Winning the Chess Gender Challenge
For a long time now, the chess world has tried to get more girls involved and keep them in the game long term. In my years as a chess teacher I’ve seen a similar story as many others: female chess participation is often quite good in elementary school, but later falls off a cliff.
When females don’t stay in chess, we lose more than half of our potential audience.
I admit to being selfish: I love teaching girls because I’ve found that, overall, they take coaching better than boys! Some of my very best students have been female — and I want more of them!
I wrote a post last year titled: Should Every Kid Get a Prize? In it, I argued that tournaments where every player receives a medal or trophy, regardless of results, have a right to exist. Anyone opposed to this idea simply doesn’t have to play such events.
Similarly, my stance on girls-only tournaments is that players or parents who don’t like these events don’t have to play and can stick to mixed events. But a lot of girls do enjoy them!
A New Event
The fifth edition of the New York State Girls Chess Championships were held the weekend of January 9-10, 2021. The tournament has been held since 2017 and drew well over 200 players in its debut year! It is an official New York State Championship event.
There are four Championships: Open (K-12), K-6 Championship, K-3 Championship, and K-1 Championship. The highest finisher from New York in the Open section becomes the state’s representative for the Ruth Haring National Girls Tournament of Champions. The tournament’s namesake, Ruth Haring (1955-2018), was a Woman International Master (WIM) and former USCF President.
In addition, there are four sections for less experienced players: K-12 Under 1200, K-9 Under 1000, K-6 Under 800, and K-3 Under 600.
K-1 Championship and the four “Under” sections were one day events: five rounds, Game/30 plus 5-second increment. The other three Championship sections were 6 round events held over both days (three games each day), with a time control of Game/60 plus a 10-second increment.
The NYS Girls is the brainchild of National Tournament Director (NTD), International Arbiter (IA), and International Organizer (IO) Sophia Rohde (Little House of Chess). This year’s event was also organized by Steve Immitt (Chess Center of New York); he too is an NTD, IA, and IO.
Nils Grotnes, Bob Messenger, Daniel Rohde and TDs Korey Kormick and Helen Xue also contributed much to the cause, as well as the folks at ICC (see below). I played a small part as well. It takes a village!
The J&K Pi Family Foundation sponsored the tournament this year. Thank you very much!
Online Chess Giveth and Taketh Away
With the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 event was held online at the Internet Chess Club. Nearly a year ago, I discussed why I still support ICC. I was not disappointed: the NYS Girls ran smoothly with hardly any issues. Well done, everyone!
On another note: clearly, attendance in this event was not going to match the turnout of the last over-the-board NYS Girls … but a welcome sight was the entry of players from several other states.
The online format of this event made it possible for players from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia to play! A total of 187 players competed across both days and eight sections.
You can find all of the team and individual results here. It almost goes without saying these days that results are only pending until the fair play review is completed in a few weeks.
At the end of the month, the Greater NY Online Scholastic Chess Championships will be held on ICC (January 30 and/or 31, depending on section). That event will also be organized by Little House of Chess and the Chess Center of New York, and sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation.
You can find out more and register here.