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Jen Shahade: Women, Beauty, Chess

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A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from GM Robert Fontaine asking if I'd like to participate in the "World Chess Beauty Contest."

When I went to the site, I was subjected to an image showing a group of cartoon-like forms of women lined up against a rating chart. According to the description of the contest, female players voluntarily submit their photos for evaluation. Visitors to the site serve as judges rating the contestants – from their looks only – on a scale from 1600 to 2700. To the creators, this "grandiose" idea was designed in order to promote women’s chess.

Rather than promote chess, it promotes that women's looks are all-important. Feelings are liable to be hurt by low ratings and unkind comments. And why do they keep calling the participants girls when most of the women are over 18? There is one nine year old participant – if that’s a joke, I’m not laughing.

Sorry guys, but I find this idea as grandiose and innovative as the Scholar's Mate.

There is nothing wrong with making chess sexier by highlighting the hip, interesting players who participate. But I find the World Chess Beauty contest project misguided and juvenile and would be embarrassed to be a part of it. Sure, many other sports have similar contests – one of the disturbing aspects of this one is that the arbiters and creators are not anonymous fans, but prominent members of the chess community who are very proud of their idea. Would you ever see Tiger Woods bragging about how he started a golf-babe contest?

And what if there were a corresponding contest to rate the appearance of men? No one would take this seriously since men are not judged on the basis of their looks as women often are. (I write about this topic at length in my book Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport.)

On a positive publicity note, March 1, 2005 was a great day for women's chess in America. Susan Polgar was featured in the Wall Street Journal. On the same day, Irina Krush and Zhu Chen played the most public women's match ever in America in the Accoona match held in the ABC Studios in Times Square.

I recently started playing poker and I'm constantly comparing it to chess. (More on this in a future entry.) Watching the World Poker Tour makes me think that events like the Accoona match really could make it on TV. Poker players are no more charismatic or exciting than chess players like Zhu Chen or Irina Krush. What makes the WPT fascinating to the average Joe or Sue are the pumped up commentary, pre-game interviews, snazzy editing, and large prize funds. I believe that with all these elements chess too could make for thrilling television.

[2002 and 2004 US women's champion Jennifer Shahade of Brooklyn contributes monthly to the Black Belt newsletter, from which this is an excerpt.]

[Update: Many excellent comments have been added. One of the beauty contest site's inventors, Arthur Kogan, has posted.]


Part of what makes the WPT fascinating to the average Joe is Shana Hyatt and the scantilly clad women who wheel in the money.

Thanks for making the point...

A world chess beauty contest? Rating women's looks? That is simply an embarrassing idea. Who are these "prominent members of the chess community" that thought this up?

Poker on TV is about money, bluffing, money, knowing what cards all the players have (when they don't), and money. Even if you don't know how to play poker you can understand the odds, the surprises, and the stacks of cash. But the poker I've seen on TV also makes a point of making personalities out of the players.

Funny, I assumed that Shana Hyatt was a player and didn't understand "wheel in the money." I see she's a "tour hostess" who has done Playboy and literally pushes carts of money around, something akin to a ring girl in boxing. They certainly wouldn't have them in poker if people didn't like them. Of course the Vegas/showgirl association with poker gives them more leeway. It's almost expected. Chess doing something similar... not so much. Of course that doesn't stop organizers from hiring professional decorations to stand around events in tight gowns. As at trade shows, they are almost expected.


People keep asking why top chess players don't get the money they "deserve". Perhaps is it not so surprising that such a bunch of egomaniacs don't manage to make much money. They keep playing unentairning games and keep tearing up their own league to pieces. Try imagining players in any other sport doing that, and you come to the inevitable conclusion that top chess players get the attention, and thus money, they deserve, no more no less.

Comparing Shaina Hiatt to a ring-girl in boxing is an unfair description. She's basically one of the hosts, and of course she also happens to be very good looking. To say she just pushes carts of money around is a terribly innaccurate portrayl of her role on the show.

Sorry Greg, no offense meant. I was only going on the first 50 results turned up by Google on her name, not personal knowledge of her or the show. That said, are do you think she'd have the job if she weren't Playboy attractive?

This isn't to say you can't be both talented, useful, and very attractive. Most women newscasters fit the bill. The larger issue is that John Madden and Al Michaels don't have to be gorgeous (let alone Lou Dobbs, et al), but the women do. Certainly not unique to chess.

