Anya Taylor Joy as Beth Harman

The Queen’s Gambit: Anya Taylor-Joy thinks this is why we’re all obsessed

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The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy just explained the real reason we’re all so obsessed with chess right now.

What is it that made The Queen’s Gambit such a huge success? 

The series, which follows the story of female chess player Beth Harman, has clocked up over 62 million household views since airing last autumn. This makes it Netflix’s biggest scripted limited series to date. Considering it took 30 years to get into production, it’s a remarkable achievement. 

But, with so much entertainment at our fingertips in lockdown, what kept us hooked to a series about… chess?

There are a few factors that helped rope us in.

Many of us who’d never even played chess before suddenly realised it was a tremendous game of dexterity and grit, and added “chessboard” to our Christmas lists. Fans also became quickly obsessed with the show’s attention to detail on the 60s costumes and interiors. And Anya Taylor-Joy, who played Beth, was of course brilliant.

But as Graham Norton put to Taylor-Joy on his talk show last night (8 January), a show based on chess just doesn’t sound like “an obvious hit”. 

Taylor-Joy replied by sharing exactly why she really thinks we loved The Queen’s Gambit, and it makes total sense.

“I think it’s a couple of different things,” she said. “For one, it is a story of redemption and it’s nice to know that you can overcome your demons in that way.”

The Queen's Gambit
The Queen's Gambit follows the rise of a female chess prodigy in Cold War-era America.

Taylor-Joy added: “But also passion is just exciting. I think from the minute you see how passionate she [Beth] is about chess, it kind of draws you into it in that way.”

She also admitted that, yes, it’s also “very pretty to look at, so that never hurts”. And she confirmed that all the games played on-screen throughout the series were legitimate and based on well-known games. 

This shared passion with fans explains why Ebay saw a 273% increase in searches for “chess sets” on the online auction site within 10 days following the show’s arrival on Netflix (which is one search every six seconds).

And with so much spare time on our hands while we stay indoors during the third lockdown, now is the perfect time to learn the game and get practicing. 

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Images: Netflix

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…