The Queen’s Gambit sent the world into a chess frenzy as the world’s love for the ancient game was reignited thanks to Beth Harmon and her narcotics-fueled rise to chess greatness. This came as a shock for chess retailers (we can attest!) as we saw an unprecedented boom in demand for chess pieces and boards. Many fans of the show are keen to know about the actual chess sets used in The Queen’s Gambit. That’s why we’re going to shine the spotlight on some of the chessboards used in the mini-series and their makers – a small family business from Catalonia.
Image courtesy of Netflix.
It was a typical autumn day in La Garriga, Spain (about a 40-minute drive from Barcelona) when David Ferrer, the boss of the renowned chessboard maker Rechapados Ferrer, found out about an interesting cameo in a certain Netflix mini-series. “One day I came into work and a colleague told me that Netflix had released a new series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ and some Rechapados Ferrer boards appeared in the trailer,” said David, whose grandfather started the company in the 1950s. It wasn’t only the trailer in which the boards from Barcelona featured, they turned up in several scenes of the critically acclaimed series including its glorious climax. In perhaps the show’s most iconic scene, a distinctive Rachapados Ferrer chess board takes centre stage in Beth Harmon’s final battle with Vasily Borgov in the 1968 Moscow Invitational Chess Tournament.
Image courtesy of Netflix.
Rechapados Ferrer was already enjoying a jump in demand thanks to Spain’s stringent lockdown policies in the Spring and Summer of 2020 – but, the Covid lockdowns impact on the chess industry was nothing compared to the effect of Beth Harmon fever. Prior to 2020, Rechapados Ferrer would typically produce around 20,000 boards. This leapt to 22,000 in 2020 as folks were stuck indoors and seeking distraction during the start of the pandemic.
In 2021, once The Queen’s Gambit had got a firm hold on the chess world, the Catalonian chess board makers DOUBLED their annual orders from 22,000 to 45,000.
Although this trend rippled through the entire chess industry (eBay famously attributed a 215% rise in sales of chess sets and accessories to the show’s success), the accolade of having your actual products featured in the show meant that Rechapados Ferrer has benefited more than its competitors. “When the Netflix series came out, it all just went crazy and drove sales of chessboards through the roof,” David continues, “We’d just finished supplying our orders for the Christmas season when one of our most important clients came back to us and asked for another order of the same size. We thought, ‘Wow! That’s odd’.” Although David doesn’t fancy himself as a grandmaster (busman’s holiday and all that), he admits that the series has reignited his love for the game. “My chess is at a very basic level; nothing approaching professional,” he confesses. “But, to be honest, I’ve got back into chess and have been playing a bit more because of the series.” He’s certainly not the only one. The Queen’s Gambit is solely to blame for turning a dusty old game into a trendy, and dare we say it, sexy, one.
Where can I buy the chess boards seen in The Queen’s Gambit?
The actual chess set used in the film features a dark wooden chess board with a decorative border and Russian style chessmen. We have The Queens Gambit Chess Set available that features the exact board used as the prop and pieces that are very similar to the pieces used during filiming.
If you want to see more of Rechapados Ferrer’s chess boards – stars of The Queen’s Gambit – then feel free to explore our comprehensive collection today.
The Regency Chess Team.