Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Update on "Women's Chess"

A few months ago I wrote a post about "Women's Chess" and sexual discrimination in the chess World. Since then I have seen articles and heard opinions by women, so a quick update is due.

Earlier this week on the Chessbase website, US FM Alisa Melekhina wrote an interesting piece about "Women's Chess" and the negative connotation that label has on the game. Tellingly, a number of the comments at the end of the article are derogatory and by men. A number of comments are personal and have nothing rational to argue against the piece, and this fits very well into my previous article. If male chess players are threatened by the possibility there could be stronger female chess players, then that is a sad state of affairs.

Melekhina isn't the only player to recently come out and say there are problems with the way women are treated in chess. Canadian WFM Alexandra Botez put the case eloquently on chess.com's ChessCenter. While discussing with presenter IM Danny Rensch, Botez points out that women's titles are set lower than men's which sets lower goals for women. Personally, I feel this is stating the obvious, but it takes women such as Melekhina and Botez to come out and say it, as well as others. (This wrap up video contains the interview near the start of the transmission)

This interview came after a provocative article from Vanessa West on the US Chess Federation's website entitled "Should Women's Titles be Eliminated". As Botez said, the article was well researched and presented and the arguments seemed coherent. Women's titles lower the bar for women's expectations maintaining a lower standard among female players in the game. As such, less female role models exist at the top level and therefore less girls aspire to take up chess seriously. It is a self perpetuating cycle.

Again, there are numerous comments beneath the article, though they tend to be more reasoned arguments. A quick Google search for "should women's chess titles be eliminated" brings up 613,000 results which shows this is a real issue. And if these recent articles are anything to go by, it seems the trend is that opinion is against the women's titles and the division in the game.

I hope that in the near future, something will be done to really promote the place of girls and women in chess by equalising goals and removing discrimination from the world of chess.

ps. I received a notification from New in Chess today regarding a new book about the first women's World Champion, Vera Menchik. I reckon this will be a fascinating read, so I'm going to buy it! I'll review it at some stage in the future.

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