Enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit?

by Sarah McLaughlin '23 on February 18, 2022

Arts & Entertainment

Meet the Real-life Female Stars of the Chess World

The Queen’s Gambit, a Netflix mini-series adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel of the same name, carried a new wave of players into chess, players who had little to no prior experience with the game or the community surrounding it. In March 2020 alone, Chess.com, the leading online chess platform, grew from 280,000 to over 1 million daily active users. Furthermore, after The Queen’s Gambit’s main character, Beth Harmon, captivated an enormous audience, real-life female chess players have experienced rapid growth on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Here are just a few for those interested in learning more about chess and the chess community to check out:

Anna Rudolf is a Hungarian chess player and commentator who holds the International Master and Woman Grandmaster titles. On her YouTube channel, she uploads entertainment-focused chess content consisting of commentary on popular chess figures and other YouTubers, as well as commentary on her own games. She commentates live on Twitch during professional and amateur tournaments and streams on her own channel. In one of her most popular videos, she tells the story of how she was accused of cheating at a tournament because of her lip balm. Rudolf is outspoken on the topic of sexism in the chess community. She is considered by many to have a ‘wholesome’ personality, and she has coached internet celebrities such as Pokimane in chess.

19-year-old Swedish chess player Anna Cramling holds the title Woman FIDE Master and has represented her country in the Chess Olympiad. She uploads regularly to her YouTube channel, analyzing both games of her own and those of others—including those of her parents, who are both Grandmasters. Her mother, Pia Cramling, is often featured in her videos; she was one of the first women to achieve the Grandmaster title and has been the highest ranked female player in the world on multiple occasions. She also streams frequently on Twitch.

Sisters Alexandra and Andrea Botez, ages 26 and 20, have amassed over 700,000 YouTube subscribers and 1 million Twitch followers. Alexandra holds the Woman FIDE Master title, and both sisters are known for commentating on the Chess.com Twitch channel during tournaments and coaching fellow YouTubers and streamers. They are a dynamic duo who frequently interact with other popular online creators, and their most recent endeavor involved traveling the world and live streaming over-the-board (real-life) chess in a number of different countries. The Botez sisters in particular have popularized chess as not just online education, but also as online entertainment.

For those who enjoyed watching The Queen’s Gambit and are interested in learning more about chess, these content creators can provide a fun gateway into the chess community. While they are certainly engaging and interesting for experienced players, much of their content is geared toward and accessible to beginners.