Why is Chess So Popular Right Now
by Rachel Wells
Chess has always been popular – but in the past two years its popularity has grown like never before. Chess is played and enjoyed at every skill level - from Grandmaster to newcomer. And with its easy to learn rules and global reach, chess has been able to regularly pick up steam and add to its fan base.
There are several contributing factors that brought people to chess over the last two years, but here are three major ones:
March of 2020 was a month we probably all remember far too clearly. COVID-19 shut everything down, and the majority of the world was confined to their homes. After TikTok temporarily took over, the pandemic led many people to focus on self-improvement. Chess was seen by many people as an intellectually challenging way to improve themselves while strengthening their minds.
Also during the pandemic, traditional sports were canceled, and watching or participating in chess tournaments became a way to fulfill a competitive desire that many people still had. In-person chess tournaments were canceled, but events were still able to go on online for many to participate in and/or tune in to.
When people suddenly had nothing to do, chess filled the void, and led to an escape from the struggles going on in the world.
Naturally, being stuck indoors for the pandemic led to most of us spending more time than we care to admit online - communicating with each other, connecting with each other, working with each other, and trying to feel a sense of normal. Because you no longer could/needed to find a partner to play with face-to-face, the internet was a key player in opening the door for chess to explode in popularity. Online games, online tournaments, and online classes, connected millions of people to chess that would never have otherwise. Seasoned players also used internet platforms and social media to share their expertise and speak directly to the worldwide chess audience.
The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix
If you haven’t watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix yet, you should! The third most watched TV series of 2020 tells the story of an orphaned girl who becomes a chess champion, while battling through addiction, and the stereotypes that come along with being a female chess player. The show is incredibly relatable, and hopefully encourages more girls to play the still male dominated sport – breaking stereotypes of a ‘traditional’ chess player.
In the first three weeks after the show debuted, sales of chess sets went up by 87 percent, and sales of chess books went up 603 percent!
What was it that brought you to chess? We would love to hear!