On Thursday, in celebration of Spirit Day, the world’s largest LGBTQ anti-bullying GLAAD hosted an inaugural Spirit Day chess tournament with Chess.com. Several high-level prizes were donated, highlighting the generosity and allyship of the chess community – Chess.com gifted Diamond memberships, Chessable offered courses, and 8 coaches donated lessons.
The tournament was broken up into two arenas, one at 11AM ET and another at 8pm ET, with over 300 chess players tuning in to battle in the name of supporting queer youth.
The tournament chat was filled with messages of enthusiasm for the event, and positivity for the LGBTQ community, including many heartwarming comments about how enthralled queer participants were to have a chess tournament for them. “Chess is for everyone!” commented one user on a blog post announcing the tourney.
Another user expressed their gratitude on the chess.com Discord server:
“The amount of chess communities I’ve left for homophobic sh*t is crazy. … so thanks for trying to educate the dumbest demographic there is, chess players. Seriously, this partnership is awesome. Good job!”
The AM event saw a competitive back and forth performance by the top 2 finishers, National Master Emilio Castellanos and Trans Chess Club member International Master Jack Rudd. The two battled neck and neck until the very end, where Emilio eked out a 1 point victory over Jack, with a final score of 114 points. At second, Jack earned a total of 113 points and FIDE Master Javier Benitez came in 3rd place with a total of 84 points.
Emilio told GLAAD “It’s great to be an Official Streamer of a company [Chess.com] that gives visibility and support to these types of events that are very much needed today. It was a very fun and intense tournament!”
After the event, players reconciled how much fun they had, and how much they enjoyed the LGBTQ Chess space. Trans Chess Club member Seraphina told GLAAD “It feels nice to play with family, I’ve been waiting for an event like that for a long time, I can’t wait for the next one!” Florian, another TCC member said “It was a very good atmosphere with a lot of respect. It was a pleasure to play in that kind of event. There should be more like this in the future!”
At the evening arena, Fide Master Javier Benitez placed again, this time winning 1st by a sizable margin at 140 points. User “HoldUpLemmeThinkRq” placed 2nd, with 106 points, and honorary Trans Chess Club member, internet chess personality, coach, and staunch LGBTQ ally JJ Lang aka “Chess Feels” won 3rd place at 84 points.
JJ told GLAAD “It was a blast playing against a wide skill range of players, including many of my students! I hope to play in more events organized for the LGBTQIA+ community in the future.”
In total, there were 300 individual players between the 2 events. It was a great turnout, especially for the short turnout we had for planning time. This demonstrates the immense potential for LGBTQ advocacy in the chess community, and we hope to explore more ways of doing so.
Luísa Leão, the Community Coordinator from Chess.com told GLAAD “For the first time since I started as a Chess.com community coordinator, I had seen people using their own [chess] clock time to chat during the tournament and thank us for organizing an event. Our partnership with GLAAD made the queer youth in the chess community feel seen, heard, protected, and loved. We couldn’t be happier with the feedback we received from them! It was a truly powerful day, and I hope we can continue spreading this message of acceptance in the world of chess. Chess is for everyone!”