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Conversation Series: Should Chess Be Considered A Sport?

January 15, 2021

Its origin may be controversial, but the game itself is anything but. Whether you believe that chess was invented in India or China, it’s a game that has fascinated people around the world for centuries. Chess, it seems, captivates both the young and the old alike. Never played chess before? Here’s a quick breakdown of the basics! The board is a simple eight by eight, black and white, checkered block. There are six different chess pieces (the bishop, king, knight, pawn, queen, and rook), each with its own limitations on how and where it can move. Each player gets a queen, king, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns for a total of sixteen pieces to start. Players move across the board, with the ultimate goal of putting their opponent’s king under attack or in “check.” It’s a game built on strategy with the best players anticipating their opponent’s moves well before they actually make them! Psychic? Nah—it’s all strategy! Oh, and let’s not forget about stamina. The longest game took over twenty hours to complete and that game ended in a draw!

Recently, the game of chess has seen a resurgence in popularity. Don’t believe us? Just ask anyone who wanted to buy a chess set during the holidays—it was a hard thing to come by! But why the fascination and why now? Perhaps it’s TV shows and movies based on fictional and non-fictional chess players. Perhaps it’s because people are spending more time at home (thanks a lot, COVID-19!). Whatever the reason, chess is gaining a whole slew of new enthusiasts and the game is even being considered for the Olympics! That’s right! In early 2019, a campaign was launched to include chess in the 2024 Paris Olympics. No word if it will be included just yet, but we’re waiting to hear what the International Olympic Committee decides. In the meantime, to celebrate our love for chess, we’re sharing some interesting facts about the game!

1. Besides the title of world champion, the title of grandmaster is the highest-ranking title in chess. This title is awarded by The International Chess Federation (FIDE).

Sergey Karjakin Stefan64, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Currently, Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine, holds the title of the youngest person to ever achieve the title of grandmaster in chess. He achieved this title in 2002 when he was twelve years and seven months old.

3. Like many other tournaments, the FIDE World Chess Championship, which was scheduled to begin on December 12th, 2020, had to be postponed to the fall of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magnus Carlsen Lennart Ootes, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Twenty-nine-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is the reigning world chess champion and has held the title since 2013.

5. Internationally, there are three formats of chess: classical, blitz, and rapid. The difference? How much time is given for players to make their move!

Do you think chess should be considered a sport? Email editor@xyzanews.com with your thoughts on whether chess should be included in the Olympics.