Chess is having a moment. There are more people at home learning and playing online, and more people loving The Queen’s Gambit on TV — and that means we’re talking about it on Hustle and Pro. Frisco resident Suad Bejtovic enlightens us on the calculated, intriguing global chess scene, from Twitch streamers to tournament shutdown and showdowns.
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[02:09] Popularity Surge of Chess
[04:47] Candidates Tournament
[09:14] Content Creators & Characters
[18:37] Local Chess Clubs
Resources within this episode:
- Suad Bejtovic: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn
- US Chess Federation: Website
- World Chess Championship: Website
- Frisco Chess Club Website | 64 Squares USA
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle & Pro, Season 2, talking sports and Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Welcome to this episode of Hustle & Pro. I’m your host Kelly Walker. And we have our friend, Suad Bejtovic with us. He’s going to school us on all things going on in the world of chess right now. So there’s actually a lot to talk about. I’m really excited. Suad, you have all the info for today. You’re going to, you’re going to kind of, you know, kind of drive this bus because you know all the good stuff all I’ve done is watch a documentary or two and played a few games of chess on my phone. You’re way ahead of me obviously. And so I want to hear about that. I want to hear your, your life in chess. And then, let’s talk about a couple of the pop culture things happening and why everybody else seems to be talking about chess lately too.
Absolutely. I mean it’s kind of interesting to mention that, you know, your podcast is related to sports. So some might ask, you know, “Why are we talking about chess?” Is chess a sport?” And that’s like a question that we’re not going to touch these days, because it’s a very contentious one out there in the world. Even some of the best players out there say that chess is not really a sport because there’s not an athletic component. But then there’s research that says, you know, players lose five pounds you know, in the course of one game because of all the brain activity and calories that they burn just by thinking. So, you know, there are aspects of, of all of that. And definitely there’s a competition aspect which we’ll talk about quite a lot today
I mean I do think it’s a sport. I don’t think all sports have to be physical. Right. There’s a lot of things that we do that we compete. I see it more of the competition side of it. Yeah. So, I mean, I don’t think, I, I’m not saying chess players are athletes, but I do think chess is a, is a sport.
Yes. And it, it’s interesting, you mentioned that because in their preparation for the grueling schedule that they usually have, a lot of chess players actually watch what they eat. They exercise. I mean, they, they have to keep in shape simply because it actually, it requires so much effort mentally to, to play chess.
All right so start us off with- I don’t know, like what, what’s the phenomenon lately that people like me who are- I wouldn’t even say I’m a casual chess player. Like I’m not even that, but you know, and this last year it’s on my radar. – So why is that?
Well unfortunately one of the main reasons is because of the pandemic and a lot of people are just kind of stuck in their homes with not much to do. Right. however, before I get to that, I want to kind of rewind a few more years because over the last we’ll even say 5 to 10 years chess has been growing in popularity, especially on online streaming platforms, YouTube and Twitch in particular because it lends itself so good to online presentation. You have websites where you can play chess: chess.com and lichess.org are the most popular. And then all the best players in the world play on those chess sites. There are millions of other people all across the world who are members of those sites. So it’s actually relatively easy to just go online, pick up a game of chess and and play.
In addition to all of that there’s been a surge of content creators which are usually really strong chess players in our last international masters or gen- grandmasters. And they put out videos where they talk about, I don’t know, a certain opening, or they maybe analyze a certain game, or they may be talk about a current event that might be going on in the world of chess. So chess has been kind of gaining steam especially last year. Chess.com in particular, the website, that’s probably the biggest one. They got a lot of chess personalities to kind of come on board and help them promote chess as a game. And it just exploded in popularity just because there were so many more people that, that were playing it.
I see the irony there. This is a game that is played on a board, right? Traditionally, yes.
For the last couple of thousand years, right?
