Ingrid Gayle didnt grow up playing chess like many chess players you may meet.
Dominoes was always on the table in her West Indian household. Checkers, Battleship and Monopoly sure, but chess was not on her radar.
In 2015, when Gayle, the founder of global online school Girl Boss Chess, started home-schooling her then five-year-old daughter, a friend mailed her a chess set and guide.
The two dove in and learned the game together.
I loved the benefits that she was receiving; I loved the quality time that we were spending together, Gayle remembers. Her younger daughter has since learned too and its become a family affair. I dont think well ever stop playing, she said.
Gayle, who is based in Gananoque, Ont., has been teaching chess to kids for five years now, and after seeing up close how men and boys dominated the game, she decided to carve out a space for women.
Girl Boss Chess aims to offer a space for girls, women and nonbinary people to learn chess and improve their skills in an empowering space, to help up gender diversity in the sport.
Youll have parents who have boys and girls in the same household, and the boys are playing chess and the girls are not, Gayle came to notice in her classes. She asked a few parents why that was, and their response was they didnt know they just hadnt asked their daughters if they wanted to try it.
I want all girls to just experience it. And let the girls decide. To help with that, Girl Boss Chess has a free 30-minute intro class so first-timers can get their feet wet.
The online school started running pilot classes toward the end of last year and officially launched in early January. With students as young as four years old, Girl Boss Chess makes sure that the classes are not boring. All of the instructors, Gayle said, are very animated, and she decided to teach the fundamental classes herself to make sure the kids get excited about the game and learn about the rules and pieces through stories.
When women and parents started to show interest, Girl Boss added a queens class for adults whod like to learn as well.
Chess is known to improve reading, math, strategy and problem solving skills and Gayle remarked that its incredible how focused a five, six or seven-year-old can be when theyre concentrated on a game. It also teaches them that their actions have consequences when a hasty move means they lose a knight, she said. Most important, she said, is the way their confidence grows when they get more comfortable with the game.
Every girl deserves to have the benefits of that, Gayle said.
There are more than 1,600 international chess grandmasters as of last year, and just 37 are women, according to the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
While men dominate the top ranks of players, a 2008 study found that its not necessarily that men are better at the sport, but because the pool of male players is vastly bigger than other genders, theres a higher chance of there being more star players to fill the ranks. The extreme values in a large sample are likely to be greater than those in a small one, the study said.
Statistically, the gender divide in chess is still abysmal, but pop culture in recent years has brought women in chess to the screen. In 2016, Disneys Queen of Katwe introduced Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi to a wide audience and last year, The Queens Gambit, about how a young woman became a chess prodigy, became Netflixs biggest original limited series ever.
Girl Boss Chess also teaches classes in multiple languages English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Arabic and has instructors, some of whom are masters, from all around the world Canada, Italy, South Africa, Ghana, Brazil and France.
Instructor Rose Tuong said she appreciates how chess which derives from chaturanga, an Indian game created in the 6th century spans so many cultures around the world.
You can go to a place and not necessarily speak the language or know anything about the culture, but if you find another person who you can play chess with, you can enter into this really rich, intellectual exchange with them, Tuong said.
Tuong, who is based in Toronto, has played since grade school and has taught chess for seven years to students from junior kindergarten to high school ages.
In her experience with chess, Tuong has found it alienating to frequently see the same faces at the top of the game or even local clubs which have been mostly those of white men lately. I would like there to be a shift where we start looking toward the faces of other kinds of people.
When it comes to sports like chess and industries like STEM being male-dominated, Gayle said it has more to do with exposure than ability.
I think women thrive just as well as men, she said, but we dont get the exposure or we dont get the opportunity. Thats what it is.
Tuong agreed, saying the barriers that exist for women in these fields are cultural, economical and sociological, and are not based on abilities.
If we want to progress as a society, everybody should be wanting women to enter and thrive in these fields, Tuong said. If we want to maintain the status quo. What does that say about us?
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Have you started playing chess recently? Share your experience.
