How ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Started a New Debate About Sexism in Chess

That creates and reinforces one other drawback that daunts girls’s participation: too few social contacts. Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women’s Champion who has written two books about girls in chess (“Chess Bitch” and “Play Like a Girl!”) and is the ladies’s program director on the U.S. Chess Federation, mentioned teenage ladies are inclined to cease taking part in chess as a result of there are so few of them they usually need the social help. That Beth is a loner is probably going an essential purpose she doesn’t stop taking part in in tournaments.

Shahade mentioned she truly did stop for a whereas, at about age 12, though she got here from a chess household. Her father, Mike, was a grasp and her brother, Greg, turned a global grasp.

“I was self-conscious,” Shahade mentioned. “My brother was super talented and had become a master so early and so easily. I was a much slower learner.”

Shahade, who grew up admiring Polgar, mentioned it was “totally inspiring” to see Beth’s story unfold. Like Beth, who loses all her video games to Benny the primary time they play velocity chess, she prefers sluggish, or classical, chess.

Of 74,000 members in whole, the U.S. Chess Federation mentioned it has about 10,500 feminine members. Shahade desires to extend that quantity, in addition to their participation. To that finish, Shahade and the federation began a web-based chess membership in April to maintain feminine gamers engaged through the pandemic. In the previous few weeks, there have been between 80 and 140 contributors, with fairly a few older gamers. The final assembly additionally had a particular visitor: Kasparov, who has change into a large booster of ladies’s chess since his retirement from competitors in 2005. He was additionally a advisor on the Netflix sequence.

To preserve the momentum going, Shahade is launching a new on-line group known as the “Madwoman’s Book Club.” The title refers to a pejorative identify used for the queen in the 15th and 16th centuries after it turned probably the most highly effective piece on the board. The first assembly this Friday already has 100 individuals signed up.

The topic of the dialogue ought to come as no shock: “The Queen’s Gambit” by Walter Tevis, the e-book on which the Netflix sequence relies.

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