Jean-Philippe, I don't see anyone here talking about players deserving money or not. I've always said that chess doesn't owe anyone a living. If there isn't the money, there isn't the money. It's about how to generate it. Nobody is looking for gifts. I certainly agree about the boring games. As for ego, rich sports like football, basketball, tennis, etc. have more of it than chess by far.

What bothers me about Shana Hiatt's role in WPT is that she seems mandated to be ditzy. It's true that chess has a big TV disadvantage compared to poker cause the rules are much more complex. To make it more accesible, I think the games would need to be played out to checkmate. A lot of my students play out to checkmate, even some who are rated 1500-1700. A couple years ago, I might have criticized this. But now, I wonder- maybe this is a good habit for chessplayers to get into. Why not? Checkmate is cool. Would other masters be willing to play to mate if it meant better chances for mainstream media coverage?

Why didn't you name the names behind this contest?

I might be showing off my TV poker ignorance here, but it seems to me that one big appeal of poker on TV is watching it and saying, "Hey, I could do that. I could sit there and get dealt those same cards and I would have made those same bets, and I would have won all that money too." or even "I could see he was bluffing. If that'd been me sitting there, I would have won!" Plus you could even be justifying watching all that TV, by telling yourself that you're learning how to go make money.

I just don't see how we could get there with chess. I suppose with REALLY good commentators who make it all seem so easy, a viewer might think that they would have made those moves too, in that same situation...no, I'm just not buying it. It has to be more like a spectator sport, marveling at how someone can think so far ahead. I would LOVE it if we could catch up to the appeal of poker, if somehow there is some other aspect of chess that outshines poker on TV. I think we would have to dispense with the live broadcasts. Those 40-minute thinks are just too much. Maybe with exciting announcers, or voice-overs from the actual participants, interviewed after the fact... I dunno, how do they do the broadcasts in those other countries, the ones where they actually care about chess?

btw some poker rules had to be changed for it to be as popular is it is now. There was originally some serious objections (exposed hole cards for TV, no deals allowed at final table) but now, just 1-2 years after the original poker boom, these new rules and features are considered the norm, with almost no one questioning them.
I can imagine a similar scenario with premature draws being disallowed in chess, however I think there would need to be serious money involved before this will change.

Jim, I assumed Jen didn't want to give them undue publicity, negative or not. It's French (Kazakhstan originally) GM Vlady Tkachiev and his brother. Vlad, one of the more boisterous and charming guys you'll ever meet, has been talking about this sort of thing for years. (So has Nigel Short, albeit less seriously.) The ChessBase report on the beauty contest site:


One of the annoying dilemmas about chess on TV is that the most (and really only) visually engaging part is when they are clock banging. And that's just when things are going too fast for commentators to make any sense of it for the audience.

Certainly showing a Fritz eval on the screen at all times is one thing to do, something like how poker shows the percentages for each player to win.

I reckon that chess will never make it on TV, except for the odd special, because of the lack of a "visually engaging part" as you put it. Only hard core chess fans will be interested, and only a few of those, no matter how many attractive women are part of the production.

As for those guys and their beauty contest, I guess they are out to make a buck, though I'm not sure how exactly. Do they charge for access? I saw their homepage and they sure could use an editor whose first language is English.

Hey gang, great discussion.

When I was growing up, I associated chess with monkish intellectualism and had the delusional belief that great chessplayers were above worldly passions, like spiritual monks. A favorite line of mine was that from the one hit wonder "One Night in Bangkok" from the Musical Chess, "I get my kick above the waistline, sunshine."

I agree that if chess were tastefully presented on TV, it could be very entertaining. It made me think that ICC should get a contract with ESPN and start, "The Tony Rook Show." Then I thought how much nicer it would be to see such commentators as Varuzhan Akobian and Larry Christiansen on TV, where they could visually demonstrate the variations they are discussing over the radio where these stimulating discussions are very hard to follow.

Or maybe chessbase can beat them to the punch with "The Mig Greengard" show ::winks::

I get the feeling that the savvy, telegenic Maurice Ashley is trying to spearhead the initiative to popularize chess and bring it to the masses. Actually, I believe a tasteful TV presentation of chess would be a lot more exciting than most poker or even most sports. The potential appeal of chess is vastly underrated, imnsho!

Of course, as we saw with Bobby Fischer, nothing could help the cause of popularizing chess in the United States than having our own homegrown world chess champion, which is where my energies are centered.

