Netflix sparks chess hype

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The Telebasel News post from December 27, 2022.


One of several chess tournaments in Basel is currently being held at the Mövenpick hotel. The city has chess fever. It’s because of a Netflix series.

For the first time this year, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the chess tournament “Basel Christmas Festival” will take place. Around 200 chess players from all over the world will compete in three strength classes until Friday – among them are three grandmasters and 17 internationals. But also many beginners.

Because the sport of chess has gained many fans lately. “The fault” for this is “The Queen’s Gambit”: The series on Netflix has triggered a real hype about chess — worldwide and especially in the Basel region.

( Video: Youtube/KinoStarDE)

That There is a reason why so many people are playing chess here: The organizer of the Basel Christmas Festival, Claudio Boschetti, explains: “The demand for Basel is very high because of the triangle of nations — likewise France, Germany and Switzerland”. The many commuters meant earning potential for the Basel chess scene. “The Netflix series brought a lot — especially online there were many millions of new players,” Boschetti told Telebasel.

Basel wants to become a Swiss chess city

Chess is now behind football with over 1.5 billion players away number 2 in sports. Boschetti: “We have 650,000 active players who are registered with the international chess federation”. Four chess tournaments will be held in Basel next year– more than ever before. The goal of Boschetti and Co. is clear: Basel should become the number 1 chess city in Switzerland.

But the numbers are also deceptive: far fewer people play in Switzerland today the popular board game than before. “The Swiss Chess Federation used to have 12,000 members, now there are only 6,000 older members who are disappearing and are not yet being completely replaced by the younger ones,” explains Boschetti. But the trend is rising.

Young people join in with the big ones

Anyone who thinks that the young players at the Basel Christmas Festival can only be found among the beginners is wrong. Young people are also involved in the Expert Open, as well as the big players. About eleven-year-old Gian Pinelli. He’s been playing for around three years. “I once went to a chess and sports camp and I thought it was so cool that I started it right away,” he says.

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