Yeah. So you go from this traditionally in-person, you know, one person, one person game on a board to what I’m hearing you say is now they’ve made it accessible because of making, making it digital and accessible. And they’ve just jumped on board with like getting in engagement from people online. So it’s, it’s made the leap
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s kind of, again, unfortunate that you know, the regular chess that we are used to, which which most people would call OTB or over-the-board when, you know, two players are, you know, looking over the board at their pieces is almost non-existent. But before I go any further, I have to mention that last year in 2020 in March the last event that got canceled – actually they started the event and then they canceled it halfway through – was the, the tournament to determine the challenger to the world champion. It’s called the Candidates Tournament because all of those guys are candidates for to be the challenger.
So, so that tournament determines who gets to challenge the reigning champion,
Correct. Yeah. That’s kind of the system that that the world of chess has and when the pandemic started, the tournament was in in Russia and they kind of decided to kind of stick around as long as they can and play as many games as they can. But once the flights started shutting down and everything else the players kind of had to, had to bolt and that tournament was interrupted literally halfway through – exactly halfway through. And there was an interesting tidbit of information because one of the players decided that he was not comfortable playing in the tournament because they, they were seeing the, the virus kind of starting to spread and he decided to withdraw. So they replaced him with another guy. So the, the first guy, his name is Radjabov and they replaced him with a French player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
And so halfway through the tournament, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is leading the tournament. I think he’s the co-leader with a couple of others. And meanwhile, they stopped a tournament and Radjabov is like, “Hey, you know, if you’re gonna continue this tournament, what about me?” Right. so, so there was a lot of controversy around that. And, and the solution was that Radjabov is going to get automatic entry into the next Candidates Tournament. Is that like a year away, though? A couple of years away. Yes. And then this year they’re going to finish this tournament, which is still kind of suspended.
So there was no resolution, there was no winner of that.
Not yet. No. Yeah. So they have to play. Yeah. So they have to play like eight or nine more rounds. And that’s gonna happen later this year. And then at the end of the year winner of that tournament plays for the World Championship
All the other sports that had to hit pause, they figured out a way to resume somehow. But, so, yeah, I mean, I could see though, that’s a big tournament. And in, in Russia, like you said, you can’t easily maybe get picked back up and get that exact group back together
Right. Especially not not back then. Right. They have to kind of put it on pause and, and they’ll, they’ll continue it later on. But as we speak right now our listeners in the future probably know the outcome of, of the tournament that’s going on right now. It is an over-the-board tournament in Wijk aan Zee in Netherlands. It’s like one of the oldest tournaments in the world and usually has hundreds and hundreds of players playing in different categories in different sections. But this time round, I think there’s only 14 of them. And they are playing over-the-board. They have very strict COVID protocols. And one of the American players Fabiano Caruana is actually one of the co-leaders of the tournament as we speak, there’s three more games to go. So he may end up winning that tournament hopefully
That was an American name, you said?
Fabiano Caruana. Yes. And the reason he’s playing is because he lived in in Europe throughout that whole time. There are American players who are just as good as him who were not able to travel to Europe because of, of these restrictions and, and take part in that tournament.
All right. You’ve mentioned Russia in the Netherlands and all these places where chess is more popular than it is here. I’m sure. But tell me really quick. What’s your personal connection with chess?
I started playing chess as a kid. That’s usually kind of how it happens. My dad was a really strong player.
Tell us where you grew up.
I grew up in Bosnia, Bosnia-Herzegovina back in Europe. Learned chess when I was, I don’t even know, like five, six or seven years old. I was very interested in playing and the most important part is I was not all the way discouraged by the fact that my dad was beating me every game. Right. And he didn’t want to let me win. So I had to kind of figure it out. And then once I figured it out, I joined some local clubs and, you know, played one or two tournaments. Lost some games, won some games. And I always had that kind of fascination with with chess. And I also like to to mention that I was, when I had teenagers in our, in our household, I was making fun of them for watching other people play video games, like, cause that’s really popular on- yeah on, on Twitch, on YouTube. And then I caught myself watching other people playing chess or not even that, but watching other people talk about other people playing chess. And then I was like, okay, there’s, there’s something interesting there. So yeah,
I know, I hear what you’re saying. Cause it is a weird phenomenon thinking we see the kids doing it, but then if you step back and go, “Okay, well, hold on.” We watch sports commentators comment about sports all the time.
