SHESS: Making Strategic Moves From Pawn to Queen
Q & A – CHESS REX and Author Wendy Oliveras:
Ernesto: When did you begin writing “Let’s Play SHESS” and what was the motivation behind it?
Oliveras: I began writing “Let’s Play SHESS” on or about October 2011. I self-published the book in June 2012 and it is available inall formats worldwide, including four stores at Barnes & Noble in New York City. Interestingly, the motivation behind writing the book
arose from two driving forces. One is the fact I am a passionate chess lover and have been playing for 35 years, but only for fun.The other is the journey and challenges I faced as a small business owner during the economic downturn in 2008.These two forces are what inspired and motivated me to create the “SHESS” ideology and dedicate the book to girls and women.As a result of my life journey both on a personal and professional level, I realized it is because of my chess-playing skills that I have been able to think, analyze and solve my problems with more logical clarity and prepare for unexpected situations.
Ernesto: “SHESS” is an interesting word. What does it actually represent?
Oliveras: SHESS is a play on two words, i.e., “she” for female and “chess” for the game. SHESS simply represents a metaphor for “your game of life” and all of the circumstances, which occur in your life, represent your personal “battlefield.” If you keep in mind chess
is a logical game, which mimics a battle of war between two minds, then also remember SHESS represents a battle of war between your own mind and that of your opponent in life or in business. Think of the creative analogy between a chessboard and your life board as the foundation for setting and accomplishing your goals. Either way, both games require the same cognitive and tactical strategies to solve problems and analyze things in life or in business development. In chess, you develop these skills and in SHESS, you sharpen your intellectual weaponry and learn to successfully transfer those skills into real life. It’s really fascinating the relevance of chess and your game of life.
Ernesto: Who inspired you to play chess and what do you get out of it?
Oliveras: My Dad taught me how to play chess when I was 14 years old. At first, I was not interested. I thought it was boring and too intellectual for me. I remember watching my Dad play chess with my uncles or his friends, and I was very intimidated by the game.
I actually thought it was only a man’s game because I had not seen girls or women playing before. Regardless, I am very thankful my Dad insisted I learn to play. Once I memorized how each piece moves and learned the basics of the game, I was intrigued and captivated.
Ernesto: Did you ever consider competing professionally?
Oliveras: That’s a great question. Unfortunately, when I was growing up, my public schools did not offer chess as part of the curriculum or as part of an after school program. Chess clubs were not prevalent in my community in Manhattan and certainly not marketed for girls to learn during that time. Nevertheless, even though I loved playing chess, I also had a few other passions such as learning Jujitsu and playing percussion instruments, which kept me busy aside from schoolwork. Regardless, playing chess was always a favorite hobby of mine. For this reason, my vision and mission is to strongly urge girls and women to approach chess with an open mind and learn to play for fun. The key is to know you always have the choice to play for fun or compete professionally and turn it into a profitable career. What I have obtained from playing chess all of these years is relevant to being a better thinker, planner, strategist, and confident person as a result. This is an extremely important message to send out to all females in the world. I think women approach chess with intimidation and probably feel that it is only for chess masters to benefit from. This is old fashion thinking. “Let’s Play SHESS” is the appropriate tool which helps me to spread the message to women worldwide. For example, playing chess is
essential because the skills inherent in this fascinating game are transferable into real life activities, including business development.
Ernesto: Although your book is dedicated to women, can men benefit from the book’s messages as well?
Oliveras: Absolutely! Although the book is dedicated to women of all ages and backgrounds, men are certainly welcome to learn from its wisdom. Let us not forget statistically there are only 3% of women who compete professionally in chess worldwide. This is a main reason the book focuses on inspiring women to learn to play chess and take advantage of its benefits and rewards such as gaining confidence and facing your
opponent without fear to name a few. Every little girl and woman has the choice – just as I did – to play for fun or commit to it for a more serious and competitive career path. Either way, playing chess will help you to develop your overall intellectual weaponry.
SHESS does not discriminate, does not foster a gender or chess rankings competition, nor is it about winning or losing a game. On the contrary, SHESS is about having lots of fun with the learning process, challenging your mind and capabilities, as well as playing your own game of life — at your own pace. In SHESS there are no mandatory rules or regulations to play by. Only you know what you need to succeed. But, you have to start somewhere – why not start by learning chess.
Ernesto: What is the meaning of the phrase “From Pawn to Queen” and how does it apply to real life?
Oliveras: The metaphor “From Pawn to Queen” is actually PART III of the book, which represents the essential SHESS message to empower yourself — for yourself. For instance, in the chess set, the “pawn” is the weakest piece and worth one point and the “Queen” is the most powerful piece and worth nine points. Although the pawn may be considered weak, it is the only piece, which has a special move and can be promoted to a Queen. In SHESS, your game of life, every female born into the world is considered a “pawn in life” but only you can promote herself to a Queen status in life or in business. Here, the analogies between a “pawn in chess” and “a pawn in life” are creatively intertwined and are too important to ignore. Thus, SHESS represents the acronym: Self-empowerment – Honor – Engagement, Strategies to move from Pawn to Queen – Success.
Ernesto: “Let’s Play SHESS” is an inspirational empowerment book that prepares women with the resources needed to succeed in business and life.
What are your plans for “Let’s Play SHESS” and your ultimate vision for it?
Oliveras: I am very excited about all of the possibilities for “Let’s Play SHESS.” A product line is in the works, a Spanish version of the book is coming out this Fall, and I hope to start the children’s book series by mid- to late next year. I also hope to continue growing my
invaluable corporate partnerships to help support the SHESS global movement as quickly and expeditiously as possible. SHESS has been gaining momentum and I am working very diligently to get this important message out to our little girls and women from here and abroad to take advantage of the skills and benefits naturally built in chess.
Ernesto: Any last words of wisdom or advice for our readers and SHESS fans?
Oliveras: Always remember “A SHESS player never considers herself a victim, but rather a victorious warrior on her battlefield. Think, plan, react…be the SHESS player, not the chess piece…from Pawn to Queen!”