Pawns of the Frenzy

Due to current media, chess, a nearly 1,500 year old board game, is as popular as ever.

Ike Venter, Staff Wriiter

Chess is a strategic board game played between two players with the goal of capturing the opposing king. While the game of chess is quite literally ancient, it is not irrelevant. Thanks to recent media, it is more popular than ever, and has even grown a large following here at JHS.

During the pandemic, The Queen’s Gambit, a show about chess, was released on Netflix. With an abundance of free time and an openness to trying new things for the sake of entertainment, many people decided to start playing chess.

“I feel like what mostly brought it into my view, and like, made me start thinking about it again was when The Queen’s Gambit came out and that’s a big thing for a lot of people because I think it had hundreds of millions of viewers … I think that kinda started it for everyone really, or at least started making chess more on the mainstream,” explained Zakry Sakris ‘23.

Joel Peterson ‘24 discovered chess through Youtube and Twitch.

“I watched people play it and it looked fun so I eventually played it and I got really interested in it,” Peterson explained

Many new players began to play chess on a website (and app) called It allows players to play chess from anywhere, with anyone, from their personal devices. made chess very accessible to play and has kept people engaged and playing. So much so, that in January of 2023,’s servers could not handle the amount of new active players causing the site to crash. is a possible distraction in classrooms, but Sakris believes that if was blocked from school servers, students would replace it with less beneficial distractions.

“Let’s say if they did block chess, people would just switch to something else, right? You block chess, you’re going to have someone just playing some dumb game online… I feel like chess is much more beneficial,” Sakris explained

According to, playing chess improves critical thinking, memory, and even improves ADHD symptoms.

Many content creators, who had not previously created chess content, began to learn how to play in front of their audiences. This exposed many viewers, who had not previously watched chess content, to the game.

“There’s been a lot more success with content creators of chess, just on Youtube, TikTok, and Twitch… I believe there was this one tournament recently with huge viewership numbers. I believe it was called PogChamps, and what it was, it was a bunch of Twitch streamers all learning how to play chess and playing against each other in a tournament and that also blew it up,” said Sakris. 

There is a common stereotype surrounding chess players, believing that they are ‘nerds’ or ‘geeks’. Until recently, it seems that chess has become popular among all groups of students.

“I’ve noticed that some of the groups that you might not typically expect to play a game like chess have been playing it. Like, some of the more like, ‘athletes’ or ‘jocks’ have been playing it,” Joel Moorman ‘23 said

Chess differs from other board games in the way that it allows players to have complete control over the game. Leaving nothing up to chance means that it is entirely up to the skill of the player, which is very appealing to those with a more competitive nature.

“I think the reason I can get into chess, and I think most people can get into chess more than a game like Monopoly, Life and traditional board games is because you have complete control over the entire story of a game of chess, in comparison to a game of Monopoly … because when you’re playing Monopoly, at least when I play now, I just think to myself, ‘well it’s really the dice playing it’s not me anymore’,” Peterson explained.

The game might not have randomness, but between the 64 squares and the 32 pieces on the board, the game has a near infinite amount of replayability.

“For me, I just like playing the game, all the different possibilities and things that can happen when you play,” Moorman said. 

Chess is a fun hobby that people can learn, enjoy and endlessly improve on.

“I just think it’s a good thing to be good at … it’s not really something where it can ever really be useless, right? It’s just a fun little hobby,” Sakris said.

Mr. Dowell hosts chess club after school every Tuesday. Bring your own board and go to room 307 if you are interested.