Once A-Pawn a Time, In Hollywood

trendsPastel blazers and loafers without socks made their debut on the style scene in the 80s thanks to Miami Vice. Hairstylists across the country grew familiar with “The Rachel” hairstyle as seen on Friends character Rachel Green. Infomercial products are now household names (Snuggie, anyone?). TV shows and movies have even influenced our food choices, from the early days of TV when Popeye the Sailor Man skyrocketed spinach sales, to more recent trends like when Stranger Things caused a wave of Eggo Waffle purchases.

Yes, we can thank Hollywood for countless fashion trends, food fads, and lifestyle movements. One of the most recent instances of this TV trend-setting phenomenon happened after the premier of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, and it’s been coined ‘The Queen’s Gambit Effect’.

If you have not yet seen The Queen’s Gambit, consider this your spoiler alert. The popular series documents the fictional life of Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy from her very first game. While she navigates complex relationships and personal traumas, we watch Harmon perfect her craft right up until her final international chess championship game. In the months since The Queen’s Gambit first aired on Netflix, not only was the show named Netflix’s most-watched scripted limited series, but chess board purchases, online chess game participation, and chess interest from new demographic groups have all soared. Recently, an amateur chess tournament on a gaming platform called Twitch became the most-watched chess event in history, and the show has been the subject of countless internet memes.


My 12-year-old daughter, Chloe, hasn’t seen The Queen’s Gambit. But, nevertheless, she recently gained a newfound interest in chess along with millions of others. Like most children and young adults, Chloe has explored a number of hobbies over the years. We’ve supported her as best we can, thankful for the skills she gains from each of her new pursuits.

When she asked to join the chess club at her school, I was fully on board (pun intended) and drove her to every 7:30 am practice. While there were some aspects of chess playing that Chloe enjoyed, she decided to quit chess club after a semester of involvement, pivoting to put all of her energy into soccer instead.

As a parent, you don’t want to pressure your kids like those intense pageant moms and baseball dads we all hear about. It’s important to give our kids the space to learn, change, and try out new things so they can find their true passions, but it sure can be painful to watch them grow out of things that bring us joy, too.

trendsFor those of us who have been around the block a few times, we might be slower to pick trends up, but we’re also slower to put them down. Chloe’s short-lived interest in chess reawakened my interest in the game. Her instructor told me about chess.com, a site where I can log on for a quick match with players from around the world who match my skill level (which is far from master level!). I’ve really been enjoying it as a way to exercise my mind and unwind at the end of a long day.

A game that traces back 1,500 years, chess is here to stay. It teaches thought, patience, and strategy. I think it’s fantastic that Hollywood inadvertently brought it to the lives of many others this past year. I plan to continue playing nightly chess games while Chloe bends it like Beckham this spring. If you’re on chess.com, let me know! And, if you’ve ever been influenced by a Hollywood fad, I’d love to walk with you down Memory Lane. Just hit reply.

Fuel for thought,