A Spanish chessboard maker has seen demand for their high-quality products skyrocket thanks to their usage in the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit.
The series focuses on chess prodigy Beth Harmon who battles to make a place for herself in the male-dominated chess world.
As the series reaches its finale, she heads to the Russian capital Moscow to take on the Soviet Union’s star player and where a Rachapados Ferrer chess board is given centre stage.
Real Press spoke to David Ferrer, the owner of the Rechapados Ferrer chess board company, in an exclusive interview and he said he never thought that demand could go so high.
These chessboards are the ones used in The Queen’s Gambit, which was seen by more than 62 million people in the first month after its release on 23rd October, becoming one of the most-watched Netflix shows in 63 countries.
Rechapados Ferrer’s factory is in the municipality of La Garriga, in the eastern Spanish province of Barcelona, in the Catalonia region and they say that since the show’s release, interest in chess has increased not only among professionals, schools and clubs, but also with individuals, and the chessboard was a hit at Christmas.
But the company also says production of the chessboards had to be multiplied by three due to the huge demand and they have a backlog of orders until 2022.
David Ferrer, 30, is the third-generation owner of this 60-year-old company, which was set up by his grandparents, and he told Real Press that he would have never thought chess could be such a hit.
He added that unusually, the usage of the board in the series was not part of a product placement or sponsorship deal. He said he was as surprised as everyone else in the company to find that the trailer for the series included images of their boards, and believes that it probably happened because a lot of the filming was done in Berlin where they have a distributor.
Ferrer’s company started out working with furniture using veneer, before moving to chess boards where he said demand for their chessboards has increased dramatically in the last few months, adding that in a normal year, their production is around 18,000 chessboards but this year, they have already produced 40,000 of them.
According to Ferrer, there are probably other factors as well as the series including the fact that people are using chessboard’s more because of the coronavirus pandemic. But without a doubt the series was the prime mover.
He said: “This series made the sale of chessboards explode and shortly after the Christmas season started there were a lot of people who wanted to give their loved ones a special, original gift”.
But the success of this company, which only has 14 employees, started years ago as a focus on quality led to them being used increasingly in particular at tournaments which led to them becoming widely known in the chess world.
Their chessboards have been seen in other series and movies over the last few years, and this has been an important part of the business, but it was the Netflix series that really made a huge difference.
So much so that while the company still works in the furniture sector, now the production of chessboards has become one of the most important aspects of their business.
Ferrer explained: “We already had a reputation in the chess world, which was a very small space, but now it has turned into a trending game.”
The main characteristic of these chessboards is the quality of the material used during production, which takes between six to eight weeks per board.
Ferrer said that the process is mostly done by hand and the chessboards cost between EUR 50 to EUR 400 – all made using various natural woods.
First, they select the wood sheets, picking what types of wood to use and therefore what the colours will be. These sheets are later cut and joined in squares. Then the final result is put on a girdle of wood too and then it is pressed before being varnished.
The company has multiple board models. The main difference between them is the wood used. They typically measure between 40 and 60 centimetres (15 and 23 inches), with the larger ones being the ones that are most in demand.