Black Chess in America - Achievements, Goals and Path Ahead
Black chess in America has a special place. An interesting article on the Chess Drum by Daaim Shabazz states Black women have done somewhat well in chess. Medina Parrilla is currently not very active in tournament play, although she plays in local chess leagues and team events. At 1995 USCF, she still plays around Expert level.
Darrian Robinson will begin at University of Chicago in the fall and is hovering close to 2100. At this point, she is trying to determine how best to get to Master level.
Rochelle Ballantyne, a student at the academically-challenging Brooklyn Tech, has been very consistent in her play and at 2033 USCF, is trying to move away from the Expert borderline toward National Master.
While there are bright spots, there has been no Black woman to ever earn the title of National Master. The storied history cites Baraka Shabazz as the strongest Black woman from the late-70s and early-80s. Her rise and fall is well-known. After her poor performance in the 1981 U.S. Women’s Championship, she ultimately gave up the game in frustration.
The article also evaluates how the men have fared. You can read the full article at this Chess Drum link.
What is it about chess that remains so elusive for women? Many girls give up the game at high rates after high school although a few continue to play during university studies.
One of the most troublesome issues for girls and women is lack of accessible peers and role models in the game. Certainly training with another peer helps in a number of ways, but there are few women in the ranks. Without seeing how chess may continue to benefit them, many girls seem to re-prioritize where chess fits into their lives.
After they have used chess as a stepping-stone to get scholarships into elite universities, many seem to focus on school, careers, family and abandon the game. There is not the motivation since there are few examples of women excelling in chess at the top levels. Economics drives many of these decisions.
From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
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