Lularobs is one of the fastest-growing chess streamers around. Despite only starting in 2021, she’s built up a loyal Twitch following and a reputation as chess’s undisputed meme queen on Twitter. She also recently competed in her first over-the-board tournament at the Reykjavik Open.
We chatted with Lula and found out what makes her stream so unique, what her tips are for aspiring streamers, and what the deal is with eating raw onions live on stream. Read on to find out.
Chess.com: How long have you been streaming chess, and what made you decide to start?
Lularobs: I started dabbling in streaming around January/February 2021, doing one or two chess streams every now and then. I’d say I started properly around April, when I started streaming 3+ times a week, then almost every day.
I wanted to start streaming because it’s something I always thought was really cool! But I could never really find the right game, so I never took the plunge. Then, one of my friends who actually taught me how to play chess, said that he wanted to stream chess on Twitch—and I thought, “hey, IN want to stream chess on Twitch!”
After I started putting a lot of time into it in April, I realized that I was really building a community. That made me feel very excited about it, and I started putting a lot of time and energy into it. It’s been just about a year, really, and time has gone incredibly fast!
What’s your favorite thing about streaming? What makes it fun?
Streaming is extremely social, and that’s something I truly enjoy about it. Especially because when I started, we were all in lockdown during the pandemic and couldn’t go outside.
I like the social aspect of it and building a community, as well as the creative aspect. Chess is also something that, once I got into it, I never really got out of! I jumped in, and that was it; chess has been a bit all-consuming since I started playing, and managing to channel that into a creative outlet and sharing that with other people has been tremendously exciting.
Who are some of your favorite chess streamers, and why?
My gateway streamer was definitely GothamChess. When I started playing, the first opening I learned properly was the Caro-Kann, after watching Levy’s 10-minute Caro-Kann video on YouTube.
Levy and Agadmator were the only two chess content creators that I consistently watched, so Levy was definitely the first one I was watching on Twitch. My channel was just a baby channel—I was around 800 Elo, so I didn’t exactly model myself after him, but he was the first chess content creator whose streams and videos I really engaged with.
— Lula! (@lularobs) January 8, 2022
Something special about streaming is that every sub-community is unique. How would you describe your community?
Good question! One thing I noticed very early on is that I have a slightly older demographic than many other Twitch chess streamers. Maybe it’s because, with a lot of the huge chess streamers, PogChamps exposed them to the general gaming community on Twitch, which has a much younger demographic.
I think my community—and they’re going to prove me wrong after this—is a bit more mature. They do troll me and tease me, but I think that’s healthy and good; if everything was very somber, it would be a bit boring!
Every time somebody asks me about my community, I say it’s the best community on Twitch, and I stand by that. I don’t think I’d still be streaming and playing chess without them. I’m sure every streamer says that about their community, but without their support, I probably wouldn’t have gone and played my first tournament in Reykjavik. They really helped me to step outside of my comfort zone.
What’s the most memorable or exciting moment you’ve had on stream so far?
I think it’s when I was playing in a tournament called Dragon Masters 2, commented by Alessia Santeramo. I was in the final, and I wasn’t playing very well in the last game, then I managed to win when I was extremely low on time; I had about two seconds left, and I won with a queen sacrifice.
I was wearing my heart rate monitor, and it spiked to 170! My whole body was shaking because I’d just won the tournament. I was fully immersed in what I was doing, and my heart rate was probably not healthy at that point. But it was incredibly fun. That was a moment of pure excitement.
— Lula! (@lularobs) March 22, 2022
What’s the craziest bet or challenge you’ve received while streaming?
Not many, actually! I did have one weird one… It was towards the end of last summer. Somebody in my chat offered to pay me to eat a whole onion. A whole raw onion. I was pretty reluctant, but they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Apart from that, the bets are kind of lacking! So if anyone is up for making a bet, I need a good one to push the onion bet out of my memory.
Imagine you could do a chess-based collab on your stream with anyone in the world. Who would it be, and why?
This is so hard! I think my chat, in particular, would absolutely love it if I did a stream with Garry Kasparov. I think they’d find it hilarious. It’d be my pink overlay and pink background, and I’d be like ”Garry can we play 1.b4?” and his whole life would flash before his eyes.
