Her Move Next is a New York City-based non-profit organization that caters to girls and women who play chess. The organization was formed when a parent, whose daughters played chess, moved to a new school at which chess was not offered as a sport. The father started an initiative to have the girls play chess and that initiative grew into Her Move Next. LittleAfrica News interviewed the Director of the organization, Melissa Cohen and she shared how the organization operates.
From the moment it began operating, Her Move Next was hosting in-person chess tournaments. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the globe, the world was forced into lockdown and it became impossible to host in-person tournaments. This forced Her Move Next to go back to the drawing board as an organization and come up with innovative ideas to keep young women across the world engaged during difficult times. One of the ideas suggested was allowing chess players to participate in tournaments presented online. Coincidentally, the popularity of chess grew exponentially thanks to the release of the limited series The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. This made girls and women eager to play a part in chess.
Her Move Next offers participation in tournaments and training. As of this publication, the organization has held 22 tournaments. The tournaments are usually held every first Friday of the month. Players compete against each other in a quad of similarly rated players. These players will also be added to color-coded teams, so each player earns points for herself and her team if she wins or draws a match. The winners from each tournament receive an Amazon gift voucher as a prize.
Cohen speaks of the participants of tournaments as being diverse as some are from different states of the US and a few are from other countries. Bernice Wambui of Kenya and Ivie Urieto of Nigeria regularly participate in these tournaments. There is also a player from China who joins regularly. Cohen applauds their participation and dedication because the difference in time means the players in Kenya, Nigeria, and China have to wake up at varying hours in order to play.
Her Move Next offers training to prepare students for tournaments and also as a way to improve their skills. Training sessions take place every Saturday and Sunday unless there is a break in training. Her move next offers chess players of each level a coach who will see them through levels of improvement.
Cohen feels as though Her Move Next has progressed well since its inception. She said that the organization is very active in the chess community and will only grow. The organization has about 300 registered chess players. When tournaments are hosted, there are at least 30 participants involved. Cohen dreams of seeing the organization grow in all aspects – registration, tournaments, and scope. In an exclusive interview with LittleAfrica News, she shared that the goal foremost in her mind is that she wants a Her Move Next chess player in every state of the United States. At the time of reporting, the organization has registered chess players in about 17 states.
The addition of chess players from other countries is another goal for Cohen. She would love a return to in-person events and activities as well.
Cohen believes in the power of chess and there is no better example of that power than Her Move Next.
*PHOTOS COURTESY OF NEOT DORON-REPA
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