Botez sisters set the table for their Bullet Invitational chess tournament

Alexandra and Andrea Botez have helped chess reach a whole new audience. Instagram/missbotez

Who could have predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would—in association with Netflix—help make chess seem badass? Deny all you want that the game has suddenly become crazy-cool, but not until you’ve binge-watched every episode of The Queen’s Gambit, with a Chesterfield in one hand, and a Gibson in the other. As for the rest of us, we couldn’t be more excited about the Botez Bullet Invitational chess tournament.

The Botez part of the equation is sisters Alexendra and Andrea, both of whom have become monster presences in the world of esports chess. Alexandra has, as fans of the game know, become a superstar on Twitch as a streamer and player. Along with Andrea she hosts a chess show on Twitch.

Now to their Bullet Invitational, which will feature 20 content creators doing battle on BotezLive on May 5 from noon to 2 p.m.

“What’s with the short time window?”, you might understandably ask. That has everything to do with the format. Bullet chess games are over almost as soon as they start, with the time limit set at two minutes, which means players get a total of one-minute each.

Why chess, and why now?

The game that made legends out of Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer has found a new legion of fans since the premiere of The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix last October.

This past February there were a total of 21 million chess hours watched on Twitch, with viewership heaviest on the Chess channel GMHikaru, but also big digital box office on Ludwig and BotezLive.

The Botez sisters have played a big role in the renewed popularity of chess. The siblings signed on with Envy Gaming late last year in a deal with see them contribute to the organization’s creator network and ambassador program. The two are now also exclusive Twitch partners.

As for where The Queen’s Gambit factors into the equation, um, have you sat down and watched the Netflix series? It’s almost enough to make you glad that you haven’t been able to leave your apartment for large swaths of the last year.

Take an orphan, unleash her inner chess prodigy, and then add endless pill-popping, rampant alcoholism, a chain-smoking cigarette addiction, and plenty of sex to the equation. And don’t ever get us started in the almost fetishistic attention to detail that’s paid to recreating the best of the 1950s and ‘60s on the decor front.

Note to self: right after marveling at the Botez Bullet Invitational, pick up a pack of Chesterfields, whip up a Gibson, and re-watch The Queen’s Gambit. And don’t forget the pills.

Here’s the list of talent who’ll be on deck for the Botez Bullet Invitational:


Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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