Netflix released “The Queen’s Gambit,” a series about a chess prodigy’s rise from basement chess matches to global acclaim, in late October.
Since the show debuted, chess sets have flown off the shelves and online chess sites have seen an influx of users.
But amidst the growth in popularity, online platform Chess.com has seen another surge: cheating.
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Following the release of Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” in late October, a legion of fans across the world decided to pick up the ancient game of chess. But a little more than a month since the chess craze began, Chess.com is seeing another trend, too: a rise in cheating.
Chess.com closed more accounts in November due to fair play violations than ever before, according to the website. In November alone, the site closed more 18,511 accounts for cheating. News of the uptick was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“The recent wave of new players who have discovered their passion for chess on Chess.com since The Queen’s Gambit’s release has been truly humbling for us,” wrote Nick Barton, Director of Business Development at Chess.com, in an email to Business Insider. “We will continue to evolve our fair play technology to ensure that Chess.com remains the top destination to play and learn chess for players of all skill levels.”
In the wake of the show’s popularity, Goliath Games, which supplies chess sets to Walmart, saw sales increase over 1,000%, NPR reported. Chess.com set a record for new user signups nearly every day in November, Business Insider previously reported. And The New York Times even published an instructional manual for how to make an origami set at home, for those unable to find the board game in stores.
Chess.com embraced the new influx of users, even allowing online players to compete against a Beth Harmon-bot, Business Insider previously reported. To catch cheaters, the site deploys algorithms that can compare player moves to those recommended by popular chess bots, or even detect when a player diverges from their usual patterns of play, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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“Developing effective fair play detection methods is a complicated process. Chess.com uses proprietary technology combined with many years of expertise as well as a significant investment of time and resources to create a safe and fair playing environment for our members,” Barton wrote in a statement to Business Insider.
“The Queen’s Gambit” follows the life of Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Harmon starts off playing basement games of chess in the orphanage where she lives and later rises through the ranks of the chess world, facing elite opponents as well as her own demons.
The seven-episode show has topped Nielsen’s streaming charts for three weeks straight and users have watched a collective 1.4 billion minutes of the show globally, according to Deadline.
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