Best of US Chess 2016 #10: Maret Thorpe on the New Top 100 Women Rankings

10 Maret Thorpe

Maret Thorpe. Photo: Tae Moon

The #10 article in Best of US Chess 2016 is A List of One’s Own: The New Top 100 Women Rankings by Maret Thorpe. 

Judges praised Maret’s compelling writing style and her personal insights on how to encourage more women to start and continue playing competitive chess.

It’s OK to laugh at my spot on two women’s Top 100 lists. I’m wearing a sheepish grin, myself. I know where I stand in the chess universe. I would miss the cut for the overall Age 7 and Under list by 20 points.

Some will say the new lists are a lot like kindergarten participation medals: You came, you played, you may have lost all your games, but you stayed until the end, so you get a medal. I will not deny that I make the new list because, like the kindergarten medal winner, I showed up.

But showing up in chess is half the battle. I know players — ones whose ratings I would love to have — who gave up rated play to avoid dropping to the next lower class. You can question my place on a top-100 list, but the higher reaches of the women’s over-50 list recognizes those who remain active even though they may no longer be at their peak. Like Michael Jordan or Judit Polgar these players could have retired at the top of their games, but why stop pushing wood if you still enjoy playing and are still learning?

Maret Thorpe is a US Chess Federation Senior TD, chess organizer and chess player in Illinois. In her working life, she is a graphic designer for print and web.

The Judges Sound Off

“Every female chess player can feel connected to this piece. It spoke to me because this piece tells so much about the experience of playing chess for all of us. I, too, was thrilled to be recognized on some Top 100. The author argues several points many people make when protesting against women’s titles, prizes, lists, and tournaments well. Extremely well written, I feel it is a piece that speaks out to all female chess players and needs to be read by male ones too, so that there is recognition to the struggle of the male dominated game.”

-Vanessa Sun

“The author expresses her wide-ranging emotions to suddenly being included in the new Top 100 lists for women and girls. While the change seemed controversial to some, this article lays out the case for the greater inclusion of women in US Chess. And this is a goal that both genders can strive towards.

As a coach of a couple of young ladies, this quote rings a bell for me: ‘Maybe something different will happen to Jane. Other players might go over her games and show her interesting and beautiful and exasperating things about chess that never occurred to her. She might get better, have some close games, even draw or beat a much-higher-rated opponent. Two things have happened: Jane’s not rated 101 anymore, and she has become a chess player.'”

-Michael Aigner

“Perhaps because I am a 45 year old woman and working on my own chess game, Maret Thorpe’s article resonated with me.  I thought her article was relevant and insightful.  She provides a strong argument for recognizing women in chess as a way to motivate and encourage more play.”

-Jennifer Vallens

“I really enjoyed Maret’s writing style. The article was entertaining and insightful. While the analogy to “Kindergarten participation medals” was quite funny, her piece made me realize how important top-100 lists can be in motivating female players to stay with the game and improve.”

-Eric Rosen

Best of US Chess 2016 Countdown

#9 – ???

#10 – A List of One’s Own: The New Top 100 Women Rankings by Maret Thorpe

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