The never-ending battles!
When I started out in chess, I dreamed of becoming a Grandmaster (which at that time many considered the idea as crazy as going to the moon). I never ever dreamed about being a WGM. I have never been a WGM.
I wanted to be the best. I wanted to beat any player sitting across from me. I did not want to compete in "Women's Only" events. I believe that women could be just as good as men in chess.
For this dream and ideology, I was severely punished like no other woman in chess. I was forbidden by my own federation to travel for major chess events as my passport was taken away for 3 years (during my crucial development years). My world #1 ranking (which I achieved when I was 15) was artificially taken away from me by FIDE by inflating other female players’ ratings by 100 points.
Then when I became the first woman in history to qualify for the Men’s World Chess Championship cycle, both FIDE and my own federation stopped me from competing because it was called the “Men’s World Chess Championship so no woman can play. Horrendous things were done to me to make sure that this crazy idea of women can compete equally against men in chess is dead.
I sacrificed my playing career to fight for gender equality so my sisters and other female players today can have the fair opportunity to fulfill their dreams. It was a very expensive and emotionally draining battle. After spending decades fighting sexism and discrimination, the battle still continues. I am still paying a heavy price today for speaking out on many of these issues.
In March, I will make a very serious uncensored speech about the many issues in chess today. Stay tuned!