Sunday 5 March 2023

Is it getting easier to play chess?

 There is no doubt that chess is undergoing a real boom at the moment. Events are attracting record numbers of entries and the number of players online is so large that chess servers are falling over.

Conventional wisdom is the combination of lockdowns ending and the Queens Gambit are the proximate causes. But I wonder if there is also a second order effect. 

In previous posts I have commented on how "hard" chess is. If you are a new player there is a real barrier to joining the chess community, and that barrier is ability. Despite the rhetoric of chess clubs being welcoming and encouraging beginners etc, they can be quite forbidding, especially if you start of losing a large number of games. But with larger number of new players joining at the same time, it may be a little easier to start competition chess, as there are a number of people sharing the same journey.

I've certainly noticed this at Street Chess over the last few months. previously a new player would turn up, find it tough going (even if they were pretty good but inexperienced), and despite encouragement, would often disappear. Now, with numbers topping 40 players each week, new players turn up in groups, and often finish with 2 or 3 wins under their belts. As a result I am now seeing more returns the following week.


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