The Queen’s Gambit (QG) has become the latest in a long list of TV series that have become hits amongst people bored out of their mind during lockdown. It has become popular for the same reason that dark academia has become popular: if you can’t be clever, you may as well look clever. What better way than to watch a show about a board game with a long history, google the strategies and then proclaim yourself to have been a fan way before everyone else was?
I hate to break it to you, but it’s not a niche as you think, and you certainly aren’t the first.
Way back in 1984, Benny and Bjorn from ABBA, alongside lyricist Tim Rice (who helped write the lyrics for other West End musicals like Evita), released the concept album for their newest musical ‘Chess’. It followed two chess champions – the American and the Russian – during the Cold War, where political and personal rivalries come to the forefront of the competitions.
Does that not interest you, QG fans? I thought you were fans of chess!
Despite runs on the West End, Broadway and across the world, Chess has never reached the height of popularity that the QG has achieved. As such, Chess is an even more niche and ‘alternative’ way to express your love for the game.
How did QG fans react when I told them they weren’t actually that unique?
“I wasn’t watching it for the chess, it’s a shite game,” one man told us as he was coming back from the cornershop with a crate of alcohol. “I was watching it for the chick.”
When asked which TV series he would next binge was, he replied “Countdown. I couldn’t give a toss about the maths or letters, I just heard there’s an attractive bird on.”
Yes, we too at The Lampoon have a crush on Susie Dent, but don’t tell anyone!
We came across one girl leaving the library looking like she’d just walked out of a dark academia lookbook, complete with the glasses and Austen book. When asked about the QG, she excitedly replied “oh it’s my favourite TV show ever! I mean, I already knew about chess before the show blew up and it’s kinda sad to see all these fake fans but at least chess is more popular than ever!”
When asked about Chess (the musical), she looked at me confused.
“Wait, someone did that? What a dull idea for a musical.”
She then processed what she had said and quickly left pretending to go to an ‘alternative’ coffee shop (when we could clearly see she was headed towards Starbucks).
Someone passed by wearing every single piece of musical merch known to mankind, so we asked them on their thoughts on Chess.
“I’m sorry what’s that?” they asked after they took off their headphones. “Don’t you mean The Queen’s Gambit?”
It’s official: Chess is more niche and alternative than The Queen’s Gambit. Stand aside edgy QG fans, and let the OG chess fans pass through.