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. 


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?


The Queen’s Gambit Season 2: What We Know So Far

The Queen’s Gambit was THE show of 2020, and the fact that we’re still talking about it years later shows how much we were impacted by Beth Harmon’s fictional rise to the top of the chess world.

When we last saw Beth, she was contentedly playing chess with an old man in a Moscow park after finally defeating her greatest foe, Russian grandmaster Vasily Borgov.

Although the finale was a satisfying climax to a universally-loved mini-series, fans and chess players the world over have just one question…

“Will there be The Queen’s Gambit Season 2?”

Image courtesy of Netflix.

The Queen’s Gambit took just four weeks to become Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries at the time. It took home 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Grammy Award to name a few, and today, it enjoys a near-perfect 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Back in the summer of 2020, we would have scoffed at the idea that a series about chess would win all these accolades and have us perched on the edge of our seats for seven thrilling episodes.

Usually, a show or movie centred around a niche pastime will attract the attention of its ardent fans only – along with fierce critiques.

But The Queen’s Gambit did something different. Not only did the show’s accurate depiction of high-level chess gain praise from the chess community, but it also single-handedly made a centuries-old game a must-play again.

The show’s irresistible charm ignited and reignited passion for the game, and this combined with the lockdowns caused by the pandemic, caused a perfect storm for chess retailers worldwide. 

In the three weeks following the show’s debut, research firm NDP reported a jump in unit sales of chess sets by 87% and chess book sales rose a whopping 603%.

Will there be The Queen’s Gambit Season 2?

There’s no doubt that fans would eagerly receive a second season – but at the time of writing, the prospect seems unlikely.

Firstly, The Queen’s Gambit was faithfully adapted from a 1983 book of the same name, and the writer of which, Walter Tevis, sadly passed away a year after the book was released. 

Of course, there’s nothing to stop today’s writers from picking up the baton where Tevis left off – after all, Eric Van Lustbader went on to write 11 more books of the Jason Bourne series after original author Robert Ludlum died and a host of writers have written James Bond novels after Ian Fleming passed. 

Secondly, the show was always meant as a mini-series and some fans would prefer it to remain that way. The story progressed at a steady pace for 7 enthralling episodes with a finale to satisfy even the fiercest of fanbases.

Again, this does not mean it won’t happen. In 2017, HBO surprised fans by announcing a second season of Big Little Lies – despite being billed initially as a 7 episode mini-series.

Does the cast want a second season?

In nearly every interview with a cast member, the journalist jumps at the chance to ask what we’re all wondering, “Will there be The Queen’s Gambit Season 2?”

When Ana Taylor-Joy, who played Beth in the series, was asked by Town & Country about a second season, she replied, 

If I’ve learned anything from being in this industry, it’s never say never. I adore the character, and I would certainly come back if I was asked to, but I do think we leave Beth in a good place. I think the rest of her life will surely be an adventure as well, but in the quest that she goes on in this to find some form of peace, just some form of being able to be happy with who she is. I think it ends in a nice place.”

Harry Melling, who played Harry Beltik, Beth’s former rival/love interest, is certainly not opposed to the idea of a second outing.

“It’d be good, right, a Queen’s Gambit part two? The place we end in the limited series is the place we end in the book. I don’t know if there can be another one, but stranger things have happened.”

Why Netflix needs The Queen’s Gambit Season 2

In April 2022, it was reported that Netflix had lost subscribers for the first time in a decade and for the second quarter of 2022, the streaming giant revealed that its subscriber count had dropped by 1.28 million in the United States and Canada.

Now, Netflix is by no means struggling – it remains USA’s number one streaming service and the drop was way less than forecast – but with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, et al. snapping at its heels, what better way to lure wayward subscribers than with a second season of one of its best-watched miniseries of all time?

The Queen’s Gambit Season 2: What can we expect?

Although nothing has been confirmed, we fans (and even the cast) can’t help but speculate on what might happen in a hypothetical second season.

The series ended with Beth rising to the pinnacle of chess when she defeated the Russian grandmaster Vasily Borgov. A second season might find Beth fighting off challengers to maintain her position at the top, she might even get toppled by a younger, more driven player – as was alluded to in episode 4 when she almost loses to the 13-year-old Georgi Girev.

In the last scene, Beth was seen playing chess with an old man in a Russian park. We could see Beth return to the USA to a heroine’s welcome or she might choose to stay in Russia – she took the time to learn the language after all!

Beth’s dependence on alcohol and drugs was a key component of her success and although she seemed to have her issues handled when we left her, the pressure of being grandmaster could reawaken her old demons.

In an interview with Deadline, the show’s star Taylor-Joy hinted at exploring a new side of Beth’s character.

  “It would be very interesting to see how Beth would be as a mother, now that she’s sober and more cognizant of the demons that pull her down.” 

The Queen’s Gambit is far from jumping the shark. We’ve just scratched the surface of potential storylines and themes that the writers could explore in that elusive second season.

“Never say never…”

As much as fans, the chess community, and the cast would love a second season of our favorite chess-and-drugs series, at the time of writing, it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon.

But in the meantime, we might get The Queen’s Gambit The Musical.

In 2021, the rights to the novel were bought by a New York production company known for its Broadway adaptions, including a musical based on Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill.

So, maybe it’s not checkmate for The Queen’s Gambit just yet.


How A Netflix Show Caused A Worldwide Shortage Of Chess Sets

Chess has been played for 1,500 years, but since a certain Netflix show emerged last year, the game has reached explosive levels of popularity.

There’s no doubt that we have The Queen’s Gambit to thank for putting chess back on the map – but there are other factors that are causing chess retailers to buckle under the strain of newfound demand.

When it debuted in late October 2020, The Queen’s Gambit quickly became a monster hit in an already bumper period for Netflix. In a year that was dominated by bread-baking, TikTok dances and tiger botherers, along came a show based around chess – that amazingly, enthralled players and laypeople alike.

The show was universally applauded for its performances, the most notable being from Anya Taylor-Joy who played the celebrated antagonist Beth Harmon – an orphaned chess prodigy striving to reach the top in a male-dominated world.

Oh, and all the time battling a pretty severe drug and alcohol habit.

The unique thing about a show focused on a past-time people devote their lives to, is that it won the approval of the chess community. Players of all levels praised the attention to detail and realism put into the characters and the moves – Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade said that the series “completely nailed the chess accuracy.”

The aftermath of The Queen’s Gambit

The Regency Chess Company has been selling fine chess sets for over a decade – it’s a market we know very well. It’s a fairly small industry but it sees stable and consistent demand.

But, as you can see in the graph below, sales in late 2020 went nuclear.

Of course, it’s not just us. reported a 215% increase in sales of chess sets and accessories since the show debuted.

eBay and Regency Chess aside, the surge has proved devastating for smaller, less established retailers, many of whom have crumbled under the pressure of so much unexpected demand.

Although we were swamped between November and January, we managed to clear the backlog within 4 weeks. 

Out Of Stock

Fast forward to today (end of May), and things are looking much healthier –  but stocks of some of our chess sets are still low.

Is all this due entirely to The Queen’s Gambit?

Other notable factors: Lockdown

Even before The Queen’s Gambit hit our screens, 2020 saw a spike in demand for chess sets, board games, jigsaw puzzles, etc. as the world did all it could to stay entertained during the lockdowns prompted by the perceived COVID-19 pandemic.

The streaming platform Twitch noted a renewed interest in chess during the first few months of the pandemic. Data from Sully Gnome, a Twitch analytics site, showed that between March and August 2020, people watched 41.2 million hours of chess – 4 times as many hours as the previous six months.

International supply

India is the leading producer of fine, hand-carved chess pieces. And as you can imagine, the painstaking work involved in hand carving chessmen is anything but quick.


In a bid to compensate for the lengthy production and shipping times, The Regency Chess Company and other retailers will order large numbers of chess sets so that we have healthy levels of stock at all times. Ready for anything…or so we thought!


As soon as The Queen’s Gambit struck a chord with latent chess players, our stockpile soon dwindled until we were left with nothing but a long list of backorders.

And, as India solidifies its reputation as skilled craftspeople of chess pieces, more and more retailers are placing orders with Indian manufacturers. Further expanding those lead times – as well as prices.

What about chess boards?

One of the world’s most respected makers of chess boards is a Spanish company called Rechapados Ferrer. As a result of the global chess boom, the Barcelona-based company is operating around the clock and has been forced to suspend sales to new clients while introducing a strict ration policy to existing ones.

Can we also blame Brexit?

Although it seems like the fashionable thing to do, we can say that situations arising from Brexit have been problematic for UK-based chess retailers like Regency Chess Company.

