Well, obviously

Speaking in the magazine New in Chess about the lack of women playing the game, Short said: “Why should they [men and women] function in the same way? I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife [Rea] possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do.

“Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to manoeuvre the car out of our narrow garage.

“One is not better than the other, we just have different skills. It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”

Isn’t he getting stick for saying something so obvious though?

58 comments on “Well, obviously

  1. Thing is, once you accept some hardwiring effect, you negate all the hard work done towards achieving absolute equality of outcome (for desirable outcomes, like seats on the board, not for undesirable outcomes, like garbo jobs). Because it becomes impossible to determine what proportion of the inequality is down to hardwiring and what down to the discriminatory misogynist-rapist patriarchy. The great risk is that it turns out that a lot less of it (certainly less than the past) is down to the rapiarchy.

    Which is why I’d rather promote seeing all people as individuals – so while you might be less likely to see a female chess grandmaster or male doing whatever requires emotional intelligence, we shouldn’t put anything in the way of those people doing those things because the mean aptitude of their group is different from that of some other group.

    Try telling Ecks/SMFS that about darkies and see what happens.

  2. I played Nigel Short once – in a simultanious, where he took on 20 top schoolkids in Bristol, he won 19 and drew the other (I wasn’t the boy who drew).

    Anyway, he’s absolutely right. Chess is not something where men have any physical advantage. Women compete as equals yet you’ll find only a handful of women in the top 1,000 players around the world. And don’t give me gender stereotyping stopping girls getting started in chess. In the USSR chess was the national sport. Girls and boys were both encouraged to play at school and the good ones given coaching. The USSR would have loved to have found a woman capable of beating the ‘imperial’ west chess players to prove their system better but couldn’t.

    Now if you want to get really wierd and ethnic about things, in the late 19th and early 20th century, if you grouped players into “Russian Jews”, “non-Jewish Russians”, non-Russian Jews” and “non-Russian, non-Jewish” then that roughly correlated to the strenth of international chess players.

    No idea why.

    But like Nigel Short says, does it matter? He’s not saying men are better because they are generally better at chess, he’s just saying that’s the way it is. Feminists and the PC can squawk all they like about it but they can’t challenge the facts.

  3. I don’t follow snooker, but hasn’t Steve Davis just said much the same thing about that ‘sport’? And been backed up by the world’s leading female player? Women can play snooker, some of them can play it very well, but the best players will almost always be men.

    This is probably both because more men have an innate aptitude for snooker, and also because men are more obsessive and competitive and are prepared to put in the hours and hours of daily practice required to become a top snookerist.

    Thus, if you start with 1,000 men with the raw material and 100 women, you’re already more likely to have a male at the top; factor in that women have better things to do with their lives, and it becomes a racing certainty.

    Doutbless certain SJW warriors of this parish, and Guardian readers/mad feminists, will call this ‘patriarchal’, and demand snooker quotas, and probably the chess guy and his wife will be excommunicated, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

    It seems to be true of most things that require utter dedication – (some) men just do apparently have more of whatever ability to repeat a process often enough to become really good at it.

    Doubtless women are distracted by childcare etc, but that also seems to be something a lot of them enjoy doing – even ferociously intelligent ones like my missus. Weird old world, isn’t it.

  4. Can you believe Natalie-Bennett-Dalek missed this opportunity to right such a terrible wrong in the thoughtful and sensible Green manifesto?

    Legislate!
    Legislate!
    Legislate!

  5. @interested. If you started with 1,000 men and 100 women with the same raw talent, then for sure you are more likely to have a man at the top. But you’d still expect to find a woman in the top 10.

  6. Bridge is the same, more men at the top than women but there are some very good women players. To allow for this and because often women don’t like playing against men Bridge has Open and Ladies competitions at the very top. One of the best women players every who does hold her at the very top says, Sabine Auken, says she still prefers to play in Women only championships rather than Open championships with male partners and for some reason she’s never short of world class players wanting her as a bridge partner.

