Chess Moms and Grandmothers Play Chess, Too!

What's better than a Chess Moms' tournament? Why, a Chess Moms' tournament that includes the whole family, of course: even grandmothers and grandfathers!

Back in 2019 we held a Chess Moms Play Chess, Too tournament with great success, thanks to a generous grant from the US Chess Women's Program. We were looking forward to hosting another in 2020, but then the pandemic hit and threw everyone off their game. We pivoted to offer the second Chess Moms' tournament online, and while that went well, it simply cannot hold a candle to meeting in person.

So it was a treat for everyone to attend our 2024 Chess Moms' tournament in person, which was again supported by a grant from the US Chess Women's Program. Everyone enjoyed being surrounded by all the usual pre-game chatter of eleven courageous women who assembled at the Hunter Elementary School cafeteria in Raleigh, North Carolina on Monday, April 29th to play rated games, with nine of those playing for the very first time. One of the participants — a seasoned player with serious tournament experience over the course of her entire life — had never played in a women's event until today. We also offered an unrated section, which encouraged a few other moms to participate. 


Image Caption
WFM Anuprita Patil (L) gives a lesson on a display board


Everyone welcomed the pre-tournament lesson taught by WIM Michelle Prince and WFM Anuprita Patil of the Kings and Queens Chess Academy. Both women are stellar teachers who held everyone's attention as they explained important moves like scholar's mate, castling, and getting out of check with the aid of a demo board; several questions and fruitful discussions ensued.

“The lesson helped me learn about the importance of engaging minor pieces and to think and strategize for myself,” reflected one mom. Another said that she gained a new understanding of the personalities behind popular opening moves as well as some of the most common checkmates beginners use. A third mom said that the lesson, which served as a review for her, sparked her confidence prior to sitting down at the board for the first time in a couple years.



As the women took their seats, the room grew quiet. Some of their children, who were also playing rated games on the other side of the cafeteria, craned their necks with great interest to observe their mother's or grandparents’ progress. One participant was a grandmother whose two grandsons encouraged her to enter the tournament with them, and the three of them enjoyed quality time together. Another was a mom who decided to participate with her husband, her father, and her daughter. In between games, the children walked over to their adults to lend support, encouragement, and the occasional high-five.


Image Caption
WIM Michelle Prince (green) and WFM Anuprita Patil give a lecture to attendees


As we learned in our first Chess Moms' tournament, parents who participate in a friendly competition like this gain not only new skills and confidence but also an appreciation for what their children experience when they sit across the board from an opponent and the going gets tough. Anna noted that playing in a tournament like this provided her with insight into the challenge of planning ahead and also generated some genuine excitement that's involved in playing a close game. For another, it "piqued my interest and appreciation for the game along with some nice mom-son moments where my son was teaching me, which he clearly enjoyed." Allison went on to say that "even though sports is a higher priority" for her son at the moment, they both know that chess is available throughout his lifetime. Once they got home from the tournament, she immediately set up a chess board so that they can play anytime. One of the grandmothers, Roz, remarked that "seeing the absolute joy on the faces of those youngsters" made it worthwhile getting up early to make it to the tournament on time.

The children were beaming with pride as their mothers earned what was, for some, their very first trophy. One mom, who taught her son and daughter how to play, won a trophy right alongside both her children as each participated in their first-ever tournament.

As they were packing up their belongings to leave, a number of the women said they would like to play in more mom's tournaments, so Indermaur Chess plans to hold more of these events in the summer months. WFM Anuprita Patil has offered us space at her Chess Kings and Queens Academy in Cary, North Carolina on the weekends so that more working parents could participate.

Why not host a similar event in your neck of the woods? 

Editor's note: Happy Mother's Day from US Chess!