For beginners, chess is a game that centers around preserving a decidedly female (and all-powerful) piece. Still, the world of chess has long been dominated by males. But, in case you had missed it, there is a movement afoot to increase the number of women in chess. A group called 9Queens has been working the past few years to increase participation of at-risk youth and, especially, girls in the sport. It’s an admirable commitment and one that has shown promise.
Now, one of the founders of 9Queens, Jennifer Shahade, has written a book targeted specifically at girls. Play Like a Girl is a collection of tactics that young women and others can use as they develop their chess skills. Shahade, a Women’s Grandmaster, believes that women play more aggressively than men and points to Judit Polgár as example of women who attack relentlessly.
In Play Like a Girl, Shahade provides bios and brief examinations of favorite combinations and tactics of more than a dozen important women players in history, from Vera Menchik to Hou Yifan. Each tactic is followed by a number of puzzles that players can try to solve, using the tactic outlined in the player bio. (Answers are in the back if you’re stumped.) Beginner players are sure to pick up a move or two – or at least know what to look for when setting a defense.
If you have a daughter interested in chess or any kid who wants to learn more about an exciting style of play, check out Play Like a Girl — it’s both an inspiring and challenging group of puzzles. Plus, all royalties from the sale of this book are directed back to the 9Queens project to help girls and inner city youth discover and thrive in chess.