    I reckon its down to men being more likely to be obsessive about something and dedicating their young lives to whatever it is they want to do at the expense of almost everything else in their lives. That 10,000+ hours thing writ large.

    A couple of years ago we were listening to some woman on the radio bemoaning the fact that there were very few women plumbers and that gummint had to do something to ensure that we got the right gender balance of 50%. My wife’s instant response was that girls have more sense than to go in to jobs that require them to go scrambling round the back of other people’s toilets.

  7. Men and women are different. As David Starkey notes, statistically men display uh wider variations of intellect than women.
    Nevertheless, it must be quite a statistical freak to have Interested, SMFS and Mr Ecks all frequenting the same blog.

  8. @AndyC

    ‘If you started with 1,000 men and 100 women with the same raw talent, then for sure you are more likely to have a man at the top. But you’d still expect to find a woman in the top 10.’

    The 10/1 ratio was merely illustrative, but I did go on to point out that whatever that is in reality it is only one part of the equation – the other is dedication.

  9. There are plenty of vaguely economically sensible but otherwise full of canting leftist shite types on here but then they are the freaks rather than the stats.

    Ironboy–still repeating slogans in the hope that you will make the breakthro’ to thought.

    Bloke up his own arse in Germany: You’d rather promote people as individuals but you still enjoy endlessly repeating Ironboy’s slogans. Perhaps it is a habit you have picked up in your time in Germany.

    Now to the matter in hand–if women are so good at chess then how come they don’t dominate it?. Are we to believe that large numbers of women are being held prisoner and prevented from reaching their true chess potential? They are mostly not in it cos they aren’t interested. Those few who are will do whatever they do and get as far as they get. The only issue here is that a man dared to say what he thought and that was against leftist orthodoxy. So all the scum come out to play.

  10. @Ecks,

    I never said “women are so good at chess”, I completely accept Short’s position. My position is “this doesn’t pass the so-what test”. So actually I lump the (in this case hitherto imaginary) feminazis in with the thick.racist.sexist.pricks. as barking madly up the wrong tree.

  11. Bloke in Germany – “Which is why I’d rather promote seeing all people as individuals – so while you might be less likely to see a female chess grandmaster or male doing whatever requires emotional intelligence, we shouldn’t put anything in the way of those people doing those things because the mean aptitude of their group is different from that of some other group. Try telling Ecks/SMFS that about darkies and see what happens.”

    Well, why don’t you try it? I am perfectly happy with equal opportunity for every one. By all means, let us see all people as individuals. What is wrong with that?

    The problem is that when people don’t treat other people as individuals, but as racial collectives, and I point out that is stupid, you are on the side of the people demanding quotas. So you don’t seem to believe your own claims. But if you want to agree with me, great. I am all for it.

    And everyone’s favourite Labour trans-Atlantic socialite has actually demanded that one in seven Board members should be BMEs. To reflect the community at large. Pretty soon I would expect Ironman to insist resistance to this is racism. And for you to agree with him.

    Bloke in Germany – “I never said “women are so good at chess”, I completely accept Short’s position. My position is “this doesn’t pass the so-what test”.”

    If you cannot see the ground-shaking implications of accepting that intelligence (at least of the chess playing sort) is not equally distributed across the population, or at least it is not randomly distributed across the population, then you are thicker than the thickest racist you have ever tried to flame.

    Of course is a big frickin’ deal if women do not play chess as well as men for some biological reason. It means a complete re-ordering of the government’s priorities.

  12. Ironman – “Men and women are different. As David Starkey notes, statistically men display uh wider variations of intellect than women.”

    The former does not follow from the latter. The latter simply implies the former. You can infer the former from the latter. But you cannot claim the latter proves the former.

    There may be other social reasons why women do not perform as well as men in a variety of areas. Women’s chess is dominated by the Chinese and the Indians. I would suggest that the main reason is that in the West, men do not make passes at girls who wear glasses. As most girls still want a good boyfriend, they will not play chess which more or less guarantees they won’t find one.

