Pestaño: Are female chess players weaker?

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Thursday, March 13, 2014


MARCH is International Women Month and here are some comments about women chess.

“They’re all weak, all women. They’re stupid compared to men. They shouldn’t play chess, you know. They’re like beginners. They lose every single game against a man.

There isn’t a woman player in the world I can’t give knight-odds to and still beat.”—Bobby Fischer.

Is Fischer right and do the statistics confirm this?

There are 1,389 grandmasters in the world but only 27 (about two percent) are women.

Furthermore, there are only three women in the top 300 and only one (Judit Polgar) in the top 100.

Going further, there are more than 3,200 International Masters but only 77 are women and out of more than 5,400 Fide Masters less than 250 are female.

Locally, Cepca only had two lady players out of more than 100. Even in the Internet, where I play every day, I seldom encounter women although those who I meet are good players.

Chess does not involved strength or a bigger frame but why is there such a discrepancy?

The question as to whether men are innately better at chess than women is controversial. At least this idea is widespread and generally acceptable It seems to be biological. Men and women are different in the way they think. Male dominance at chess is often cited as an example of innate male intellectual superiority. I don’t think men having bigger heads is really going to make that much of a difference

Aside from external anatomical and sexual differences, scientists know also that “there are many other subtle differences in the way the brains from men and women process language, information, emotion, cognition, etc.”

This is the reason why airplane pilots, race car drivers, engineers and architects are predominantly male.

On the other hand, “Women are better than men in human relations, recognizing emotional overtones in others and in language, emotional and artistic expressiveness, esthetic appreciation, verbal language and carrying out detailed and pre-planned tasks. For example, women generally can recall lists of words or paragraphs of text better than men.”

Also in other sports like poker, darts and billiards, women cannot compete with men in the top level although these sports do not require superior strength.

The primary reason cited by many as to why women are weak compared to men is because there are only about seven percent women chess players of the total players worldwide estimated at 700 million. Traditionally in modern times, chess is considered a “men’s game” and women are discouraged from playing seriously by their parents.

Another reason is financial. Aside from the top 100 or maybe 200, professional chess players do not have a decent life compared to other sports and women earn even less.

Ruelan Memorial. The 3rd Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan Memorial Open Chess Tournament will be held tomorrow and Sunday at the Deep Blue “D” Woodpusher Chess Club at the second floor SM City. This is organized in cooperation with the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Assoc (Cepca). Registration fee is P200.

The champion will win P5,000, while the second to fourth placers will snare P3,000, P1,000 and P500, respectively.

The sponsors are Dr. Darcy Tabotabo, Hon. Wilfredo Diamante (ABC President), Andrew Aznar, lawyers Jongjong Melendez, Ben Harayo and Jose Mariano Tan and Engr. Ethi Dominguito.

I remember Loloy as a master who had a lifetime passion and commitment to chess. He also had a sense of humor and unique ideas about life in general and was a wide reader who wrote a chess column in Sun.Star Weekend.

(boypestano@gmail.com, www.chessmoso.blogspot.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2014.

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