Chess is a game that has been played for centuries, and its enduring popularity continues to surprise many. While some may consider it a niche hobby, the reality is that chess is more popular than people think, with millions of players around the world. According to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), there are over 600 million chess players worldwide, making it one of the most widely played games in the world. This includes both casual players and those who play competitively in tournaments and matches. There are 197 national chess federations globally, placing one in every single country.
One of the reasons for the game’s appeal is its accessibility. All you need is a board and pieces, and you can start playing. With the rise of digital chess, the game has become even more accessible, with online platforms such as Chess.com and lichess.org attracting millions of users worldwide. Chess’s versatility is another factor that contributes to its popularity. It can be played at various levels of complexity, making it suitable for beginners and advanced players alike. It is also used as a tool for education, as it teaches valuable skills such as critical thinking, strategy, and problem-solving.
The interest in chess has grown significantly in recent years, with online platforms reporting record numbers of users during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chess.com, for example, reported a 70% increase in new memberships in March 2020 compared to the previous year. Nothing, however, has increased the popularity of chess since Bobby Fischer like the Netflix show ‘Queen’s Gambit.’ From October 2020, when the show aired, to April 2022, Chess.com saw its number of monthly active users double from roughly 8 million to nearly 17 million. Regardless of its popularity, however, chess is a beloved and enduring pastime that continues to captivate and engage players worldwide due to its accessibility, versatility, and intellectual challenge.
This intellectual challenge comes from there being more possible variations in a chess game than atoms in the observable universe. There are between 1078 to 1082 atoms in the observable universe while there are an estimated 10111 to 10123 possible chess positions. This complexity makes chess a game where you are extremely unlikely to play the same game twice.
This popularity has not missed GCC as this year has seen a surge in players coming along to our weekly chess club on Wednesdays. Having started the club last year with just three students, attendance has risen to as many as 15 students. Of these students, seven were recently selected to compete in the Term 2 Sunshine Coast Inter-School Chess Tournament. These students included Matthew O’Shae, Keagan O’Flaherty, Connor Waskow, Jack Warner, Jordan Gregory, Luther Capps, and Alex Stout.
Each student played seven matches across the day with one point for a win and half a point for a draw. Of the seven students who attended from our College, Jack Warner deserves special mention as he finished the day on 4.5/7 leaving him just outside of a podium finish. All students put points on the board with Matthew 3.5/7, Alex 3/7, Luther 3/7, Connor Waskow 2/7, Keagan 2/7, and Jordan 0.5/7. This is a great showing from the students at GCC as our presence grows at these tournaments each and every year.
If your child plays chess or has shown an interest in playing, please encourage them to come along to the chess club on Wednesday during second break in L8. I can teach them the basics of chess and get them to enjoy one of the most popular games ever played.