If there’s one sport that might benefit from everyone being trapped at home, it’s chess.
Chess was, briefly, a huge spectator sport in the United States when Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky for the world championship in 1972. Shelby Lyman giving analysis to a bunch of American chess neophytes watching on PBS.
Now that there are no more live sporting events, it could make a comeback. What else are we going to do? There hasn’t been an episode of Tiger King in weeks. It’ll probably be a year before Ancient Aliens releases a new show about the UFO videos released by the Pentagon on Monday.
Jennifer Shahade is doing her best to create chess content for us to watch from the safety of our homes.
Shahade, U.S. Chess Women and Women’s FIDE Master Alexandra Botez, the most popular female chess streamer in the world, are hosting a blitz tournament for women and girls called Isolated Queens II on Chess.com on Saturday.
Shahade says Isolated Queens brings a new dimension to the educational value of chess.
“We have multiple streamers who are in high school or college, and have leveled up both their chess skills and their tech game to get set up for this very event,” she said.
There will be $2,000 in prizes awarded to top-placing streamers.
Many of the top players in the world will be participating, including defending champion Alexandra Kosteniuk; seven-time U.S. women’s champion Irina Krush, who finished second in the first Isolated Queens match while battling Covid-19; musician Juga; reigning U.S. women’s champion Jennifer Yu; writer and speaker Charlotte Clymer; and Women’s Grand Master Tatev Abrahamyan.
Shahade, who just started streaming on Twitch this month, is a Women’s Grandmaster in chess as well as a PokerStars professional. Her stream is unique in that she plays online poker while simultaneously accepting challenges from viewers on Chess.com.
She offered to play me on stream, but I’ve played her before, during a PokerStars event at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. I didn’t win, and the result isn’t going to change in this lifetime. At least I might have a chance if we ever play poker together.
Isolated Queens is slated to start at 2 p.m. EST, which means it won’t conflict with another big chess event, the Magnus Invitational, which runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and concludes this weekend.
If you can’t get enough, there’s more chess starting May 5 with the $180,000 FIDE Chess.com Online Nationals Cup, with legendary players Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik as captains of Team Europe and Team India, respectively. Viswanathan Anand is expected to play.