    However if you want to follow this line of argument, Whites do not display the same distribution of intelligence as Blacks. In fact, pretty much everywhere people of African origin can be tested, people of African origin test about a standard deviation lower. I don’t think this has a genetic cause but neither do I rule it out. I think it is cultural. What do you think? The same rule applies to Whites as to men?

  13. BiND,

    “A couple of years ago we were listening to some woman on the radio bemoaning the fact that there were very few women plumbers and that gummint had to do something to ensure that we got the right gender balance of 50%. My wife’s instant response was that girls have more sense than to go in to jobs that require them to go scrambling round the back of other people’s toilets.”

    That’s not sense, that’s disgust.

    If you want to do any qualification, one that isn’t subject to globalisation, and is in constant demand and pays quite well, I’d say go and do a C&G in plumbing. It’ll be a better return on investment than doing a degree in art history. I’m considering it as a 2nd thing to have – if I run low on software work, I’ll go and fix some pipes.

  14. @ SMFS “Women’s chess is dominated by the Chinese and the Indians.”

    The current top 20 women come from the following countries:

    China 4
    Russian Federation 4
    Ukraine 3
    Gerorgia 2
    India 2
    Armenia 1
    Bulgaria 1
    Hungary 1
    Sweden 1
    Lithuania 1

    So where you get the idea that China and India ‘dominate’ women’s chess, I’m not quite sure.

    But if I understand your argument correctly, you’re saying it’s patronising to say that women aren’t as good at chess as men due to differences in their mental make-up because the real reason is all these girls are scared they won’t get a boyfriend if they play chess. If I’m ever lucky enough to bump into Alexandra Kosteniuk I’ll ask her why on earth she plays chess as that’s bound to stop her getting a boyfriend.

  15. A faction here dismisses me as a leftist, my left-wing friends dismiss me as a republican tory.

    I conclude I am doing something right.

  16. @interested.

    So the reason men are better at chess then women isn’t due to their mental make-up it’s because men are more dedicated?

    If that’s so, I wonder if the reason men are more dedicated is due to their mental make-up?

  17. And I’ll say it agian although no-one seems to have noticed. Throughout the USSR and the communist eastern block, chess was virtually a religion.

    If a woman had emerged who could have taken on and beaten the best that the west could put forward this would have been a massive propaganda victory. Eastern block women dominated world women’s chess during that period but not one of them made an impression against the best men.

    Girls had the same encouragement as the boys and the same access to top coaching.

    They were hailed as heroes (and probably didn’t find it too difficult to get a boyfriend).

    The cultural barriers didn’t exist.

    But they just were not as good as the men.

  18. @SMFS,

    A lot of the government’s priorities don’t pass the so-what test either.

    You are guilty of the usual libtard black-and-white thinking. Someone who disagrees with you on A must also take the opposite position on B-Z.

    Whereas it’s quite possible to think that variation in mean chess-playing ability between groups shouldn’t (1) surprise (2) bother anyone, and that the government therefore shouldn’t do anything about it. Being an actual real liberal, I tend to think the government does rather too much doing of stuff, and too much giving a shit in general.

  19. @BiG

    For what it’s worth, I’d have you down as a fairly thoughtful evidence-based kind of bloke. Socially liberal, fiscally more right wing than left but perhaps tinged with wistful regret?

    @AndyC

    Yes, I take your point. I don’t think we’re disagreeing.

    It’s splitting hairs a bit but I suppose I’m seeing men in a Venn sort of way.

    *Most* men are dedicated to *something* (angling, trainspotting, collecting old books, marathon-running, snooker, chess) and under discussion here is the *some* of those men who have a greater or lesser bent for a specific thing, ie chess.

    Some women are about as dedicated to *stuff in general* as men, and some of those some are keen on chess, but few have the same kinds of interests, and of those who do few (verging on none) seem to be quite as good as the men, for whatever reason.

    In my experience of life, women are better all rounders in many ways, men tend to have specific skills and be fairly shite at stuff outwith that core.

