CANBERRA (AFP): Indian grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand has asserted that mass lockdowns and Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ have brought unexpected gains for chess amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Talking to an international news agency, Vishwanathan Anand said that chess has enjoyed a surprising boom during the pandemic, with millions of more people playing and following games online.
It has been helped by the runaway success of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, which follows the rise of a troubled chess genius – based on America’s Bobby Fischer, according to the Indian grandmaster, a five-time world champion.
“People sitting at home seem to have discovered the game of chess. There are now 13 million people playing online,” he added. While many sports have suffered during the pandemic, chess has thrived.
Online platform Chess.com last month informed that it had added 2.5 million new members since the release of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. “Just like other sports have TV audiences, our audiences are principally online. So all that happened was that the chess players moved online to join the spectators,” said Anand.
Anand further said that technology had brought about deep changes for chess, with the internet now providing the platform to take it to a mass audience. “Almost anyone, even someone who doesn’t know the rules of chess can follow online,” he added.
Anand won his first world title aged 30 in 2000. He enjoyed great rivalries with the likes of Kasparov, Russian grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik and Soviet-born Israeli Boris Gelfand.