Online Chess Becomes Popular


Courtesy of Jennifer Beach

Thomas Nguyen (9) and Mutazim Elmi (9) play online chess together during some downtime in class.

Whether at home or in school, everybody is playing chess. In recent years, the chess community has experienced a massive surge in popularity, gaining millions of new members around the world. Up until recently, the game was only enjoyed by a select few. These are some of the factors that led to its popularity.

One of the primary reasons behind the popularity of chess was the rise in chess streaming.  Youtube and Twitch are two of the biggest streaming platforms on the internet. The success of streamers such as Super Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura and GothamChess have led many new players to try the game.

The release of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix in 2020 was another big turning point for the chess community. The captivating show was centered around a young female chess prodigy and her journey to the top. The show was streamed by 62 million households worldwide in the first 28 days of its release.

Chess is fun, but the best players have always wanted to compete. To reach the top you have to win the World Chess Championship. In the most recent World Chess Championship, Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren faced Russian Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi; it was an exciting match with twists and turns at every end. The analysis of YouTubers and streamers as mentioned above made it fun even for the newest players.

Chess’s resurgence can also be attributed to the mental and educational benefits that it can provide. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, chess has actually been proven to keep Alzheimer’s at bay, a disease that is linked with memory. An improved memory is one of the proven benefits of chess along with the ability to improve concentration.

“Chess has benefited me by increasing my concentration and also my memory,” said Sagar Kapadia (9).