Checkmate: Is This The Winner of The Most Surprising Search Term in 2020?

Having spent what feels like the majority of 2020 indoors, it’s hardly surprising that our digital consumption has increased. In the 18-24 age bracket alone, a 53-minute increase in daily time spent online was seen from January 2020 to the UK’s full lockdown in April.

With more time to browse the internet, we were keen to understand what was on the search terms list aside from the usual suspects such as YouTube, Facebook and celebrity gossip. After evaluating the findings, we have to say that the most surprising was something we absolutely didn’t expect. The topic? Chess.

If you’re a Netflix lover, you may have spotted its highly-rated The Queen’s Gambit plastered all over the homepage and social media. Released on 23 October, The Queen’s Gambit has been ranked within the Top 10 in 92 countries, whilst also bagging the number one spot in 63 countries. Netflix has also claimed that the mini-series was watched by 62 million households within the first 28 days of release, making it the streaming platform’s biggest scripted limited series to date.

So, why does this matter? Well, following the release of The Queen’s Gambit, the search query ‘how to play chess’ reached a 9 year peak worldwide.

Chess 1

As well as an increase in those interested in learning how to play chess, a general search on the topic of chess has more than doubled in the last month, compared to last year’s data.

Chess 2

Alongside the blatant increase in search terms, the popularity from The Queen’s Gambit has spread even further afield. The novel has now entered The New York Times bestseller list, 37 years after its release, with chess sets becoming a sought after item.

Looking at e-commerce, according to eBay there was a 273% increase in searches for ‘chess sets’ on its site in the 10 days following the show’s release, equating to a whopping one search every six seconds.

It isn’t just confined to eBay either. Popular manufacturing brands including Jacques of London and House of Staunton, both known for their high-quality chess sets and pieces, experienced an increase in Google search terms worldwide.

Aside from the increase in searches for chess specifically, related queries such as ‘board games’ have also benefited from an uplift. Most recently, the term ‘board games black friday’ seen a 1,200% increase since the last time period, suggesting shoppers are opting for traditional entertainment over the latest gadgets.

Whether this is a direct result of The Queen’s Gambit or audiences simply getting tired of sitting on computers during lockdown and wanting to branch out a bit, it’s certainly interesting to see new trends developing from what we are used to.

We’re looking forward to seeing Google’s year in review once 2020 is over because although we’re pretty sure that coronavirus will top the list, there could be a few more surprises there too.

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