History of Women's Chess

History of Women's Chess

Oct 11, 2009, 8:47 AM |

While chess was not immune to historic gender barriers, women players have long refused to concede the game to men. In fact, the history of chess in the U.S. dates back to the start of the 19th century for both sexes.

For the first few decades women were tacitly banned from traditional chess clubs and tournaments. So passionate female players established their own venues, with some success. An 1897 article in The American Chess Magazine stated: "Ladies' chess clubs are quite the fashion now."

Despite that observation, another 40 years would pass before the first U.S. Women’s Chess Championship would be held in 1937. This was 80 years after the first official U.S. men’s champion was crowned and 40 years after the first-ever international ladies tournament took place in London (where the U.S. had three representatives).

The first U.S. Women’s Championship was held at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, organized by Caroline Marshall, the wife of U.S. Chess Champion Frank Marshall. Since then the event has become a tradition with its own proud history.

Gisela Gresser, a 1992 Chess Hall of Fame inductee and one of the first American women to become a rated grandmaster, has captured the title an unmatched nine times.

Susan Polgar, another repeat title-holder and Grandmaster, crossed the boundary and became the First woman to qualify for the Men's World Championship in 1986.

Also competing with the men was last year’s U.S. women’s chess champ, Anna Zatonskih. She participated in the male-dominated U.S. Championship back in May, also held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. She was joined by Irina Krush, who she faced in the !nals of the 2008 Women’s Championship.

Clearly women’s chess has come a long way in the United States. Indeed, 2009 undoubtedly will offer an inspiring new chapter in the history and development of women’s chess in America and around the world.

See how far women have come in the sport, as CCSCSL hosts the presgegious US Women's Chess Championship going on NOW - http://saintlouischessclub.org/US-Womens-Championship-2009