The start of 2021 saw mountains of new red tape and a non-existent, six-month ‘grace period’ which meant widespread confusion and of course, HUGE delays on imports coming in from Europe.

Back in January 2021, DB Schenker, one of the world’s largest shipping firms, suspended all road freight services from Europe to the UK for 3 weeks in response to the “enormous bureaucratic regulations”.

Despite the massive stress this put on UK businesses, the storm eventually passed and the goods began to flow nicely once again.

Other factors

It’s also worth mentioning the rising cost of importing in general which has a knock on effect on global demand. For example, container imports have gone up by a factor of at least 4 which has proved too much for smaller businesses.

Where are we at now?

As I write this, summer is around the corner and lockdowns are easing in the UK and Europe. But, the demand for fine chess sets is still very much thriving.

Despite working our socks off, everyone at Regency Chess is enjoying the renewed interest in our favourite game and think it will last for a few years to come.

And if they decide to do a second series, we’ll be ready for that spike in demand!

One last thing…

We want to thank our customers who’ve been incredibly understanding and patient with us during this extraordinary time for chess.

Now, anything else worth watching on Netflix?


6 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Chess

For many of us, chess is not merely a game of skill and chance, it represents life and the struggle to survive, to keep pace, and to prosper.  

And if we’re willing to be its students, the ancient game can teach us some valuable life lessons.

There is a myriad of advantages to learning to play chess. No game can rival its ability to sharpen critical thinking skills, decision making, patience and much more. That’s why by introducing your child to chess, you’ll be setting them on the path for academic success.

Chess not only develops specific skills, but it can also teach us precious advice to help guide our way through the journey of life – no matter the stage.

Here are 6 life lessons we can learn from chess:

  1. Make every move count

In chess, you don’t know how many moves you’ll have and you certainly don’t want to waste any. 

In life, we might feel like we have unlimited time and resources, but we don’t. If your goal is to lose weight and you have a choice to either watch another episode of that gripping Netflix series or go to the gym, the latter would be the best move you can make. 

Before we make a decision in life, and in chess, we must ask ourselves, ‘Will this get me closer to my goal?’

  1. Look at the big picture

To gain a tactical advantage and defeat your opponent in chess, you have to accept that you’ll lose some pieces. 

It’s just like in life. It’s incredibly rare to find a successful person who hasn’t made great sacrifices to be where they are. Whether it’s devoting time to building a business or cutting out negative ‘friends’ who are holding you back – it’s just a part of the game. 

  1. See each defeat as a chance to get better

It’s been said that winners are not afraid of losing, but losers are. And people who avoid making mistakes also avoid success.

No-one can expect to start playing chess and never be defeated – we NEED to lose in order to improve our approach for next time. Chess offers us the chance to lose, to reset our pieces, and try again. And again. And again.

Chess teaches us that it’s what we DID that caused us to fail, not who we ARE. Our actions might have been wrong but we can learn from it and do better in the future. 

If you can carry this ‘always the student’ attitude throughout your life, the sky’s the limit to what you could achieve.  

  1. Make your own luck

In chess, you can’t just rely on your opponent making a mistake – they are likely doing the same. To be victorious, you’re often required to create your own winning opportunities by using strategy to set up your opponent and force them to err.

The perfect job, investment, or partner, is unlikely to just fall from the sky into your open arms. You have to put the work in to create these opportunities and let your skills (and a little luck!) do the rest.

  1. Copy those who went before you 

There’s a saying that goes, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal,” and it can easily apply to chess.

In chess, there are often clearly defined steps to victory. You can watch the greats play, analyse their moves and look for familiar patterns, so you can recreate them in your own games. 

And life is the same way. By learning the paths that successful people have taken – through autobiographies, documentaries, classes etc. – eventually you’ll notice that there are distinct lines to greatness, that if copied may bring success to you too.

  1. Learn from people better than you

In chess, it’s said that you need three opponents of differing skill levels to become great. One who’s weaker than you, whom you can teach, one of equal skill, whom you can practise with to gain confidence, and one who is better than you, to learn from.

This is a great lesson in humility. If you just take the easy victories in life, you’ll stay in your comfort zone and soon hit a glass ceiling. Seek those with superior skills and more experience than you and watch your progress accelerate.


Chess is not only a wonderful game, its principles can transcend the checked board and into every area of your life. It may be the best mentor you ever have.