Why Is EVERYONE Playing Chess?

 It’s no secret that the world was on lockdown for the better part of 2020. During that time, chess boomed in popularity due to a combination of being trapped indoors, lots of free time and the Netflix hit show The Queen’s Gambit. As COVID measures loosened up and people started getting out of the house, the game apparently lost some traction. However, in 2023 chess is greeting an unprecedented number of newcomers whose interest in the game is fueled by memes, Twitch streamers and, perhaps most importantly, a famous scandal surrounding a player, Grandmaster Hans Niemann, who allegedly cheated against the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and was accused by the latter of cheating. While the methods used by the accused remain unclear, it was jokingly speculated by the chess community that Niemann used anal beads that vibrated to tell him the right moves. Of course, this theory devolved into an endless wave of memes and even ended up being covered by mainstream media.

Chess has always been portrayed in media as a game of intelligence, cunning and strategy, worthy of geniuses and savants. For the better part of its existence, it was relatively hard to get into it with much more easily accessible and vastly more popular sports and entertainment options. Today, thanks to the Internet, it is possible to hop on a match instantaneously on websites such as Chess.com or Lichess. Players are matched with other players of similar Elo (the rating system used to measure a player’s strength) and are able to progress accordingly. The rules of the game are fairly easy to grasp. But under that veil of simplicity hides a complex game that will capture your mind for hours on end and to which many brilliant minds have devoted their lives, mesmerized by its infinite beauty.

If you wish to try your hand at the game, it’s as easy as creating an account for one of the above-mentioned websites and getting your game on. At John Abbott you can catch people playing at the Agora, usually on Fridays. Watch out though, some of them are really strong. A Chess Club meets on Mondays from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Herzberg – 217. If you’re a chess player, no matter whether old or new, you should definitely CHECK it out.