Right. And point out things that we don’t necessarily see in the moment. And then we’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” Yeah.
And we watch tape of games again and players, and there’s a lot of ways that we can consume, you know, sports that isn’t the actual organic game part of it. So yeah, we got to give the kids a break sometimes because sometimes when they’re watching those things, you watch them to get better. You pick up things, you get, you gain knowledge by watching others do the thing you want to go do.
And that actually brings me to the next step in the evolution of chess. Sometime in the last 10 years or so, St. Louis Chess Club was, was really popular. It was founded by a financing millionaire in St. Louis. And he was able to create tournaments with large prizes that would attract highest-rated players in the world. He would attract grandmasters who would come there and teach camps or classes or, and so on and create videos. And then those videos can serve basically as a, as a studying tool, you can watch those videos about a particular opening or some kind of a pattern in, in certain games. And then you can improve your game by by watching those videos. And of course that type of content became very popular. And by now I have a number here that in December of 2020 there were 2.8 million viewer-hours for just one chess streamer in the month of December. He, his name is Hikaru Nakamura. He is a, an American Grandmaster, one of the best players in the world. Definitely one of the best blitz chess players in the world, or speed chess players. And he has a very popular Twitch channel. Every time you tune in there’s at least 15 or 20,000 people watching him watching him play or do puzzles or, you know, do whatever.
Do whatever he’s doing. Yeah. It doesn’t matter. Right, right. At this point. If he’s gone to that point it doesn’t matter what he’s doing.
Right. And now I will say that now I will say that by the time I got to him on that list, he was number 50 on overall list of Twitch streamers. But he was first in the chess category. So obviously there are other, other streamers there are more popular, but you know, chess is a, in the conversation.
Yeah, that’s great. That’s awesome. Okay. Can we talk about The Queen’s Gambit? Absolutely. Let’s talk about it. This is my very novel attempt at understanding things. You know, Ryan and I watched it kind of late in the game. I think everybody had already seen it. And then we, we jumped on board and I loved it. I thought it was weirdly fascinating.
Yeah, it is. And it was, it was really good really good story. It was based on a book that I think came somewhere in the, in the 80s by Walter Tevis, it was called the, The Queen’s Gambit. And whenever I watch a movie that, that has anything to do with chess I pay attention to the chess part. Right. The technical pieces of it. Yeah. And, and some some movies or shows, they just kind of set the pieces, you know, so they look good- it’s like a prop and- right, right. Yeah.
I have a feeling this was a little more than that.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. they, they were really, really careful to make sure that the chess part of the, of the show is really well done. And then later I found out that one of the consultants on the show was Gary Kasparov of who is a, you know, a chess champion, World Champion for over 20 years. He’s probably one of the five best players of all time. Right. So he was one of the consultants. And the cool thing is that the last game of the show is actually based on a real game.
Oh, like the moves are legitimately what happened in that?
Absolutely. And then at one, at one point Gary, and a couple of other people with the help of computer engines, they found a better continuation for one of the players. And that’s the continuation that we see in the show. We actually see exactly the moves and there are many videos and articles on YouTube where you can find out analysis of, of that game. But to me, it was really cool that, you know, it wasn’t just, you know, actors moving pieces on a board, it was an actual game and they created into something that’s very dramatic and that could actually happen.
Are the names of everybody, are those real life names? Is there really a Beth Harmon? Is there really are those just characters?
They, they are characters. I was told that Beth Harmon was a composite of a couple of different characters. And one of them is somebody that pretty much anybody in the United States can mention, if you ask “name a chess player.”
Oh, you’re asking me. I don’t know.
Okay. All right. But most people will say, most people will say Bobby Fischer. Oh yeah, there you go. Right. Bobby Fischer was, was the, the first American and so far the only American chess world champion. He was a great personality. That was, there was a boom in chess that, that followed his his career.
