Queen of the board

Is there a gender divide in the chess community?


Photo by Sydney Rowe

Senior Katarina Jordan places a round of chess during her enrichment. Jordan is the only girl competitor in class.

Story by Emma Allen, staff writer

Ever since chess was invented, it has been a game dominated by men. This is unsurprising, seeing as nearly everything created as long ago as this game began is predominantly male. 

Since Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit” gained popularity, so did chess — especially among women who finally have some semblance of female chess representation. But what about the chess club? Based on numbers alone, it is male dominated, but are the women treated the same? 

“I wouldn’t say [being a girl in chess club is] different; it’s just that the guys underestimate the females that are in there. Like, they don’t think that we would be interested in it,” freshman Kylee Thrapp said. “They think we’re just there to waste our time, and nobody really wants to play the females, so [we] just start playing each other.”

The girls often end up playing each other instead of the mostly-male population of the club; however, senior Katarina Jordan has had a different experience with the instructional portion of the club.

“All the guys are really nice and they help teach me, especially Keenan Thrapp. That doesn’t go without saying that the chess community at Texas High is the only chess community that I know,” Jordan said. “Honestly, I don’t really see a difference between the boys and the girls. I’ve never really looked at it that way. They’re all just people, and they all help me learn and develop my skills.” 

Whether the players attend chess club for the learning aspect or the playing aspect, there is one glaringly obvious thing they all have in common: chess. For Thrapp, it holds a sort of sentimental value.

“My brother has always been interested in [chess],” Thrapp said. “Last summer he just wanted somebody to play, so I got into it. It’s a bond that [we’ve] created.”

While Thrapp shares the game with her brother, for Jordan it’s more about the bond that she’s created between chess and herself.

“Chess is a big part of my life in the sense that it makes me happy,” Jordan said. “It’s something that’s different from anything else that I do, like band and work and school. It’s something outside of those that I picked up because I wanted to, not because I had to.”

After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Not whether you’re good or bad, one gender or another. The thing that truly connects one chess player to another is a shared love for the game.