Charlotte’s First Girls’ Academy: Exceptional!

November 11, 2008

Charlotte in Fall is gorgeous!!

So, when I had 13 email registrations for Girls’ Academy Saturday November 8th, I thought, Great!  This is a huge number for our first event!  I was extremely surprised when more than 20 people showed up to participate and we flooded the cafe at Borders!  Women and girls, between the ages of 5 and 50 attended and shared their experiences in chess tournaments and playing against their kids.  We discussed expectations and certain psychological elements of the game, especially after one of the girls told me she felt really mad when she was playing a boy and he said, "A girl?  Whoa, I’m definitely going to beat you."  Amazing!  So I told them about my experiences (more on this some other time), and how it helps to focus on the board, rather than the opponent.  Not that anyone specifically identified issues with confidence, I nevertheless posted up my new favourite quotation:  "Our lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty; the difficulty comes from our lack of confidence."  –Seneca

We talked about Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and what her thoughts might be on playing some one ten years younger than her in the World Championships recently. Some said, Really Confident, some said, A lot of Pressure.  This helped the group realize that everyone, any age, any background can play chess and get really good with a lot of hard work.  We looked at GM Kosteniuk’s recent game against young GM Hou Yifan where the former won her first round of the Women’s World Championships, enabling her to take first place!  We split into 3 groups and practiced notating games, looking for tactics, and of course, reviewing the ever-present, 4-move mate.  In the end we analyzed a game between Veronica Skoczek and Alicia Estep (rated about 1100) and there were aspects of the game everyone could cull information from.

9Queens intern Joseph Biernacki was very helpful in teaching the moms how the pieces moved and working with the little ones on Scholar’s Mate.  He told me afterward that he loved working with adults—a new experience for him—because they catch on so quickly, and actually are able to calculate some strategy  (i.e. how to eat stuff without getting eaten).  Several of the moms told me they loved the experience as feminists, others were just happy to get a leg up on their kids!

Several times boys would come over, drawn to they myriad of chess sets packed with players in Borders’ Cafe, and I had to shoo them off:  No boys allowed!  The girls got a big kick out of this.  Naturally I have explained to ALL of my students, I do NOT favour girls over boys:  I just want more girls to participate in chess tournaments overall, and to encourage this I’m giving them extra lessons to feel more confident in their abilities.

The girls told me that sometimes it is more relaxing to play with other girls, because there is less competition.  I’m curious about this actually:  Are girls really less competitive?  Or is it just that girls are equally competitive, but more perfectionistic, less able to chance losing?  Certainly they play more cautiously.  I harped on this with the moms:  Eat stuff!  Capture everything!

I think everyone had a great time and I received several emails indicating the desire to attend more events.  We will try to hold one per month.  The beginners will have a two-hour lesson, the intermediate and advanced, three hours.  The people at Borders were thrilled because I paid for everyone’s coffee drinks!

We gave out three 9Queens shirts to girls / women who participated the most (it’s important to me that people raise their hand and attempt to answer questions; this is how you learn!)  Savannah Holmes, Veronica Skoczek and mom Sarah Robertson were the most vocal this time.  I’m annoyed to say that I left my CAMERA in my BAG the whole time, so NO PICTURES!

I will post the Kosteniuk game, though.  Stay tuned for more!

Categories: Chess Event / Women in chess

One Response

  1. mike klein says:

    Fantastic. I hope the tide of women in chess approaches the shoreline with the ferocity of a thousand noreasters.

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