18

A number of sources have commented on the impact of the Queen's Gambit series on the chess world, usually referring to online chess:

With this effect so well-documented, is there any evidence that the Queen's Gambit series affected the popularity of the Queen's Gambit opening?

[Title "The Queen's Gambit"]
[FEN ""]
[startply "3"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4
5
  • 3
    I realize that comments are not required for downvotes but I'd welcome constructive criticism. Happy to do the work to improve the question for the downvoter. Jul 23 at 23:18
  • 5
    Was this opening even featured in the show? It's been a while since I watched it, but I don't recall the title being anything more than metaphorical. Jul 25 at 13:50
  • @DarrelHoffman I acknowledge the show did not train viewers on opening theory. Just a question that came to my mind. Jul 25 at 16:25
  • 3
    They should have named the series Bongcloud so we can see the real stats
    – cmgchess
    Jul 25 at 17:16
  • A better question would be "did the number of drawn games drop?", as almost all games on the Queen's Gambit were conclusive.
    – Abigail
    Jul 26 at 10:21

2 Answers 2

25

The Queen's Gambit series debuted on 23 October 2020. The Lichess Opening Explorer provides access to the number of games by opening stratified by average rating and/or time control for set time horizon.

Impact on First Move:
Looking at all games played on Lichess by Year, there appears to be no significant increase in the proportion of games that begin with 1. d4.

Second Move:
Restricting the data to games that begin with 1. d4 d5, the proportion of games that continue 2. c4 appear to decline; this is likely due to an unfortunate increase in popularity for the London System.

Limitations:
There may be argument that players most likely to have their opening influenced by a show are likely to lower rated. If true, then it may be worth repeating the analysis using game data from lower rated players. It is worth noting that Lichess' opening explorer cannot provide data any lower than average rating of 1600. Even though Lichess seeds new accounts at 1500, many beginning accounts likely fall below this value (classical, rapid, blitz).

Percent of Total Games Played on Lichess by First Move

Percent of Total Games Played on Lichess Starting 1. d4 d5 by Second Move

2
  • Is the source of your plot the lichess opening explorer?
    – ferdy
    Jul 26 at 8:54
  • @ferdy Yes. Imperfect but best I could do. Jul 26 at 12:36
11

In addition to SecretAgentMan's answer, one reason why the series wouldn't influence the popularity of the opening is that in some countries the translation of the title isn't faithful:

There are possibly other countries where the translation departed from the original title. Those who watched the series in these languages wouldn't even know that the title references an opening, so obviously they couldn't have been influenced.

3
  • Excellent point (+1). Your links qualify as evidence in my view. Jul 25 at 18:56
  • interesting note, in the series when beth is learning the "queens gambit" her teacher plays 1.d4 and calls it the queens gambit! as i'm sure you know, the queens gambit is not reached until 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 or some other transposition
    – brekker
    Aug 2 at 3:47
  • 1
    @brekker With 2... e6 it's the Queen's gambit declined; for the gambit you only need 1.d4 d5 2.c4. But if they already call it Queen's gambit after 1. d4, you are right, it's too early. Aug 2 at 10:09

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