Battersea chess player encourages women to get involved

A Battersea chess player encourages more women to get involved in the game after helping her overcome her trauma.

Zoya Boozorginia, 39, started playing chess at the age of 10 and now, as a full-time architect, she balances her time between her job and her addiction to chess, even moving to live closer of the chess club.

She is one of six full-time female members of the Battersea Chess Club, which has been in existence since 1885.

Zoya got over a divorce, which was a very difficult time for her, but she found setbacks very helpful during this time as it can help improve your mood.

She said: “With chess you have to be able to put your emotions aside, it’s all about logic. You have to think about it, make plans and strategies, try to anticipate the other player’s moves. .

“I’m really happy to be a part of the Battersea Chess Club, they’re great people and very organized – they’ve run tournaments and even run classes.”

Zoya started playing chess as a hobby just before the lockdown, but quickly became addicted, as she took online classes, read books, and went to tournaments.

She added, “I take chess seriously, it’s not just a hobby for me anymore.”

MORE THAN A HOBBY: Zoya plays chess. Credit: Zoya Boozorginia

Zoya now regularly participates in chess tournaments across the country and also has an online chess rating and an English Chess Federation rating.

Chess tournaments can take on several different formats depending on their time control.

This can include standard games, quick games, blitz, and balls.

Round robin tournaments, also known as all-play-all tournaments, allow players to compete against all competitors.

However, Zoya is concerned about the number of women playing the sport.

She said: “Most of the time I’m the only woman at the chess club or at a tournament.

“I know there are other women but I hardly see them. It’s really rare to see another woman play. In reality, when you walk into a chess center, it is mostly men.

Statistics in the United States show that only a seventh of the national chess federation are women.

As of this year, there are only 37 active female players who have achieved the highest chess title, GrandMaster, out of 1,700 active female players.

HEAD IN THE GAME: Zoya competing at the 3rd Hull 4NCL International Congress held at the Canham Turner Conference Center, University of Hull, October 22-24

Zoya would love to see more women get involved in chess, and even tries to teach and encourage her friends to get involved.

She said: “The Queen’s Gambit TV show did a great job of encouraging more women to play. I really connected with the show in the sense that it portrayed life in chess.

“With the character of Beth, I didn’t just see a woman playing chess, I saw a woman going through trauma and playing chess she became a better person. I also had a trauma, and it showed how a game of chess could be a way out of it.

The English Chess Federation even named a program after the TV show, really showing the extent it has had on the chess community.

The Queen’s Gambit program offers free membership for women over 18 to complement the free Junior Silver membership for junior players.

There are also events such as the British Women’s Online Championship, which took place from From December 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

WORKING ON DIVERSITY: Battersea Chess Club. Credit: Battersea Chess Club

A Battersea Chess Club spokesperson said: “There is good work being done by big chess companies like the Play Magnus group, with initiatives like the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour – which is an event that takes place. now and that’s supposed to be “gender parity”.

“It’s about finding the next female model or making Beth Harmon a new reality. There have already been strong female role models who have led the vanguard of female chess like Hungarian Judit Polgar, who is involved in the Tour. But there’s a long, long way to go before English chess can say they serve women well.

“People talk about the ‘Queen’s Gambit effect’ on chess and it is certainly true. The lockdown has hit the club hard, but we are getting back on our feet and The Queen’s Gambit has certainly helped.

“Right now we have a small cohort of players who we hope will help us grow among a hundred members, but that’s not enough. We need a large base of members from all walks of life to survive and therefore we especially call on women to join us.

“We try to make our club a more welcoming place for everyone. We do things like have prizes for the best placed woman in the competitions that we organize.

“Usually we (like most men) try to put more effort into supporting new beginners, including women. It’s not easy – imagine being interested in chess and thinking that you’ll go to a chess club and then walk through the door and enter a room almost entirely made up of men – it’s no surprise that some people are put off by that!

“Right now we have about 90 members in good standing and only six are women. It may sound bad, but as a percentage it is good for a chess club!

“We also have maybe a dozen more women who are occasional visitors and haven’t joined, but we hope they will.”

Featured Image Credit: Zoya Boozorginia


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