Chess does not seem like a popular trend to be hitting college students, especial in a period of time where technology rules all. However, if one takes a good look around Drew’s campus, it does not take long to find a multitude of players engrossed in their own games. This comes as a stark difference compared to the 2021-2022 school year, when chess was rarely brought up in conversation, much less advertised in events. Yet as students came back from winter break, there seemed to be chess around every corner. So what brought on this chess frenzy?
An article from the New York Times blames the hit Netflix show “The Queen’s Gambit” starring Anya Taylor-Joy for the country’s increased interest in chess. However, that show came out in 2020 during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. When confined to the home, it makes sense that people would dust off their old boards to engage in a mentally stimulating game to escape their boredom. But now we have entered 2023, and strict COVID-19 protocols have almost completely disappeared. With trends usually appearing and dissipating within a matter of months, it seems unlikely that “The Queen’s Gambit” would have held its grip on Drew students for so long. So what else is at play?
It could be argued that the growing recognition of Chess.com, an online and mobile chess platform, is the reason behind Drew’s chess boom. The same New York Times article mentioned that in the past three years, Chess.com had “their number of monthly active users double from roughly 8 million to nearly 17 million.” Instant online chess matches eliminate the hassle of finding in-person opponents, thus making the game more accessible to players who can boot up a game whenever they want. This, combined with a growing amount of chess memes that have begun to circulate the internet because of the increased interest in chess. This breeds a perfect mixture for chess to reach the younger generation.
So what does this mean for Drew? One notable outcome of Drew’s new chess obsession includes the awareness of the campus chess club, which has already begun hosting tournaments for students who compete for grand prizes. With some winnings as valuable as $100 gift cards, Drew’s chess club will be attracting more players to come.
For those interested in being a part of the Chess Club, reach out to Selvin Gonzalez, the club’s president and founder, at email@example.com.
Jo is a sophomore majoring in psychology and gender studies.