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In Black And White: Chess’ Surging Pandemic Popularity (Rebroadcast)

Grandmaster chess player Garry Kasparov makes a move in a match against grandmaster Fabiano Caruana during the final day of the Grand Chess Tour at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis.
Grandmaster chess player Garry Kasparov makes a move in a match against grandmaster Fabiano Caruana during the final day of the Grand Chess Tour at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis.

Maybe you’re wondering whether we’re all pawns. Or maybe you’re hoping for the moment coronavirus gets placed in checkmate. Maybe you just want us to stop talking about chess this way.

Fine, we’ll chill and get back to your regularly scheduled text.

What is true is that people are looking for all sorts of diversions in the midst of the pandemic. TV shows, movies, video games, cooking, baking and many more indoor activities are all popular distractions. But chess in particular is enjoying a culture-fueled surge in popularity.

Both the pandemic and new Netflix mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit” have led to a boost in the game’s reach. There’s been a huge increase in board sales and Twitch streamers playing the game are also attracting viewers.

How is a very old game adapting to the 21st century? And is its community of enthusiasts changing alongside it?

 

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

Kaity Kline
Kaity Kline is an Assistant Producer at Morning Edition and Up First. She started at NPR in 2019 as a Here & Now intern and has worked at nearly every NPR news magazine show since.
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