Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Only A Pawn In Their Game

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program of newspaper-bashing to bring you this vital news: Women are going to play some chess this week in Turkey.

Why, for the love of all that's holy, are there women-only chess events at all? I can think of a few reasons, none of them all that good:

1. Women are generally worse than men at chess. Therefore, we have to give them their own event so they can win sometimes.

Even if you accept the premise, the conclusion doesn't follow. What do general statistical trends have to do with individual abilities? Not much. Saying individual women can't possibly compete with men because women rank worse overall is kind of like looking at national weight averages and concluding that Rosie O'Donnell must be skinnier than Pete Wentz. Anyway, if I was a top-ranked chess player and somebody said this to me in all seriousness, I'd put a knight through their frontal lobe.

2. Women are generally as good at chess as men are, or better. Therefore, we have to give them their own event so that grown men won't have to lose to 11-year-old girls.

One word: Pussies.

3. We have no idea if women are as good at chess as men, but the only way to get women playing chess is to give them their own special tournament.

Please condescend to me more in an attempt to make your favorite activity seem less dull to the Hannah Montana set.

Amazingly enough, a scientific paper recently addressed this very issue. Statisticians took a look at the performance gap between the top 100 ranked male and female players in Germany, and concluded that most of it could be explained by sample bias: i.e., not enough women in the sample to yield very high-ranking outliers. Read more about it on this blog, which also features some grown men crying about losing to 11-year-old girls.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judit_Polgar

    Who I know about mainly because it bugs me her first name doesn't have an 'h' at the end. Yes, I'm easily annoyed.

  2. Good on her.

    I am torn as to whether or not it would be a good idea to read "Chess Bitch." It's got a really obnoxious-looking cover.


    Jennifer Shahade had an interesting article in Games magazine--or at least, it seemed interesting at the time, until the baby ate most of it. Hard to keep a baby from eating a magazine on the airplane.