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The classic game of chess has found a new home: Twitch


As a global pandemic continues to determine a new normal, tens of thousands of viewers have been tuning in to watch people play chess on a livestreaming website called Twitch.tv. An American chess grandmaster, Hikaru Nakamura, along with a number of celebrities of the video game world, is leading a renaissance in the ancient game.

While viewers eagerly await Nakamura’s streams to begin, they are treated to a slideshow of memes involving Nakamura’s face superimposed into scenes from pop culture. First, a reference to a well-known Japanese animation, next a famous upside-down kiss with Spiderman and finally, Nakamura’s characteristic grin is edited onto the Mona Lisa herself.

From Aug. 21 to Sept. 6, Twitch and Chess.com are hosting a tournament, called Pogchamps, where some of the most popular gaming streamers in the world compete in a chess tournament with US$50,000 on the line.

The current renaissance in chess is happening at the confluence of livestreaming technology, video game culture, and one grandmaster’s exceptional skills as both a chess player and an entertainer. What is emerging is an unexpectedly good pairing between chess and a digital generation that is showing how influential gamers can be.

The game of kings is more popular than ever, with over 605 million players worldwide, and now, memes are involved.