This talk of chess and gambling reminds me of Marcel Duchamp. I seem to recall that in Alexander Cockburn's diatribe against chess, "Idle Passion" there is a charming discussion of Duchamp's chess obsession and mention of his idea that chess and gambling should merge.

I must say though, that Las Vegas was not a great venue for me when I played a chess tournament there on my 25th birthday. I lost my self-control and couldn't wait to get back on the plane and away from those ubiquitous, noisy slot machines.

Looking up links to share with you (which I tried unsuccessfully to encode in html), I came across the following website about a chess game between Duchamp and Beckett who apparently played chess with each other in real life, with a famous chess problem compared to a well-known work of Duchamp's "Nude Descending". - http://tinyurl.com/6cnhh

http://tinyurl.com/6fzzz - Idle Passion
http://tinyurl.com/6rhg9 - Marcel Duchamp's chess obsession
http://tinyurl.com/5plz6 - Marcel Duchamp's love of chess and gambling
http://tinyurl.com/6bx4y - "One Night in Bangkok" (which sounds like a bad double entendre, come to think of it)
worldchesschampion@gmail.com - homegrown world chess champion ;-)

Cheers and thanks for the guest commentary, Jen.

Lighten up.

Why certain women feel like their social credibility is threatened when other, less vulnerable, sisters of theirs are subjected to light-hearted and playful, yet honest and completely natural, beauty contest?

Does it make me less intellectual, less sophisticated, more juvenile, that i think it's a fun idea? If honesty and natural attitude make me those things, then i suppose i want to be those things.
To be honest, when i see a woman player, or any woman for that matter, the first thing i see, regardless of her other talents and virtues, is her looks, and i thikn it's completely natural to do so. It's automatic, instinctive...if women find this insulting, they should really get a grip of reality.

i am absolutely certain, that even the most devout feminist does, in her own little head, look at the looks of male players also (i know my wife does). You see, being a chess player doesn't exclude you from being, first and foremost, a human being.

The issue isn't being human or not, it is which attributes to celebrate in our chessplayers. That we value appearance doesn't mean it should be brought to the fore of every endeavor. Would you be concerned about the attractiveness of the doctor performing your heart surgery?

The "lighten up, just enjoy it" attitude has been around forever. But some women DON'T enjoy it, and it's not because they are insecure. They want to be appreciated for something other than appearance.

Appreciating looks isn't insulting and nobody said it was. The website is the issue. (Would you like to have your wife or daughter being rated on such a site?) Of course not every woman feels this way; there are plenty of players sending in their photos and having fun. But we can debate the implications of this sort of thing for women players and the sport in general.

Society is preaching to women all the time that their looks is what counts, at least foremost. It is definitely not harmless. Not only is there an epidemic trend of mostly young women feeling miserable for not being able to live up to perceived ideals, even to the length that they are engaging in different kinds of self-harm -- it obviously disturbs the relation between sexes to put "beautiful women" on a pedestal, their looks (nothing else) to be admired and rated by mostly men. Complete gender equality will be utopian for a long time, but things like this don't help.

I don't care much about what it does for the image of chess to outsiders. That is a very minor issue. I do care about what message it sends to women and girls already inside the male-dominated chess world though.

Much of this goes for a lot of Chessbase articles we've seen as well. Just remember that awful Manakova piece.

Chess and Poker! The question of bad judgement about beauty contests aside! There is chatter that the new cable tv channel Edge TV will have both! So maybe there will be a chess hostess?! lol
But anyway, the idea seems great to have well edited and commented chess action much like the poker coverage! I may even have to subscribe to extended cable! (Now I only have minimum cable service)($8.71 per month!)But much like cell phones (I do not want one)(Microwaved brain matter is not to my liking) I only slowly advance technologically. What is the name of that animal that jumps off cliffs in droves? (Humans?)

Jennifer Shahade wrote:
Watching the World Poker Tour makes me think that events like the Accoona match really could make it on TV. Poker players are no more charismatic or exciting than chess players like Zhu Chen or Irina Krush. What makes the WPT fascinating to the average Joe or Sue are the pumped up commentary, pre-game interviews, snazzy editing, and large prize funds. I believe that with all these elements chess too could make for thrilling television.

I agree. I've been thinking this for a few years now. But you'd have to handle it like televised golf -- heavily edited to cut out the long-thinks (but with cameras watching just in case there are funny faces) or with many players so there is always something to see or comment on.

Jennifer, if you have a good stage presence, this may be your niche. You know the game as well as anyone (a requirement) AND you're attractive (a perq -- remember: sex appeal sells). The two together sound like a strong combination for the commentator's job on ChessTV. I'm serious.