Anyone can read Conversations, but to contribute, you should be registered Torstar account holder. If you do not yet have a Torstar account, you can create one now (it is free)
- How to get the most from ChessBase 16 - Chessbase News - January 20th, 2021
- What are the key factors and impact of interventions in Englands COVID-19 epidemic? - News-Medical.Net - January 20th, 2021
- Richmond Hill basketball coaches piece together scouting reports on opponents - Savannah Morning News - January 20th, 2021
- What The Biden Presidency Means For Privacy, Consumer Protection And Antitrust - AdExchanger - January 20th, 2021
- An intro to the fast-paced world of artificial intelligence - MIT News - January 20th, 2021
- Counter-UAS System Market Size, Growth Factor,Analysis And Forecast By 2027| Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing - NeighborWebSJ - January 20th, 2021
- Anglo Singapore International School are delighted to welcome you for a school visit. - Bangkok Post - January 20th, 2021
- A Guide to Optimizing Your Mental Health in 2021 - Dan's Papers - January 20th, 2021
- Chess Global Market : Industry Analysis and Forecast (2019-2026) by Type, Application, and Region - The Courier - January 15th, 2021
- ONTARIO: How one womans online chess school is getting young girls worldwide excited about the game - TimminsToday - January 15th, 2021
- LaFleur Won't Be Able to Fool McVay on Saturday - Zone Coverage - January 15th, 2021
- Lewis Carroll Death Anniversary: Here are Some of the Author's Greatest Works - News18 - January 15th, 2021
- Reflecting on 'The Queen's Gambit': Are women genetically hardwired to underperform men in chess? - Genetic Literacy Project - January 13th, 2021
- Chess Market: Global Strategies and Insight driven transformation 2020 2026 - SoccerNurds - January 13th, 2021
- Why Its Not Too Late to Learn New Skills - The New Yorker - January 13th, 2021
- Global Counter UAV Market 2020 Trends, Demand and Scope with Outlook, Business Strategies and Forecast 2025 - SoccerNurds - January 13th, 2021
- The Seedy Chess World of Queens Gambit Is the Shows Masterstroke - Observer - January 9th, 2021
- Chess Market Study by Global and Regional Analysis with Forecast | The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS - NeighborWebSJ - January 9th, 2021
- Americans are living 30 years longer on average and that's a big plus for businesses - Palo Alto Online - January 9th, 2021
- From Text to Tablet: How to Learn in Lockdown - Global Citizen - January 9th, 2021
- Overcoming lockdowns and uncertainty to triumph at the end of a tough year - Neos Kosmos - January 9th, 2021
- Science-backed strategies to deal with stress and anxiety - World Economic Forum - January 9th, 2021
- 'The Queen's Gambit' Is About More Than Just Chess - Study Breaks - January 6th, 2021
- Barnegat's Kasey Keshecki is our Student of the Week - wobm.com - January 6th, 2021
- Film Study: The Ohio State Offense Was Prepared to Peak in the College Football Playoff | Eleven Warriors - Eleven Warriors - January 6th, 2021
- Chess Market Statistical Overview 2021-2026 with Industry Insights and Growth by ChessSUA, CNCHESS, ChessBaron, Chessncrafts, Chessbazaar.com, and... - January 6th, 2021
- Global Used Construction Machinery Market Precise Scenario Covering Trends, Competitive Scenario, Business Opportunities and Growth Forecast during... - January 6th, 2021
- 2021 Could Be a Banner Year for AIIf We Solve These 4 Problems - Singularity Hub - January 6th, 2021
- Anti-UAV Defense System Market Analysis, Opportunities, Competition Scenario, Threats, Future Prospects, Trends, Applications, And Growth Forecast To... - January 6th, 2021
- Global Chess Market to 2026 Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast - Factory Gate - January 4th, 2021
- From the shadows into the light the man who broke the UFO embargo grew up in Sarasota - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - January 4th, 2021
- Six ways to reboot your brain after a hard year of Covid-19 according to science - iNews - January 4th, 2021
- Neuroscientists explain six ways to reboot your brain after a hard year of COVID-19 - PsyPost - January 4th, 2021
- Nithiin starrer Check first glimpse will leave you intrigued about his character | WATCH - Republic World - January 4th, 2021
- Good News Stories That Actually Made Us Smile in 2020 - Newsweek - January 4th, 2021
- Irelands modern druids: There is hidden knowledge you are asked not to share - The Irish Times - January 4th, 2021
- Keep Calm and QAnon - Slate - December 31st, 2020
- Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt review it's never too late to learn - The Guardian - December 31st, 2020
