I was browsing a website recently (belonging to a member of this forum who will doubtlessly recognise it when I quote it) and the following could spawn multiple threads if the male-female aspect hasn't been done to death enough:
It struck me, on thinking about this, that it is more true than I had realised. It takes me no more than a few seconds to think of examples for each of those areas mentioned, and while you sometimes have to get used to some differences, the basic game is still there, unchanged, and that is the beauty of it. Almost at the level of two minds connecting in a pure mental battle. A good game of chess can leave me amazed at the abilities of the human mind (well, until a computer gives its verdict on the game, but even then, the abstract aspect of two minds duelling over the board is still amazing)."[chess] knows no boundaries of age, colour or creed. It can be played by men, women and children, by the blind, the deaf and the physically handicapped."
Other 'barriers' that chess can overcome include language and time. It is possible to play chess with people who know no English, and still feel a kinship with them, it is possible to play chess with computers (maybe even one day with artificial intelligences) though I don't get any feeling of kinship there(!), and it is possible to play through games from the past and feel kinship with both unknowns and famous people from history. And the games being played today are part of the legacy the game leaves for future generations.
And the best thing of all is the friendships that can result, even across some of these seeming barriers.