A Cyber Gambit: Students discover the ancient game of chess online


Daniel Sullivan

Junior Jackson Burroughs boots up a game of online chess during class. Burroughs is one of many students who have recently discovered the ancient game through websites like Chess.com.

Daniel Sullivan, Contributer

To play a traditional game of chess, all a person needs is a board and a partner. For junior Julius Lopez, however, all he needs to do is open his laptop. Lopez is one of many teenagers who are gaining chess experience through online websites and chess content.

“I open chess.com and I do the daily puzzle and my daily puzzles every day,” Lopez said. “It really helps me to open some new doors to tactics for me.”

Lopez said that not only does he gain skill from online sources like Youtube and TikTok, but he was also introduced to chess online. 

“A big thing that launched the popularity of chess was YouTube and chess.com because people would just make a brilliant move, and they would want other people to see it,” Lopez said.

Chess is booming now more than ever. According to Chess.com, the website went from seven million members on December 31st, 2022 to 10 million members on January 20, 2023. Chess.com traffic has nearly doubled since the “Queen’s Gambit” released on Netflix, and the game only grows hotter through various content creators and celebrities on social media. 

Junior Jackson Burroughs said that he was also introduced to chess through social media, and he’s glad he got into it because it has made him a better problem solver in his day-to-day life. 

“It just helps you think through problems more and think of more different ways to get through one thing,” Burroughs said. “There’s not only one way to win a game. There’s just lots of different ways that you can put different things together, and it gets the victory in the end.”

With each player having 16 pieces, there are numerous moving parts to the game and a wide variety of strategies that can be implemented. Junior Connor Neenan said that one of the most important facets of the game is to keep a wide view of the board. 

“My advice would be to not be tunnel visioned by one piece,” Neenan said. “I need to look at the whole board and look at every, every different way to solve different problems.”

Burroughs attributes the success of chess to its rich history and the endearing challenge it presents to every new player. 

“We know it’s a timeless classic,” Burroughs said. “It’s been around for a really long time. I think that the reason that it’s so popular is because it’s been around for so long, and it’s such a simple but hard game.”

Burroughs also mentioned that it can be a challenge to learn such a difficult game, and that his trial-and-error method has helped him learn, even when he finds himself in a dead lost position.

“I will just try to finish the game,” Burroughs said.” “You know, if I play another game, I just kind of think about what I did last time and if it didn’t work, I try to avoid getting that same position. I just try to move a different piece. The hard part is learning what to do in different situations.”

Lopez mentioned how difficult it can be to keep track of everything on the board, especially if he isn’t well focused on the ever-changing position of the game he is playing. 

“I do not stay focused during a game of chess,” Lopez said. “That’s why I usually only play five-minute games. A big mental skill that would be important for success in the game is staying focused, and that’s probably why my rating isn’t as high as it could be.”

Lopez said that chess has transformed and advanced his way of thinking in a way that couldn’t have been possible by any other method.

“With chess, the more puzzles you see and the more games you play, it really just shows you how to think in a different way than you normally would,” Lopez said. “Through the different ways of thinking, you can win a game.”