Should I sign my daughter up for chess club?

Dear Karen

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Dear Karen,

My daughter wants to join the chess club at school. She’s only in first grade. Is this a good idea? Girls aren’t very good at chess, are they?


Dear Jennifer,

This IS a good idea. Girls can be VERY good at chess if they are encouraged. The most famous are three Hungarian sisters, the Polgars: Judit, Susan and Sofia. Their dad raised them so they weren’t exposed to bias about girls and women not being good at chess. Today two of them are Grandmasters (like Bobby Fischer was) and one is an International Master. They are adults now and are world famous, and make their living as chess authors and teachers. When Judit Polgar became a Grandmaster at the age of 15 in 1991, she was the youngest person (male or female!) to ever achieve the Grandmaster title. (She broke the record previously set by Bobby Fischer.) At her peak, she was in the top ten players in the world. She is aso the only woman SO FAR to rank in the top 10. Judit’s sister Susan Polgar has authored many chess books and has a major chess Foundation in St Louis, where the World Chess Hall of Fame is located. As a matter of fact, I met Susan Polgar in September 2021 when I volunteered at a tournament which her foundation sponsored, in Bellevue, Washington. The event was the Susan Polgar Foundation National Open for kids aged kindergarten through 12th grade. There were dozens of children your daughter’s age playing in that two day event.

I have been in a “casual chess group” for the past several years.  We get together every Sunday for coffee and chess. I used to be the only woman in the group…but I have recruited a friend so now there are two of us women in the group. I also play chess at a park in downtown Seattle which is a big chess meet-up place — and I am usually the only woman there! But I am used to it and don’t mind — and I actually think it has been a big confidence builder for me. It is pretty fun beating up on the guys!

Your daughter will have a lot of fun at chess club, meet many new friends, and learn important life skills such as weighing her options and making the best move — both in chess and in life. Who knows? Maybe she will be a world famous chess player some day…Go for it!

Yours in Chess,


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