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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: Chess is more than a game


While chess has been played worldwide since its invention in India in the 6th century, it has recently experienced a massive surge in popularity. The new interest is partly due to the success of the 2020 TV show “The Queen’s Gambit. This, along with other factors like finding activities to do during the pandemic, easy access to online games, and a rise in short-form video content, has accelerated its growth. This is a positive development because chess is more than just a fun game – it brings people together and creates a space for conversation and understanding. 

Like many others, I started playing chess consistently in 2020. My dad and I had played a few times before then, but it wasn’t until I was looking for a way to pass the time during the beginning of the pandemic that I delved deeper into chess. I could play with friends online who, at the time, I couldn’t see in person, and ended up falling in love with the chess community. 

Playing chess hasn’t always been considered cool. Like many activities, it has been subject to its fair share of stereotypes. When you think of a chess player, you might imagine an introvert, someone socially awkward or with a high IQ. Maybe you picture a person who has been playing since childhood. But the truth is chess players come from diverse walks of life, from all generations and play for many different reasons.  

Chess further breaks down stereotypes by allowing people from diverse backgrounds to play the same game together. Lemuel LaRoche, founder of Chess and Community in Athens, Georgia, uses the game to bring kids and young adults together to teach reason before reaction and to change minds about perceptions and stereotypes. 

Some chess players use the game to work on strategic thinking or skills that might help them in other areas of their lives. One example of this is in professional sports. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow keeps a chessboard by his locker because it helps him read defenses on the football field. “Chess is fun. It’s very strategic, and you have to plan all your moves. That kind of calls to me,” Burrow said in an ESPN article from January 2022. 

LaRouche teaches kids tactical and logical skills through chess so they can use them in everyday life. This is one of the key lessons I’ve taken from chess. Whether it be on the football field like Burrow or in everyday life chess can be an excellent way to enhance logical and tactical thinking. 

Many sports and activities require a lot of equipment to get started, causing a possible economic barrier. This isn’t the case with chess. You can purchase affordable chess boards or play online. If you don’t know anyone else who plays, you can participate in a local chess club. The Bloomington Chess Club typically meets on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at BuffaLouie’s. They welcome all players, from beginners to grandmasters. IU is also home to a chess club that meets each week. Their contact information and details about weekly games are available on BeInvolved. 

Chess has become an essential part of my life since I started playing. It’s been a tool to build my logical and strategic ability, but it, along with other things, improved my mental health during COVID times when we were all isolated. I suggest anyone who wants to play chess try it out and see what they think. 


Jack Davis (he/him) is a freshman studying journalism.

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