And the only reason I know that name is from a movie made about him. Like, I don’t even know that that’s a real person
Yes. And I I’d love to mention one of the movies that I watched recently called Searching for Bobby Fischer because now, because of the popularity of Queen’s Gambit, all of these chess movies are kind of coming up. So I watched that one for the first time recently, and it’s actually really, really good. And I would, I would recommend everybody to watch it so Searching for Bobby Fischer. Okay. But to go back to Queen’s Gambit, yes. It, it kind of follows a little bit of the career of Bobby Fischer because he was kind of like a child prodigy, but there, there are many other influences and, and players that Beth Harmon plays throughout her career are not actual are not actual players they, there are characters, but it, it kind of shows the world of chess at the time more or less accurately. Obviously some things are either sped up for, for the dramatic effect or for storytelling, but for the most part, that is a, that is a very accurate description of chess world.
So I’m not asking if you take tranquilizers to enhance, you know, the way you see the game but can you relate to how she can, you know, visualize moves being played. And like, she’s obviously was at an obsessive point with trying to be better and master the game, but, but as a chess player, do you do that in your head?
I try to, I’m not always successful but people who are successful at it do those visualization exercises. Specifically in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Ben Kingsley plays a, an old grandmaster who- that movie was based on a true story. – And he says, “don’t make a move until you see all of it.” Right. So you kind of have to figure it out. It’s called calculation, you know, a chess player say, “you have to calculate what happens if you do this, and then your opponent does that.” So you kind of have to visualize that in your head and actually Hikaru, who I mentioned a minute ago, a lot of times when he plays online, he’ll look up and just kind of, that’s probably what he’s doing. Pause and, and yeah, it’s, it’s kinda like they, they look away from the board just so they can see it in their head and then they come back and play. Yeah.
See how it would play out. See, that’s why I say, I mean, obviously chess, people are smart and intelligent, but that’s where I get lost. I don’t get to see several steps ahead, like in that sport, I can, in other sports that I’m used to playing, like, I can see a play develop or whatever, but I don’t understand me moving this chess piece, why that is probably gonna make you move that one a certain, like, I just don’t see four or five steps ahead, like everybody can.
And, and what what’s, what’s interesting about chess is it’s one of those games that you know, as the saying goes, “it’s easy to learn, but it takes a lifetime to master.” And obviously it’s very popular on that. You know, 5 to 10 years old level, right? Where, where kids are just kind of learning how the pieces go and all that, but there’s so much more to learn after that. And the best players in the world dedicate their lives to it, that they, they practice, you know, 8 hours a day that that’s their job. Right. Because they, they travel from tournament to tournament, you know, compete for prizes and so on. The very best of them get into that Candidates Tournament, they, they try to be the champion of the world. Right. so it, it is it, it can be anywhere from just a casual hobby, which it is for me but it can be, you know, something that that people want to do a little bit more. So. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. So how casual is it, how often do you play? Are you not, not when we’re in a COVID situation, but in normal, do you play tournaments? How do you play?
So I was looking for, for chess clubs to play in right before COVID happened. And I found a couple of places in Frisco where you can play chess. And then I, I actually went to the website for the US Chess Federation to look up any more. So USchess.org, and then you can look up affiliates and so I have here that there’s an Independence Pro Chess Club at the Independence High School in Frisco. Okay. There’s Smart Chess Champions which is a business here in Frisco. And we can use the show notes to, to kind of leave these for
Definitely, Smart Chess Champions is a business here in Frisco. Right,
Right. Yeah. It’s just down the street here and on Main street. There’s a 64 Squares USA which also has a Frisco address and finally, Big Star Chess Club also here in Frisco, so quick shout out. There are clubs here that that players can join and, and play. I haven’t, but I was just kind of in the process of figuring out a few a few of those chess clubs that, that do have rated tournaments where you can join the US Chess Federation, get a rating you know, play against other players which in a lot of cases might be, you know, twelve-year-old kids. But it, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t, and in a lot of cases, there’ll be better than I am.
