Queen Side Girls Chess Camp for the future of Women’s Chess in Guyana

The Guyana Women in Chess Community’s core goal is to close the gap in gender parity in the game. Great strides towards achieving this continue with a landmark event on Saturday, March 25th with “The Queen Side” Girls Chess Camp.

This one-day chess camp is the first-ever girls-only chess camp hosted by Guyana Chess Federation and had an impressive turnout of nearly 50 women and girls. Organizers believe that providing designated space exclusively for female players can foster a sense of community and sisterhood, which in turn can contribute to the retention of girls in the sport for a more extended period.

The event provided up-and-coming players with a chance to learn chess tactics and advice from more experienced players in a relaxed and casual setting. Over 40 girls under the age of 18 registered for the camp. The younger girls were eager to learn, asking many questions and showing enthusiasm for the game throughout the camp. The girls also had the chance to play against each other and receive feedback in a supportive and friendly environment.

The experienced female chess players, WCM Sheriffa Ali, Anaya Lall, Italy TonChung, Aniyah Couchman, Angel Rahim and Maliha Rajkumar were on hand to provide instruction and guidance to participants, covering basic chess tactics and strategies, and offering tips on how to improve their game. Some of these remarkable young women also shared their experiences as chess players over the years. Reigning National Women’s Champion Pooja Lam, former National Women’s Champion Sasha Shariff together with
National Arbiter and a top female chess player, Jessica Callender also contributed, expressing their thoughts on chess and the many friendships gained after meeting players from other countries.

The Secretary of Guyana Chess Federation, Marcia Lee, who heads the Women in Chess Committee, welcomed the girls and encouraged more participation in chess competitions. Mrs. Lee also stressed the need for more female members to join the federation so that they too can enjoy the benefits of chess and ultimately bridge the gender gap within the Guyana Chess Federation.

It is worth noting that less than a decade ago, female chess players were a rarity in Guyana. In the competitive arena, some local tournaments only saw a maximum of three to five female chess players. President of Guyana Chess Federation, Anand Raghunauth, noted that by encouraging women and girls in chess, with the emphasis on building communication and leadership skills, they can become great players, administrators and ambassadors of the sport.