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Gaming

The world’s largest chess site is so popular that fans can’t play now

A golden chess piece stands in front of a burning business chart

Image: PNG Wing / Kotaku / Kurt Kleemann (Shutterstock)

The halcyon days (if there ever were) of the covid pandemic are still felt today with the resurgence of popularity of online chess. However, the world’s largest chess website has fallen victim to the king’s success as its servers struggle to keep up with the game’s online popularity.

Yesterday, Chess.com, the premier platform for online chess competitions, released a official statement in a blog post that was about why their servers are struggling, why the game has become so popular and how they plan to fix the website’s database crashes, according to PC gamer.

According to Chess.com, traffic to the website has doubled since December, making the app the second most popular free game on the iOS App Store in the US. In January, Chess.com set new site records for active members for five days, reaching one million visits from Google for the first time on January 19. Chess.com set a site record of 31,700,000 games played on January 20. shows no signs of slowing down as the site regularly plays over a million games per hour.

Chess.com said the chess boom was a result of “lockdowns, Pogchamps and The queen’s gambit on Netflix.” Standouts for the popularity of the game over the course of the last three years are the admittedly baller shot of soccer players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo play the gamethe infamous anal beading scandaland host popular streamers crazy chess tournaments.

“When chess first boomed during the COVID lockdown, our servers struggled to handle the traffic. We invested heavily in hardware and other improvements that enabled us to scale up,” said the Chess.com statement. “When The queen’s gambit boom happened, we experienced another massive increase in traffic, mostly with no service interruptions.

Chess.com's picture for daily active users in January.

Image: Chess.com / Kotaku

To further explain how much stress the Chess servers are under, Chess.com has added a breakdown of the site’s daily active members. According to the site, more than 250,000 new accounts are created every day. In addition to having servers to deal with thousands of players commenting and chatting during matches, Chess.com’s database also has to deal with the staggering 16,000 chess moves made on average per second.

Read more: Learn chess in 4 easy steps (without starting your own scandal)

While Chess.com has a good problem technically, it is nevertheless one that causes its databases to collapse under the stress of the number of concurrent players. In fact, at the writing of this article, the To play chess. com landing page was unavailable due to data overload.

A screenshot of the error message on the Chess.com landing page.

I went to look up a chess related pun and forgot lol. I am part of the problem. Ah, Eto… Meh.
Screenshot: Chess.com / Kotaku

“To address the challenges our databases are experiencing, we are separating database tables, sharding databases, and in-memory services. We’re also working on splitting off our most problematic database of users and gameplay. Each of these things takes time because there is SO MUCH DATA to move,” Chess.com wrote. “We’re also working on more ‘graceful’ failures so we can recover faster and with fewer interruptions when things go wrong and everything is exhausted.”

Chess.com ended its blog post by reassuring players that it would “roll out more short-term fixes today” that should stabilize players’ online experience and have a much better and more stable experience later this week. Other major updates will be rolled out over the next two to three weeks.

“We love you, we feel you, we’re sorry, and we’re working as hard as we can to get back to stability and provide the best possible experience – today and in the future, when we reach 15 million or even 20 million reaching people who play chess in a day,” Chess.com wrote. “Chess is incredible, and it’s a pleasure to share this game with all of you.”

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