So you’re not rated yet. I am not, no.I saw a social media comment about you being rated and thought, “Oh boy”
That’s my, that’s my chess.com rating. So, and, you know, on chess.com, you have different types of games depending on the speed of the game. So obviously the slower games where you get to think a little bit more you’re going to find better moves, and you’re, you’re usually going to be more successful. So my rating is a little bit inflated there. But my blitz rating, which is a little more popular online is about 12, 1300 or so. Wow. And I will mention that part of the reason why blitz just is more popular online is that there’s less opportunity for people to cheat.
I was going to ask you, can you cheat?
Yes. Yes, you can. So sometime I have an article somewhere here. I think it was in ’95. Gary Kasparov which we mentioned earlier, best player in the world at the time you know, probably one of the best players ever. He was playing a series of matches that some of your listeners may remember against I think it was called the Deep Blue, the IBM chess computer. And he barely won the first one, and then they made some modifications to the computer and next year he actually ended up losing and pretty sure pretty shortly after that computers ended up being far better than humans at chess,
Which they, they should, I guess if it’s, you know, there’s calculations, there’s a finite amount of spaces and moves and yeah,
That’s right. And they can assess the position. They say, okay, if I played this, I’m going to be better
Percentages. Yeah, exactly. So like, IBM Watson can calculate a really quick and beat, beat most people. Right?
Absolutely. So back in, in the world of, of Beth Harmon, there’s a, there’s one game that’s adjourned in the show. Right. They get to certain point and then they adjourn. They spend some time, you know, with their friends and they say, “okay, maybe this will be the best move. And then if he plays that when then we can go into this variation.” Well, when computers came around, everybody could just look that up on the computer and prepare for the game and, you know, the next day they could win. So there are no more adjourned games. They’re, they’re played all the way through the end from start to finish.
That’s a thing of the past, but then when they adjourned didn’t they have to seal their next move to help at least help for the next-
Right. But the, the other player doesn’t know what the move is. Right. So they kind of have to play prepare for a variety of moves. Yeah. Yeah. That was that because it kept it interesting. Right. Right. Because that player commits to that move, it’s just that the other player doesn’t know. And then they get to prepare a response to any possible moves that they know. But they don’t do that anymore. No. That practice is gone.
Right. And then if you play online, there are tournaments that, where there are cash prizes and such. And if you want to qualify for the cash prizes, you have to verify your account. In a lot of cases, you have to have multiple cameras. You have to share your screen. Oh, yes. Because you can have a computer play a game on, on the second screen, and then you can see what you can play or something like that. Right.
They’re like watching, they want to make sure you’re a human is playing that game.
That’s right. That’s right. And that that’s especially the case with invitational tournaments like US Championship that was played last year. I believe it was October, November. Players are invited to, to play, but they have to agree that, you know, they have to have a camera behind them. They have to do this and that. And all in the efforts to minimize the potential for cheating. Now, that’s not to say that, that you can’t cheat in in-person games, you know, because there are, there have been grandmasters who have been caught going to the restroom where somebody left a phone and they can look up the moves on the phone because literally even the computer inside your phone is stronger than any chess player, human chess player in the world. So there have been a scandals like that.
So all those, all those cheating instances involves technology with the computer. I mean, are there, are there ways to cheat though, if you’re sitting on OTB with someone like, well, I don’t know. I can’t imagine unless the other person just doesn’t catch that you did something illegal. Right.
I mean you had situations in, in the old days where people were accused of having like an ear piece where somebody is giving them moves or, you know, or something like that. Right, right. Yeah. or, you know, if you have a game going on, you know, don’t ask your friend to you know, what, what should I play in this situation? Right. and so to go back to what I was saying originally, when you have blitz games where you have only five minutes, when you only have three minutes for the whole game, you don’t have time to, to go over here- it’s you. You got to figure it out. That’s right. And so some of these streamers who are usually really strong players, themselves, international masters of grandmasters, they only play three minute games because they know that if it, if they play even a five minute game, that gives the opponent the time to look up moves and, and play them in time to to beat them. Wow.