- Yes, 2020 was a historically hellish year. Now for the good news | TheHill - The Hill - December 31st, 2020
- Literature alights that was once burned books | Dec. 30 - Jan. 5, 2020 - Real Change News - December 31st, 2020
- Google DeepMind unveils AI that can master chess without even knowing the rules - The Independent - December 29th, 2020
- Coronavirus: Latest updates on COVID-19 crisis around the world - Outlook India - December 29th, 2020
- Chess Market 2020 Future Growth Analysis With Focusing Key Players | The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS, ChessBaron - Factory Gate - December 29th, 2020
- Counter-UAV (C-UAV) Systems Market Research Report (2020-2026): Key Trends and Opportunities |Lockheed Martin, Thales, Boeing - Factory Gate - December 29th, 2020
- Kwanzaa in Louisville on heels of social justice movement - Alton Telegraph - December 29th, 2020
- The New China Challenge Stems from Beijings Old Ambitions - The National Interest - December 29th, 2020
- International Chess Market Opportunities And Forecast Analysis up to 2026 | The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS - The Monitor - December 29th, 2020
- WHO: Learn from COVID Pandemic, It Wont be the Last - Voice of America - December 27th, 2020
- How 'The Flight Attendant' and 'The Queen's Gambit' Are the Same - GQ - December 27th, 2020
- Online shopping is here to stay in 2021: Refinitiv - Yahoo Money - December 27th, 2020
- Many Jews refrain from learning Torah on Christmas Eve and call it Nittel Nacht. Here's my family tradition to spread light. - JTA News - Jewish... - December 26th, 2020
- Global Chess Market Demand, Revenue, Trends, Profit Analysis and Landscape Outlook to 2026|| The House of Staunton, ChessSUA, CNCHESS, ChessBaron -... - December 26th, 2020
- The kings gambit: Viswanathan Anand enters a different phase of his career - Sportstar - December 26th, 2020
- 19 Calm Coffee Places In Beirut Where You Can Focus While Working - The961 - December 26th, 2020
- DeepMinds Latest AI Can Win Games Without Knowing the Rules - Beebom - December 26th, 2020
- Chess Table Market Size By Type, By Application, By Geography, By Top Companies And Forecast To 2027 - LionLowdown - December 26th, 2020
- Impact Of Covid 19 On Counter UAV Industry 2020 Market Challenges, Business Overview And Forecast Research Study 2026 - Factory Gate - December 23rd, 2020
- Bellamy Richardson The Williams Record - The Williams record - December 23rd, 2020
- Between the sacred and the secular - New Statesman - December 23rd, 2020
- In a winter of change, Eagles are learning that Jalen Hurts is no snowflake - NJ.com - December 22nd, 2020
- PhD grad uses math to explore the brain - ASU Now - December 22nd, 2020
- OPINION: Sometimes it's good to have a team - Arkansas Online - December 22nd, 2020
- Business is continuing its cloud migration. Train to become an Azure and AWS tech professional - The Next Web - December 22nd, 2020
- Staying On Top: How Chess Masters Study The Game ... - December 20th, 2020
- Struggling local entertainment venues: Its time for the state to show it CARES - Buffalo News - December 20th, 2020
- The best series and shows on Netflix in 2020 - RNZ - December 20th, 2020
- 21 Ways to Greater Well-Being in 2021 - Newswise - December 20th, 2020
- The Best Video Games of 2020 - The New Yorker - December 18th, 2020
- Memo to Blinken: Protect the brains of State Department employees - Federal News Network - December 18th, 2020
- Chadwick Boseman Gives His Final Performance in 'Ma Raineys Black Bottom', and It's Gut-Wrenching - Glamour - December 18th, 2020
- Chess Course for High Performance: Grandmaster Package - December 17th, 2020
- Reasons to study international studies and diplomacy - Modern Diplomacy - December 17th, 2020
- Global Chess Market Demand and Opportunities 2026|| Break Down by Top Companies, Countries, Applications, Challenges, Opportunities and Forecast -... - December 16th, 2020
- What is a 'Flow State' and How Can MTBers Get Into It More Often? - Singletracks.com - December 16th, 2020
- This is why you make bad decisions on the golf course (and how to fix it) - Golf.com - December 16th, 2020
- Author Sophie Cousens talks about her book, 'This Time Next Year' - Yahoo! Voices - December 16th, 2020
- The board games market by revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of approx. 13% during the period 20212026 - GlobeNewswire - December 16th, 2020
- The Queen's Gambit: 10 Times Beth Is The Heroine Fans Needed - Screen Rant - December 15th, 2020
- Chelmsford High School October Students of the Month - Wicked Local - December 15th, 2020
- Struggling Museums Are Increasingly Relying on the Generosity of Artists to Convince Private Donors to Bail Them Out - artnet News - December 15th, 2020