Lincoln students contribute to surge in chess


Thomas Kenyon

Junior Lucas Nims plays a game of real-life chess in the library. The huge chess board was available for students to play during lunch and free periods.

In the last hour, over a million games were played on the internet chess server, Since December of 2022, the game of chess has seen unprecedented growth. reports traffic nearly doubled since December, now with over 10 million active users. The spike in chess interest is one that has surpassed, but can be compared to the game’s previous surge in interest during 2020 after the release of the Netflix show, “The Queen’s Gambit.” 

The reason for the recent spike is less clear, however.

Many Lincoln students play chess, some of whom can be found at Lincoln’s Chess Club. Isaac Briare is a junior at Lincoln and is the leader of the Chess Club. He started playing chess seriously during the aforementioned chess spike in 2020. 

“During the pandemic, I really got into the theory around chess and from then until now have been building my strength,” said Briare.

Briare is the highest rated player at Lincoln and is glad the game is getting the widespread recognition he feels it deserves. When asked what he thinks is behind the recent surge, Briare touched on his musical experience to explain his reasoning.

“I’m a musician in the Lincoln jazz band, and I think chess is a universal language just like music,” Briare said. “No matter where you are from you can learn how to play and play with anyone.”

For newer player Junior Ethan Reetz, the way chess is played brought him to the game and has captivated his attention.

“I love how the game is purely strategy and zero luck,” said Reetz. “If you lose, you know you made an error.”

Reetz enjoys playing the game with friends, getting competitive over who can win the most games or getting the highest rating. He thinks this friendly competition between friends is the leading factor in the chess surge. 

“You see so many people playing it at school and it has become [contagious],” said Reetz. “If you walked the halls you would see friends playing and that helps grow the game to others.”

Chess has seen spikes not only on chess servers but on social media platforms. Junior Alexander Vassilev attributes the overall chess spike to this media activity. 

“I think we have people like Levy Rozman to thank for the surge in chess, who has been exploding on Youtube Shorts and TikTok,” said Vassilev.

Vassilev is an advanced player who has been playing for a number of years and is thrilled to see the popularity of chess. When asked for advice to the growing number of new chess players, Vassilev’s advice was simple.

“Just learn the basic principles and then it sounds cliche, but just have fun with it,” said Vassilev. “You can improve a lot in the early stages by just playing and enjoying the game.”