Jackie Su (she/her)

Chess club’s senior Vice president Liam Shalom captures senior President Roan Howard’s queen during an intense chess match in the library after school.

Check out the chess trend

Mar 27, 2023

Since its creation in the sixth century, chess has been one of the world’s most popular games. Recently, this strategic board game has experienced a comeback, especially among teenagers. Students can be spotted playing online and over-the-board chess in the library, cafeteria, hallways and even during class. This chess renaissance can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as quarantine, social media and news coverage, which have created what some social media users are calling the “chess trend.”

Stuck at home with nothing to do during the pandemic, many people turned their interest to chess. In Oct. 2020, millions of households watched the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is about an orphaned chess prodigy who becomes the greatest chess player in the world. The show caused a surge in chess interest that has not been seen in decades and doubled chessboard sales in 2020.

“Everything was shifted online, and so was chess,” said sophomore Kairui Cheng (he/him), who started playing when he was seven years old. “So it made chess more accessible — you don’t need to have a chess board in order to play. All you need is internet access.”

Cheng believes the recent influx of chess players can be ascribed to the accessibility of online chess. An influx of chess streamers and content creators, like xQc and Ludwig, contributed to the trend by popularizing the game to a wider audience. Averaging around 100,000 viewers, these influencers, whose audience mainly consists of teenagers, played a key role in this phenomenon.

“I feel like chess reached the media. I know some people on Twitch are doing chess. I know YouTubers are getting bigger, and I feel like it’s expanding from the niche,” said senior Roan Howard (he/him), who is President of the school’s chess club. “It’s more of a thing that everyone can go on and play. It’s reaching different communities, which I think is good.”

Overhead view of Roan Howard and Liam Shalom’s chess game. (Jackie Su (she/her))

Howard believes that this trend will continue because the game is timeless and universal. The chess trend kept going even after COVID-19 restrictions lifted, and people were no longer stuck inside; chess clubs are as active as ever. In fact, the game became so popular that, the biggest chess website, experienced a server overload in Jan. 2023 due to the sheer number of people online — at one point reaching 20 million in a day.

“Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few fads,” said Cheng. “I mean, chess has been popular for thousands of years, but we’ve seen fidget spinners and like the late 2010s, Clash Royale, which I don’t see that much anymore. But mainly, when I walk around, I see people with open, so I’m not sure if it’s going to stick around. So we’ll see.”

Mya Vo (she/her)

In fact, Cheng said he prefers online chess over in-person.

“There’s a lot more flexibility involved. It’s just a better environment for me to focus, I guess,” said Cheng.

Sophomore Isak Lowe (he/him) said that even though he plays other video games, he believes chess is better for students because it’s healthier and teaches skills that can be applied to the real world. It’s also fast to set up and can be played almost anywhere, making it more convenient than many video games. Lowe said that he plays chess whenever, sometimes during lunch, a break or at home. In the end, chess is simply a fun and portable game that’s been keeping people entertained for millennia.

“It’s fun. Lots of possibilities and lots of different combinations. It’s kind of like you’re the mastermind of a plan to basically pummel your enemy into submission,” said Cheng.

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Weiju Wang (he/him), Co-Copy Editor

Junior Weiju Wang is heading into his third year in Nordic and second year as a copy editor. He’s excited to work with everyone on staff and continue...

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Daniel Su (he/him), News Editor, Senior PR Manager

Junior Daniel Su is hyped for his second year on Nordic as news editor and Senior PR Manager. This year, he is looking to improve his writing and reporting...

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Jackie Su (she/her), Co-Editor-in-Chief

Senior Jackie Su is the Co-Editor in Chief of Nordic News. Outside of Nordic, she is also Co-President of DECA and a victim of the IB program. This year,...

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Mya Vo (she/her), Design Editor

Senior Mya Vo is a reporter for Nordic News during the 2022-2023 school year. Her goal this year for Nordic is to learn more about writing articles and...

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