    I absolutely got (and already knew) the point you made about the USSR and chess.

  20. AndyC>

    The problem is that Short’s missed something, which is that there’s more than one way to play chess, and only the masculine-playing-style-suited way has really seen any attention or development. (Notably, women do much better in blitz chess, where that body of work is less valuable than pattern-spotting and strategic feel.)

    The problem with these ‘maybe it’s a difference between men and women’ arguments is that, yes, maybe it is – but 99 times out of 100, it isn’t, it’s just some invisible and unconsidered barrier. (And yes, it works both ways.)

    Short’s example of parking is an interesting one. Yes, women have (in general) worse spatial perception skills than men. This doesn’t necessarily make them unable to park, though, it means they need to approach the problem differently. When I learnt to drive, I was taught a parking method which is essentially an algorithm to teach you the size of your car so you can park it easily. What many women need (and do much better using) is an algorithm to park the car when you don’t know what size it is.

    We often make the mistake of thinking that something that’s fundamental to a particular approach to a problem is fundamental to all approaches. When we do that, we close off the chances of anyone developing an alternative approach.

  21. As most girls still want a good boyfriend, they will not play chess which more or less guarantees they won’t find one.

    WTF? Are chess-playing men impotent, or something?

  22. If a woman had emerged who could have taken on and beaten the best that the west could put forward this would have been a massive propaganda victory. Eastern block women dominated world women’s chess during that period but not one of them made an impression against the best men.

    I suspect that’s because the very best male chess players are borderline autistic, and more men seem to occupy this spot on the spectrum whose name I’ve forgotten than women.

  23. “A faction here dismisses me as a leftist, my left-wing friends dismiss me as a republican tory.

    I conclude I am doing something right.”

    I dismiss you as logically challenged.

  24. Sabine Auken, says she still prefers to play in Women only championships rather than Open championships with male partners
    She does? Last year she played for the German Open team in the European championships, having chosen to play in the Open rather than the Women’s trials.

    Bridge and Chess are games you need to play or study for hours a day to reach international standard. Unquestionably many fewer women than men do that. Whether that’s because there are fewer women with the aptitude or fewer women with the inclination is unknowable.

  25. The argument several are making seems to be that the inclination is hard bound with he aptitude. Without that inclination to do it to the point of monomania one will never develop sufficient aptitude. And the inclination to go for monomania is a rather male trait, so they are saying.

  26. I await the the universal condemnation of Mo Farah for running faster than Paula Radcliffe.
    There are a very few world-class women players, the first of whom, the Polgar sisters from Hungary were born and started playing chess while it was under communist rule.
    @ Tim Newman
    “WTF? Are chess-playing men impotent, or something?”
    Well, obviously not since Dr Kosashvili and his wife Zsofia (nee Polgar) have two children

  27. @Tim Newman

    “WTF? Are chess-playing men impotent, or something?”

    No but:

    “I suspect that’s because the very best male chess players are borderline autistic”

  28. @Dave (Notably, women do much better in blitz chess, where that body of work is less valuable than pattern-spotting and strategic feel.)

    There are currently two women in the top 100 ranked blitz chess players. Judit Polgar at no. 32 and Hou Yifan at no. 47.

    I’m not sure that this is really “much better” than ‘classic’ (normal time limits) chess where there are….er…two women in the top 100 ranked players Hou Yifan at no 59 and Judit Polgar at no. 66.

    Did you actually research your evidence before you made your claim?

    I am intrigued though about the idea that there are ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ style of chess. Do please expand. What differentiates these styles and where has this been written about?

  29. Oh and to reassure SMFS Judit Polgar has managed to find herself a husband. I’m not sure about Hou Yifan but she is only 21 so give her some time before writing off her marital chances.

  30. @Tim Newman
    “I suspect that’s because the very best male chess players are borderline autistic, and more men seem to occupy this spot on the spectrum whose name I’ve forgotten than women.”

    Aspegers?

    So you’ve done a study of chess players to reach your conclusion?

