Chess Bitch

Women in the Ultimate Intellecutal Sport

Jennifer Shahade

Glossary, Index
320 pages
6x9, cloth
Illustrated with B&W photos

In the game of chess, where being female has been long considered a major disadvantage, the strongest piece—the Queen—is often referred to as “bitch.”

Chess Bitch, written by the 2004 U.S. Woman’s Chess Champion, is an eye-opening account of how today’s young female chess players are successfully knocking down the doors to this traditionally male game, infiltrating the male-owned sporting subculture of international chess, and giving the phrase “play like a girl” a whole new meaning.

Through interviews with and observation of the young globetrotting women chessplayers who challenge male domination, Chess Bitch shines a harsh light on the game’s gender bias. Shahade begins by profiling the lives of great women players from history, starting with Vera Menchik, who defeated male professionals with incredible frequency and became the first woman’s World Champion in 1927. She then investigates the women’s chess dynasties in Georgia and China. She interviews the famous Polgar sisters, who refused to play in separate women’s tournaments. She details her own chess adventures—traveling to tournaments from New Delhi to New York to Shanghai. Shahade also introduces us to such top players as glamorous Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk and current Women’s World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova and such lesser-known players as the flamboyant Zambian Linda Nangwale, the transgendered Texan Angela Alston, and myiad female players who hop from one country to another, playing chess by day and partying long into the night. For those who think of chess as two people sitting quietly across a table, Shahade paints a colorful world that most chess fans never knew existed.

Jennifer Shahade is an international chess icon: She holds the title Woman Grandmaster and is a two-time U.S. Women’s Champion (2002, 2004). She has represented the U.S. in international competitions in countries all over the world, including Spain, Russia, China, India, and Brazil. In 2002, Jennifer received a degree in comparative literature from NYU, where she was an editor for the literary magazine Brio. Her writing has appeared in Chess Life, New In Chess, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Through the non-profit Chess-in-the-Schools program, she coaches inner-city youths, including the three-time National Junior High Championship team from Brooklyn. Shahade is a color commentator for the Internaet radio station She has participated in performance art projects at New York’s psychogeography festival, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Viewing Room Gallery, and served as a joror for a design competition at the Noguchi Museum. Her Webpage is