One Girl's Online Chess Life

 My best friend and I are both chess players. Although I presently have a positive score against her, I'm totally convinced that she's a somewhat stronger player than I am. She and I both play online a lot - I play mostly blitz while she plays longer time controls. Ever since I started playing chess online, I've used a handle that leaves my opponents no question concerning my gender. My dear friend, on the other hand, almost always chooses an androgynous handle.


Here's a Muzio I played against her five years ago - no time control:




 At first, choosing a feminine handle was just the natural thing to do. As my internet  experience  broadened, I soon learned there were downsides to this. On occasion I've been insulted, ignored and berated simply because I'm a girl. I've been the target of sexual innuendo, of gender bias and of condensation simply because I'm a girl. But as surly as these things did occur, they weren't really common. While I'm not a chatter by nature, I sometimes relish some witty repartee during and after a game and depending on the nature and skill of the mind opposing mine, these interludes have ranged from light and airy to dark and not-so-innocent. I'm not so sure they would now be part of my total experience had I chosen ambiguity over femininity.  My friend prefers no interaction when she plays and seldom even looks at the chat window until after her game has ended.


Here is a game I played against a gentleman at 1 move/day time control in 2004


The games given here are all turn-based with extensive time controls, a form of chess I seldom play anymore, prefering the sweaty-palm rush of blitz to the cold, calculating methodology of longer games. Yet I'm ambivalent about the value of blitz and feel my long game is better than my blitz game.


Here is a King's Gambit, gone horribly wrong, I played against a woman in 2003

Just one of my 4 losses to Madam X

1 move/20 days time control



Androgyny, ambiguity, ambivalence . . .  the "A" list of words that I've tried to avoid through the years of playing chess but dog my every step. I seldom stop to consider my gender, but navigating as one of a tiny minority, the issue surfaces all too often. It's a bit daunting and often uncomfortable. Unlike my friend who sheilds herself from the gender issue, I feel sometimes as if I'm on the front lines and every loss, every blunder, every step backwards somehow reflects poorly on women everywhere in the chess world - not because I feel I represent women chess players, but because the guys I play might form their opinions partially on my abilities or lack of ability. So there's a price to be paid for flaunting my sex, so to speak, but I feel in the Great Average, it's been a plus score.

and anyway . . . girls just wanna have fun.




  • 9 years ago


    YOU GO, GIRL!!!
  • 9 years ago


    Chess is one game where gender doesn't matter, and looks too an be deceptive. What I mean is that say in a game of boxing, you can get intimated by just looking at your opponent, or conversely feel excited (if your opponent is shorter, less built, etc). But in chess, you cannot make out just by looking at your opponent. All that matters is your performance at the game, and at this a woman can be as good as any man.
  • 9 years ago


    Swordoflaban:  In blitz you can seldom be certain of anything. The calculations are quick and superficial, mostly tactical but sometimes positional. With the lack any degree of certainty,  the risk of error, mis-calulation, confusion and just plain stupid decisions rises tremendously. So, each move is often fraught with adventure. Because you only have seconds to weave through the complexities and make a decision, there's little or no time to waste, so your concentration must be complete if you wish to have a chance of winning. Keeping that level of intesity up for 5, 10, 15 minutes - an entire game being played often in less time that you might spend considering a single move in reg. or corr. chess - is a rush in itself.


    I've played blitz at a dozen different places from Yahoo to FICS to ICC to InstantChess. For the past year or so, I've been playing at Gameknot for the sheer reason that there are no ratings, there's a single format - 10/0, because the players are automatically matched and randomly assigned colors and because your opponent is usually an unknown quantity. The only downsides are that you can't save your game and the applet has a few minor bugs (such as not recognizing a draw by insuffient material or very occasionally not allowing legal castling).


    Too bad none of your daughters play, but you can't coerce anyone to like chess.  I hope your experinces here are all positive and enjoyable.




  • 9 years ago


    [quote=batgirl]prefering the sweaty-palm rush of blitz[batgirl]

    I love that line.  I've always just liked blitz because the games get over fast, but maybe it is the rush also Wink.

     You're blog and sites are great.  Since you don't play turn based here, where do you play blitz?  If you don't want to share that's great too.

     I have 4 daughters, but none of them have really taken to chess.  Two of my son-in-laws say they like, and one of them told me about this site.

  • 9 years ago


    I taught my wife how to play, but to no avail. Her interests lie elsewhere. Comments concerning gender are best left out when conversing with a first contact. Assumption based on personal presumption leads to compunction
  • 9 years ago


    I taught my wife to play about 30 years ago.  She beats me at least 4 out of 5 games.  We are still married.Kiss
  • 9 years ago


    Well done !
  • 9 years ago


    And I hope you will long continue to have fun.  I admire your ability your ability to shrug off undeserved random criticism. 