    Me too on blackjack. I’m sure I saw a film once which proved autistic players were great at blackjack, which is all the proof i need to accept that all great blackjack players are autistic.

  31. Dave

    There’s more than one way to play chess.

    Slightly off topic but that is true of my own subject, language teacher. The old method, studying grammar, actually works better for boys than the currently more popular listen and repeat, which favours girls. Boys like to see the nuts and bolts of the thing. It’s interesting how this feeds into another sexual difference, males are expected to be more truthful than females. Boys don’t like to parrot because they don’t know what they are saying, girls don’t care.

  32. “So you’ve done a study of chess players to reach your conclusion”

    Vanishingly few people conduct the research one should consider necessary to reach such wide-ranging conclusions… in my experience.

  33. @ironman

    Too true. I believe that nearly 72% of statistics are made up on the spot to bolster an argument.

  34. Dave

    The problem with these ‘maybe it’s a difference between men and women’ arguments is that, yes, maybe it is – but 99 times out of 100, it isn’t

    Is there any evidence? 99 out of 100 that is, which intuitively (from the world I live in) looks completely wrong.

    Short’s example of parking is an interesting one. Yes, women have (in general) worse spatial perception skills than men. This doesn’t necessarily make them unable to park

    And he didn’t imply that it did, simply that his wife wouldn’t feel embarrassed asking him to do it.

    AndyC

    I think it’s 87%.

  35. @ Andy C
    Well, that makes three out of three for the succession of top women chess players as both her sisters are married with children. Actually wiki says that big sister Susan took back the role of the world’s top woman chess player while Judit took maternity leave.

    Why has no-one pointed out that if male chess players outnumber female ones by N to 1 then the chance of picking up a boyfriend should be vastly enhanced by playing chess? Thirty-odd years ago, the sister of a friend told me and others that she really enjoyed being the (?nearly) only girl on a BSc course in Engineering.

    “Judit was asked about playing against boys instead of the girls’ section of tournaments. “These other girls are not serious about chess,” she said. “I practice five or six hours a day, but they get distracted by cooking and work around the house.” My first post was wrong – I should have cited Judit Polgar instead of using Mo Farah as an anology.

  36. SMFS’s list of things that stop women getting boyfriends is so long, it’s a wonder there are any couples at all these days.

  37. “PaulB
    April 21, 2015 at 1:09 pm
    Sabine Auken, says she still prefers to play in Women only championships rather than Open championships with male partners
    She does? Last year she played for the German Open team in the European championships, having chosen to play in the Open rather than the Women’s trials.”

    I thought it was in the book but I can’t find it. I’ve found the bit where she says men are better players but not that bit.

    Anyway, I didn’t say she didn’t play in Opens and did so before the Venice cup to sharpen her game.

    Still, it’s given me a reason to read the book again as its a good read.

  38. “Tim Newman

    So you’ve done a study of chess players to reach your conclusion?

    Steady on. I said “I suspect”. I might be wrong.”

    Well I suspect you’ve taken a cursory look at a subject you aren’t an expert in and reached a widespread and sensationalist conclusion unconnected with reality.

    (and now the punch line)

    Who do you think you are? Richard Murphy?!

  39. Bloke in Germany – “You are guilty of the usual libtard black-and-white thinking. Someone who disagrees with you on A must also take the opposite position on B-Z.”

    No I am not.

    “Whereas it’s quite possible to think that variation in mean chess-playing ability between groups shouldn’t (1) surprise (2) bother anyone, and that the government therefore shouldn’t do anything about it. Being an actual real liberal, I tend to think the government does rather too much doing of stuff, and too much giving a shit in general.”

    It is quite possible to think that. But chess is not the main game here. Short can say what he likes about chess and no one will care. The problem is that what he says has implications outside of the world of chess. We have an entire education system that has been changed to hold boys back and advance girls. Girls do better at essays. Every subject should have an essay question in the exam. Girls do better at coursework and generally sucking up to the teacher. So classroom assessment is more heavily weighted. Which is fine if women are the victims of discrimination. Not so fine if they are just not as smart as boys at the top end of the distribution.

