Influencers, responsible for chess’s recent explosion in popularity

Photo by Evan Lewis

Seniors Abraham Labban and Tyler Cosgrove play a game of chess on

Pawn to E-4. Rook to A-5. Queen to B-6. Checkmate. All of these phrases are uncommon dialects to the untrained ear. However, after watching or playing a few matches of the ancient game of chess, these tidbits of information make perfect sense. When we entered 2023, we brought with us the revitalization of the 1,500-year-old game of chess. 

Chess is one of the oldest games still played today worldwide. The game consists of a checkered board with juxtaposed light and dark colored squares, with two sets of pieces that each complement the shades of the square on the board. The game is won by capturing the opposing team’s king using your pieces. While the worldwide popularity of chess has always been prevalent on the international stage where the highest skilled players compete, there hasn’t been much of a casual scene up until late 2022. “I learned how to play chess when I was young but I’m not a frequent player of the game,” senior Rahul Chennareddy said.

The explosion of the site took chess to a level of popularity it had never seen before. brought chess to everyone in an accessible format. Whether it is on a phone or laptop, you can play against real players all over the world. All players are given an ELO rating, which is a rating system that shows how good you are at chess. places users in matches with opponents of similar skill level to make fair and enjoyable games for the players. is also free to anyone who wants to play, so there is nothing limiting anyone who has internet access from playing it. It also allows users to play fun game modes that you wouldn’t be able to play on a standard chess board. Four player chess, fog of war and duck chess are examples of some of the fun game variants provides to its users. “I have had a lot of fun playing four player chess with my friends at school and at home,” senior Parker Leibowitz said.

In addition to, influencers with millions of followers have contributed to the rapid growth of chess. Youtube personality GothamChess has amassed over three million subscribers while posting daily chess videos. Professional chess players Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen both have big online presences. Nakamura has 1.8 million subscribers on Youtube and Carlsen has 1 million followers on Instagram, both of them reaching these huge fan bases while competing in professional chess tournaments. “Watching Tik Toks as a chess player is what got me interested in chess,” senior Abraham Labban said. and influencers have helped chess become a worldwide phenomenon as of late, and the ancient game has no plans on slowing down its growth in popularity.