Spanish chess board sales soar after ‘Queen’s Gambit’ cameo

A worker makes a chessboard at the Rechapados Ferrer factory at their factory in La Garriga
A worker checks a chessboard at the Rechapados Ferrer factory of which products have appeared in the Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit", in La Garriga, north of Barcelona, Spain, February 11, 2021. REUTERS/Albert Gea

February 16, 2021

By Luis Felipe Castilleja and Jordi Rubio

LA GARRIGA, Spain (Reuters) – A Spanish chess board maker discovered by chance that its products played a cameo role in hit Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”, and its sales have since soared.

“One day I came into work and a colleague, Miguel, told me that Netflix had released a new series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ and some Rechapados Ferrer boards appeared in the trailer,” said David Ferrer, 30, who runs Rechapados Ferrer.

The series, based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, debuted in October 2020 and fast became a hit.

It follows orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon as she takes on the male-dominated world of chess.

A triumphant finale takes her to Moscow to play one of the Soviet Union’s star players. It is in this pivotal scene that the distinctive Rachapados Ferrer chess board takes centre stage.

Viewers have been keen to buy a piece of the action, boosting sales already on the rise due to demand linked to strict COVID-19 lockdowns.

The company based in La Garriga, near Barcelona, has already doubled its annual orders from around 22,000 in 2020 to 45,000 for 2021 and has now moved any new orders to 2022.

“Orders of chess boards have skyrocketed,” said Ferrer, whose grandfather founded the company in the 1950s. “This year is full in terms of production.”

Ferrer told Reuters the board that appears in the finale has become one of the most requested, but is so far only available through one German distributor. It was through them that the series – much of which was filmed in Berlin – got the boards.

But with demand booming and chess more popular than ever, Ferrer says the company might try to sell the board through other channels too.

(Writing by Jessica Jones; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mike Collett-White)