    That is the implication of what Short said and why people got upset.

  40. Jack C – “SMFS’s list of things that stop women getting boyfriends is so long, it’s a wonder there are any couples at all these days.”

    You are looking at it the wrong way around. The list of things that stop women getting boyfriends is so long, it is no surprise that actually outcomes for women have not changed much despite all the government programmes and affirmative action designed to force them to change.

  41. john77 – “Why has no-one pointed out that if male chess players outnumber female ones by N to 1 then the chance of picking up a boyfriend should be vastly enhanced by playing chess?”

    Death Row is almost entirely male. Can anyone think of a reason so few women are cruising by looking for a good steady boyfriend?

    “Thirty-odd years ago, the sister of a friend told me and others that she really enjoyed being the (?nearly) only girl on a BSc course in Engineering.”

    Engineers are well known as great husbands. They get paid. They can mend stuff. And are too dorky to cheat. That is why so many English Lit students acquire one in their last year at Uni.

    “These other girls are not serious about chess,” she said. “I practice five or six hours a day, but they get distracted by cooking and work around the house.”

    Wasn’t that, you know, my point?

  42. AndyC – “So where you get the idea that China and India ‘dominate’ women’s chess, I’m not quite sure.”

    I am happy to amend that to China, India and the former Soviet Union which put a massive national effort into encouraging chess playing. Isn’t that kind of my point? There is nothing about the brains of formerly-Yiddish speaking girls now resident in the former Soviet Union that differs from the brains of formerly-Yiddish speaking girls now resident in the United States. Indeed some of these chess champions used to live in one and now live in the other. But young Jewish girls do not play chess in the US and yet they do in Russia. There is some cultural factor that plays a role. There may be a genetic one too, but it is not everything in this case.

    “But if I understand your argument correctly, you’re saying it’s patronising to say that women aren’t as good at chess as men due to differences in their mental make-up because the real reason is all these girls are scared they won’t get a boyfriend if they play chess.”

    Actually no. I am saying there may be a genetic reason, but you should not reach for it until all other explanations have been explored. There is likely to be a cultural reason. The Jewish population of the US is much larger than the Jewish population of the Soviet block. One produces female chess champions. The other does not.

    “If I’m ever lucky enough to bump into Alexandra Kosteniuk I’ll ask her why on earth she plays chess as that’s bound to stop her getting a boyfriend.”

    Not a bad idea actually. But notice I did not say they wanted a boyfriend. I said they wanted a good boyfriend. A chess obsessive is not usually a good boyfriend. As can be seen by the lack of girls throwing their underwear at Bobby Fisher etc etc

  43. So ….. I take it Ironman has no problem with arguing that the brains of women are different because the distribution of their intellectual achievements are different, but is still insisting that the brains of people from different races are exactly the same (and it is racism to say otherwise) even though the distribution of intellectual achievements are different.

    Consistency is such a hobgoblin of little minds isn’t it?

  44. BiND: SA’s book is excellent. I don’t think she states an explicit preference in it, but she does talk about playing in the German Open trials because “Open competition is more challenging”.

    And here‘s a recent interview in which she explains why she’s now playing Open bridge.

  45. @SMFS “I am happy to amend that to China, India and the former Soviet Union which put a massive national effort into encouraging chess playing. Isn’t that kind of my point? There is nothing about the brains of formerly-Yiddish speaking girls now resident in the former Soviet Union that differs from the brains of formerly-Yiddish speaking girls now resident in the United States.”

    Which means you are saying that in population terms, half of the world dominates the other half when it comes to chess. That’s a worthwhile thing to know.

    But your point about ‘cultural differences’ explains why ex-soviet block/Chinese/Indian women are generally better at chess than other women around the world.

    It doesn’t explain why these women are nowhere near as good as men.

    In fact it undermines your point. There is no cultural barrier for these girls. They are encouraged and trained as well as the men from their countries. They just aren’t as good.

