches under the canopy of trees. This was where he might have contemplated the strategies that would eventually lead him to become a World Chess Champion. Fischer’s association with Central Park adds an undeniable layer of mystique to the park’s chess culture, with visitors often speculating which table he favored or what epic games were played there.

Another memorable chapter in Central Park’s chess history is the series of open-air tournaments that have taken place there. One such tournament was the “Central Park Chess Showdown” which brought together amateur and professional players alike in a spirited display of strategy and skill. With hundreds of spectators gathered around, the park was transformed into a grand outdoor chess arena, affirming its status as a beloved hub for chess enthusiasts.


Chess Events and Tournaments

These celebrity visits and significant games have etched Central Park’s chess scene into popular lore, cementing its place in the annals of chess history. The allure of playing a game of chess in the same space where grandmasters once sat is a unique thrill that draws novices and veterans alike to the park’s chess tables. Through these shared experiences, the spirit of these legendary players and games continues to live on in Central Park, inspiring a new generation of chess enthusiasts.

Over the years, Central Park has played host to a myriad of chess events and tournaments, fostering a vibrant chess community that extends beyond the park’s boundaries. These gatherings, large and small, serve as a testament to the enduring popularity of chess in New York City.

One such event is the annual “Central Park Chess Festival,” a day-long celebration of the game that invites players of all ages and skill levels to participate. This festival is more than just a tournament; it’s a celebration of chess culture that includes lessons for beginners, simultaneous exhibitions, speed chess, and of course, the main tournament. The sight of hundreds of chess enthusiasts, gathered under the park’s leafy canopy with chessboards spread out before them, is a sight to behold.

Another noteworthy event is the “Grandmaster Simul,” where a visiting grandmaster takes on multiple opponents simultaneously. This event gives chess enthusiasts a rare opportunity to test their mettle against some of the world’s best players, right in the heart of their city.

These events and tournaments offer more than just a chance for competition; they bring together a diverse community united by their love for chess. They provide a platform for chess lovers to learn from each other, share their passion, and contribute to New York City’s vibrant chess culture.

By regularly hosting these events, Central Park continues to uphold its role as an epicenter of chess in New York City, fostering a welcoming environment where the city’s chess culture can continue to flourish.


The Social Impact of Chess in Central Park

While the game of chess is often perceived as a battle of intellects between two players, its social impact extends far beyond the 64 squares of the chessboard. In the microcosm of Central Park, chess plays a pivotal role in fostering a unique sense of community, one that transcends age, ethnicity, and social backgrounds.

A walk through Central Park’s chess hotspots presents a diverse tableau of New Yorkers and visitors alike. Here, high school students square off against seasoned retirees, investment bankers play against street performers, and chess enthusiasts of all nationalities come together for the love of the game. The common language they speak is chess – each move, each gambit, and each checkmate serving to connect them in this shared pursuit.

This unifying aspect of chess is a cornerstone of Central Park’s vibrant social fabric. The game doesn’t just pit one player against another; it encourages dialogue, fosters mutual respect, and creates an environment of learning and sharing. Regular players become familiar faces, opponents become friends, and seasoned players become mentors to the novices.

The societal benefits of this are profound. The game instills values of patience, strategic thinking, and respect for the opponent. For younger players, these interactions serve as lessons not just in chess, but in life.

In an era where digital interactions often supersede face-to-face connections, the chess scene in Central Park stands as a heartening exception. It celebrates the simple joy of gathering around a chessboard, embarking on a cerebral adventure, and connecting with others in a meaningful way.

This is the social impact of chess in Central Park – a thriving, welcoming community that encapsulates the spirit of the game and the city itself. Through chess, Central Park continues to play its part in bridging gaps, promoting inclusivity, and nurturing a diverse community bound by a shared passion.

As we’ve journeyed through the captivating narrative of chess in Central Park, we’ve unearthed a rich tapestry of history, culture, and community that continues to thrive today. From its humble beginnings as an immigrant pastime, chess in Central Park has evolved into a vibrant tradition that is as integral to the park’s identity as its scenic landscapes.

We’ve explored the charming Chess & Checkers House, a testament to the enduring popularity of chess, and delved into the lively world of street chess that imbues the park with a unique energy. We’ve walked in the footsteps of legends like Bobby Fischer, revisited famous games, and felt the pulse of numerous chess events and tournaments that continue to foster a thriving chess community in the heart of New York City.

