The teen’s gambit: Chess is cool again

The “Queen’s Gambit” moment may have passed, but for millions of young people, the game is still only heating up.

Did you log on to after watching Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” just to make sure you weren’t an undiscovered chess prodigy?


Us, too (we weren’t, so we’re still writing this newsletter). But, according to The New York Times, the youths persevered with the hobby long after we toppled our queens.

And we’re not just talking a handful of nerds

Since November, the number of daily active users has surged from 5.4m to 11m+.

  • The biggest growth came from players ages 13-17, and 549k of them used the site in January and February (18-24 is the second-fastest-growing age group).
  • A site record of 31.7m chess games were played on Jan. 20.

While lets users play for free, paid plans ranging from $4.17 to $10/mo. offer features like educational videos, unlimited lessons and puzzles, and game reviews.

What’s driving the surge?

It started how most trends do — with influencers. In 2020, the site began hosting tournaments with prominent influencers like xQc, Ludwig, and MrBeast.

Then came the chess streamers: GothamChess, GMHikaru, and Alexandra Botez have millions of followers who watch their live Twitch streams for thousands of hours each week.

And, in December, acquired the Play Magnus Group, a chess company founded by world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Plus, the chess tea is piping hot

There’s Hans Niemann’s butt controversy, the ongoing beef between him and Carlsen, and the World Chess Championship, happening in Kazakhstan right now. And, of course, Mittens the cat.

If all of that’s not enough to blow your mind, we present to you: chess boxing.

Topics: Games

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