WHAT Is Going On With Chess And WHY It’s a Sleeping Giant

Anna Taylor Joy from Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”

Chess is the sleeping giant of the sports/entertainment world.

Do I feel a new trend brewing? This one came out of left field entirely. I could be totally wrong on this but it looks like Chess is taking over main stream sports (or is it a sport?). Okay, that’s a huge stretch but there seems to be a surge in chess not only from just my personal friend group but now from the new Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy named Beth Harmon.

The main takeaway from this show is that it challenges the historical uncomfortable question — Is chess cool? Let’s take a look at some data.

My take on WHERE chess is heading

Just based on some basic data above — the market size for chess is massive. This personally is giving me the same feeling of when people questioned why would I watch someone play video games or video games won’t get you anywhere in life. Just five years ago, there were 1.5 billion active gamers. Today, there are now more than 2.5 billion active gamers around the world. Since two years ago chess alone has 605 million adults playing daily without a huge amount of social attention. Top renown player like Magnus Carlsen has the potential to become a highly regarded streamer on twitch and reach the masses of their already huge active player base. Chess already has the elements built for success such as audience, professional gaming, easy access to play and sponsorships. The only thing that is missing is the “cool” factor. This is where I think that cool factor has recently started to rise exponentially with The Queen’s Gambit and will continue to rise over the next year when social influencers jump ship.

Magnus Carlsen — Current World Chess Champion

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Alex Passero

Product Manager in Tech. I'm early in my career, growing, learning and have no idea where the next product will take me. I