Pieces Set for a Chess Resurgence, at North Penn and Beyond


Xilo Photography

While chess is lauded for its mental and strategic benefits, it also drastically improves socioaffective development at any age.

Rook E1 to E3 takes a pawn. Bishop D7 to C6. Pawn turns queen and puts black into checkmate. It’s a language of tact and wit that dates back over a thousand years, and yet it continues to stand firmly in the cultural zeitgeist.

Between an endless feed of stylized content and quick bursts of dopamine, chess’s mythical strategy has managed to capture the eyes of players in the last few years more than ever. It’s snuck through the cracks where it would most seem dated; streaming platforms, content creators, and big time e-celebrities are all sitting down for one more game.

The revived (again) trend of competitive chess has extended its grasp around the world, including our very own North Penn. Former advisor and arbiter to Pennfield’s chess club Mr. Eric Crabbe discovered a shocking change in student engagement.

“Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in students. We went from ten students closer to twenty,” Crabbe stated. “During COVID students found different ways to play chess together in different places. I notice that students play it in their free time now more than ever.”

The connection between technology and board games is no coincidence. An extended quarantine offered the perfect opportunity to get a new lease on an old hobby. In that vein, the UN stated that interest in chess may have doubled over COVID, where websites like chess.com offered free and endless competitive play.

Now firmly back into regular schooling, the fascination with chess still hasn’t seen its days numbered.

“There is something to it that makes it timeless. I feel that chess is a game that challenges the mind and people are attracted to that. While not proven to show enhanced IQ, people gain knowledge of patterns, thinking ahead, and problem solving in an enjoyable manner,” Crabbe asserted.

Perhaps a greater interest in chess reflects a desire for challenge and improvement across our student body. Finding new ways to approach an attack, encouraging perseverance, and demonstrating sportsmanship are not too unfamiliar in our paths to graduation.