I've been a member of USCF since 1972 and I am happy that more women are playing and excelling at chess. There were very few female chessplayers in my home area (MN) during the 70's when I was playing in scholastic tournaments. Of course, most of us are attracted to physical features, but I've always found a sharp and profound mind to be sexy and desirable. This latter trait seems to be characteristic of the young women who are currently excelling at chess here in the US. They are well-rounded (no pun intended), articulate, intelligent women who have diverse interests and play interesting, entertaining games. Over the long haul, I think those attributes matter more with regard to the promotion of the game than will a superficial sexualized approach.

Hi chess lovers!

I am proud to be one of the inventors of this site idea!

In fact it's an old idea we had with my good friend Vlad since few years...

Main point was to try to find a way to get chess more attractive to the public and in the same time to have fun!

All our job is done for free and in fact mainly in favour of promoting chess,especially women chess(Men similar site is my next plan of course!)
Jen's main points are very strange and seems to show a self-complex...come on, u look good enough,don't be afraid to get a rating for it!:-)

Our idea is to show and prove that chess women (=intelctual clever women) can be also good looking,attractive and interesting people! (there will be also a short biography of each woman+other interesting answers for question we made published soon! )

This is very important move to do,since most of the world consider chess as a MEN GAME! AND players are considered as clever, but boring,bad looking, close minded people...(about man and women as well!)

This is a big reason why it is harder to get sponsors for chess,especially considering that there are very few top chess players that have good comumnications abilities (this is not there job...) and many federations care only about how to make money for short term,not for the long run!!!
It is clear that our idea made by good means and we think about the future of chess!!
and with a very positive attitude,spending our time(I am working average of 10 hours per day,playing and teaching chess,and I have a wife+baby...) to create something especial that was never done before in (for) chess!

The main problem of the chess world is not if to get in to TV or not,it happened few times before,and it is probably really posssible mission,but!

It is impossible with so much negativity all around,when there are too many egoistic poeple around chess!!! (chess players ego is naturally too high...)
How can somebody critisize in such a hard way ideas that can only make good for chess???!!! (we already got few offers and sponsors for organizing chess tournaments for women!!!)

Most of the women like to compete in beauty contests,beauty is part of the women!

In tennis women(big money+TV) all they achived was mainly thanks to the way Tennis women look and not only how they play!

Men (and women!) usually judge the appearance and than come the rest!!! (but to a be a chess player prove that u are not stupid nither!)

I hope poeple got my point and the reactions we got till now are really very positive and we see a chance for a big positive change for women chess and chess in general!!!

The reason why many poeple started to play poker instead of chess is behind the tought time of making living by only playing or teaching...in fact it's a way to run away instead of solving the problems...

It's pitty that so many (also top) chess players prefer to complain and critisize instead to take the intiative and be more positive and help each other by even positive building critic!!! (some of u did it,thx!!!)
This is the main problem for a better future in the chess world!!!

I would reccommened all the chess players that like to complain and critisize so much-just play poker and complain over there...chess world is enough complicated...we need positive and creative thinking poeple and only than nobody will be able to stop chess to become just more and more popular!!! (thx to internet it is already much more than ever...)

We have nothing against women Jen, we love women!

As a woman u can take the intiative and make the men site so u can give us ratings as well!!!

Open your mind poeple,there are countries where chess is in big troubles this days...don't think only about your area,your friends or your country...

Sorry for my very bad English! (I am from Israel:-))
I hope Mig will publish my reaction(only if u can correct it pleaseeee on the first page as well:-)))

Best regards!


Great discussion, guys.

Somebody mentioned EdgeTV. They will be broadcasting EDITED versions of (I believe) the US Open and the National Open this year, if they get their act together. They will also be broadcasting edited versions of four different USCF scholastic events. Based on my interactions with them, ( http://www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles246.pdf ), they seem to be a little unclear about the best ways to market chess, and they're not knocking on any chess players' doors for advice, either. Yasser Seirawan is supposedly consulting for them.

I just hope that they know what they're doing, and that all these ideas on how to market chess, presented here and elsewhere, are considered by them.

Jen's idea of playing to mate is also a good one. Another idea is to eliminate agreed draws COMPLETELY -- not just after 40 moves. Does one baseball manager say to the other one after a 5 to 5 tie after the bottom of the ninth, "Want a draw?" No! The game goes until there is a winner.

