Meet The Chess Streaming Ballerina Bringing Chaos To Twitch

Meet The Chess Streaming Ballerina Bringing Chaos To Twitch

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JulesGambit is a rising star in the chess streaming community who is currently based in California. With a background as a junior chess champion, she returned to chess as an adult and started sharing her passion for the game on Twitch earlier this year. Since then, she's amassed over 2.5k followers on the platform and regularly streams her games to hundreds of viewers.

Get to know Jules in our interview below and find out what chess and ballet have in common, what the most chaotic possible move in chess is, and why it's never too late to pursue your passions.

How long have you been streaming chess, and what made you decide to start?

I’m actually a bit of a streaming newbie! I only started around 2-3 months ago now, because I was back in my hometown over the summer and I was desperately looking for someone to play chess with. I found this group chat for the Collegiate Chess League; I had no idea what it was, but I just signed up to ask if anyone near me wanted to play chess! Joe Lee, the CCL Commissioner, reached out and said: "If you have a little extra time, would you consider streaming?" and I said “No!”

But he told me a little more about streaming and helped set everything up for me, and ever since then, I’ve been streaming chess!

What was your hesitation?

I feel like this is an experience for a lot of people interested in streaming: the #1 thing you hear is that it’s too late to start streaming on Twitch. That there’s zero discoverability, it’s just very hard to get on the platform, to get started, the tech is very difficult…. There are a lot of discouraging things out there on the internet! That’s what my mind went to immediately.

You’re the first Community Streamer who became an official partner streamer! How has your experience been with the Community Streamer Program?

So actually one of my coolest experiences came from being part of the Community Streamer Program. It was maybe my second or third stream, and I was playing someone who was higher rated than me. She ended up visiting my Twitch channel after the game (where she saw I was streaming) and she came onto my stream to say: ‘’You’re doing great, you’re gonna be a higher rating in no time!” She was just super helpful and sweet, and it was such a motivating experience. At that point, I wasn’t streaming to a lot of people yet, and I was still feeling a little insecure about my chess because it's really hard to put yourself out there and play a game in front of people! 

When she came and cheered me on, it really made me feel like I was a part of the community. I think it’s a great resource because the #1 thing that’s difficult about Twitch is building your community and finding people who do what you do, especially when you start out.

I think it helped to find my community on and get people to actually see me, and it was pretty fun to be able to communicate with some of the people I was playing with.

Who are some of your own personal favorite chess streamers, and why? 

Before streaming, I was only vaguely familiar with the Twitch community with one exception: back in 2020, I had the opportunity to interview the Botez sisters for NBCLX! It was very random and very cool; I reached out to NBC and said: "Hey, there are these people I wanna talk to, these female chess players... I’m a woman, I play chess, can I talk to them?"

I reached out through their agency at the time and we got to do a Zoom interview where I asked them a bunch of questions about Twitch. it was such a great experience because I’d been following them for a while, their adventures, and everything they’d been doing. That was probably one of the reasons that I was more open to starting on Twitch myself! 

Is there any particular inspiration they’ve given you for your stream?

Oh yeah, definitely! I really like how they interact with their audience. Chess can have the stereotype of being a very serious, no-fun sport, and they definitely like to switch it up a lot by always doing different streams. I think there was an escape room one recently, and at one point Andrea was DJing… so you never really quite know what you’re gonna get there. I enjoy mixing it up, adding the fun to the seriousness, because they ARE serious chess players, but they also know how to engage their audience.

Jules playing an over-the-board chess game.
Jules playing an over-the-board game. Photo: Courtesy of JulesGambit.

Are there other chess streamers who inspire you?

There’s another account, UCLA Chess, which is run by their chess president, Richard, and I think he’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen. I think he once had something like the most hours streamed for a college chess account; he genuinely just loves it.

Every single person who comes into his stream he greets by name, and he sounds genuinely thrilled to see them. He’s just got one of the most wholesome vibes. People say that you should stream just because you love it, and he truly embodies that. He definitely inspires me!  

What’s the most memorable or exciting moment you’ve had on stream over the last two months?

There have been so many... This is crazy, and I never thought this would be possible before I started streaming, but I’ve played grandmasters and international masters. Of course, they could destroy me in their sleep, but that’s just such a cool experience as a chess player to be able to play against some of the best people in the world. 

I actually met a grandmaster at a tournament I did, and we played hand and brain on stream, which was just hilarious. As you can imagine, he was incredibly frustrated, because he’d say ‘’pawn’’ and I’d move my pawn to a5 and he’d say: ‘’What are you doing, that’s not theory!’’ That was just such a fun experience.

I never thought this would be possible before I started streaming, but I’ve played grandmasters and international masters. Of course they could destroy me in their sleep, but that’s just such a cool experience.

Imagine you could do a chess-based collab on your stream with anyone in the world. Who would it be, and why?

This one’s easy, definitely the Chessbrahs! I have never seen people have as much fun playing chess as them; they make you feel like chess is a party, and I just feel like they’d be very fun to collaborate with. I love how they engage their audience and play super high-level chess in a very accessible, fun, and entertaining way—that’s just so cool to me.

What IS the Jules Gambit?

So there’s been a lot of debate over this… most of my community points to a specific instance in my stream where I lost my queen and then, somehow when I lost my queen, I also ended up in a fork with my rook at the same time, and then that rook fork ended up in another fork with my other rook, so I lost my queen and two rooks in a period of like 25 seconds. I like to think that it’s the most chaotic move possible on the board.

You’ve actually been playing competitive chess since you were five (before taking a break). What were your early chess days like?

I started chess because of my older sister. I was like: ‘’My older sister is playing? I wanna play! I wanna be better than her!” So I started when I was five years old, and I played competitively. I went to the state championship, I went to Nationals, and I insisted on wearing floppy hats, like one of those old lady hats that you see at horse races. I would wear them to every game. In fact, my coach told my mom that if I wore them to another game he would stop coaching me. I still did it, it was my good luck hat! I would wear frilly dresses and had a pink streak in my hair. I was a very sassy kid.

A young JulesGambit (and her hat) with her sister.
A young JulesGambit (and her hat) with her sister, also a chess player! Photo: Courtesy of JulesGambit.

What caused you to stop playing?

I was NorCal Girls Champion at the time, so I was competing at a good level for my age. When I was around 10 or 11, which I’ve heard is pretty common for other people, I started to get a little frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t make friends at these tournaments. When you’re younger, boys don’t want to interact with girls or be friends with girls; I’d be going to all these tournaments and no one would talk to me!

I remember at the state tournament there was a dance competition going on at the same time, and I snuck in there and pretended to be a dancer and stretched just so I could talk to people! That ended up being frustrating for me, and I kind of lost my passion for the sport at that time. Which is unfortunate, but you can’t force a kid to have passion—either they do or they don’t.

WGM Jennifer Shahade talks about this in her book, Chess Queens, which I’m obsessed with. She mentions that a lot of girls don’t end up continuously competing when they’re young because it’s a very difficult environment for a girl to wade through.

It has been a lot more welcoming as an adult, I think mostly just because you don’t have the ‘’girls have cooties’’ thing anymore, so I can be friends with the other players, and also I’m a bit more confident in myself so I don’t take to heart some of the stuff I did when I was younger. 

What ambitions do you have for your stream? Where do you see your channel one or two years from now?

One of the main goals for my stream is just to continue playing chess at a competitive level. This is very ambitious, but one day I’d love to go for a title and maybe document that. I’ve definitely been getting more into competitive chess again and I keep meeting women who have the same story as me: being a competitive kid and playing a lot before stopping, and then they feel uncomfortable starting again because there's a lot of pressure to be as good as you were as a kid, or they don’t know where to start, or it’s not a very welcoming community. 

I just want to show on my stream that you CAN play competitively again; that you can make it fun, and it can be low-pressure, so that’s definitely a direction I can see my stream going in. I just want to continue growing my community, and I’m very happy with everything that’s happened so far!

Different disciplines can inform and complement each other—do you feel like anything you've learned in ballet can be applied to playing chess (or vice versa)?

My ballet and my chess journey definitely mirror themselves in odd ways. I started ballet late for a ballerina, at 12 years old, and you might roll your eyes because 12 years old isn’t ‘’late’’ in most other contexts! Starting out late, you tend to compare yourself a lot to other people around you, especially because I was putting myself in classes with younger kids to try to catch up.

Ballet is a very visual sport, and so I’m comparing myself to people who are younger and have a lot more strength than I do, so I definitely had to block that out and focus on my passion, and get rid of that pressure to be the absolute best. I’ve done ballet consistently since then, I’m still doing it now in college, and I've had that same experience in chess: having to block out the pressure and expectations, and really focus your brain on the sport instead. I think no matter what you do, you have to have that kind of discipline and passion. You’re not gonna be a good chess player unless you’re obsessed with the sport, and it’s the same in ballet.

A photo of JulesGambits' cat, RBG.
RBG the cat is a frequent contributor to the JulesGambit channel. Photo: Courtesy of JulesGambit.

Your cat is named RBG and sometimes features on your stream. Please tell us more about RBG.

RBG is my nerdy little political science cat, named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s a little bit evil. She’s a rescue, and also a huge fan of chess streams. I turned around to get coffee from my fridge once, and when I looked back she was typing on the chess stream I had open. She left four comments that were all strings of various syllables... luckily someone knew it was her. Once she learns to type, it’s over for me; someone once said that if she ever starts streaming chess, she’ll be more popular than me, and I’m 100% sure that's the case.

You can catch JulesGambit live on her Twitch channel, or follow her content on Twitter, Instagram, Discord, and YouTube.

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