Judit Polgar inspires Chess and Female Empowerment conference

The strongest female chess player of all time, Judit Polgar, will be the inspirational headline speaker at the 7th London Chess and Education Conference (November 30-December 1, at the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith). The conference, a regular feature of the festival of events during the London Chess Classic, will feature a stellar line-up of expert speakers from around the world and focus on the ground-breaking theme ‘Chess and Female Empowerment.’

Conference participants from up to 40 countries, including female and male chess players, educators and organisers, are expected to offer insights on how to improve the gender balance in chess and examine initiatives to make the game more welcoming and accessible to women and girls at all levels.

Judit, an Honorary FIDE Vice-President, will relate how her experiences – breaking through to the world top 10 while overcoming obstacles to female participation in professional chess, and promoting chess for all in her home country of Hungary and around the world – can inspire new generations of female players to excel and compete on equal terms with their male counterparts.

Other keynote speakers at the conference will include US Chess Federation Executive Director Carol Meyer and Grandmaster Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, a former professional chess player who is now a leading politician in Lithuania. The conference will reach a fitting conclusion with Judit Polgar leading a wide-ranging roundtable discussion, “A Century of Women´s Chess: What Have We Learned?” on Sunday, 1st December.

Speakers from the UK will include England’s top female professional chess player, IM and WGM Jovanka Houska, the renowned chess writer and investigative journalist Sarah Hurst, leading chess educators Sarah Kett and Samantha Ali, of charity Chess in Schools and Communities, and Chris Fegan, Director of Women’s Chess for the English Chess Federation.

Roundtables and workshops will include —
* Creating a safe and welcome environment for women
* Successful women who have played chess
* How can girls be encouraged to excel at chess?
* How to make chess more accessible to women
* Challenges for female chess officials
* Lessons from other sports

Underlining the conference’s important role in promoting women and girls in chess will be the presentation of two brand new surveys on women and girls in chess – a statistical analysis of numbers of women and girls in national chess federations by the European Chess Union, and a study conducted through the US Chess Federation, with qualitative insights into chess and gender issues. A third study of online chess games in the Netherlands will provide details of how girls and boys compare.

An extra highlight will be a Q&A discussion during the Saturday lunch break featuring leading chess author Jonathan Rowson, an acclaimed expert in applied philosophy, who will be sharing insights from his new book, The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life in conversation with Guardian journalist Stephen Moss. 

The fee to attend the London Chess and Education Conference: ‘Chess and Female Empowerment’ is £65 for one day and £95 for two days. Participants of the London Chess Classic Open or Weekender events can take part on both days with a one-day-ticket. Tickets can be bought directly here.

Female members of the English Chess Federation are eligible for free entry to the conference. Simply send an email in advance to conference@chessplus.net with your ECF membership number.