Chess on t.v.? Yes! Why not? Poker on t.v. is ususally the final table, which can take a few hours to play out. Depending on the size of the tournament leading up to the final table, the end should take about the same amount of time as a game of chess.

So what's the point? You don't show a live chess game on television, any more than you show a live poker event. You edit it, discuss it, and surround it with pumped up commentary, pre-game interviews, and snazzy editing.

Make it fun to watch. Add puzzles, from tactics to endgames, answers at the end of the broadcast. Take the cameras to playing sites, record the players during games, and between rounds. Show the sites, chess is played in some very beautiful locations.

This would work.

Live is a problem. Players can take any amount of time at any time. Disaster. You can make ANYTHING exciting in the editing room. A half-hour of pure highlights and you're on the road. But that's expensive, very expensive.

There is very fine line between exploitation, condescension, preference, and promotion. I think the key thing here has already been mentioned: is this something you would want your daughter to do? I actually have a daughter (who never took a moments interest in chess because unlike her old man she had musical talent) and I must confess (tho I am no prude) this bothers me. I prefer to assume that the intentions of those involved are playful and honorable so I mean no offense to them personally, but to me, this crosses the line and comes a little too close to being disrespectful. If you really want to encourage people (women, men, children, whatever) you call on their demonstrated strengths and not attributes that they do not control. For example, why not put up a website with the best games of women and take votes on that?

Who is watching this poker stuff on TV? Are these the same people who watch fishing on TV?

Well said, Jennifer--I had similar misgivings. For you of all people to be remarking on this site puts the whole thing in proper perspective--it's like judging Vladimir Nabokov on the quality of his abs.

You gotta stand back from chess knowledge if you want to understand how to promote the game. Even the "Wild Success" of Chess on ESPN was a drop in the bucket compared to any of the major mainstream things out there.

I am VERY disappointed in you Mig for sensoring my observations that Greg Shahade comments are inaccurate. Greg wrote "Comparing Shaina Hiatt to a ring-girl in boxing is an unfair description. She's basically one of the hosts, and of course she also happens to be very good looking. To say she just pushes carts of money around is a terribly innaccurate portrayl of her role on the show." He is wrong. My characterization of her is completely correct and Greg is wrong. She does in fact wheel the money out on occassion and those who actually watch the show know this. Shame on you for censoring my first amendment rights!

The color commentary offered by Seirawan & Ashley during the Kasparov/3D event on ESPN was really lively -- the frustrating part was the slow game, only half-played, and the fact there was nothing on the table.

Perhaps a better TV format would be the final two rounds of a single-elimination National Blitz Championship, with $1000s at stake for the winner. The games would be over in 10 minutes -- who cares if they're not masterpieces -- and the whole program in an hour. Joe Everyman might not understand the chess, but everyone can appreciate the drama of the competition.

The fact that the photogenic Susan Polgar would likely be one of the finalists would only add to the appeal ...

I'm puzzled, Ms. Shahade. Referring to women as girls irks you (which in many contexts is quite understandable) yet you've written a book entitled "Chess Bitch." To me and most of the English speaking world, the latter gives greater offense.

Mr. Brown, I disagree concerning the title of Ms. Shahade's book, "Chess Bitch". I haven't read it yet, but I do plan to. I assume the title is referring to the long treatment of women in chess as second class citizens, perhaps that didn't occur to you. I can understand why some might find it offensive, but I think it is a bold, brave and fitting title for this subject. Given the fact that only 1 black man has ever made GM, Maurice Ashley, perhaps he could do a book titled "Chess Nigger". I'm not being fascicious with this suggestion, I think that both titles are incredibly appropriate given the point of view from which they are (and would be) written. It's a matter of the frame of reference - a woman writing a book from a feminine point of view called "Chess Bitch" is not offensive, it's relevent.

Dear chess lovers,

More about our site: www.1wcbc.com
I Just forgot to mention that I am a chess GM from Israel.(Elo 2592)
More about me u can find on www.kogan.instantchess.com
About publishing the best games of women for a contest is a nice idea,but nobody of the public that still doesn't play chess will understand it...
Maybe some photos are too provocative and some of the comments too...but this is part of our world,there are good poeple and bad people,anyway we hope to get more and more advices how to improve our 'young idea' and get the best of it!

Best wishes for u all,

So this will date me a little, but I still remember the Shelby Lyman coverage of the Fischer-Spassky match and how entertaining it was. I do believe chess coverage on TV can work, but as others have pointed out it would take an effusive and engaging personality to get it across (as well as a condensed format).

