The Rise Of Chess

Why did it become so popular all of a sudden?

By: Oliver Tabbal, Journalist

Online chess has gained a lot of popularity starting in October 2022, and it is still growing as of February 2023., the premiere online chess website hit 10 million active members playing daily, with 30 million games played in a single day at the peak. With such big numbers, there is plenty reason for this insane jump.

The first and most important reason for this blow up is their new computer to play against Mittens. Mittens is a seemingly unassuming cat who appears to have one elo, which is’s rating system. When you were to play against Mittens in a game of chess, they would reveal that they were actually the smartest chess engine in the world, with about 3000 elo, destroying anyone who tried. As one might expect, this caused a huge spike in’s player count from everyone wanting to try out this new bot. Youtube videos featuring Mittens were gathering millions and millions of views, such as the video above this article. The most amazing thing about this spike is that it didn’t wear off after Mittens was removed from the website, and in fact stayed about the same.


There were also some other factors towards online chess’s rise to fame. The most popular social media post of 2022 featured Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi playing chess, which sparked some newfound interest for the game. On December 12, 2022, there was a major Youtuber chessboxing event that had more than 300,000 live viewers at one point. There was also a major cheating scandal which involved speculation of a cheating device that vibrated to give someone the most optimal move to play. This was sparked when Magnus Carlsen quit a game against Hans Niemann after just one move, and the rumors only grew from there. Gifts of chess boards and other chess related items for Christmas might have also contributed to chess’s rise to fame.

Chessboard - Wikipedia

There are plenty of reasons why chess has gottten so big in the past couple of months. January 2023 is the biggest month for online chess of all time so far, the only thing coming close was the release of The Queen’s Gambit in 2020 and the lockdown happening at the same time. People are staying to play chess too, with many new fans being formed in these current months. This is mainly due to chess’s entertaining and strategic gameplay once it is learned. It is a great time for chess, but no matter the reason, people are enjoying a new hobby.