Those scenes in the Queen’s Gambit, when they were doing the speed chess was always really intense because, well, the multiple player one was, it was like when she was really little and she was playing all, all of the kids at the high school club, that was interesting. But then the speed when she would lose those bets after bets and then figure it out later. But those are intense. I think that’s why the game is so unique to me is that, I mean, very rarely are there other games when it is just one person and what is, what they have in their minds competing against one other person when they have in their minds, because even when you think of individual sports, like golf or boxing, or you still have it in tennis. Yeah. There’s just, I don’t know. There’s still breaks and times to talk with your coach and during the match and, and, you know, your caddy and all these other, like parts of your team, whereas chess feels very-
You’re on your own- independent. Yeah. That’s, that’s true. And it’s, it’s very it’s very individualistic. And because of that one-on-one aspect, it’s actually easier to determine who’s a better player. And I mentioned ratings earlier. You can get a rating with the, any national federation, US Chess Federation here in the States. FIDE is the international organization that manages the game of chess around the world. And they have their own grading system. So nobody is underrated or overrated in chess, right? Because they play other players who have their own rating. And based on those ratings using some complicated math, they figure out whether their rating goes up if they win, or down, if they lose. So you can always you can always kind of know where you stand against anybody else. And do a bigger tournaments, have sections where if you’re a player under, let’s say 1500, well, you’re not going to play against the Grandmaster who may be 2600, right. Who’s much higher rate in you. So they have sections where they divide
To make the competition fair. What else you have on your, on your notebook? I know you, I know you brought some info, so I wanna make sure you get it all-
Yes, yes. So I want to mention for, for those of you who are, let’s say 25 years of age and younger they may know people like xQc, or MoistCr1TiKaL, or MrBeast and people who are you and me, we’ve never even heard of these people, right? Those are some of the best viewed streamers and content creators on both Twitch and YouTube. And they they actually played in a couple of tournaments last year, chess tournaments, where the best players were best chess players of the world give them lessons. So those lessons become streams where people can tune in and watch, you know, Hikaru, Nakamura, give lessons to xQc, right. So you have exclusive viewers who are in the millions. You have Hikaru’s viewers who are, you know tens, tens of thousands. And that’s obviously a great content.
It’s very entertaining. And then those players, those people who are brand new to chess they play a tournament and and these grandmasters are the commentators. I wish he would play, you know, Bishop C4 or whatever. And it’s kind of fantastic fun to watch those players kind of agonize over moves and try to remember what they learned in those lessons? It’s, it’s actually, it’s actually a lot of fun. Those tournaments are called PogChamps. It’s a, it’s a Twitch term. So you know, the world of online chess has their own terminology. So you have to learn that the H pawn is called Harry. You have to learn to never play F6. You have to learn all of these like little cool things. That is cool. You gotta be in the know. Yeah. You gotta be, it’s kind of like an inside joke.
And so I, I mentioned that in this third iteration of this tournament, which is coming up in the spring, I think February or March there will be a couple of players that you might be familiar with Rainn Wilson from The Office is going to be in the tournament and Daniel Negreanu who’s one of the best poker players in the world has been getting chess lessons. And he’s going to be playing in that tournament too. So that’s going to be kind of interesting to watch. Getting some celebrity action. Exactly. Because the thing is we, we like watching the best players in the world play, but honestly, people like me, I don’t understand what the moves are all about. Right. Because the idea is that they have in their heads are way too advanced for me. And they, you know, we’ll have commentators who will kind of break it down, but I can’t quite appreciate it.
