Popular Netflix show inspires female chess players
Knoxville, Tenn. – Just like Beth Harmon in “The Queen’s Gambit,” Jennifer Shahade knows what it’s like to be the only girl in a room of chess players.
“My dad taught me when I was five or six. And so, I don’t even remember not knowing how to play. I got really, really addicted to it in high school. My brother is also a really good chess player. player,” Shahade said.
As the first woman to win the US Junior Open and as a two-time US Women’s Chess Champion, Shahade experienced the glamor viewers glimpsed on the popular Netflix show.
“The doors he opened, the ability to connect with people all over the world,” Shahade said.
The show and the book it is based on are helping Shahade inspire a new generation of female chess players.
“It’s been a really fun initiative, and we also have beginner women’s classes online for the first time,” Shahade said.
Shahade is a fan of the show and how it has made chess appealing to those who have never played before.
“I absolutely loved the way Anya Taylor-Joy portrayed the thinking woman, and that whole experience of being absorbed into the 64 boxes I thought she nailed and in a way that no other film or TV show depicting chess previously hadn’t done,” Shahad said. “And I think one of the reasons it resonated so well with people is that it requires a lot of physical action, eye movements and hand micro-movements, but not necessarily a lot of spoken language.”
She has championed women in chess throughout her career and hopes the show’s exposure will inspire more female players as well as older people who are stuck at home in isolation.