The Gifts. The Lines. The Moon. The Outlier. The Men. The Mix. The Women. The Pursuit ... The Woman

The Gifts. The Lines. The Moon. The Outlier. The Men. The Mix. The Women. The Pursuit ... The Woman

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The Gifts

They come in small gifts. You can take them or leave them. I’ve been getting these gifts throughout my entire life. Sometimes in abundance. Other times they were scarce. For many years - non-existent.

This year I got plenty! Each gift was unique and special. Some were like ephemeral flowers, that lasted only a day.  Others last till this day.

These gifts are chess-friendships.

The Lines

I told her, dreamily, “I’m attracted to the gorgeous, curvy streets of my neighbourhood. They are so different from the rest of the linear, boring streets that lay-out our city.”

She said, “It’s not the curvy streets you are attracted to, dear. It’s their female energy. We, women, are made of curves. Men, on the other hand, are more angular. Square.”

-“Oh, yeah? Then you just discovered another reason why fewer girls and women are attracted to chess! If I were to redesign the chessboard, it would definitely have curves.”

-“You need to balance out the feminine and masculine energy within you. We all have both. Men do too. Maybe chess is a way for you to find that balance.”

-“I’ve never viewed chess that way …”         

The Moon

She said, “You’re tied up to the cycle of the moon. You’re a woman. You won’t always have the “fighter” within you. But you will have other super powers, like creating new life. Something men never could.”


The Outlier

He said, “Hey O! Wanna play some chess? I know it will make you feel better.”

-“Aww, how did you know?”

-“It’s not rocket science, Olya.”

-“You know … If you were Winnie-the-Pooh, I would be the piglet. Wait! Today, it’s the reverse …”

The Men

She said, “Don’t try to compete with men. They are wired differently. Physically and emotionally. Just play. And enjoy yourself …”

-“But, but … I WANT to compete!”

-“Then remember: Ain’t no crying in the club!”

The Mix

We all wondered: “When a man goes out to play chess against another man, casually, it’s a guys’-night-out. When woman goes out to play with another woman, it’s a girls’-night-out. But when a woman goes out to play chess with a man, what kind of night-out is it?”

Friendship night out …

But, please, let’s drop the labels.

The Women

She asked: “Have you found any women your strength to play chess with, yet?”

-“Nope …”

-“Do you feel lonely in your chess world?”

-“Lonely? No. … Alone, sometimes.”

The Pursuit

Chess is not like any other game. It’s an endless, endless intellectual pursuit. It’s a personal, life-long self-challenge and journey, if you only will. The more time you vest in, the more appreciation and admiration you get for the game. The higher you rise. The more difficult it becomes to find opponents your strength …

The more you cherish your chess-friendships ... 

The more you notice the gender differences and the vast male/female ratio disparity ... 

The more you realize that, for many of us, these mixed-gender friendships are bound to chess and chess only.



Sometimes we find our Winnie-The-Pooh. Sometimes we don’t. But even Winnie’s can be ephemeral. They too, are passing gifts. So, I gotta­­ enjoy my chess friendships, while they last …

The Woman

I’m a woman. And this is my chess story.



Dear readers, no, I have not gone mad writing this. I just wanted to exercise my creative writing to express things that have been weighing heavily on my heart. And that I, otherwise, wouldn’t.  

Former Canadian Girls Chess Champion (1999 tied for 1st, 2001 1st place)

Busy mom of two

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