In Catalonia, only 7% of federated chess players are women. A very low percentage that indicates that chess has been, historically, and is still a game closely linked to men, where women find it very difficult to be present. The covid-19 pandemic has wiped out all face-to-face tournaments, but in retrospect it may have boosted interest in chess. In the age of digital platforms where people from the couch at home do TV marathons, the Netflix series Gambito de Dama, where the protagonist, an orphan girl, develops a gift for chess and aspires to become the best player of a world dominated by men.
“Whenever we talk about chess, it’s good for us and now it’s happening,” said CE Gerunda president Josep Serra. The Girona club has a dozen women on its staff, out of a total of 120 players. Marta Pales and Olga Costabella are two people from Girona who have been fascinated by chess. The interest did not arise from small to either, but later. Over time, however, this interest translated into a hobby to the point of deciding to federate. “I’ve always liked math and logic games. I’m an architect and I’m a bit tied up, ”explains Pales, who admits that it’s very uncommon to find women playing chess. “When I arrived everything was men and it’s true that seeing such a masculine atmosphere made you look back a bit,” she explains, while recalling that in one of the first tournaments where she participated, she was the only woman among about eighty men. ». Pales confesses that he has always been treated “very well” despite the fact that he considers that “still” there is “an inner masculinity, which is hidden from outside doors”. For Pales, the protagonist of Gambito de Dama “can’t be ideal for anyone” because of all the problems she has. In this sense, however, he does understand that the series “can increase interest” in chess in general. “I don’t think it makes women more interested than men,” she said.
Costabella, 39, entered the world of chess pulled by a friend. “I had never played there until recently. He hooked me and I’ve been taking a liking to doing courses and tournaments, ”he says while confessing that when he plays“ if I end up mentally tired, I feel fulfilled; otherwise I waste my time ». Costabella has also seen Gambito de Dama and liked it “very much”. However, at the same time, she considers herself to be “too much of a grain” because the protagonist is simply “a gifted girl”. Costabella explains that it is “very strange” to find women in chess tournaments. In fact, he believes that women, if they have to do sports, “go to the gym” because “the mind is one more and more.”