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.


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. 


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.


Why Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Reigniting Our Interest In Chess

Here at The Regency Chess Company, we couldn’t help but notice a surge in demand for chess sets since the mini-series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ debuted on Netflix.

As big fans of the series, we thought we’d investigate just what it is about the show that’s inspiring the world to learn the game – or dust off an old set.

It blasts away chess stereotypes

From the outside looking in, chess can seem rather stuffy. Enthusiastic players have had to live with the stereotypes of being nerdy and over-intellectual for decades – probably longer!

The Queen’s Gambit has shown the world what we’ve known all of our lives –  that chess can be enthralling.

For a start, the lead character, Beth, is not the type of person that comes to mind when you think, ‘competitive chess player’. She’s an orphan who battles personal demons and addiction to chase her dream of becoming the greatest player in the male-dominated world of chess.

The story might be fictional but the chess matches are real and captivating. Viewers get reeled in by the psychology of the game – the strategy and the thought processes that go into every move – proving that this ancient game can be fresh, fascinating, and dare we say it, sexy.

It accurately portrays chess mastery

If you’ve ever watched a sci-fi movie in the company of an engineer or scientist, then you’ll know how their criticism can destroy your perception of the film – “That would never happen in real life!” or, “That’s not how you do it” etc.

Fortunately, the writers of The Queen’s Gambit have worked extremely hard to include a high level of accuracy that would keep even the most hardened chess pro happily entertained.

And this didn’t happen by chance. Bruce Pandolfini, a revered chess coach and advisor on the 1993 chess classic Searching for Bobby Fischer, was brought in alongside the Russian grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, to ensure the chess scenes were 100% accurate.

Every chess move shown on screen was orchestrated by Pandolfini and Kasparov, before being committed to memory by the actors.

By Vlopresto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

“We had to create the chess positions first, and we started with a base of about 100. I think it mushroomed to close to 500 different chess positions by the end. That’s more than any other project that’s dealt with chess before.”

Bruce Pandolfini (pictured)

It’s doing wonders for women’s chess

If you asked a casual player to name a chess personality, they’d likely reel off the usual, Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer et al. but might be hard pushed to name a female player.

Chess has always been a male-dominated world – especially in the 1960s when the show is set – in fact, women weren’t even allowed to compete in the World Chess Championship until the 1980s.

By Stefan64 – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Since the show aired, interest in female chess players, like Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgár and her sister Susan Polgár, has skyrocketed as the game sheds it’s stuffy, male-orientated reputation. 

The female chess world is hoping the show will inspire a new generation of women to take up the game.

It’s come at a perfect time

Okay, maybe a pandemic is never a perfect time, but what better way to spend the extra time at home than by learning, or mastering, the legendary game of chess?

Yes, The Queen’s Gambit has sparked an interest in those who may have been otherwise entertained if circumstances were different. According to eBay UK, the retail store saw an astounding 273% boost in sales of chess sets in the first 10 days of the show’s release. 

We’re happy that people are finding solace and a worthwhile diversion in chess during these uncertain times.

It shows you that anyone can learn the game

Chess is one of the most accessible games on the planet – all you need are 32 chess pieces, a 64-square board, and a curious mind. Of course, to be a grandmaster, you’d have to dedicate every day to mastering the game – and throw in a little genius too.

But what the show effectively portrays is that at the heart of chess, is a simple-to-learn game that transcends age, gender, language, and even the threat of world war, to bring people and nations together for a game or two.

Are you ready to play now?

If you’ve been inspired by Netflix’s wonderful series, feel free to browse our collection of European-made chess sets. Whether you’re a beginner or an avid player, we have a set to suit every budget and taste – delivered to your door in 2-3 days.

The Regency Chess Company.

The 5 Greatest Chess Players Of All Time

The subject of ‘The Greatest Chess Player Ever’ will always be a subjective one for the simple fact that there is no perfect system for comparing them.

Statistical methods of ranking chess players do exist, the most famous being the Elo system. But, they’re not perfect – ‘rating inflation’ makes it impossible to properly compare players of different eras who never had the chance to play each other.

So, with that being said, this is our list of the 5 Greatest Chess Players Of All Time, and our justification for why they should be there.

Feel free to disagree!

#5 Emanuel Lasker

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-14194 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,

We’re going way back now with our number 5. Emanuel Lasker was a German World Chess Champion who held the title from 1894 to 1921 – the longest reign in history – and is still considered to be one of the strongest players of all time.

Lasker was only the 2nd World Champion since the competition began in 1886 and he successfully defended his title for the next 27 years. His career lasted an astounding 5 decades until he retired in the ’30s.

His novel-at-the-time flexible approach tied with his longevity at the top makes Lasker one of the greatest.

#4 Bobby Fischer

American-born Fischer became the youngest Grandmaster in history when he won the title aged just 15 in 1958. During 1970-1971, he won 20 straight matches and in 1972, became the first American to become the World Chess Champion after defeating the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in ‘The Match of the Century’.

The match brought about a level of publicity unknown to the chess world at the time and has been the subject of many books and movies.

Fischer gave up his title in 1975 after refusing to defend against Anatoly Karpov and apart from winning a rematch with Spassky in 1992, he lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity and controversy. He died in Reykjavík, Iceland, in 2008 after being exiled from his home country. 

Many rank Fischer as the greatest of all time with no noticeable weaknesses in his game.

#3 Magnus Carlsen

By Frans Peeters; Flikr page at -, CC BY-SA 2.0, is the current World Chess Champion and earned his first grandmaster title in 2004 at just 13 years old. In the same year, the Norwegian prodigy defeated Anatoly Karpov and drew against Garry Kasparov. 

He became the world’s number one in 2011 and hasn’t shown signs of letting it go. He’s also achieved the highest Elo rating of all time.

Despite being under thirty (at the time of writing), we consider Magnus to be among the very best thanks to his tactical style of play and his magnificent achievements. 

And he’s only just getting started!

#2 Anatoly Karpov

Whenever Garry Kasparov comes up in conversation, Anatoly Karpov is usually mentioned in the same breath. Aside from both of them being Russian, Karpov held the title of World Chess Champion for ten years before losing to Kasparov in 1985 and the two went on to have one of the most intense rivalries in chess.

He became World Champion once again in 1993 after Kasparov was stripped of the title by FIDE and won the 1994 Linares tournament – considered to be the strongest chess competition in history.  

We’ve ranked Karpov as our number two because of his solid, positional playing style and his lengthy tenure at the top of the chess world. 

#1 Garry Kasparov

By GFHund - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, any non-chess enthusiast to name a chess player and they’re likely to say, Garry Kasparov. 

Why do we think Kasparov is the best? Simple. He brimmed with confidence and his determined, aggressive playing style took the game by storm. He dominated the chess world for two decades by becoming number one in the world in 1985 and holding the accolade until his retirement in 2005.

In 1985, the Russian became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion at 22 by defeating our number 2, Anatoly Karpov. He holds the record for the most consecutive professional tournament victories, coming first in 15 tournaments from 1981 to 1990.

Although he retired from serious competition in 2005, he’s still passionate about the game – writing articles and giving talks about chess. In 2017, he also emerged to play the St. Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament as a wildcard.


Do you agree with our top 5? Who’s your greatest of all time?