Also, it would have to be more than just game analysis. Before MIG there was Inside Chess, which led the way in focusing not just on technical details but on the behind-the-games drama...it was gripping stuff, and I think that some of that kind of coverage would help on TV as well. For example, if they're going to cover the US Open on Edge, also including brief footage (if it exists) from the era of Fischer/Reshevsky US Championships would be great. And so on...

In response to the poster who claimed I was wrong on my description of Shaina Hiatt...

A boxing ring girl simply struts around the ring looking pretty, adding absolutely nothing else to the atmopshere. On the WPT, Shaina interviews players, talks about poker, and is always respectfully dressed. I'm sure she wheels out the money sometimes, but this isn't her main function on the show. A better comparison would be between her and a female interviewer for the NFL on FOX.

Noyb, you preface your posts with things like "you obviously don't know what you are talking about," and other purely antagonistic methods. These are typical of small children and the Usenet and I won't have it here. If you can't contribute any useful information or opinion and you flame other posters who do, it will be deleted. Especially when the point you tried to make didn't say anything. He wasn't inaccurate at all. Greg didn't say she never pushed in carts of money. She said she did other things as well.


I find it amusing that someone would contend that such a contest actually promotes chess. This is a laughable contention, inasmuch as women who enter need not even be actual chessplayers. (Note that a participant needs only to have played ONE tournament at ANY POINT IN HER LIFE.) I refuse to acknowledge somebody who has played one tournament in over 18 years of existence as a representative chessplayer. How the hell can the idea of showing somebody who has played one tournament in her entire life promote chess?!

I agree with the idea that chessplayers should be judged on ability, not on trivial factors. If we want to promote the game, then promote competition over the board, not this nonsense about which chessplaying female looks best. This contest has absolutely NOTHING to do with chess and should actually serve more to advance the image of chessplayers as horny men obsessing over plastic pieces than anything else.

I have been a chessplayer for most of my approximately 25 years on this planet, and I have been a male for the entirety of this time, so I am well aware of the effect attractive women can have on men. I also know that there is a time for this and a time for focus on other matters. Jenn decides that it is much more proper for the focus to be on the abilities of the players than on their sex appeal, and somebody responds that she should submit her picture to get rated for her looks. Profound.

Let me set things straight right now: the argument that women have always advanced based on their looks and that this is justification for this fiasco is stupidity. It is quite possibly the most ignorant statement in response to Jenn's work, and one would be hard-pressed to exceed the level of chauvinism in such a comment. To think that such an approach lends itself to advancing chess exposes a grave lack of understanding regarding how progress is made in stratification systems based on ascribed status. Indeed, this sets women's chess back by establishing that we have finally found a purpose for female chess players, and this purpose is to arouse males and thus draw us to the chessboard in search of both checkmating and mating possibilities. Tkachiev and others are fooling themselves if they believe that such a non-chess-related fiasco could serve to advance chess. In truth, I feel that it is an opportunity for several bored guys to get their jollies drooling over women under some bogus pretense, and I challenge any advocate for this concept to establish otherwise.



WPT fascinating? Can Jennifer explain what she likes about poker? For me it is an awful, boring even sordid thing

I agree with Jeff Sonas that much of the appeal of poker seems to come from the "Hey, that could be me on TV, winning all that money!" attitude. It certainly seemed to boom once ESPN broadcast the World Series of Poker in which Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million after paying $40 to an online poker site and having only played the game for a couple of years. Comparing it to the chess world, that would have been as if Olivier Touzanne had won 2001 FIDE World Championship (though winning the first game against Anand did cause a sensation, winning the entire tournament wouldn't be as likely considered "just" a fluke). Even if a similar scenario happened, I couldn't imagine many people would suddenly pick up chess sets and expect to have a reasonable shot at winning big money in chess after only a short span of time.

You could have an 85 IQ, never seen a deck of cards before, watch an hour of poker on TV and hit the tables. (you would not be good, but you could play, even win a few hands). Chess TV would not be as easy accessible, no matter what you put in of good commentary and such.

BlkSabb asked who watches poker on TV, I do, but more as a source of "mindless entertainment" to calm down before hitting the sack.

I would also watch chess, but then I'd want to be focused. There really is a huge difference, poker has a potential for mass distribution, to produce chess TV you need to reach a much narrover target group.

Maliq, you are 100% right. This new idea promoting chess is stupid, vulgar and a shameful thing. Its such a laughable thing what these women are participating in such an event.

