The past couple years will be a memorable period of time for the history of Chess. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an impact on nearly every aspect of life over the past couple of years. It has changed the way that people interact with each other and has, for better or worse, created a legacy that will leave a lasting impact. The game of chess is no exception to this phenomenon. It goes without saying that the way people engage in the game has changed during the pandemic. This seems to be a point of common sense. At the same time, it raises the following question of how has COVID-19 affected Chess throughout the world?
The pandemic has impacted chess in ways that are both positive and negative. The pandemic has caused a shutdown of countless live chess events worldwide. It has also caused chess clubs across the world to have to shut down in-person meetings. At the same time, some compelling statistics suggest that chess participation has grown worldwide in the past couple of years with an increasing amount of activity moving to the online realm. The following are some of the most significant ways Chess has been impacted.
A large percentage of competitive over the board chess events have been shut down across the world.
Chess clubs across the world had suspended face-to-face meetings.
Statistics indicate that chess participation continued to rise globally over the past several years despite the pandemic.
Chessboard game sales have increased during COVID-19.
The global chess community has adapted by moving events and club activities online.
Impact on Over the Board Chess Events
Over the board chess events have been impacted significantly during the course of the Covid 19 pandemic. Whether an individual was searching for live chess events at the state and national level or looking for international events, the same circumstances consistently popped up. One has only had to go to the websites of prominent chess organizations such as the International Chess Federation, the United States Chess Federation, or any of the state and local chess organizations that are active in the USA to see that one over the board event after another was being put on hold.
The reasons behind the canceling of these live chess events are easy enough to spot. Restrictions on travel and the number of people that could occupy an indoor space at any given time have made many over the board chess tournaments impossible to conduct. The fact that restrictions vary from one region to another has not made things any easier. Many chess players have simply been unwilling to take the risk of attending a live chess event while the threat of infection continually loomed over the past couple of years. All of these points have combined to significantly impact that state of live chess tournaments during COVID-19.
Though the virus has had an undeniable impact on the ability of chess organizations to conduct live events, there remains plenty of optimism that this will change. Chess has continued to thrive in other areas during the pandemic and officials with the International Chess Federation have expressed much hope in the prospect that over the board events will eventually be able to resume in the near future.
Impact on Chess Club Activities
The pandemic has significantly impacted the activities of chess clubs across the world to continue their usual activities. These organizations provide a vital social outlet for chess players to come together to take part in the game they are passionate about. They also have a significant impact on the topic of chess education.
Countless chess players rely on their local chess club as an outlet to help them continue to refine their skills. For many of these chess players, this has simply not been an option during the pandemic as one Chess club after another has suspended in-person meetings. These clubs have had to find ways to adapt so that they can continue in their mission of promoting the game of chess.
It has been a common story for chess enthusiasts across the USA and the world to go to the website of their local chess club only to find that there are currently no face-to-face meetings due to the pandemic and associated restrictions. The Saint Louis Chess Club in St. Louis, Missouri is a perfect example of this. Students who head to the club’s website to find out about lessons soon discover that they are only being offered online at the current time. This is just one individual example of a phenomenon that can be seen consistently across the different U.S. states and globally.
A Look Into Statistics Related to the Growth of Chess Participation Across the World
In 2012, the International Chess Federation estimated that there are around 600 million chess players worldwide. Though there is no official number, the federation’s statisticians estimate that this number has only grown since 2012. Beyond this, they strongly believe that participating in chess has seen some impressive growth during the past couple of years that the pandemic has been ongoing.
Online gaming and board gaming have seen a rise in popularity during the coronavirus and Chess has been no exception to this. It is clear that chess has become an outlet for many people across the world who are looking for new ways to engage their time in meaningful ways. Many of the world’s leading chess websites and forums have experienced a significant boost in activity while the pandemic has been ongoing.
Netflix might also be a factor behind the surge in the popularity of chess during the pandemic. The use of the popular streaming service has soared during the coronavirus and that timeframe has coincided with the release of the popular series The Queen’s Gambit. The popular series was the number one-ranked option on Netflix in 63 of the world’s countries. This in itself is a strong representation of the growing popularity of chess during COVID-19.
These statistics and trends demonstrate the fact that chess has definitely been impacted during the coronavirus pandemic, but this impact has by no means been entirely negative. It may be the case that live participation in chess has taken a big hit, but overall participation seems to have grown during the past few years.
The Sale of Chess Products Has Increased During the Pandemic
The sale of chessboard games has seen a noticeable increase during the pandemic. This is consistent with the overall pandemic-era growth of board game sales in a general sense. As the pandemic has continued, countless individuals and families have sought out ways to entertain themselves that do not involve going out and interacting with others outside of their immediate circle. Board games have been the solution that many have turned to during the past few years.
Many of the board game industry’s leading manufacturers have noted that sales have skyrocketed during the era of the pandemic when compared to the period of time immediately before it became an issue. Chessboard sales have certainly been an important factor within this overall growth experienced by the board game industry during COVID-19.
During Covid-19, the Worldwide Chess Community Has Demonstrated an Ability to Adapt
Perhaps the biggest impact is simply the fact that it has forced the need for adaptation. Chess organizations, clubs, and players have found themselves in a situation where adaptation was a necessity and they have risen to the challenge. In the face of a nearly complete shutdown of live, over the board chess activity, the chess community has found new ways to continue to enjoy their favorite game. The end result has been a continued rise in the overall popularity of the game around the world.
Major publications such as the New York Times have noted that the pandemic has been unable to stop Chess from thriving. The game’s leading organizations have moved many of their previously over the board tournaments to an online format. This has been the case with countless Chess clubs as well. Beyond this, an increasing number of players are getting involved with chess by playing online instead of in person.
The ability of chess to adapt into the online realm while the pandemic has continued is a testament to the passion that so many people around the world have for the game. This does not mean that chess players around the world are not excited about the opportunity to resume over the board play, but it is an example of how Chess has been affected that has not been wholly negative. On the contrary, there are a lot of positives that can be drawn from the ability that the game of chess has to adapt to an adverse situation. It is clear that chess can and will continue its upward trajectory of growth despite the complications that have arisen due to the pandemic.