The second Her Move Next chess tournament was held on 2/8/19, after the first being so successful. Over forty determined girls of all ages came together on that Friday night to compete head to head, while also divided into four teams vying against one another. Although chess is usually considered a male-dominated sport, events like these will hopefully one day make that a notion of the past.
At these events, there is a spirit of camaraderie and support that helps bring out the best in these girls. It is a night full of competition, but also full of bonding. The girls are motivated and mentored throughout the duration of the tournament by their fellow coaches, all very experienced teenaged girls. The coaches and competitors, who in many cases have never met before, often create amazing connections with one another that last well beyond the bounds of these events.
The fun begins in a beautifully decorated tournament hall, as the girls are divided into the four different teams of Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green. Each girl is assigned to a “quad” numbered from 1-12 based on their rating, meaning they will only be playing others of similar strength throughout the tournament. Each team has their own team coach, with whom the girls should be comfortable asking any questions. The coaches are hopefully inspirations to the girls in their own, unique ways. At the beginning of the tournament the girls get introduced to the coaches and have a team meeting to discuss the exact rules of the tournament, and the coaches help spread the excitement and pump up the girls.
Shortly after that is the girls’ first round of three. They play 25-minute games with a 5 second delay. After each round the girls go back to their coaches to report their results, and to have their games analyzed by the coaches, who help explain what could be done better for the upcoming rounds. Pizza and drinks are also served in between games. Then it is on to the next round.
For rounds two and three the girls keep playing their hardest, helped by the guidance and inspiration from their mentors. After round three each team’s points are tallied up, and then everyone comes to the auditorium for an awards ceremony. Awards are handed out to the top-scoring team overall, all girls who got perfect scores, and all girls who won their quad.
Whether they leave with an award or not, Her Move Next is a fantastic learning experience for all of the bright young girls there, and a wonderful opportunity to build confidence in a low-pressure, fun event. They hopefully all leave with both an improved sense of the game, and a big smile on their face from having had a great time among peers with whom they share so much in common. The future of women in chess will be bright if we have more events like these, which help teach and encourage young females to pick up a chess set and play, and to have fun doing so!