A Chess Boom and a Viral Video


Chess is booming in the Oklahoma City (OKC) metropolitan area. Coffeeshops, bookstores, recreation and community centers, and universities host chess clubs every day of the week. ChessMates OKC posted a chess video that, in less than two months, has over 90,000 views.

Boomer Sooner

“Boomer Sooner” is the fight song for the University of Oklahoma (OU). Its main campus is in Norman, in the southern part of the OKC metroplex. Norman’s chess clubs meet on Mondays at a Barnes & Noble bookstore and on Thursdays at the OU Memorial Union.

Edmond Chess Club

Dr. Saheli Nath, an alumna of The University of Texas at Dallas and former member of its chess team, is now an assistant professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. After I told Rebecca Rutledge, Secretary of the Oklahoma Chess Association, that a Woman FIDE Master (WFM) lived in Edmond, she contacted WFM Nath. Shortly after, the Edmond Chess Club started meeting weekly, on Thursdays, at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Edmond is on the northern edge of the OKC metroplex.

More (Moore) Chess

In the southern part of the OKC metroplex, about a 16-minute drive from the OKC city center, is Moore, OK. Its chess clubs meet on Sundays and Thursdays at recreation and community centers in Moore.

Oklahoma City

So far, I have listed chess clubs in the OKC metroplex area that meet on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. One can find chess clubs that meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays inside the Oklahoma City limits.

cute rabbit

While I haven’t been to the chess clubs at Kamp’s 1910 Café on Wednesdays and Fridays or at Hopscotch on Wednesdays, I have attended the clubs that meet Saturdays at Full Circle Bookstore and Tuesdays at All About Cha. I visit OKC to see, and to sometimes pet-sit for, my daughter and son-in-law. They have a rabbit named Billy Joel and guinea pig named Dana. (My rabbit’s name is Einstein.)

Book Signing

U.S. Women’s Chess Championships: Participants, Champions, Crosstables

On October 24, Full Circle Bookstore hosted a book signing for my eighth book, United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937-2020. Originally, the signing was planned for a Saturday, when the Full Circle Bookstore chess club meets, but it ended up on a Monday evening.

Justin Barton attended the book signing, bought two copies of my book, and invited me to the Tuesday night ChessMates OKC meeting at All About Cha. ChessMates OKC is run by Justin and his brother Tyler.

Viral Video

Wikipedia suggests that a viral video should have at least one million views. One formula that seems to garner views is “chess hustler versus woman.” Most popular in this formulation is “I played Chess Hustlers in Union Square Park” with 18 million views, posted by BotezLive.

At All About Cha, Justin Barton challenged me to play on camera. Within a few days, he posted videos of both of our games, giving the videos titles that follow the “chess hustler versus woman” formula. Our second game hasn’t received many views, but the video of our first game has over 90,000 views as of December 10, 2022.

Keys to Success

For more information about all chess clubs in Oklahoma, including the ones mentioned above, see this listing. One key to the state’s “chess boom” is dedicated volunteers like Rebecca Rutledge and the Barton brothers showing up, week after week, to run chess clubs in Oklahoma. Another key is finding venues—such as coffeeshops, bookstores, recreation and community centers, and universities—that welcome chess players. Publicizing chess clubs, including through viral videos, is key too.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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