A surprising aftermath of the Queen’s Gambit Series
Queen’s gambit depicted a 1983 fictional novel about a female chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, who rose from the city of Kentucky to become the greatest chess player in the world. The series became a hit from the get-go after its release in October 2020, creating a surge of interest in chess. From increased sales of chess boards to more sign-ups on giant chess sites like chess.com and Lichess. These sites have registered an unprecedented number of sign-ups and several games concurrently taking place on the server of their sites.
It can be said that the surge of interest in the game of chess was partly due to the effect of covid-19 that halted almost all physical and outdoor activities in the world in 2020. Many indoor activities thrived during this period but unlike all other indoor activities, the Queens Gambit Series was the icing on the cake for the game of chess as it managed to crawl into the space of physical activities like Formula 1. The game of chess has become one of the major hobbies for F1 players this year.
The game of chess has become a thing amongst F1 players lately with drivers like Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr, Timo Glock, Lando Norris, Mick Schumacher, and Kai Schnapka taking the game more seriously than others. Leclerc and Sainz are both Ferrari drivers and have taken their chess more seriously than any driver in F1 this year.
They’ve also excelled on the track as team-mates, as they have helped lead Ferrari to third place in the constructors’ championship. Chess has also helped both drivers become good mates off-track, giving a fresh feel atmosphere to the teammates.
In a good way, chess has become the new obsession for these drivers. From flight between races to between sessions in the car, or during delays, the Ferrari drivers take this opportunity to play chess with one another through an app on their phone. Leclerc seems to be the pioneer of the game among the F1 drivers.
” I’ve always been into it, I always liked chess as a kid,” Leclerc told Motorsport.com.
As the driver and his teammate Sainz looked for something to do during the quiet periods at the start of the season, they found chess and it quickly got competitive.
Mick Schumacher is another driver that has taken his chess seriously like the Ferrari drivers. Unlike the Ferrari drivers that play on their phones, Schumacher has made a chess set an essential kit to take to races, giving him the chance to sit and play to unwind.
Schumacher’s regular playing partner is Kai Schnpka and also played some games with Timo Glock but Schumacher is yet to play the Ferrari drivers.
It is quite interesting that it was only by accident that Schumacher got into chess.
“We have a chessboard at home, we’ve always been playing it here and there but, but never properly,” Schumacher told Autosport/Motorsport.com
The driver and his playing partner were very big into backgammon and only diverted their interest into chess when they forgot their backgammon board and the only thing they had was chess. And so they started playing chess!
“Then for a time, we were mixing chess and backgammon, and now we just play chess. it’s fun, I beat him the whole time!”
Chess is something Schumacher has found himself improving at as the year went on and has understood the game much better. His interest in the game has been the catalyst for recent development. Schumacher feels chess has brought about focus and mental preparation for every challenge that comes.
It is worth noting that the giant chess website has extended a helping hand to the F1 chess club in a reply to a tweet from Scuderia Ferrari.
Looking at the next race season, it is safe to assume that the growing unofficial F1 chess club is likely to see an increased membership because drivers will spend more on the road like never before, meaning more flights, more periods at racetracks to fill between race duties and ultimately more time to play chess!