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.