Speaking of pink overlays, you have one of the most aesthetically pleasing chess streams out there. What tips do you have for people who want to make their stream look better?
When you start on OBS for the first time, it’s all quite daunting! It’s easy to get it going, but making it look good is another matter entirely. Obviously, personal taste also factors into it a lot! I make all my overlays myself, and I think spending a couple of hours on Canva or Photoshop and making something you’re proud of and excited about is definitely worth it.
Many people also get their overlays custom-made by talented people on Fiverr, Streamlabs, or other places. I do think that having a stream that looks good makes a big difference. A little effort goes a long way.
Last month we spoke to GM Benjamin Bok about what it’s like streaming as a GM. On the other hand, you’re learning and improving at chess live in front of thousands of people. What’s that like?
So when I started, I had a 700-800 rapid rating on Chess.com. I set myself the challenge of getting much better than that! I’ve been doing that ever since. Sometimes it can feel like a lot of pressure, especially if you hit a plateau or have an important game and lose it live on stream. I think a lot of the pressure is put on me by myself and my desire to improve as a chess player.
One thing I’ve said before about streamers who have titles is there’s always something to fall back on; even if they play badly or hang their queen, they’ve still proven that they’re a really good chess player because they’ve done all their tournaments and got their title.
Because I hadn’t played any tournaments and didn’t have a FIDE rating before, I sometimes felt as if I wasn’t a ”real” chess player—which is ridiculous because there’s no such thing as a ”real” ‘chess player.
One thing that viewers do like is seeing streamers around their own rating. Before the big chess boom and The Queen’s Gambit, a lot of chess content was quite high-level and mostly catered to people who are very serious about chess and improvement. It can be nice to see somebody calculate at a normal human rate and think: ”This is where I could be with a little bit more work” or ”oh, this is someone kind of at my level.” I think that’s another positive about not being titled.
— Lula! (@lularobs) December 27, 2021
You also played your first over-the-board tournament recently in the Reykjavik Open. How was that experience?
I’m really, really glad that I went to Reykjavik. I feel incredibly privileged that that was my first tournament. I was tweeting about it, and many people were like: ”My first tournament was in a school sports hall, where 10 people played, and the top seed was 1700.” Going to Reykjavik and meeting all the amazing people I met and making friends with chess players from all over the world I was fortunate to have that as my first tournament experience.
It was incredibly hard going as someone who had never played a tournament before; there were no rest days, double rounds, stuff like that. At some points, I wondered, ”what have I signed myself up for?! I just play blitz on the internet!”
I think it was a really important experience for me because it did prove that I could play long-form chess at a level that I was happy with in terms of how long I’ve been playing and the progress that I’ve made in that hour.
— Lula! (@lularobs) April 19, 2022
We were also sorry to hear about your negative experiences there. It’s sad that women chess players still have to deal with inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour.
There will always be people at chess tournaments and in life who cross boundaries or who don’t show respect to other people; it’s really unfortunate that it happened, and the organizers have been very helpful.
I still would go again and have the experience, and I wouldn’t discourage other girls and women from going to tournaments. Just make sure you have a good support network and that it’s important that we keep working towards a culture in chess where these things don’t happen.
But definitely don’t let it keep you out of tournaments! The more of us that are in chess, the better the environment will become for everybody.
Finally: what other advice would you give to aspiring chess streamers? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned (about streaming, chess, or life in general)?
If you’re thinking of streaming, you really do need to just start. There’ll never be the right time. Like any hobby that takes time or effort, you just need to force yourself to get going.
With that being said, streaming is hard work. It can be tiring. The other thing about streaming is that you can do a lot of work and see no results, so you can’t go in with expectations. Every follower or connection that comes out of it is just a bonus. Go in with an open mind, be consistent (people will want to see you regularly rather than once randomly every month), and remember that a little bit of time and effort goes a long way!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the second-ever Chess.com Streamer of the Month article! Is there anyone you’d like to see next? Tell us in the comments, and stay tuned for next month’s edition.
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Previous Streamer of the Month winners: