Botez Sisters: Chess, Streaming, and Fame | Lex Fridman Podcast #319 | Summary and Q&A

September 9, 2022
Lex Fridman Podcast
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Botez Sisters: Chess, Streaming, and Fame | Lex Fridman Podcast #319


Professional chess players and sisters, Alexandra and Andrea Botez, discuss their love for chess, the challenges of the game, and their experiences playing against top players like Magnus Carlsen. They also touch on the controversy in the chess world and their views on the importance of love and empathy.

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Key Insights

  • ๐Ÿ‘ Passion and obsession are crucial to excelling in any field, including chess.
  • ๐Ÿคจ The controversy in the chess world involving Hans Niemann and Magnus Carlsen highlights the ongoing issues of cheating and suspicious practices.
  • ๐Ÿค— The Botez sisters have different playing styles and strengths, with Alexandra excelling in the endgame and Andrea focusing on opening preparations.
  • โ™Ÿ๏ธ The King's Indian Defense is a popular chess opening known for its aggressiveness and tactical possibilities.
  • โ˜ ๏ธ Playing against higher-rated players can be psychologically challenging but also an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • ๐Ÿ‘พ When analyzing games and studying chess, a balance is needed between personal analysis and computer assistance.


i mean i've definitely experienced moments where i didn't want to do anything but chess i also say that's pretty universal i think if you want to be that the best at anything you do or any sport you have to be that level of obsessed the following is a conversation with alexander and andrea botez they're sisters professional chess players commentato... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the controversy in the chess world involving Hans Niemann and Magnus Carlsen?

The controversy arose when Hans Niemann, a young grandmaster, beat Magnus Carlsen, hinting at possible cheating or shady practices. The chess community and the internet had various theories and proposals to explain the situation.

Q: How do the Botez sisters approach chess and their training?

Both Alexandra and Andrea started playing chess at a young age, with Andrea initially being more interested in other hobbies. However, they both developed a passion for the game and dedicated numerous hours to studying and preparing for tournaments.

Q: What is the significance of the King's Indian Defense in chess?

The King's Indian Defense is a popular chess opening where black allows white to control the center of the board in exchange for a strong counter-attack on the king side. This opening is known for its tactical possibilities and aggressive play style.

Q: How do the Botez sisters handle playing against higher-rated players?

Playing against higher-rated players can be challenging and intimidating. They often feel outmatched and suffocated positionally. The psychological aspect of the game also comes into play, as higher-rated players can have a psychological advantage.


In this video, Lex Friedman interviews professional chess players Alexandra and Andrea Botez. They discuss their experiences with chess, their recent trip to Italy, the impact of social media on content creation, and the strengths and weaknesses of each sister in chess. They also explore the psychological aspects of playing against higher-rated players and the different approaches to the game in blitz and classical chess. Additionally, they touch on the evolution of their chess skills through streaming and the influence of openings on gameplay.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Alexandra and Andrea Botez enjoy their recent trip to Italy?

Alexandra and Andrea share their memorable experiences of driving around various cities in Italy and enjoying the variety of places they visited. The trip, while chaotic and stressful, provided valuable learning lessons and allowed them to appreciate the flexibility of traveling light without excess baggage.

Q: Did losing their luggage during the trip have any positive aspects?

Losing their luggage turned out to be liberating for both sisters. It forced them to pack light and made them realize that they could survive with just the essentials. Alexandra found it a big learning lesson and an opportunity to break free from her habit of overpacking.

Q: How was driving in Italy during their trip?

Driving in Italy was quite crazy, especially in cities like Florence, where the streets were narrow and two-way streets should be one-way. Despite the challenges, Alexandra found the experience relaxing because it allowed her to take a break from thinking about work and focus solely on driving and enjoying the adventure.

Q: Did the Botez sisters pick up any Italian gestures during their trip?

Yes, they did pick up some Italian hand gestures. However, they also got yelled at by local Italians, mostly old Italian grandmas who scolded them for leaving food on their plates. This reminded them of their upbringing in a Romanian immigrant neighborhood, where finishing one's plate is seen as a sign of respect.

Q: How did the Botez sisters find the food in Italy?

Andrea, who has a gluten allergy, found it interesting that she didn't get sick while eating gluten in Italy compared to the United States. However, she didn't enjoy the food as much as she thought she would. Alexandra, on the other hand, felt that the food was overrated, particularly due to the heavy focus on carbs like pasta and bread.

Q: What are the "romance languages," and where would Italian rank among them for the Botez sisters?

The "romance languages" include Romanian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and a few others. Andrea and Alexandra both share a preference for French due to its character and sultry sound. Although Italian was at the bottom of their list due to negative experiences with locals, they still appreciated the language's familiarity from their upbringing in a Romanian immigrant neighborhood.

Q: How did Alexandra and Andrea Botez get into chess, and when did they fall in love with the game?

Both sisters started playing chess at a young age, around six years old, with their father as their teacher. Initially, Alexandra was pushed by their dad, but she started loving chess when they moved from Canada and it became the only stable aspect in their life. Andrea developed a love for chess later when she started streaming on Twitch and met other chess players, making the game more social and enjoyable.

Q: What is the difference between tactical chess and strategic chess?

Tactical chess involves solving puzzles or finding lines that lead to a forced win. It relies on combinations and tactical ability. On the other hand, strategic chess focuses on making slow, positional moves to build a slightly better position over time. Strategic chess requires a deeper understanding of the overall strategy and can span over 20 moves.

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Alexandra and Andrea Botez in chess?

Alexandra is stronger in endgames and has a good understanding of opening preparations. She excels in pattern recognition and intuition, especially in shorter time controls like blitz chess. Andrea, on the other hand, is meticulous in opening preparations and has a stronger understanding of tactical combinations. However, she faces difficulties in endgames and often struggles psychologically against higher-rated players.

Q: What is the experience like playing against higher-rated players in chess?

Playing against higher-rated players can be suffocating and mentally challenging. There is a constant feeling of being outsmarted and slowly squeezed, especially when facing players with a significant rating difference. The psychological aspect often plays a crucial role, and knowing the statistical superiority of the higher-rated player makes it more difficult to maintain confidence during the game.

Q: How do Alexandra and Andrea Botez navigate content creation in the context of social media and streaming chess?

They discuss the challenges of adapting their content for platforms like YouTube and Twitch. They acknowledge the pressure to optimize thumbnails, titles, and video formats to capture and retain viewers. However, they balance this with their desire to create meaningful content and gradually develop the skills needed to communicate effectively with larger audiences without compromising their authenticity.


The Botez sisters' conversation with Lex Friedman delved into their love for chess, experiences in Italy, and challenges of content creation. They highlighted the importance of finding a balance between optimizing content for mainstream platforms while staying true to their passions. The discussion also touched on the psychological aspects of playing chess and the difference between tactical and strategic chess. Through their streaming journey, they discovered the impact of socializing and building friendships in the chess community. Ultimately, their goal is to continue having conversations and celebrating the beauty of chess, even amidst the fast-paced world of social media.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Alexandra and Andrea Botez are professional chess players, commentators, educators, and streamers known for their channel BotezLive on Twitch and YouTube.

  • They discuss their love for chess and how obsession and passion are key to excelling in any field.

  • They mention the ongoing controversy in the chess world involving 19-year-old grandmaster Hans Niemann beating Magnus Carlsen and the accusations of cheating.

  • The Botez sisters share their experiences playing chess, their thoughts on the game, and the importance of love and empathy.

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