The enduring allure of chess in Central Park is a testament to the universal appeal of this timeless game. It’s a reminder that despite our varied backgrounds and walks of life, we can find common ground over a game of chess. As we engage in this centuries-old tradition, we aren’t just playing a game; we’re part of a vibrant community, continuing a cherished tradition, and perhaps, inspiring a future grandmaster who makes their first move in Central Park.

Whether you’re a seasoned player, a casual enthusiast, or simply an observer, the chess culture of Central Park invites you to be a part of its ongoing story. In the symphony of the city that never sleeps, the click-clack of chess pieces moving across the board is a persistent beat – a testament to a tradition that continues to thrive, right in the heart of New York City.

CategoriesChess Set Design

The Staunton Chess set, a design classic or not?

Design classics are those designs that have transcended time, trends and remain iconic and influential over the years. These designs often have a simple yet effective aesthetic, are instantly recognizable, and have had a significant impact on their respective industries or fields. The Coca-Cola bottle, the Fender Stratocaster guitar, and the Apple logo are all examples of design classics. But what makes something a design classic, and does the Staunton Chess set meet the criteria?

What makes a design classic?

There are several key factors that contribute to a design becoming a classic.

  • It must have a timeless aesthetic appeal that remains relevant and desirable even after many years.
  • It must be innovative, original, and set new standards in its respective industry or field.
  • It must have a significant impact on its industry, whether through sales or influence.
  • It must have cultural and historical relevance, reflecting the spirit of its time and the values of its society.

The Coca-Cola Bottle

Coca Cola Bottle
Coca Cola Bottle

The Coca-Cola bottle is a design classic that meets all these criteria. Its iconic curvy shape and unique contour have remained unchanged since its introduction in 1915, making it instantly recognizable and timeless. The bottle’s design was innovative at the time, being the first bottle created specifically for a soft drink. The Coca-Cola bottle has had a significant impact on the soft drink industry, becoming a cultural icon that is now synonymous with the brand. The bottle’s design also reflects the spirit of its time, with its curvy shape being reminiscent of the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century.

The Fender Stratocaster Guitar

1954 Fender Stratocaster
1954 Fender Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster guitar is another design classic that meets the criteria. Its sleek and simple design, featuring a double-cutaway body and a contoured shape, has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1954. The Stratocaster’s design was innovative at the time, offering players a new level of comfort and versatility. The guitar’s impact on the music industry has been significant, with many famous musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Holly, using the Stratocaster as their instrument of choice. The Stratocaster’s design also reflects the spirit of its time, with its clean lines and futuristic look being reflective of the Space Age era of the 1950s.

The Apple Logo

Apple Store
Apple Store

The Apple logo is another example of a design classic. Its simple, minimalist design, featuring an apple with a bite taken out of it, has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1977. The logo’s design was innovative at the time, offering a new level of simplicity and elegance in branding. The logo’s impact on the technology industry has been significant, with Apple becoming one of the world’s most valuable companies. The logo’s design also reflects the spirit of its time, with its simplicity and clean lines being reflective of the modernist design movement of the 1970s.

The Staunton Chess set

So, does the Staunton Chess set meet the criteria to be considered a design classic? The Staunton Chess set was first introduced in 1849 by Nathaniel Cook and was named after the chess player Howard Staunton, who endorsed the design. The Staunton Chess set features a distinctive, simple design with pieces that are easy to recognize and move. Its design was innovative at the time, setting a new standard for chess piece design and making the game more accessible to players of all levels. The Staunton Chess set’s impact on the world of chess has been significant, with it becoming the standard design used in tournaments and competitions worldwide.

The Staunton Chess set also has cultural and historical relevance, reflecting the values of Victorian society, where the game was popularized. Its simple yet elegant design has stood the test of time, remaining largely unchanged for over a century and a half. The Staunton Chess set meets all the criteria to be considered a design classic, with its innovative and influential design, significant impact on the world of chess, and cultural and historical relevance. It’s a testament to the power of design to shape our world and transcend time and trends.

