Women in Chess Initiative

Women are a growing segment of our US Chess community.

At US Chess Women, we envision a future in which girls, women and gender minorities take up their share of the chess world's offerings from titles to educational opportunities, better preparing them for life on and off the board and building community.

We take a multi-pronged and intersectional approach on our goal to empower women and girls through chess. 

Chess champion, author and life long advocate for girls and women, Jennifer Shahade is the director of US Chess Women. 

For Girls: We believe that girls training sessions and spaces help build community that will keep girls in the game longer. With that in mind, we started our live girls clubs in 2016 at our National events, which drew thousands of girls to connect in between games, over casual chess and presentations by role models and top female players. Our girls clubs are held at Open (mixed gender) events, where girls comprise 10-25% of the players. Our goal is to inspire and connect, so they can enter the mixed arena with confidence and excitement. 

In 2020, we started our online girls club, which saw our concept reach new heights. We scheduled 100 events in 2020, with over 5000 sign ups, featuring dozens of special guests from 8-time US Women's Champion Irina Krush to the legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov. Get on the mailing list here. 



International Network: Our Girls Club also partnered with two international organizations, the Lighthouse Chess Club and Business Meets Kids Meet Chess, to create our "Kenya Meet US Chess Girls Through Chess Initiative." This program allows Kenya girls and US girls to connect and learn about each other's culture through chess. Check out some videos from this program on this playlist, which includes a Swahili chess lesson. 

For Teens: Beyond their presence in the Girls Club ZOOM, We also have special workshops for teens, like our College & Chess Workshops, which show girls how to use chess to get a leg up on college applications, and how to combine academics, social life and chess.

For Adults: Bouyed by the success of the Queen's Gambit, we started programs for adult women and gender minorities.We have periodic adult women's lessons online and at our live girls club, and we started a "Madwoman's Book Club" as featured in Vanity Fair and the New York Times. The club meets quarterly to discuss great books with themes that relate to chess, intellectual exploration and female empowerment. 



Content: We produce content focused on accomplishments of female players and innovators, such as our podcast, Ladies Knight, and our YouTube Playlist of Girls Club highlights

For Transgender Players: Our programs are inclusive to transgender players and gender minorities. Find out transgender policy at US Chess here. 

For Men and Boys: We encourage men to share and consume our content, which often features male leaders. Men who share our programs with their daughters, wives, friends and sisters is valuable to our work. Most importantly, we encourage men to model and set a high standard for treatment of women, girls and non binary players. Look for more opportunities to get involved in future mixed gender programming and find our Safe Play Guidelines here. 

For Organizers and Leaders: Thanks to supporters like the Saint Louis Chess Club and the Schiffrin family we have and will continue to offer grant cycles for tournaments and innovations that encourage female participation in chess. Keep your eye on our website for upcoming cycles. We also have rolling grant process for $1000-$2000 for Regional events. 

Find a more detailed article on our progress in the past few years here and articles related to women and girls in chess here. 


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US Chess Federation
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