I am simply shocked of several posts on this forum... Very stressful days for some of us: Garry retires, ignorant jerks criticize WCBC.....
I fully support Arthur in what he already said above. As one of promoters of that site, I can only add that WCBC site has been visited by over 20000 visitors, as well as we've got nearly 2000 registered members in less than one month!
We get alot of feedback and support from different people (from regular chess amateurs to some top GMs!) and companies from all around the World (ACP, Chessbase just to name a few), and the number of contenders is growing! The majority of WCBC contenders is titled female players, many of them are in top 100 rating list of FIDE. All this makes us thinking we are doing the right thing, and our project helps to promote chess!
As for my old friend Jennifer I can say that many of chess fans can't always undestand the beauty of chess moves we make in our games, so WCBC is one of ways to introduce our game to a public from different angle. You know very well that many spectators come to watch you playing hardly knowing chess rules, but they still can enjoy the game watching a beautiful woman like you moving chess pieces! One of reasons you got into front pages of some chess magazines is that you are pretty woman and in fact those issues of chess magazines got better sellings!

We are working now on adding personal info of every contender so people will know more about female chessplayers this way.

Let's get all together and make chess as popular as poker!

We are open for the discussion, but we will ignore offensive and incompentent posts of those, who's only trying to tease and provoke GMs with posts here and on other chess forums.

Things like that site bring short term gains, but dilute the sport in the end. I find it ironic that the goal is to promote chess, but those 20,000 viewers, and 2,000 members didn't come to see the chess. They came to see the women. They see it as a novelty and when the fade wears off, they will not be left with the impression that chess is a beatufily thing. Instead they will see it as for what it was, a gimmick.

To bring people to chess you need to instill in them a long term desire to love the sport.

I play soccer recreationally, and I see a lot of children play. I listen to them. All the girls get a lot of confidence watching the likes of Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain score goals. They are their role models. I would hate if they saw their role models on a web site battling it out for hottest soccer babe. When those girls grow up they will be doctors, lawyers, and artists. They will always love soccer too. They will pay to see it, pay to watch it, and buy the merchandise. Not because of any gimmicks, but because it is something dear to their hearts.

So I think things like bringing chess to schools, highlighting classic struggles between two charismatic players, and placing matches in exotic venues is the key. Most of all get people to say to themselves, "I bet I could be good at that chess thing!"


I find that some individuals have a difficult time defending an idea based upon its own merit. How else to explain a defense based upon the number of visits to a site which offers up images of women for men to gawk at? In reality, this argument actually makes mine stronger, because if no better defense may be found than this, then it is clear that the idea has no merit of its own. Note how, throughout history, foolish ideas have found advocates aplenty, and many have qualified such ideas as reasonable simply because x number of supporters agreed with it. It does, indeed, take an ignorant jerk to claim that the fact that a large number of men log on to view pictures of women proves that this charade is successful in promoting chess. Claiming that most of the women are in good standing as far as tournament participation is a useless argument, because this was not a prerequisite for participation. If anything, it might turn out to be some fortunate coincidence, but it is entirely possible that, in keeping with the rules, photos of thirty women who had each played one tournament in the last ten years could have comprised your entire roster. The idea is stupid, its purpose is false, and it is a project which should be aborted.

How, pray tell, do your numbers prove that you are promoting chess? Furthermore, even if I were to grant your BS assertion that chess is somehow buoyed by this softcore smut campaign, are you now arguing in favor of utilitarianist views that harm to a few is permissible as long as it works for the benefit of the majority?

What I have gathered from this recent post is that ignorance is a staple of the modern world, and so we must perpetuate it in order to remain in good standing. We may exploit individuals openly because such has been done in the past. You tell my friend, who has played some very tough games, that nobody is really interested in her chess (but rather some closely related word) and that this is the way the world should work. You say this as though we should just concede that a) this is the way of the world and b) there is no need to alter this. I think that it is fine to acknowledge somebody's attractiveness, but find it entirely unacceptable that a contest is more concerned with a chessplayer's looks than with a chessplayer's rooks.



I am pretty much in complete agreement with Mr. Soter and other posters. This kind of thing is clearly exploitive, and the rationalizations for it are neither original nor remotely convincing. I don't think you encourage women's chess by sending a message to women players that many men are more interested in their looks than the quality of their play. And I seriously doubt that this will encourage more men to play chess either.

