Her Move Next Launch Event
December 7, 2018
Her Move Next: 1 st Tournament
The auditorium filled in with girls who were excited to play chess, make friends, and be part of the new initiative Her Move Next. Her Move Next strives to empower girls through competitive chess. Chess has always been dominated by males, only seven women are in the top 500 players. Therefore, the Her Move Next initiative wants to encourage girls to become more involved in the chess community. Since girls are underrepresented at chess tournaments, Her Move Next seeks to create a safe space for girls to play competitive chess.
The first Her Move Next chess tournament was held on December 7, 2018. Girls from all ages, all experience levels, and many schools across the city came together because of their common passion; chess. As each girl walked into the auditorium where the tournament was held, she realized that she was part of a larger community. Each girl was surrounded by other girls who loved chess and did not want their gender to determine their chess skills. The most important element of the Her Move Next Tournament was the team spirit it fostered. Each of the girls were placed in either the Red, Yellow, Green or Blue Team. The teams consisted of girls from all ages, schools, and rating levels. Each team had about ten girls and one coach. The coach of each team was a high school girl who was a highly experienced chess player.
The coaches of each team were mentors for each of the girls and served as role models for the younger girls. Even after just a few hours, many of the girls were inspired by their coaches. The girls had become incredibly close with their coaches in the short span of the tournament. There were many girls who hugged their coaches goodbye and took parting selfies with them. The coaches made sure that each girl knew that she was a valuable member of her team, regardless of the amount of points she won.
The coaches also analyzed their respective student’s games, offered comfort to girls who had played hard rounds, and shared some of their chess experiences with their students. The girls relied on their coaches for a few words of motivation before each round. Before each round, each team huddled up and wished their teammates good luck. There were many occasions during the tournament where girls would watch their teammate’s games.
The teams allowed girls to make friends with other girls who they normally would see as competition. Each team wanted their team to score the most amount of total points, and girls were frequently seen cheering each other on. Each girl was rooting for the other girls on their team regardless of being from a different school or having a different level of chess experience. The Her Move Next tournament cultivated a team spirit among girls which was further strengthened by their coaches who offered support, motivation, and inspiration.
Even though each girl was determined and focused on the chess board, it was an incredibly friendly environment. Especially with the younger girls, many girls who had just been opponents were holding hands and laughing together regardless of the result of the game. After the round was finished, the older girls wished each other good luck for their next round and often went back a few moves in their games showing their opponent the best move or tactic that they might have missed. Many older girls were seen offering comfort to or congratulating their opponent on the results. Older girls also were often seen helping younger girls if they had made an illegal move.
Even though chess is incredibly competitive, the girls were friendly with each other and created a welcoming environment. Some chess tournaments can cause girls to feel overwhelmed because of the disproportional boy to girl ratio at the tournament. This can lead girls to doubting their own chess ability. The Her Move Next tournament helps to eradicate any doubts a girl has on her chess ability by creating a support system of girls who care for each other.
The Her Move Next tournament also instills a sense of confidence in each girl. Many girls who have played competitive chess have sat at a tournament table and realized that she was the only girl on a table which had twenty boards. The Her Move Next tournament ensures that girls realize that they are not the only one with a passion for chess. Since girls did not have to worry about being the minority in a male dominated sport, the girls could focus more on the chess game itself. Girls did not hear their opponent saying to someone that “since I am playing a girl, it will be an easy win.” Instead, each girl tried her best knowing that the girls surrounding her all were rooting for her.
The confidence that the Her Move Next tournaments instills in girls will allow them not to doubt their chess abilities when playing boys who measure their chess ability by their gender. The supportive environment that Her Move Next tournaments create will encourage more girls to engage in chess tournaments. The sisterhood that was formed through the Her Move Next Chess tournament cannot be replaced and the support the coaches offered the girls will have a lasting effect on them.
Through this tournament, the girls gained confidence in their chess skills, made friends, and learned the importance of creating a community of girls who were passionate about chess.
The Structure of the Tournament:
The Her Move Next Chess tournament had 3 rounds each with a time control of G25 D5. Girls were paired in quads which meant that they played girls of a similar rating level. The tournament was USCF rated. Since this was the first tournament, the event was capped at 40 players. There were girls from all different grades ranging from Kindergarten to 6 th grade. The top individual players were awarded Amazon gift cards while the members of the winning team were awarded AMC gift cards.
Sarina Motwani - 10th Grade, Spence School, NYC