Grooming girls into queens of chess

Organisers of the girls-only chess event held at the Nanyang Community Club on Feb 19 hope to encourage more girls to continue playing chess as they get older.
Organisers of the girls-only chess event held at the Nanyang Community Club on Feb 19 hope to encourage more girls to continue playing chess as they get older.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Hoping to encourage higher female participation in the male-dominated mind sport of chess, three recent Hwa Chong Institution (Junior College) graduates organised a girls-only chess competition last month.

Calling themselves Girls in Chess, the main organisers - 18-year-olds Zhao Jiayi, Wu You and Gu Tianyi - along with four volunteers, held the event on Feb 19.

The Singapore Youth Girls' Chess Championship 2017 had two categories: girls aged 12 and below, and girls aged 10 and below.

Jiayi, the Girls in Chess chairman, said: "We targeted primary school girls precisely because many of them choose not to continue with chess when they move on to secondary schools and JCs."

A chess player who has taken part in competitions, Jiayi hoped that a girls-only event would encourage more girls to continue playing chess as they get older.

The competition attracted 40 participants, aged five to 12 years.

During the event at Nanyang Community Club multi-purpose hall, the competitors were deep in thought, contemplating their next move against their opponents.

Some of them moved their pieces decisively, while other girls' hands hovered above the board in deliberation.

In the end, eight-year-old Bernadette Kong, a Primary 3 pupil from CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh), emerged champion in the 10-andunder category, while 11-year-old Khushi Choksi, a Grade 6 pupil from Overseas Family School, topped the 12-and-under category.

Among the competitors were pre-schooler Ishani Mantha, who was the youngest at five years old, and members of Northland Primary School's chess club.

The full-day competition was supported by the Nanyang Community Club Chess Club and Nanyang Youth Executive Committee, which sponsored the venue, lunch for participants and medals.

In line with the group's aim of female empowerment, Girls in Chess also donated the $10 registration fees, which came up to $400, to the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Grooming girls into queens of chess'. Print Edition | Subscribe