“What’s wrong with the girls’ parents?” Why don’t we enroll our girls in chess and other “male” activities

A few years ago, it was planned to make chess a mandatory subject for study at school. The idea has failed, there are fewer and fewer chess clubs available, and girls hardly ever go there. why? Our blog reflects Julia Rick.

After the release of the “Queen’s Move” series, chess immediately became the subject of interest of a large number of people. This isn’t the first time this has happened. There have already been cases in the history of cinema when a film about chess players created a new wave of interest in this beautiful, intellectual and complex game. But usually the consciousness of parents shifts very slowly, and the division into classes for girls and boys still exists. Chess in the public imagination is usually a game of smart boys.

In our city of over 1 million people, there is a good capital-intensive federal educational project. If you don’t really find anything wrong with it, you can say that the country managed to create something good on Earth. The teachers are young and bold, the projects look compelling, and the kids are smart.

The directions, as a rule, are the following: biome (plants, small rodents, observations of the natural world), ecology (green energy, environmental protection, solar panels), chess, quadcopter modeling, IT in various forms and 3D modeling. There are no restrictions on gender. But the target audience is mostly males aged 10 years and over. For ten boys, there are two girls at most.

In the summer, the project launched a city camp, parents responded immediately, and the registry closed in two minutes. The camp turned out to be lively and cheerful, as the kids ran there, shimmering in heels, designed Goldberg cars and were very happy. It was called “Engineering Holidays” – a safe and neutral name, which should not limit the imagination of parents. But it is still limited: out of 50 children, only three girls registered.

Perhaps, the parents thought: why should girls fill their heads with such nonsense? After all, on the contrary, in the old building of the old house of pioneers (today it is called the Palace of Creativity), summer clubs were in full swing, since there was nowhere to drop an apple in classes for cutting, modeling, sewing and garter. Where, most likely, gathered all those girls who were not allowed to work in design work during engineering holidays.

What does chess have to do with it? I taught my three children to play chess as early as possible. From the game to the child, there are only pluses: it develops the brain, teaches self-control, everywhere intellectuals. Challenge a local coffee shop: We open a chess tournament, no strings attached, winner gets any free drink during the week. Cozy, atmospheric, without restrictions. I invited my 10 year old son to participate, because for a delicious milkshake, cocoa and lemonade, you can try to take a chance!

Handsome young men gather in the cafe. Intelligent, educated, polite – the atmosphere sparkles with mind. There was only one girl among them. We started talking. Five of the same cheerful girlfriends came to support her, but they did not play. Were you afraid? Did you feel embarrassed? Have you experienced embarrassment in fighting with men? Everyone said they learned to play chess at home.

This girl fought like a tigress. With her smooth movements (the guys abruptly rearrange the pieces, and are very nervous on the board), she won game after game. ruthlessly, cold-blooded, unemotional, and in some way – even modestly, without arousing the joy of a successful movement or excitement.

The tournament was great, we came for the second time. There were more participants. True, not one girl, not one girl – from the children only my son.

What’s wrong with chess? Or with women? Or with the girls’ parents?

On the same days, in order not to change the mood, I took my son to the standard city championship. In a crowded room, with a monetary contribution, and indeed without an atmosphere of relaxation, the powerful rating players fought nonstop for several hours. There were no restrictions on age, gender, and rating in the application for participation. But most of the men over 55 years of age sat on the boards.

Some of them were very old, with trembling hands and gleaming brains. They played seriously, beautifully, even scary. Professionals slaughter each other without any mercy or respect for feelings. From 40 participants – 4 teenagers. Among teenagers – one girl. Not a single woman.

The lonely teenage girl turns out to be one of the strongest. During the match, her male opponents were pained to watch. Under the table, her foot moved slightly in a childish sandal as she played true drama on her competitors’ faces.

Where are the other women with the same bright minds and amazing stamina? on the stove? embroider? Do they feed the children? They buy tomatoes from the market and fathers, husbands and sons are fighting with the powers of their minds? Why is this sport not very popular among women?

Although all the teenagers came to the tournament with their mothers. Where does this logical chain break? If a mother realizes the importance of chess, and takes her child to a tournament in unbearable distress and pressure, and pays for this dubious pleasure, she will probably play herself, and perhaps teach herself – why are there so few girls and women among the players?

There are no studies that prove that women are dumber or less capable of exact sciences or intellectual pursuits.

On the contrary, studies confirm that there is no difference in intelligence and gender, other things being equal, access to education and social lifts, girls show better results, moreover, equal opportunities, equal pay, equal status. To be more demanding, earn more, achieve career heights, develop your brain, increase your self-esteem – isn’t that what we want for our daughters in their adult lives?

Chess is an elegant intellectual game and a completely safe sport, passionate and exciting and allows both “nerds” and active children to open up. Chess develops several important skills at the same time: strategic thinking, self-control, the ability to keep a face in front of an opponent, patience, but most importantly, it expands the capabilities of thought. And above all, it’s a great social lift.

And by the way, being able to play chess is a great way to become your own in a new company. You can sit down with a complete stranger and finish the game with no strangers. Do we want these abilities only for boys?


In conclusion, for inspiration, I present several films about children in the game of chess. In a game indifferent to any barriers and restrictions – age, gender, condition, physicality. The limits are set by ourselves.

  • “Queen of Katwe”, 2016 (true story)
  • “Choice of the Game”, 1993 (based on a true story)
  • “The Chess Player”, 2019 (based on real events)
  • “Magnus”, 2016 (a documentary about the current world champion, which has shown amazing results since childhood)
  • Brooklyn Castle, 2012 (documentary about a children’s chess team)
  • “Jerry’s Game”, 1997 (cute 5-minute animation from Pixar about a grandfather playing with himself).

It may sound strange, but I would call The Queen’s Move the most controversial, but without it now, none of the selected films about chess would be complete.

You are in the “Blogs” section. The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.

Photo: Drpixel / shutterstock / fotodom

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