The Creative’s Gambit

The Netflix hit series The Queen’s Gambit has brought chess back into the limelight. Here, ad creative Marta Morientes – an avid chess player in her youth – explains how the game has helped her to be a better creative

Has anyone else ever had a Happy Meal that changed their life? Odd question I know, but I have. As a young girl I travelled a lot with my father and brother while my brother competed in chess tournaments around Spain and Europe. I never had any real interest in competing myself until I was offered a free Happy Meal in exchange for entering a tournament in Lisbon. From that day on I spent almost the entirety of my teenage years playing chess; classes on weekdays, tournaments on weekends and national competitions every year. We even had chess team tracksuits. I guess you could say those five chicken nuggets changed my life.

It’s not something I speak about often as I’m aware that for people who aren’t interested in chess – and there are a lot of them – it’s probably boring. And while so much of my young life revolved around the chess board, that passion eventually drifted slightly and was replaced by my true love for advertising.

Yet, as I sat bingeing Netflix’s latest phenomenon the Queen’s Gambit last week, I began to see the similarities between how I would handle a game of chess and how I approach each brief, particularly at the idea conception stage. Below I will explain how the three stages of a chess game mirror the three stages I go through when conceiving ideas. For the purpose of this article I will be describing the client and/or the brief as ‘the opponent’.