Chess sees post-pandemic resurgence among Lane students

Kailee Melendez

Sophomores Ava Gurolla and Patrick Gray playing chess on

By Kailee Melendez

In a gloomy advisory classroom with little to no noise sits a group of boys playing a strategic and competitive game of cat and mouse, where the king must avoid being captured to ensure the game’s continuation. 

Chess is a game of strategic precision where two players battle it out until one player’s king can no longer be moved; also known as checkmate. Chess has recently hit a major spike in popularity. According to Google Trends, from the past 12 months, chess began to increase in searches around January of this year. The long time online chess hub,, has even been recently experiencing major server issues due to the sheer volume of online players. According to the official twitter account, the servers were down on March 17 due to the total mass of users on the platform.

This spike in popularity can be seen amongst Lane students as well.

So why have more Lane Tech students started playing chess?

Students have cited TikTok, along with influence from friends, as primary forces that pushed them to start playing the game of chess.

For sophomore Jackson Hutchinson, TikTok was a major factor in influencing him to start playing. 

I started seeing it on social media. And I kind of just started to try it out for myself. And I thought it was pretty interesting,” Hutchinson said. He recalls seeing videos about chess as far back as November, coinciding with the beginning of the upward trend of searches for chess within the last twelve months.

Sophomore Theo Moss was also influenced. However this influence came from his friends. 

“[I started playing] because all my friends played and I wanted to be like them,” Moss said. “They influenced me a lot because we wanted to have something in common to do during the quarantine. We had nothing so chess was that thing,”

Other students, however, began playing as a way to connect with friends over quarantine, but have become more avid in the game recently.  Sophomore Youssef Assrour started playing over quarantine to interact with friends while at home. 

“Mainly quarantine because I had nothing to do during online school,” Assrour said. 

This influx during quarantine could be because of the popularity of the chess themed Netflix show “The Queen’s Gambit.” The first increase of searches happened in 2020; this was the first time that chess has reached this level of searches in the last five years. “The Queen’s Gambit” spike in popularity coincides with the increase in the searches for chess at the time according to Google Trends, likely contributing to the increase in popularity of chess over quarantine.

Why is chess appealing?

Sophomore Ava Gurolla said that the strategic nature of the game is a prime component in its success and in why it has become so appealing to those who play regularly. 

“I think the appeal is that it relies heavily on strategy, and if you like that, it’s a really good outlet for that and it’s also just a fun game, and I think it’s really satisfying to play and win or lose,” said Gurolla.

Similarly, Ben Garcia finds the game is interesting because of its strategic side. 

“I don’t know. I just always thought it was fun, like learning the different strategies because I’m not great at chess, but I’m better than a lot of other people. And I think it’s really fun to beat them because then they get all excited about it,” Garcia said.

The strategic side of the game contributes to the popularity of the game and that appeals to the Lane Tech students who play.

“I think that Lane is like the perfect environment — it’s a large school, and there’s plenty of smart kids to try and learn to play the game,” Hutchinson said.

Chess may foster a competitive and aggressive environment; however, this environment is still lighthearted and fun. 

According to Assrour, chess is like any other video game in the way that it inspires competition and sometimes anger between players. However, this competition does not last long after the game concludes and the players go back to being nice and friendly.

Chess has swept the nation gaining the mass attention and popularity from the younger generations. The appeal came in two different forms, the first of which was quarantine where many students desperately wanted to entertain themselves while cooped up in their homes and isolated from their friends. The second appeal came through the use of Tik Tok with many first beginning to see videos towards the end of the year.