CategoriesChess Benefits

Why Your Five Year Old Should Learn to Play Chess: The Mental Benefits

Chess is a game that has been played for centuries, and while it is often considered a game for the intellectual elite, the truth is that anyone can play and benefit from it. In recent years, studies have shown that playing chess can improve cognitive abilities, particularly in young developing brains. In this article, we will explore some of the mental benefits of playing chess and why parents should consider encouraging their children to learn this timeless game.

Improved Memory and Concentration

Playing chess requires players to remember the rules of the game, the moves they have made, and the potential moves their opponent may make. This requires a great deal of concentration and memory, which can be particularly beneficial for young children who are still developing these skills. By playing chess, children can strengthen their memory and concentration abilities, which can help them in other areas of their lives.

Enhanced Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

Chess is a game that requires players to analyze the board and plan their moves ahead of time. This requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as players must anticipate their opponent’s moves and adjust their strategy accordingly. By playing chess, children can develop these important skills, which can be useful in all areas of their lives, from academics to personal relationships.

Improved Decision-Making and Logic

In chess, players must weigh the pros and cons of each move and decide which move is the best one to make. This helps children develop their decision-making skills and learn how to think logically. They must learn to think ahead and consider the consequences of each move, which can be particularly beneficial in real-life situations.

Increased IQ

While it is not necessarily true that playing chess can increase a child’s IQ, studies have shown that playing chess can improve cognitive abilities. It has been suggested that playing chess exercises the frontal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for planning, problem-solving, and other complex mental activities. By developing these areas of the brain, children can improve their cognitive abilities, which can translate into better academic performance and other life skills.

Encouraging Children to Learn Chess

While some parents may feel intimidated by the idea of teaching their children to play chess, there are many resources available to help them get started. Chess clubs, online tutorials, and books are all great ways to introduce children to the game and help them learn. Parents who don’t know how to play can still encourage their children to learn by finding a coach or mentor who can help them.


Playing chess is a great way for children to develop their cognitive abilities, memory, problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills. While it may seem daunting at first, parents should encourage their children to learn to play chess, even if they don’t know how to play themselves. With the right resources and support, children can learn to play this timeless game and reap the many benefits it has to offer.


Resources to help your child get started in chess – The worlds largest online chess playing website

Chess Kid – A child friendly website for learning and playing chess

Chess For kids app – A product

Chess Talk You Tube Channel  – Hugely popular channel with hundreds of great videos for learning, basic to advanced.

CategoriesChess History

The Fascinating History of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set

The Isle of Lewis Chess Set is one of the most famous and intriguing artifacts in the world of chess. It is believed to be a set of hand-carved chess pieces that originated in the late medieval era, possibly in Norway or Iceland, and were discovered on the Isle of Lewis, a remote island off the northwest coast of Scotland, in the 19th century. The set consists of 78 pieces, including 32 chessmen and 46 other gaming pieces, made of walrus ivory and whales’ teeth, and intricately decorated with Norse and Celtic motifs.


The exact origins of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set are still shrouded in mystery and subject to various theories and speculations. Some experts believe that the set was crafted in Norway around the 12th or 13th century, during the Viking Age, and brought to the Hebrides, an archipelago that includes the Isle of Lewis, by Norse traders or settlers. Others suggest that the set was made in Iceland or Ireland and transported to the Hebrides by seafarers or migrants.

Some of the original pieces on display
Some of the original pieces on display

The Isle of Lewis Chess Set is also believed to have been lost or forgotten for many centuries before it was rediscovered in the mid-19th century. According to one popular story, the set was found in 1831 by a local crofter named Malcolm MacLeod, who stumbled upon a sandbank on the beach of Uig Bay that was eroding due to a storm. Underneath the sand, MacLeod discovered a stone chamber that contained the chess pieces and other artifacts. He sold the set to a collector named Alexander MacKenzie, who eventually donated it to the British Museum in London.


The Isle of Lewis, was this close to where the pieces were found?
The Isle of Lewis

An amazing discovery

The discovery of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set sparked a wave of interest and curiosity in the history of chess and the cultures that produced it. The intricate and imaginative designs of the pieces, which include warriors, kings, queens, bishops, knights, and pawns, have inspired countless artists, writers, and chess enthusiasts. The set has been featured in numerous exhibitions, books, films, and even video games, and has become an iconic symbol of the medieval and Viking eras.


Priceless Chess Pieces?

