Shameful to see a grown man trying to cheat a girl by purposely promoting the pawn to a wrong square and lying about it!
I had this quote a long time ago: “I have never beaten a healthy man!” because many men simply cannot handle losing to a female, especially a girl. Bobby Fischer used to say: “There isn’t a woman player in the world I can’t give knight-odds to and still beat.” Unfortunately, at that time, he believed it (until I scored around 50% against him in countless friendly games) as there were not too many strong female players in the world.
I absolutely did not accept this. That is why I worked so hard to become the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title over the board play, with the same conditions as any man. I wanted to prove that a woman can do anything a man can in chess if she is willing to work hard for it. I had to face so many road blocks and sabotages along the way.
Even with all the success as a professional chess player, earning the #1 ranking at age 15 and remaining in the top 3 for around 25 consecutive years, becoming the first person in history (male or female) to win the Chess Triple Crown (World Blitz, Rapid and Classical Championships), winning 10 Olympiad medals (5 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze) without ever losing in 56 consecutive games on board 1, etc., I had to face more discrimination than any other woman player. This is still an ongoing fight.
Today as the head coach of SPICE, the greatest division I chess program in history, winning 7 consecutive National Final Four Championships without losing a match, including a 15 match winning streak, some still believe that women are not good enough to coach male players. There were even attempts to try to change the rules not to allow any female coaches (me) in men’s division I. As the saying goes, if you cannot beat your competition, try to get rid of the competition.
What is even more stunning is that some parents of girls believe that once their daughters reach 2000+, they need male coaches if they want to be successful. I know some girls who used to come to me for advise later told me that their parents forbid them to ask me for help because they did not think that I am qualified. I am good enough to work with 2700+ players, and players who actually competed in World Cups, Olympiads and World Championships, but I am not good enough to work with 2000+ rated girls. This is the stigma female coaches still face.
Another big disappointment for me in my long career is sometimes, the biggest opponents of women’s chess are not men, but are women themselves. Some actually believe that the best way to help girls get better is by dummying the learning process down. And because I believe in raising the bar for girls, I would be bad for girl’s chess.
I vividly remember when I approached the USCF back in 2002 to create the first ever all-girls national championship (SPF National Invitational for Girls) and special training to help girls catch up on playing levels, some of the delegates looked at me like I was from Venus. They were completely against the idea of doing anything to help girls improve, even though my foundation would sponsor everything.
Thankfully, I had enough support from the ED at that time, Mr. Frank Niro, and various board members to get the initiative through. Therefore, the SPF National Invitational for Girls became the first all-girls national championship approved by the USCF. After that, I once again lobbied hard for the board to approve another all-girls open even, sponsored by KCF. That became the All-Girls National Championship.
Today, there are many all-girls chess tournaments all over the country which give more girls the opportunity to play, improve, and make friendships with other girls all over the country. Shockingly, until I fought hard for it in 2002, girl’s chess did not exist in the US.
Things are so much better in 2017 but the end zone is still far away. I am not done yet. I hope one day during my lifetime, there will be girls good enough to win the US Championship or World Championship. Until that happens, I will continue to push hard to get more girls into chess, help them get better, and give them more opportunities, in spite of countless obstacles.
Sign up for my free email chess course for Beginners and Club Players. In this free course, I focus on helping beginner chess players see the entire board. You will learn how to attack your opponent from move 1 and create a new threat with every single move! I’ve created this series of lessons designed to help beginner and club level players understand the game at a deeper level so that you can start beating higher rated players immediately. Start getting free tips from me directly to your inbox!
– GM Susan Polgar