Today, I’d like to share with you a lesson for FREE from my new course “Your Top Chess Questions, Answered”. It is called “Chess for Females”. But before that, I’d like to remind you of the special offers on the course and on all RCA products as well. You can find all details about the special offers here.
As you already know, the course contains my answers to students’ questions regarding my book, A Promoted Pawn: My Chess Journey.
One of the students asked about the challenges that female chess players face. You can find the question and my answer below:
Chess for Females
(a lesson from “Your Top Chess Questions, Answered”)
A little background before I ask the question. I have a five-year-old daughter who has been playing chess for about six months at home. The minimum age at the local kids’ chess club is six, so she can’t attend until next year. Therefore, I found her a private teacher and she takes a one-hour lesson once a week. When investigating the local kids’ club, we went to visit it and there was not a girl there – all boys. Now for my question.
Question: along GM Smirnov’s journey, either as a young player or a coach, has he seen any particular challenges for girls who wish to play chess? If so, does he have any illustrative stories or advice for young girls?
Thank you for your question, Jim. Before I answer it, let me make one general note. It’s good for kids to start learning chess at the age of four. This makes it a bit surprising that those local clubs do not accept your daughter.
Usually the reason is very simple. Young children can be boisterous, and some coaches cannot handle this. That’s why they put up age restrictions and only let in kids above a certain age. They do this for their own convenience, not for the benefit of the children.
In light of this, I think you have made a very good decision to find a private coach for your daughter. 🙂
Having your daughter train with and play against boys can seem confusing at first sight, but it may end up being very advantageous.
Perhaps you have heard of Judit Polgar, the famous women’s chess champion? Her father purposely made his daughter play against boys. In chess, men are usually stronger than women, and so this is excellent training. The harder the training, the better the results a person will achieve. Your daughter may become stronger that much faster, Jim, so this should be seen as a good thing for her.
Let me quickly show you one example from a game of Judit Polgar.
Anand – Polgar
White is a pawn up in this endgame and everything looks good for him. However, Black can win the game. Can you find the winning move?
Judit played 27…g5! and White resigned. If White takes the pawn with 28.Bxg5, then Black answers with 28…Re5, launching a double attack on White’s minor pieces.
White can try to save his pieces with 29.Ne7+ Kh8 30.Bh4, but now 31… Rh5 is winning for Black.
She is threatening Bxg3, using the pin, and White has no good defense against it.
If White tries to retreat his bishop instead of taking the pawn, for example with 28.Bc1, then suddenly Judit can play for checkmate with 28…Re6, threatening Rh6#. This is quite an interesting example, as Black created a devastating attack when, looking at the original position, everything appeared calm and standard.
You may be worried that a girl will not feel comfortable in a group of boys. However, kids do not pay too much attention to gender at that young age. Based on my own coaching experience, I can tell you that your daughter will feel totally comfortable, so you may rest assured that things will be fine.
There is another element here. In adult chess, men are usually stronger than women, but as kids they are fairly equal. Your daughter can compete equally with boys of her age. There is actually a practical benefit to this, as girls can get trophies from both girls’ tournaments and also from mixed tournaments, where both boys and girls play.
In those mixed tournaments, they very often announce a special prize for girls. This provides girls with a lot of opportunities to collect trophies here and there, so she can start building a nice trophy collection at a young age.
Finally, I would advise all girls to play more tactically. That is their natural style, so to speak. There are some exceptions, of course, but this is true for most strong women chess players. Look at Judit Polgar or the strong Chinese women champions.
They all play very sharp, tactical, bold games. Also, they have the ability to stay cool under tactical complications. They win most of their games in exactly these types of situations.
Male chess players sometimes make jokes about this, saying that these women play like a computer. In fact, this is a complement, because these days the computer plays more strongly than anyone.
- It’s good for a kid to start learning chess at four years old.
- It is fine for a girl to play with and to compete against boys, because the harder the training is, the better the results she will get.
- Finally, girls should play more tactically and more aggressively, and follow the examples of Judit Polgar and the Chinese women champions.
I hope you have enjoyed this lesson. If so, I’m sure you will enjoy studying the complete course “Your Top Chess Questions, Answered”. You will definitely learn a lot of new and interesting things, as these questions are asked by my students (just like you).