The value of the original pieces of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set is also a matter of conjecture and debate. While the set is considered priceless and irreplaceable, some pieces have been sold at auctions or private sales for huge sums of money. When the pieces have changed hands, they have fetched significant amounts of money. For example, in 1993, a single knight piece was sold for a large sum at Sotheby’s auction house in London, and in 2019, a complete set was sold for a high price at Christie’s auction house in London.

An international ownership dispute?

However, the ownership and legal status of the Isle of Lewis Chess Set is still a contentious issue. Some Norwegians claim that the set is rightfully theirs, as they argue that it was made in Norway and taken away without permission by the Scottish. They also point out that Norway did not exist as a nation-state at the time the set was made, and that the Hebrides were part of the Kingdom of Norway until the 13th century. On the other hand, the Scottish authorities argue that the set was discovered and acquired in Scotland, and that it has been part of the national heritage and cultural legacy of Scotland for over a century.

To sum up

In conclusion, the Isle of Lewis Chess Set is a fascinating and enigmatic artifact that has captured the imagination of people around the world for centuries. While much about its origins, discovery, and ownership remains uncertain and disputed, the set continues to inspire awe and admiration for its exquisite craftsmanship and


5 Amazing Chess Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

(Queen of Katwe (2016) Image courtesy of IMDb)

Since The Queen’s Gambit graced our screens back in 2020 (was it really so long ago?!) our appetites have been whetted for more chess movies and TV series. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic ones to choose from including ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’ and Ingmar Bergman’s fantasy classic ‘The Seventh Seal’.

But, you’ve probably already seen these, right? So, let’s look at some amazing chess movies you may have slept on – and should definitely not!

1. Brooklyn Castle (2012)

This uplifting documentary follows the chess prodigies of an inner-city school as budget cuts threaten to undermine their hard-won success.

More than 65 percent of students from New York’s I.S. 318 are from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level but despite the disadvantages, I.S. 318 has the best chess team in the country. The team’s biggest challenge comes when recession-driven budget cuts risk preventing them from travelling to competitions.

Brooklyn Castle is a warm and inspiring movie that was extremely well-received at its World Premiere at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival. Make sure this one is added to your to-watch list!

2. The Dark Horse (2014)

This New Zealand drama is based on the true story of Genesis Potini, a Maori speed chess champion who struggled with bipolar disorder. Potini, played by Maori actor Cliff Curtis, returns to his hometown after spending time in a psychiatric institution and takes a job as a chess coach for a group of disadvantaged children.

Potini’s passion for chess and ability to connect with the children help him find his purpose and overcome his demons.

Among many other awards and nominations, this powerful tale won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Score at the 2014 New Zealand Film Awards.

Go seek it out!

(Image courtesy of IMDb)

3. Queen to Play (2009)

Set in the gorgeous village of Calvi, on the island of Corsica, this French drama (also known as Joueuse) follows the story of Hélène, a timid chambermaid who discovers chess while working at a hotel.

She becomes obsessed with the game, but her husband’s disapproval forces her to study in secret and to take lessons from Dr. Kröger, an American expat dealing with his own issues.

As she improves and her confidence grows, Hélène competes in tournaments until her growing obsession starts to put a strain on her home life.

If you slept on this one, make it right!

4. Fresh (1994)

Going back to the 90s with this one. Fresh is a crime drama about a 12-year-old drug runner called Michael (nicknamed ‘Fresh’) who’s trapped in a web of poverty and crime. Recalling the chess lessons he received from his alcoholic father (played by Samuel L. Jackson), Fresh devises a genius plan to free himself and his drug-addicted sister from their seemingly hopeless predicament.

Scored by Sting from The Police, the movie won several awards including the Filmmaker’s Trophy at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and is a must-see for any chess fan.

5. Queen Of Katwe (2016)

Based on the true story of a Ugandan girl living in the slums who, with the help of a missionary and chess coach, becomes a top chess player with the opportunity to escape a life of poverty.

Despite not being a commercial success, this feel-good, intelligent story received positive reviews from critics as well as several awards and nominations.

If you like chess, you’ll love this inspiring and real-life tale.

Did I miss any other not-so-well-known chess movies? Let us know your recommendations in the comments below!

The Regency Chess Company. 