    And your ‘boyfriend’ point remains absurd. Playing chess ‘more or less guarantees’ that they won’t get a good boyfriend? There are approximately 2,000 women who hold the title of FIDE chess Master or hgher. That means they are very good and have been consistently over a number of ranking tournaments. How many of them do you know well enough to know if they even have a boyfriend, never mind whether he’s a ‘good’ one (whatever that means to you). My guess is none of them which makes your comment ridiculous.

  46. @SMFS “A chess obsessive is not usually a good boyfriend. As can be seen by the lack of girls throwing their underwear at Bobby Fisher etc etc”

    So if you’re a female chess player you can only get to go out with male chess players and all male chess players are like Bobby Fischer?

    That’s your argument?

    And this is based on how much research into the dating habits of female chess players and the mental state of male chess players?

    Given that you don’t even know the correct spelling of Fischer’s name I’ll assume the research is rather minimal until you can show otherwise.

  47. SMFS

    To be quite honest Ironman has been spending the past 24 hours reading this and wondering at the glories of your brain.

  48. Well I suspect you’ve taken a cursory look at a subject you aren’t an expert in and reached a widespread and sensationalist conclusion unconnected with reality.

    If the conclusion I reached was widespread and sensationalist then it is nothing more than a coincidence. But otherwise yes, that’s exactly what I did. What, exactly, did you expect from somebody writing on a blog comment and starting with “I suspect…”? Expert opinion? Jeez.

  49. AndyC – “It doesn’t explain why these women are nowhere near as good as men.”

    No it doesn’t. There is likely to be a genetic contribution but I don’t think we should reach for one before exhausting all possible alternatives.

    “In fact it undermines your point. There is no cultural barrier for these girls. They are encouraged and trained as well as the men from their countries. They just aren’t as good.”

    Well yes and no. They get more encouragement than in the West but do they get equal encouragement? That female players can do well if they are not treated as women is more or less true – look at the Polgar sisters. That sort of proves my point. When their father treated them like a male champion and refused to let them play other women, they played much better than any women had ever done before.

    “How many of them do you know well enough to know if they even have a boyfriend, never mind whether he’s a ‘good’ one (whatever that means to you). My guess is none of them which makes your comment ridiculous.”

    Sorry but what the best players do is irrelevant. What matters is what girls in Middle School do. Especially if they want to be popular. The fact that in the end virtually every girl gets married does not even come close to disproving my point. Which was not meant that literally anyway.

    AndyC – “So if you’re a female chess player you can only get to go out with male chess players and all male chess players are like Bobby Fischer? That’s your argument?”

    My response was to people who said that there were 20 times as many male players and female players so playing chess was a great way to meet boys.

  50. AND women have the advantage of the queen being the most powerful piece on the board.
    Reuben Fine, who was one of the best players in the world in the 1940s, became a Freudian psychologist and wrote a book about the Freudian interpretation of chess. You can get the flavour of it here.

    According to his theory, chess is all about fathers and penises:

    …the King becomes the central figure in the symbolism of the game. To recapitulate briefly: the King is indispensable, all-important, irreplaceable, yet weak and requiring protection. These qualities lead to the over-determination of its symbolic meaning. First of all, it stands for the boy’s penis in the phallic stage, and hence re-arouses the castration anxiety characteristic of that period. Second, it describes certain essential characteristics of a self-image, and hence would appeal to those men who have a picture of themselves as indispensable, all-important and irreplaceable. In this way it affords an additional opportunity for the player to work out conflicts centering around narcissism. Third, it is the father pulled down to the boy’s size. Unconsciously it gives the boy a chance to say to the father: To the outside world you maybe big and strong, but when we get right down to it you’re just as weak as I am and you need protection just as much as I do.

    Women, who have different Freudian motivations, are therefore not that interested in the game.

    All utter tosh in my view. But interesting tosh.

    Fine, incidentally, was the American child of Jewish immigrants from Russia.

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