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Chess is rising in popularity, but not in a way you would think

Madison City School System is a pioneer here in the Tennessee Valley when it comes to online chess.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Many extracurricular activities have taken a hit during the pandemic, because most of them have always been in person activities. Now, because a lot of kids are attending school remotely, more and more are turning to online chess.

The Madison City School System provides ChessKid.com memberships to all elementary students, and those in middle and high school who are part of a chess class or club.

Another factor to the growing popularity of chess, is actually a new Netflix series, The Queen's Gambit. Sales of chess related items and general interest have recently skyrocketed.

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"We already saw a huge spike, just because people were online, and they were trying to play safely and on ChessKid.com there was a 300% increase in people playing chess. And then with The Queen's Gambit, what you saw were more adults being brought back to the game, you saw chess sets selling out," said Ranae Bartlett, Executive Director of Madison City Chess League. 

This series, The Queen's Gambit, follows the life of a chess prodigy named Beth Harmon. The title itself is actually a popular chess move. 

RELATED: Madison County Schools extends hybrid learning schedule into mid-January

Soon, Madison City Schools won't be the only system with access to ChessKid. 

Huntsville City Schools recently received a grant for membership to the site for the 2020-2021 academic year, and Madison County Schools will be piloting the online program this month.

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