Chess is becoming more accessible and prominent at WHS


Students play chess in the WHS library. PHOTO/Kate Lemons

Will Cahill, Staff writer

The game of chess has been around for thousands of years, and there are many people at WHS who have been playing the game for almost a decade. Recently, the game is attracting even more interest among the student body, and with this increasing popularity, one can find students playing in study halls, the library and even the cafeteria during almost every block.

   This spike has been caused by a number of factors, including chess having a large base of players that play on and off, as well as some recent controversy and popular influencers participating in chess matches. 

   Theo Luu, senior and chess club captain, has been a chess player for many years. 

   “There’s a ton of chess content online for those who want to get into chess now,” said Luu.“On YouTube, GothamChess has created a lot of viral content that explains beginner opening traps and tactics that have gained a lot of attention. Other creators I watch to learn chess include Daniel Naroditsky, Eric Rosen and Robert Ramirez.”

   Luu, who has played the game for many years, has his own ideas about why chess is so enjoyable. 

   “I think a lot of people may have tried the game out after seeing something about it online, and it’s definitely an easy game to continue playing. It’s also an interesting game to play that is a way of having an ‘intellectual duel’ with your friends.”

   Loads of people are enjoying playing chess in the WHS library, due to the new chess sets that have been added. This has helped introduce new people to the game, as well as continue rivalries among players and friends. 

   One major chess tournament involving streamers called Pogchamps Four, gained the game extensive popularity throughout the summer and into this school year. Streamers and popular influencers such as Mr. Beast participated to win a 100,000 dollar prize pool. 

   Lucas Scully-Power, freshman and one of the winners of the February Blitz Lunch Tournament hosted by the WHS Chess Club, believes that streamers growing the game has been crucial to its success. 

   “Chess has become popular because Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Levy Rozman are [streaming and creating chess content daily],” Scully-Power said. 

   Chess has a large base on social media platforms, from an average streamer to the current world’s best all livestreaming the game. 

   Initially, chess began gaining traction during Covid, for chess became available online in short or long formats and provided a way for friends to connect virtually. It was also key that the Netflix series, “Queen’s Gambit,” became a major entertainment sensation.  It was the number one show on Netflix for 28 days, and accumulated 62 million viewers. This led to more people being interested in the game and eventually more people picking it up and playing it.  

   Luu has also noted this linking between pop culture and chess.

   “The most popular social media post in 2022 was a photo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo [soccer players] playing chess,” said senior Theo Luu. 

   Another reason for chess’s popularity is the influencer and kickboxing world champion, Andrew Tate’s chess matches. played a match against Piers Morgan, on his own late night talk show, Piers Morgan Uncensored. This chess match gained millions of viewers on Youtube, in addition to those watching live on TV. In Tate’s second match, on Adin Ross’s Twitch channel with 150,000 live viewers, and $20,000 on the line, Tate came out on top, just as he did against Morgan. 

   While chess may not yet match the popularity of video games and other forms of entertainment, for many at WHS, it is becoming a popular option to pass a free block or just to connect with friends.