Gender Equality in Chess


One Step Closer to Pioneering Gender Equality in Chess
In a stride towards achieving gender equality in chess, Norway Chess is on the verge of realizing a groundbreaking vision – the creation of an all-female super tournament. With generous financial contribution from Sparebankstiftelsen SR-Bank, and Stavanger municipality, and sponsorship from esteemed businesses like EY and Sparebank 1 SR-Bank, and the Stavanger municipality, this historic event is planned to be held alongside the prestigious Norway Chess tournament in 2024. The organizers want to provide equal prize funds for both tournaments, despite the fact that the overall rating of female players lags behind their male counterparts. This momentous initiative aims to bring attention to women in chess, a historically underrepresented group, and to set a new standard for gender equality in the sport.

Women in Chess – A Struggle for Recognition
Throughout history, women have faced significant challenges in gaining recognition and representation in the world of chess. While many female players have demonstrated exceptional skill, the sport has predominantly been dominated by male participants. The rating disparity between the highest-ranked male players and the highest-ranked female players has often been substantial, reflecting systemic barriers that hinder female progress in the game.

Setting New Standards
The significance of the initiative extends beyond the borders of the tournament. By elevating the visibility and recognition of women in chess, Norway Chess are signaling a new standard for the sport as a whole. It is crucial to acknowledge that talent and potential in chess transcend gender, and equal opportunities for female players should be fostered at every level. By promoting inclusivity, diversity, and equal representation, Norway Chess is sending a resounding message to the chess community and society at large, emphasizing the importance of leveling the playing field and dismantling gender-based barriers.

Encouraging Future Generations
Norway Chess’s commitment to gender equality is not solely limited to the present; it carries implications for future generations of chess enthusiasts. By empowering young girls and women to pursue their passion for chess with confidence, the tournament serves as a catalyst for inspiring change and fostering greater female participation in the sport. The hope is that the visibility and success of the all-female super tournament will encourage more girls to take up chess and young, female chess players to see that there are more opportunities to be a professional chess player.

In this defining moment for gender equality in chess, Norway Chess extends its heartfelt gratitude to Sparebankstiftelsen SR-Bank for their remarkable contribution of 2 million NOK to support this transformative cause. Their generosity, along with the support of esteemed sponsors such as EY, Sparebank 1 SR-Bank, and the Stavanger municipality, brings the dream of an all-female super tournament one step closer to reality. It is important to note that Norway Chess continues to seek additional sponsors to ensure the successful execution of this historic event.

“Norway is considered to be a very gender equal country. However, there is no denying that women are still behind in several areas. This also applies to the framework for women in sport, also in chess. Here, women who want to pursue chess often must have a job on the side. We at Sparebankstiftelsen SR-Bank are proud to contribute to developing a women’s master tournament together with Norway Chess. We have thus brought a gift of NOK 2 million to the master tournament for women.” – Ellen Instefjord, Gift & Communications Manager, Sparebankstiftelsen SR-Bank.

Organizer of Norway Chess, Benedicte Westre Skog and Kjell Madland, receiving the financial contribution of 2 million NOK from Sparebankstiftelsen SR-bank.


“Unfortunately, in the world of chess, women still struggle to balance practice time with paid work. This limits female chess players’ opportunities to practice, win the competitions with the big prizes and receive sponsorships. Together with Norway Chess, EY wants to support a separate women’s tournament where the prize money is equal to that of the open tournament.”
– Christin Bøsterud, Country Managing Partner, Norway, EY

Christin Bøsterud has been a driving force for gender equality and an active supporter of chess and equality in the chess sport through the cooperation with Norway Chess.

Some facts on the current landscape of women in chess compared to men

  • 15 men have been above 2800 in the all-time high rating, only one woman has been above 2700 (Judit Polgár 2735) and 6 women have been above 2600 in rating.
  • Women are underrepresented in elite chess tournaments, with no female participants in events like the Candidates Tournament, which determines the challenger for the World Chess Championship (the Open cycle).
  • Women’s participation rates decrease at higher levels of play, indicating a gender disparity that needs to be addressed for greater inclusivity.
  • Female players like Judit Polgár and Hou Yifan serve as role models, highlighting the potential and capability of women in the chess world.