But when people who are about my strength or, or maybe even lower yeah. Play each other, I’m like, “no, no, no, no, play that, play that.” And like, I can kind of yeah. Relate to that a little bit more. And then of course, you know, those, those players have a huge following, like I said, both on YouTube and other social media. So it’s going to be a, it’s going to be a a great great fun to watch. Very cool, I’ll look out for it. and then one last thing that I want to mention is who the characters are. Currently the number one rated chess player in the world is also the top e-sports earner in the year 2020. His name is Magnus Carlsen. He’s from Norway. He’s been the world champion since 2000- Norway. And yeah, he’s been the world champion from since 2013. Wow. Yeah. So eight years. He’s 33 years old. He’s, he’s probably at the peak of his power
That seems young to be on a 8-year round. Yes.
A lot of these players, a lot of these streamers, they’re all like 25. Hikaru was 33 also. A lot of them are in the in the late twenties
That speaks to the future of chess. I mean, it’s not an old man’s game. I mean, it’s an old game, but the popular players right now are not old people. No, that that is true
With certain exceptions. My favorite chess streamer is Grandmaster Benjamin Finegold who I believe is in her, his early fifties. And he’s been one of the best players in the United States for you know, 10 or 20 years between like, let’s say, ’95 and 2005, that, that was kind of his peak. But he was the grandmaster in residence at that St. Louis Chess Club that I mentioned. Created a lot of videos. He has a very humorous style of presentation. A lot of dad jokes, a lot of puns. It’s, it’s actually really kind of fun to to, to watch him play chess and teach chess and play his viewers. And he has a lot of inside jokes as well. He’s may not be as popular as, as some of the others, but it was kind of interesting cause I just watched him in a tournament against players his own strength and stronger. And he dominated even though he’s in his fifties, he played really strong. Won all but maybe one or two of his games. So he’s, he’s actually much better than, than people give him credit for just because he’s old.
I think that’s cool. I think that’s a neat factor in the sport is that it can be a 52-year old man playing. It could be a 16-year old girl playing and if they’re on the same playing level, it doesn’t matter. Just sit down and figure it out. And that’s very cool. Yeah. There’s we don’t see that a lot in a lot of different things that we in competitions that we see, especially international play. Like there’s just not many places where you’re going to cross genders and age groups like that.
Absolutely. We mentioned tennis. You know, you can’t even imagine somebody in their thirties or forties playing against.
Yeah. I mean, even that, but yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I love that. Okay. Well, you’ve given us a lot and do you have a lot more?
I just want to say that United States has become a little bit more of a chess power over the last five years or so. We have, we have a lot of really good players. The, the last challenger to Magnus Carlsen for the world championship was Fabiano Caruana who I mentioned before. We have Hikaru, we also have Wesley So. Sam Shankland, we have a couple of other, really, really good players who are like in the top 20, top 50 in the world. Our Olympic team, which actually chess has an Olympiad. So not in the regular Olympics, but they have their, their Olympics on their own. They are very strong right up there with, with China and Russia.
Oh, good. I wondered if, if, you know, if Russia is still the powerhouse and if we’re anywhere close.
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and actually in 2019 at that World Championship match, Caruana and Carlsen played 24 games and they were all draws. So Caruana is like right up there with with Carlsen and you know, I was hoping that a US would have a chess champion again, you know, for the first time since Bobby Fischer but Fabiano is doing well in that Candidates Tournament. So he, if he wins it, he gets another shot. But even some of the other players who are coming up are, are really strong. And I think America has a really good future in chess. That’s fantastic. Yeah, lots of, information.
I know it’s hard to fit it all in this, in my, you know, somewhat shortened timeframe here on this, on this podcast format. But, but I’m so glad that we did this. I know that you have all this interesting knowledge and, you know, mine’s just sort of starting to peak on this, so I’m happy to learn and to hear all these names and yeah, we’ll put some of it in the show notes so that people can go click and check out some of these resources and things too. So,
Absolutely. And, and definitely with the popularity of, of Queen’s Gambit people are picking chess up again, cause everybody has a chess set somewhere or right in a, in a closet sitting somewhere or on their phone or on their phone. That’s right.
Yup. Yup. Well, thanks, Suad. Thanks for coming in and thank you guys for listening to this episode of Hustle & Pro. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts and we’ll see you next time.