CategoriesChess Players

The Best Chess Player In the World Revealed

Every month, the FIDE (the International Chess Federation) updates their list of the ‘Top 100 Players’ – the definitive ranking of the best chess players on the planet.

Read on to find out why people are calling today’s number one the greatest of all time…

The Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is the current world’s number one chess player. The reigning five-time World Chess Champion has held the No. 1 position in the FIDE world chess rankings since July 1, 2011, and his peak rating of 2882 is the highest in history.

And he’s still in his early thirties!

Who is Magnus Carlsen?

Magnus was born Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen in Tønsberg, Norway, on 30 November 1990 but moved a lot in his early years. He lived with his parents and three sisters in Espoo, Finland, and Brussels, Belgium, before going back to Norway in the late nineties.

The prodigy was already showing his intellect at two years old when he could solve 50-piece jigsaw puzzles, and at four, he moved on to Lego sets intended for children aged 10-14.

His father (whom Magnus calls a fine chess player himself) was responsible for introducing the 5-year-old to chess – but it wasn’t love at first sight. Magnus only started showing serious interest when the idea of beating his elder sister entered his head.

Nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to stoke the fire!

He played his first tournament (the youngest division of the 1999 Norwegian Chess Championship) a few years later at age 8 and scored a respectable 6/11. He went on to finish second in the boys’ under-12 division at the 2002 FIDE World Youth Chess Championship, which took place in Greece.

Carlsen became the youngest player ever to surpass a FIDE rating of 2800 at 18, and in 2010, at 19, he reached No. 1 in the FIDE world rankings – the youngest person ever to achieve it.

In 2013, he became World Chess Champion by defeating five-time champion Viswanathan Anand in India. As well as being the reigning World Champion, he’s also a three-time World Rapid Chess Champion and five-time World Blitz Chess Champion.

Why it’s fair to call Carlsen the greatest chess player of all time

Carlsen’s peak FIDE rating, 2882, is the highest in history and he currently holds the record for the longest unbeaten streak at the elite level in classical chess.

Science also backs Carlsen’s case for the greatest chess player of all time.

Carlsen has played with an all-time high Computer Aggregated Precision Score (CAPS) of 98.4 – CAPS is a tool that analyzes moves with computers to evaluate overall strength of play. To put that into perspective, the chess greats Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer score 97.51 and 97.59, respectively.

What else do we know about the G.O.A.T of chess?

When Carlsen is not destroying his opponents on the chess board, he could be dominating his fantasy football league – the chess master is a massive football fan with a vast knowledge of the game. He supports Real Madrid.

Being easy on the eyes isn’t much of an advantage in chess, but it’s opened the doors to modelling and ambassador opportunities with international brands. In 2010, Carlsen appeared in G-Star Raw’s advertising campaign along with American actress Liv Tyler, and in 2020, he became a global ambassador for gambling company Unibet.

Oh, and Cosmopolitan magazine named him one of the “Sexiest Men of 2013”!

Carlsen follows a ‘mostly vegetarian’ diet that he says was inspired by his sisters.

In conclusion

Although it could be debated, Magnus Carlsen has a strong case for the greatest chess player of all time. His accolades, ranking, and CAPS score are unrivalled, and being still in his early thirties, he’s got plenty of time to add more championships to his collection.

Thankfully, you don’t have to have a World No.1 Ranking to enjoy chess. Feel free to explore our collection of European-made chess sets today.

The Regency Chess Company.


Who Invented Chess? The Truth Revealed and a Myth Busted

It’s been around longer than printed books and about 70% of the world’s population has played it at some point. 

Today, chess is played regularly by more than 605 million people from Texas to Timbuktu – but who can we thank for inventing this timeless board game?

It could be argued that this centuries-old game has never been so popular. 

Netflix’s 2020 smash The Queen’s Gambit set the pandemic-hit world into a chess frenzy as viewers blew off the cobwebs of their old chess sets or bought shiny new ones. 

Chess retailers couldn’t keep up with the surprise surge in demand. eBay famously attributed a 215% boom in chess sets and book sales in the six weeks following the show’s debut.   

Of course, we always knew chess was cool.

But with this fresh interest in our favorite game, we thought we’d address a commonly-asked question (and bust a few myths along the way!)

So, who invented chess?

The answer is not, wait for it… black and white.

