Although chess was invented around 1,500 years ago, the game has been getting plenty of attention recently. Google Trends shows that “Chess,” peaked at its highest in 2023 since 2004.
So, why is chess so popular? And why do plenty of people suddenly have an interest in it? In this article, we’ll delve into all the reasons and unravel the beauty of this game.
Why Is Chess So Popular?
Let’s explore the web of events that pumped up chess’s popularity so much. Starting with the pandemic, and a couple of following events that opened the world’s eyes to the thrill of the game.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, everyone quarantined at home, with nothing to do, starting in March 2020.
Not to mention, all traditional sports, including simply going to the gym or jogging, were no longer available. This led hundreds to seek self-improvement, and chess was an ideal way to do so.
Meanwhile, plenty of tournaments surfaced online, enabling people to compete or simply tune in.
The Power of the Internet
Since in-person tournaments and games were no longer a choice, existing chess players had to connect with others virtually. That’s why online games, competitions, and even classes took a peak.
With plenty of people seeking the game, seasoned players took opportunities to speak of their expertise and strategies, strengthening the digital chess network. Add to that, many streamers took the chance to share their games, which brings us to Pogchamps.
PogChamps is a stream that stars xQc and 15 other chess players. They streamed their games, and though they didn’t have plenty of expertise, they were entertaining. Their curiosity and enthusiasm for the game further enhanced the thrill that others were developing.
Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit
In October 2020, The Queen’s Gambit launched on Netflix, fueling the fire of chess interest. While the series has overall good execution in terms of videography, script, etc., it doesn’t compromise authenticity by faking a chess game scenario—everything is real. Perhaps that’s one of the main reasons the series became so popular that it was Emmy-nominated.
It’s worth mentioning that after the show aired, chess book sales went up by 603%, and chess set sales went up by 87%!
Hooked on the Thrill
Once people experimented with chess a little, they got hooked. While it’s easy to learn how to play chess, it’s one of the most difficult things to master the game.
Despite this simplicity, though, strategizing is an entirely different story. After all, grand masters spend hours on end playing and practicing to compete against each other.
Chess is one of the most readily available board games out there, and you can get it for as little as $20 or $30.
Currently, you can also play chess online completely for free. However, you might run into some cheaters that use AI or human assistance. If you play Blitz and Bullets, you can avoid going through the hassle of stumbling on a cheater. This ends up with you losing points, and later on, getting recompensated should they get caught.
What Are the Most Popular Sources of Chess Online?
If you’re interested in chess, you’ll probably enjoy the digital channels that delve into the game. From educational websites and streams of real-life games to channels that discuss the game.
Chess.com is one of the most popular sources for learning and playing chess. In January, the website witnessed a peak of players, reaching 10 million active members! A huge reason for this is thought to be live-streaming, which was a fun invitation for many to try out their strategies.
On the popular streaming website, Twitch, you’ll find plenty of live streams. We’ve talked about Pogchamps, and Pogcamps 3. The bunch included xQc, Ludwig, MoistCritikal, and Mr. Beast, reaching 376K simultaneous views—a breakthrough in the chess category.
Besides chess streamers, plenty of digital players became chess influencers to spread the word about the game and teach others. Of course, that’s next to being able to make money out of their knowledge.
You can check out BotezLive, GMHikaru, and GothamChess for some interesting strategies, facts, and tactics.
In 2022, these three streamers amassed more than 20M hours of watching, with GMHikaru reaching 12.7M.
Who Invented Chess?
There are conflicting claims when it comes to where chess originated. Some say it was India, while others claim it’s China. Legend says that around 200 B.C., a commander called Han Xin invented chess as a metaphor for an important battle. Then, the game went forgotten until it was reinvented in 7 A.D. with new rules.
When Did AI Start Getting Involved with Chess?
Naturally, scientists and inventors have been trying to get the computer to play the game for as long as computers have existed. However, it was only in 1997 did IBM’s Deep Blue defeat the reigning chess world champion, Kasparov. Ever since then, AI bots have been established in the game, giving us an amazing practicing partner.
Who Are the Most Popular Chess Grandmasters?
Some of the most popular names you’ll hear in the chess world include:
- Adolf Anderssen
- Lionel Kieseritzky
- Donald Byrne
- Bobby Fischer
- Alexander Alekhine
- Emanuel Lasker
- Mikhail Botvinnik
- Garry Kasparov
How Did Chess Get Its Name?
It’s postulated that the game is called “chess” because British merchants mispronounced the Persian “Shah” and “Shah Mat,” which translates into “The king has died” and has been twisted into “Checkmate.”
Chess is currently an excellent way to engage the brain as much as it has been since its creation, so there’s no wonder it piques the interest of many.
It’s a fun way to learn how to strategize and think ahead, and it’s entertaining competition. Whether you’re in it for the brainwork or the fun, the benefits of chess are quite countless.