Chess madness takes over in Burroughs classrooms


Contributed Photo

Juniors Isaac Eggleston and Sam Andrus (seated center) gather with their friends before school to complete a quick online chess match.

Amanda Ngo, Production Editor

Chess has been around for centuries, but if you have been around campus lately, you might find the game has grown massively in popularity.

Wherever we look,we see pulled up on someone’s computer screen. The popularity seems to be crossing grade levels and social groups, and it is not just at Burroughs. If the internet is anything to go off of, chess is more popular than ever. A glance at Google Trends shows that web searches for chess are at an all-time high. This begs the question: why has it become so popular?

Looking at the web search analytics, chess began to rise in popularity around September 2020, lining up with the pandemic lockdown and promotion of “The Queen’s Gambit,” a Netflix show centering around a chess prodigy. This alignment of events was perfect for chess’s popularity: “The Queen’s Gambit” unearthed the game to pop culture and the masses, allowing people to socialize and connect without the need for face-to-face interaction.

The appeal of the game has outlasted lockdown, however.

“It’s a well-designed game, with so many different outcomes and a balanced layout that makes it hard to win without truly outsmarting your opponent,” said senior Thomas Wonnacott. “The era of video games that are almost primarily competitive player v. player games has turned the current generation back to chess, one of the original player v. player games.”

Social media has played a part in introducing the game to a wider audience, too.

“I think a big reason why chess is getting more popular is because it’s been showing up on everyone’s TikTok feed,” said junior Andy Bui.

Indeed, with 9.3 billion views, it takes just one glance under Tiktok’s “#chess” tag to see the game’s popularity. Social media videos cover many aspects of the game: strategy, gameplay, and even scandals, such as that between grandmasters Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann in Sept. 2022.

Chess is a unique game that is simple to learn but still has its complexities. As a board game, it is easy and accessible to play and can be played online or in person.

“I’ve been playing chess since kindergarten,” said junior Kelvin Panergo. “It’s a classic game and great to play with friends.”

Chess’s longevity is indicative of what makes it so great. It offers players a way to build analytical and critical-thinking skills, forcing players to think ahead and work under pressure.

As a social and strategic game, chess is a game that never gets old, and its popularity does not show signs of fizzling out anytime soon.