Because chess is so darn old and has gone through countless changes to become the game we know and love, it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact date it was created or the individual responsible.

That’s not to say we can’t entertain a popular legend.

An Indian fable tells of the mythical brahmin Sissa ibn Dahir and his gift of the first ever chess set given to King Shirham of India. The king, delighted with his new toy, offered Sissa anything he wanted in return. The brahmin’s request, as typical in such stories, was an odd one – one grain of wheat on the first square of a chessboard. Then, two on the second square, four on the next, then eight, and continue doubling the number of grains on each following square until every square on the chessboard is covered.

Surprised by the brahmin’s seemingly small request, the king swiftly agrees only to be blown away when, thanks to compounding, the amount of grains on the final square equals 18,446,744,073,709,551,615.

It might be useful for explaining compound interest, but we can safely assume that this is not the origin story of chess. 

However, one part of the story is true. Chess probably originated in India.

Chess probably came from India

We might not be able to point a finger at an individual inventor, but we might be able to zero in on the country.

Although still a topic for debate, most historians agree that the ancestor of modern chess was a game called chaturaṅga which can be traced back to India and the 7th Century CE.

Chaturaṅga (Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग) translates to “four divisions of the military” with pieces corresponding to infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry – which would later become the familiar pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively.  

From India, the chess-like game travelled to Persia where its name morphed into shatranj before spreading throughout the Asian continent. Shatranj was later embraced by the Muslim world and the expansion of the Islamic empire into Spain helped popularize the game throughout Europe.

How we got to the modern game

Through several changes (as well as a series of prohibitions and sanctions by the Christian Church) it took until about 1500 CE for the game to become the chess we play today.

Early changes made by Europeans included changing the pieces, e.g. the Vizir, or minister, became the Queen, and the Pil, or war elephant, became the Bishop; and the way they moved, e.g. the pawn moving two places in its first move, and the king’s leap.

Arguably, the biggest change was with the queen. Until around 1500 CE, the queen was relatively weak (moving one square diagonally) and games could be long and slow. New rules introduced around the turn of the 16th century gave the queen the greatest range of moves in the game, making checkmate easier and games won in fewer moves

Where does the word ‘chess’ come from?

During games, players in Persia would have used the phrases “Shāh!” – the king – and Shāh Māt! – the king is helpless – in place of the modern-day English ‘Check!’ and ‘Checkmate!”

By the time the game made its way to British shores, there’s a good chance that merchants mispronounced ‘Shāh’  until it turned into ‘Chess’. You can see the connection more clearly in other European languages, in German, they call chess ‘Schach’, in Polish, it’s ‘Szachy’ and in Russian, ‘Shakhmaty.’


The development of chess serves as a fascinating summary of world history as we trace its journey from 7th-century India to Persia, the Islamic empire, medieval Europe and the Renaissance, to get to the game we know and love today.

Why is chess still popular now, nearly 1500 hundred years after a version of it was first created? 

Simple. It remains a game that anyone can play and enjoy, no matter your skill level… or knowledge of Sanskrit!


Revealed: Is The Queen’s Gambit Based on a True Story?

Beth Harmon’s narcotics-fueled rise to the top of the chess world enraptured Netflix’s viewers for 7 perfect episodes. But many of us want to know, is The Queen’s Gambit a true story? Or is the whole thing a genius work of fiction?

The Queen's Gambit

Photo courtesy of Netflix.

A surprise hit, The Queen’s Gambit was one of the most popular television series of the pandemic era. When the show debuted on Netflix in the fall of 2020, it took just four weeks to become the streaming service’s most-watched miniseries of all time.

The show scooped up a treasure trove of awards too, to name a few: 11 Primetime Emmys, including one for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series – a first for a show on a streaming service; two Golden Globes, including Best Actress In a Miniseries or Television Film for the show’s star Anya Taylor-Joy; a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie for Taylor-Joy; and even a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: and many more.

Not bad for a show about dusty old chess, huh?

Speaking of our favorite game, The Queen’s Gambit was single-handedly responsible for the biggest surge in the chess industry in living memory. 

The show inspired viewers, young and old, to dig out their old chess sets – or buy them online, driving demand for all-things chess to a record-breaking high. The three weeks following the show’s debut saw unit sales of chess sets jump 87% and chess book sales rise a whopping 603%. 

