Before the Fischer-Spassky Match of 1972 in Iceland, chess enjoyed participation as limited as women’s sports before the advent of Title IX.
Children, especially, were a rarity at chess clubs. They simply did not play the game in significant numbers. Chess was often crudely characterized as an activity of “sages and old men.”
But, as if by magic, that all changed.
Overnight the millions of parents who had followed – often game-by-game and sometimes move-by-move – the match in Reykjavik, began to see it as a valuable and prestigious activity for children – perhaps even as a skill to be touted in a college application.
At the very least it was a status symbol.
Whereas few, very few had taught chess before, hundreds of teachers – some quickly, many more gradually – emerged from the chess woodwork.
Today, when middle-class status is becoming more difficult and more expensive to achieve, the number of chess teachers continues to grow and thrive.
For many, teaching chess is a way to make an independent and even affluent living.
A reflection of the ground-level interest by young children is the existence of a Boy Scouts chess merit badge.
Internet age or not, the Scouts awarded twice as many chess merit badges, last year, as those focused on robotics.
Below is a win by Yi Wei against Chen Wang from the Hainan Danzhou GM tournament in Danzhou, China.