Meet 'New Age' of Chess: Live Streams, Thrown Chairs

Online chess is more popular than you might think
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2018 4:10 PM CDT
Meet 'New Age' of Chess: Live Streams, Thrown Chairs
   (Getty/anusorn nakdee)

If the idea of watching a game of chess online sounds a little dull, then perhaps you're not familiar with the Chessbrahs on the gaming website Twitch. A stream can last up to four hours, during which "you might see chairs thrown amid a torrent of f-bombs, freestyle rapping mid-game, and a never-ending barrage of trash talk," writes Kevin Lincoln at Topic. "This is the new, online era of chess—set to the soundtrack of dance music." But the Chessbrahs, the brainchild of 25-year-old Canadian grandmaster Eric Hansen, occupies just one end of the spectrum of online chess, which turns out to be more popular than you might expect. A more conservative option would be the YouTube videos of 31-year-old International Master John Bartholomew. Just ask one of his 50,000 subscribers.

Somewhere in the middle is perhaps the biggest player of all,, led by IM Danny Rensch, 32, who also is a major chess presence on Twitch. All are finding their niche, connecting with fans through live streams, chats, instructional videos and more. Lincoln provides an overview of the options and the growing success. "A game doesn’t survive for hundreds of years if it doesn’t change to fit the spirit of the times, and with streaming, chess has entered a new age," he writes. The story also takes note of one drawback unfortunately common in gaming—sexism. For example, rising player Alexandra Botez, 22, stopped streaming temporarily because of the steady stream of vulgar comments. A moderator has since helped. Click to read the full story. (More Longform stories.)

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