The Rise of Chess


Ceejay Jacobs, Staff Writer

Chess is a head-to-head strategy game with an army of pieces used to trap your opponent’s king. While the goal may seem simple, there are endless decisions to be made. Should I attack, defend, capture, or maybe call it a draw? Chess is built around the unlimited elements of puzzles, strategies, and plans to coordinate your pieces to the best squares. For a game lasting over a millennium, chess has seen its greatest rise in popularity over the last three years. How can such an old game stay so popular?

The Beginning of a Boom

October 23rd, 2020 marked the beginning of the chess boom when Netflix released the award winning show, The Queen’s Gambit. The show is about Beth Harmon, a girl chess prodigy struggling with drug addiction. She’s constantly learning and growing as a person, and on the chess board. Her goal was to become the best chess player. This series was positively received and led to a surge of popularity in chess-related gifts, including chess sets. According to the New York Times, eBay was recorded with a 215% increase in chess sets and accessories since the debut of the Queen’s Gambit. This sudden surge in popularity sparked the start of the chess boom on, a mainstream site for streaming games. Popular streamers like xQc, Pokimane, Ludwig, and even Mr. Beast began streaming their chess journeys online to their millions of followers. The most popular chess website,, saw this growing interest in the game and created PogChamps. PogChamps is an exclusive tournament filled with streamers and celebrities. The event blew viewership numbers through the roof becoming the #1 game on Twitch. According to, viewership of PogChamps reached a monstrous 165,000 viewers. continued PogChamps for the following years, inviting more and more celebrities such as mainstream rapper Logic, popular comedian and actor from the Office Rainn Wilson, and professional poker player Daniel Negreanu. ended the final PogChamps 4 with a peak viewership of 375,000 viewers.

Chess to the Next Level


Chess has never seen such a rise in players so quickly. The continuous passion of content creators and celebrities push chess to a whole new level. Soccer fans were thrilled for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, especially when an image of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo playing chess was campaigned. The campaign was widely adored for it’s soccer stars and for its authentic history behind the chess position. One ambitious streamer saw the opportunity to raise the bar of chess entertainment even higher. On December 11th, 2022, YouTube star Ludwig hosted the Mogul Chess boxing Championship event live in a 10,000 seat arena. Chess boxing is the art of mastering the mind and body. Players would take turns playing quick rounds of chess and boxing in order to either checkmate them on the chess board or to knock them out in the ring. It’s the perfect balance of physical and mental strength. Ludwig also streamed the event on YouTube, inviting many streamers and content creators to net a staggering 280,000 average viewers with a total of 3.7 million views.

The #1 Reason Chess is Growing

As chess begins to quickly grow around the Edgewood community, the ultimate motivator for students to get into chess is through their friends. Yabo Luo, 10, has recently started playing chess because of his friend group consistently inviting him to play.

“I’ve noticed my friends starting to play and thought that I should give it a try…without my friends, I wouldn’t even think about playing the game,” Yabo said.

His peers not only invited him to a fun group hangout, but to a potential new hobby to enjoy. Callahan Johnson, 10, was reinvigorated to start playing again based on his past experiences.

“I used to play chess with my grandfather…[and] playing chess reminded me of those days and how much fun I had,” Johnson said.

Callahan was hit with nostalgia when he remembered his past experiences with family relatives, bringing back the spark of his true love for the game. Iain MacLean, 10, had a vastly different motivator than other students.

“Chess to me seemed like a gentleman’s game, almost like playing chess made me more of a man. I feel like I need to learn chess to grow smarter and [to] not fall behind.” said MacLean.

Social norms seemed to be developing as more people began their chess journey. The idea of peer pressure and connectivity among friends and family is crucial for starting not only chess, but any hobby. Chess seems like an activity most enjoyed by friends and family, not for whoever won or lost, but for the fun experiences and memories they’ve had with their friends. Friends may start playing chess on their own time to grow stronger and better at the game. Chess can become competitive really quick, and it’s the best feeling to know that you’re the best in the friend group. The popularity of chess has grown so large; the development of social norms are being created. This smart, yet fun game may turn into a contest of who’s the smarter person or the “greater man.” It’s only a matter of time before chess becomes the standard bonding game in every friend group.

How Do I Start Playing?

A great way to begin your chess journey is by joining the Edgewood Chess Club. Members engage in tournaments, play and learn with friends, and play different variants of chess, such as bughouse. For more information, visit Mr. Worcester’s room (6-101). To practice at home, playing online on sites like, or will help you train anywhere, anytime. If you’re feeling competitive, there are plenty of local tournaments, including a monthly space coast chess tournament. Local tournaments usually last for an average school day with five rounds playing against other locals with similar skill ratings. Tournaments have an entry fee to enter, but finishing top three in the open section will earn you a profit, including a $100 1st place finish.

How Do I Improve?

To improve, analyze your moves in a game, and compare it to the best moves made by a computer engine. Analyzing your moves with a chess engine such as Stockfish 15 on reveals ideas and plans you may have missed. While engines show accurate moves, understanding why these are the best moves can still a mystery at times. Be careful when navigating with an engine because some ideas are very complex and can’t be understood for over ten moves in the future. Improvement comes from practice and repetition through pattern recognition found in your games. Practicing your games with friends or playing online will build on your pattern recognition and will make ideas much clearer. Asking for help from friends is another way to understand your mistakes and improve from them. Since chess is a solo game, DO NOT receive help from an engine or other people when playing. Using any outside assistance to help yourself win a game is unsportsmanlike and could get you banned in as little as 24 hours.