In a strange and peculiar turn of events, 2020 seems to have aged us all by a few decades. From the sourdough bread baking to the puzzles and Bob Ross paint-a-longs, we have all embraced hobbies normally associated with the older crowd this year. In recent months, another hobby has also been added to the list. Yes, we’re talking about chess.
Usually associated with retired gentlemen or uber-smart child geniuses, chess has seen a resurgence in popularity this year. That’s all thanks to the hit Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit. While most people’s post-show Googling has taught them that Anya Taylor Joy’s character, Beth Harmon, has been fictionalized for the sake of the show, a 25-year-old “Chessfluencer” has been hailed as the next best thing!
Learning as a Child
Alexandra Botez is a 25-year-old chess marvel who was born and raised in Canada. After setting up her chessboard and learning the rules of the game at just six years old, it’s fair to say that she now has decades of experience at the top of her chess game. However, it wasn’t her idea to start playing. Alexandra’s first experience on the ranks and files was all thanks to a bet between her mother and father…
After Alexandra’s father bet her mother that he could train their daughter in just two weeks, he spent hours with Alexandra so she could learn all of the moves to claim victory over her mom. Amazingly, his plan worked, and her father won the bet.
Beating the Competition
What started as a bit of lighthearted fun between her mother and father soon turned serious, as Alexandra’s parents could see that she had a natural talent for the game. Within two years, she had won first place in a national championship, and she was beating the competition without even working up a sweat.
When Alexandra turned 15 years old, the family moved to the United States and her chess talent continued to flourish in both national and international championships. But while Alexandra thrived in front of the chessboard, she faced challenges as a young, female chess player. With much of her competition older, and with few women in the industry, many people tried to knock her down.
Finding Her Fame
However, Alexandra told herself that she wouldn’t falter in the face of adversity. Like Beth Harmon, she nurtured her talent and battled to be taken seriously. As she studied at Stanford University and became the first female president of the school’s chess club, Alexandra became a social media superstar – all thanks to Twitch.
At the beginning of her live-streaming journey, Alexandra was able to build up a humble fan following as she streamed games between her and her younger sister. But as 2020 forced people to stay home and find solace in shows like The Queen’s Gambit, her fame has skyrocketed. Today, she has almost 500,000 followers on Twitch, as well as 201,000 followers on Youtube, and 219,000 followers on Instagram. Yes, it’s fair to say that this “Chessfluencer” has taken the world by storm.