Gender equality stalemate: Battersea Chess Club looks for more queens

The oldest continually existing chess club in London is doing its part to encourage more women to take up the game.

The Battersea Chess Club (BCC), which was founded in 1885 and has around 80 members, acknowledges that not enough women play the game.

According to the English Chess Federation, out of 12,281 of their direct members in 2017/18, only 935 are women, 7.6%.

BCC secretary Leon Watson, 40, said: “The problem we do face is that we don’t have very many women playing chess, and this is a wider problem than just Battersea Chess Club.

“We are desperate to attract some more female players to our club, turning out for our teams and taking chess seriously.”

Last year they were able to recruit Ayelen Martinez, an internationally ranked chess player who has played for the Argentinian team.

Leon said: “She’s brilliant coach and tutor. The idea of involving her is to hopefully help inspire some more people to come forward and offer something that we can’t, which is high-level coaching to women from another woman.”

Neri Perdomo, 26, started playing recently at the BCC. “I enjoy playing chess because I like mathematical games,” she said.

“Sadly there are not a lot of women around here but I think it’s a very welcoming place and the atmosphere is great.

“Plus it counts as a sport so you can be lazy and play chess.

“Maybe traditionally it has been a male-dominant game, but personally I don’t think it should have any gender.”

The director of international chess at the ECF Malcolm Pein said: “What is clear anecdotally is that the female participation in the UK is way below the (low) level other European countries.”

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