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'The Queen's Gambit' sets records for Netflix

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon and Marcin Dorocinski as Vasily Borgov in "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon and Marcin Dorocinski as Vasily Borgov in "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Queen's Gambit is a hit. That's according to Netflix, which says that it's the streaming service's "biggest limited scripted series ever." It's limited in that you shouldn't expect another season, and scripted in that it's not a reality show.

Netflix says that 62 million households have watched The Queen's Gambit in its first 28 days. (That number is a little murky given that Netflix doesn't exactly show the math, but at least for movies it means that you've chosen to watch the thing, and watched it for at least 2 minutes.)

And, yeah — it's that good. You can read our full review of The Queen's Gambit here. The short version, though:

The Queen's Gambit — based on the Walter Tevis novel — does a lot of work in just seven episodes. It's a standout binge amid a sea of hit-and-miss offerings from Netflix. Scott Frank, who directed all seven episodes and handled the teleplay duties as well, makes the most of that brief time, and shot the series beautifully. The stories themselves move quickly, almost as if the series is on a timer, just like a game of chess. There are few (if any) wasted moments.

And you don't even have to be a chess player to enjoy The Queen's Gambit. You just need to want to see what move Beth makes next.

Netflix also notes that since the series launched in October the novel on which the series is based has hit the New York Times bestseller list for the first time, 37 years after the book was released. Also Google searches for chess have doubled, and "how to play chess" is at a nine-year high. (Presumably a global pandemic helped that along, too.) Also, inquiries for "chess sets" are up 250 percent on eBay, and Chess.com is seeing five times the usual number of new players.

The global reach of the series also has been strong, Netflix says, raking in the Top 10 in 92 countries and hitting the Netflix No. 1 spot in 63, including the UK, Argentina, Israel and South Africa. (Anna Taylor-Joy, who co-stars in the series as the teenage and adult Beth Harmon, is an American-British-Argentinian actress.)

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for AndroidCentral.com and Mobile Nations, is the Dad part of Modern Dad, and is editor of WhatToWatch.com.