We Stan a Chess Queen: Learn to slay on the board without leaving home

by callie watts

Chess has long been the boys’ club of board games, but things are taking a turn. Since Netflix released the smash hit series The Queen’s Gambit in 2020, interest in chess has flourished, especially among women and girls. The International Chess Federation even declared 2022 the “Year of the Woman in Chess.” In other words, there’s never been a better time to pick up the chess pieces and make some moves.

Since chess is a sport of the mind, playing it has many benefits. Learning to think several steps ahead is an excellent life skill, and reviewing old matches to predict an opponent’s moves flexes your memory. Plus, chess counteracts productivity culture’s fast pace—this is a slow game, baby! Players are encouraged to take their time and think the entire game through before each move. An intense match can take hours or even days. It is also a great way to meet new peeps—form a community of players or simply pick up a game with strangers in the park. But you don’t need to leave your house to learn and play. Here are some great virtual ways to get into the game.

Tap That App: Both chess.com and lichess.org have free apps that offer tutorials and puzzles, let you play against others, and allow you to analyze the moves of all your past games. (You definitely want to do this!) Chess.com even lets you play against bots based on some of the most famous female grand masters in history, including Judit Polgár (who became a grand master at 15), Hou Yifan (the second-highest-rated female player of all time), Anna Muzychuk, and Irina Krush.

Twitch ’n’ Bitch: BotezLive is a Twitch channel hosted by sisters Alexandra and Andrea where they chat, play, and analyze all things chess. They also occasionally DJ as they play. Lularobs—who has been called the chess meme queen—is a newbie to the game but so very fun to watch as she builds her skills.

Boob YouTube: Wanna see a grand master do her thing low-key? On Anna Cramling’s YouTube chess channel (@AnnaCramling) you can watch her take her unassuming grand master mom, Pia Cramling, out for park battles and blow unsuspecting players’ minds. In other videos, Anna’s male opponents talk shit to her during a game before she crushes them, and it is soooo satisfying to watch. Or you can catch amazing commentator/grand master Tania Sachdev analyzing and playing on her YouTube channel, @TaniaSachdevChess

Chessfluencer: Grand master Jen Shahade has a lot going on. Follow her YouTube channel, How to Beat Your Mom at Chess (@YourMomatChess), and pick up her book, Chess Queens, which covers her chess journey and the history of a few other famous female players. She also works as the program director at U.S. Chess Women—check out their YouTube playlist of Girls’ Club highlights—talking to young players about strategy and women in the sport, and she hosts a chess podcast called Ladies Knight

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