Here at Regency Chess, we did NOT see this coming. The chess industry traditionally enjoys a steady demand, but the perfect storm of The Queen’s Gambit amidst worldwide lockdowns left us reeling!

Is The Queen’s Gambit a True Story?

No. Not in the sense that a girl named Beth Harmon overcomes her demons to eventually become a chess grandmaster anyway. 

The uber-successful series is based on a 1983 book by American writer Walter Tevis, who wrote three other books that would be successfully adapted to screen; The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

But, Tevis, being an ardent chess fan and keen player, couldn’t help but weave real-life elements into his coming-of-age tale of a chess prodigy. 

For one, the chess played throughout the series is as real as it comes- which is to be expected when one of the show’s consultants was former World Champion Garry Kasparov. 

Several of the games played in the show were recreations of high-profile contests, for example, Beth’s showdown with Russian champion Vasily Borgov in the series finale was played in the 1993 Interzonal Tournament in Biel, Switzerland. 

Who Is the ‘Real’ Beth Harmon?

Back when the book was first released, Tevis was quizzed about his inspiration for Beth. In an interview with New York Times, the novelist explains, “I consider ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ a tribute to brainy women. I like Beth for her bravery and intelligence. In the past, many women have had to hide their brains, but not today.”

When it comes to real-life inspirations, Tevis confesses that the chess greats of history indeed influenced the story but stresses that it remains very much a piece of fiction. 

“The superb chess of Grandmasters Robert Fischer, Boris Spassky and Anatoly Karpov has been a source of delight to players like myself for years. Since The Queen’s Gambit is a work of fiction, however, it seemed prudent to omit them from the cast of characters, if only to prevent contradiction of the record.”

Of the grandmasters name-checked by Tevis, the clearest parallels can be drawn between Beth and Bobby Fischer. Most notably, in the series finale. 

In Beth’s final match of the series, she defeats the defending World Champion Vasily Borgov from Russia. A clear comparison can be made with the famous 1972 ‘Match of the Century’ where Bobby Fischer overcame Russia’s Boris Spassky to become the first American-born World Champion. 

Beth’s fictional career shares a timeline with Bobby’s real-life one too. The Queen’s Gambit covers a period between 1958 and 1968 which aligns closely with Fischer’s peak period, 1957 – 1972.

In the fictional world of The Queen’s Gambit, an 18-year-old Beth won the U.S. Championship in 1967. The same year over in real life saw Fischer become the youngest ever U.S. Champion at just 14.

So, career checks out. What about Beth’s personal life?

Like Beth, Fischer had a troubled start in life. Bobby’s mother was homeless when he was born and he and his sister spent their childhood flitting between schools as their single mother struggled to put food on the table. 

Whereas Beth grew up in an orphanage after her mother commit suicide, it can be argued that both of these unconventional upbringings lead to the self-sufficiency and isolative behaviors seen in both chess prodigies. 

Fischer certainly had his personal issues (you can read about them here, we haven’t got time to go into those!) but he wasn’t believed to have been plagued by alcohol and drug addiction. 

For that aspect of Beth’s character, Tevis looked a little closer to home. 

Who inspired Beth’s addictive behaviors?

A key component of Beth’s character, and her early success in chess, was her addiction to xanzolam – the white and green ‘vitamins’ provided to children in the orphanage where she grew up.

In the same New York Times interview, Tevis admitted that this aspect of Beth’s character was inspired by his own childhood experiences.

”When I was young, I was diagnosed as having a rheumatic heart and given heavy drug doses in a hospital. That’s where Beth’s drug dependency comes from in the novel.” 

As well as creating an intriguing dimension to Beth’s character, exploring these themes had an unexpected effect on Tevis.

“Writing about her was purgative. There was some pain – I did a lot of dreaming while writing that part of the story. But artistically, I didn’t allow myself to be self-indulgent.”


The best stories are those that have a little bit of truth. 

Although The Queen’s Gambit is, strictly speaking, a work of fiction, its writer has been honest about the real-life influences that have shaped Beth Harmon’s character, from chess greats like Bobby Fischer to his own childhood traumas. 

Nearly forty years later, the super-successful Netflix series infused realism into its match scenes by consulting with a former World Champion and replicating iconic games from the past.

Now that’s been cleared up, is it time for a re-watch?