Northeast Chess Player Hosts The Queens Gambit Program To Get Women To Play
The English Chess Federation has launched a program to encourage women to play chess after the widespread success of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, an initiative hailed by chess players in the North East.
The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of orphan child prodigy Elizabeth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who is taught chess by a janitor in the basement of the orphanage.
In the 1960s, Beth was one of the first women to play the game, and made her way onto the international chess circuit while battling drug addiction.
Some 62 million households watched The Queen’s Gambit in its first 28 days, according to Netflix, which claims the figure is a record for one of its limited script series.
The program has also sparked an upsurge in chess searches on Google, which has been felt across the northeast and across the country as Covid restrictions keep people inside.
With many people working and learning from home during the lockdown, the English Chess Federation says it has seen a spike in interest among old and new players.
He says The Queen’s Gambit has helped break the stereotype that chess is only played by men, which has sparked growing interest from women and girls.
The Queen’s Gambit program, which offers free federation membership for women over 18 who have not yet been members, will run alongside a host of new player events.
Tim Wall, a key figure in the Northeast chess scene who teaches chess in some of the area’s primary schools, welcomed the move while calling for more diversity in the game.
He said: “The UK has only seven or eight per cent female players, which lags behind France, which has a rule of thumb that there is a lot of female participation.
âEnglish chess is tough. Our club, Forest Hall in North Tyneside, has about a dozen out of 60 players and we are probably one of the better clubs.
“It’s important that we build the confidence of new players and that women have their own space. No one wants separate competitions, but it’s important that there are girls-only events or spaces between games, whatever. where they can go for fellowship. ”
He also said that although the pandemic has caused an increase in the number of people playing online, club membership is on the decline as older players struggle to connect.
He added: âBefore the pandemic we would play chess at a social club and then go down to the bar for a pint and stay there all night talking.
âThe club is a community, it makes people happy. I phoned our older members to try to explain to them how to use Zoom, the website or even a computer so we could play chess.
“The next step is to contact people who have started playing chess online or who have watched The Queen’s Gambit but are unsure of what to do next.”
Mr Wall also said clubs in Teesside, which historically had a strong presence in the chess scene but have fallen in recent years, have seen a resurgence during the lockdown.
He said: “Chess was very popular in Teesside, but now they don’t play an impressive number of chess over the board anymore. There used to be big international tournaments at Middlesbrough Town Hall.
“But now we are seeing clubs from Thornaby and Billingham in online tournaments, as well as Durham City, Durham University and South Shields.”
But it’s not all fun and games of chess in the coronavirus era, with cheating and community issues occurring as the game moves online.
Federation Women’s Chess Director Chris Fegan said: “The Queens Gambit series which recently aired on Netflix was a huge hit and has been seen by millions of people around the world, many of whom have been watched. encouraged to take the game for the first time.
“The ECF wants to keep the momentum of the TV series going through 2021, and that’s why we’re offering free membership for women over 18, alongside our free Junior Silver membership program for girls over. under 18 to enable them to reap the benefits of ECF involvement for themselves. ”
The Queen’s Gambit show is an adaptation of a 1983 Walter Tevis novel of the same name.