  • 9 years ago


      I'm an aging surfer just to the south of you and one of the best things that ever happened to the sport has been the increasing interest women have taken in the sport. They bring civility to the water as they do to the chess board. I'm very pleased to see so many women taking an interest in the game and have a female friend that I am now tutoring in the game. Your presence is a true pleasure.
  • 9 years ago


    thank you for sharing!!
  • 9 years ago


    . . . and, if on move 8, I had played Bxf7+, it would be the double-Muzio, which is considered less sound, but it's hard to play against. They are attacking game in which white sacs a lot of material for a strong attack. They require sharp and accurate play from both sides.



  • 9 years ago


    Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and thanks for the congrats!
  • 9 years ago


    kenytiger, 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 is the Muzio Gambit Accepted. In my database of 139 such games White scores 57.6% (+70, =20, -49), so it's not as crazy as it first appears to be.  :)

  • 9 years ago


    Very interesting.  I am sorry that some online personas are chauvinists, but it appears you keep your cool, and represent the Chess playing female admirably.
  • 9 years ago


    Thank you for letting us see some of your games, it was about time. Don't worry about negative comments (if you ever get any), you are the best one in my book. I do have a question: I noticed that you sacrificed a Knight on move five in the first game. What was the point of it? Was that some kind of "experiment"?
  • 9 years ago



    now, you added yet another word to my "A" list - Ambassador.

    If, indeed, my blog even comes close to heading the ranks, it would be quite an honor considering the high quality chess blogging that goes on here at




    Congratulations on the impending addition to your family!

    "In your estimation, how often do you receive negative comments or attitudes because of your gender when you play?"

    As I said, it's infrequent. Sometimes it comes in waves making me a believer in the Full Moon theory. But I would say I run into some type of gender-based hostility a couple times a month. Since I play 6-8 game/day, it might translate into 1/100 games or 1% of the time. (and who says girls can't do math!)


    "How different is online play to OTB play?

    Well, I'm not a tournament player and the few games I play OTB are with friends, so I really can't comment on that issue.


    "Do you find that the negative comments are a genuine belief among your opponents that women are inferior players, or is it a case of them trying to put you off your game?"

    That's hard to say since I can't read their minds. I suspect it's a mixture. I do know that some seem genuinely upset, even if not hostile, if they lose to me and might say something like, "This is embarrassing. I can't even beat a girl!" So, the  prejudice isn't always malicious.



    I think, as usual, you've hit the nail square on the head. There isan added dynamic. It can sometimes be neutral, rarer yet advantageous, but generally just one more thing to deal with in order to play a game of chess. Androgyny would eliminate it for the most part (not always, as you demonstrated) and my friend, realizing this, took that road. But I've always felt the female presence in chess is lacking and part of the lack is merely perceptual since girls often hide their presence.  So, we each do what seems right to us individually.


  • 9 years ago


    Interestingly enough, even though my profiles at chess sites have always been very clear as to my gender I was mistaken for a woman once in a game due to my somewhat androgynous handle (I guess...). Though I wouldn't say there was anything demeaning in the discourse, it was clear to me that female players have another dynamic to deal with that men just don't experience. I very soon made it clear to my opponent I was not female and the chat quickly died out (after some quite lengthy posts in the beginning). I imagine it was an embarrassing situation for my opponent.

    By the way, thank you for posting some of your games. Obviously the King's gambit was expected.

  • 9 years ago


    Hello Batgirl.  Your articles here are among the best writings about chess on this site and I always look forward to them.  In your estimation, how often do you receive negative comments or attitudes because of your gender when you play?  How different is online play to OTB play?  Do you find that the negative comments are a genuine belief among your opponents that women are inferior players, or is it a case of them trying to put you off your game?  Anyway, thanks for your work here and I look forward to more!
  • 9 years ago



    Your intelligence and eloquence make you an excellent ambassador for your sex.  I think it's important that chess websites have a visible female contingent - it can only serve to encourage others to join and enjoy the game.


    Having said that, you are correct of course to say that it does affect how people behave towards you. Mostly, this will be innocent enough, but I can well imagine (and indeed have witnessed) how appalling some of the behaviour this attracts can be. We are lucky to have you here - you're the best blogger on the site by a mile.


    It's interesting to see some of your games.  Win or lose, I like your direct approach to the game.  Personally, I find that blitz games demoralise me - I feel my wins are lucky and my losses are usually the result of horrible blunders.   I am enjoying the correspondence chess here at more than I ever imagined I would.


    Thanks for another interesting post. 


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