I find this sort of thing pretty disheartening actually. It's part of what I see as a trend to cheapen and "gimmick up" chess in an attempt to somehow make it more popular with people who aren't otherwise interested. Even if there was some hope of such trickery working (which I strongly doubt) I would be against it. Chess has so many positive aspects that could be emphasized (e.g., the educational benefits for children, the international nature of the game, it's rich history) without resorting to such nonsense.

Just my opinion.

Oh btw, one thing WCBC clearly shows to a wide audience, is that chess is not just a game for geeks and social outcasts. Now this is something that truly could give chess a facelift in the public eye.

Saceteca, it is your idea of Chess. Everyone plays and enjoy Chess including young and old not just social outcasts as you mentioned in your above post. But dont let the great game become associated with such thing as this WCBC. If Chess is Art, it will survive on its own. We dont need any gimmicks like this. You dont go to concert to look at faces, but enjoy the music. Its same here, people should go to enjoy the Chess game not how these ladies look. Chess is now in a sad state. Atleast honor it if you really love it. Dont just associate with such a base idolatory idea.

A friend of mine (a straight male) who taught a diversity class in a University about 10 years ago told me he had only ever come up with one example that could explain absolutely clearly how women who are working in a highly challenging field tend to feel when public discussion shifts to their physical attributes.

He used to ask his classes if the males in it would be willing to submit to a private medical examination and then spend one quarter at school wearing a button that listed the official length of their male organ. That was it, no further comment, no other words. Just a number.

He assured them that the actual number would of course have no affect on their grades. ;)

After the initial startled (but not silent) reaction, he asked them to write down their reactions to the idea.

He then read the anonymous reactions to the class. He said there was often considerable variety, but on the whole they mirrored pretty well the women's feelings as soon as the public discussion of women pilots or lawyers or doctors shifted to a discussion of which one was the most attractive.


The point: we are all, as humans, sensual/sexual creatures. We all have various reactions to various other humans. Our standards of what is "attractive" vary, of course. But our personal and private reactions, while natural, should remain personal and private.

As soon as we move discussion of an individual's sexual attributes into a general public arena where we are trying to get other things done, we have crossed a very real line.

This is the basis for sexual harassment law, and it's an important line to recognize.

The problem is that the people involved know each other as chessplayers. They are interacting, indeed competing, in a public arena. If as individuals they pair up, or court one another privately, fine.

But when a GM who might in the future be on a players' committee, or judging a brilliancy prize, or voting on a chess scholarship, chooses to publicly record and solicit judgments of other players on the basis of sexual attributes, the line has been crossed.

So the difficulty with the enterprise under discussion isn't the normal reaction of one person to another--it's the public nature of the sexual judging process among a group that is also expected to have professional relationships.

To go back to the original analogy, it's having to publicly wear the button during a class that has to do with entirely different activities that causes the problems.



My two cents....Dima, Artur, bravo!!! The way to get chess popular is to get attention in any way. Women's tennis got popular (maybe indirectly) by all the tennis beauty's which came from russia and other places. Get over it, women are beautiful, and this will never change, those of you who are against this based on exploitation? Is this a joke? You are making these women work against their will? Expose themselves against their will? Do things that they dislike? Exploitation? Oh wait we are looking at them and calling them beautiful, not to mention getting attention to the game we love and that is dying....give me a break... most of you are just typing to hold some high moral ground, a ficticious one...so you can sit there and say "You pigs who can you exploit our poor defenceless women" they are neither poor nor defenceless...they are beautiful and want our attention. Why do you thing that women dress up, put on makeup, make their cleavage just so it is the most prominant part of their appearance? Oh they do it for themselves i forgot...yeah right....I am for anything that brings popularity to the game i love, and to the people in it. If poker can get so can we....


So by that logic you would be very happy if a prominent chessplayer were arrested for murder or rape, right? Popular at any cost! No, the cost can be devaluing the game and distracting from the game.

Women's tennis became popular primarily thanks to Billie Jean-King and Martina Navratilova playing excellent tennis. Kournikova is just another pretty person in the world and people like to look at pretty things. Has her fame led to more kids playing tennis? More money for other players? More tournaments being organized? More women who believe they can be judged on something other than their looks?

Many people believe this sort of thing is bad for the popularity of the game and many people (and players) find it generally repulsive and demeaning. These are valid viewpoints, not posturing. What do they have to gain by saying these things if they don't believe them? There is also the much larger issue of how women are viewed in society, and chess society. Objectification of the few has very real and quite well-documented consequences for the many.

PS I don't recall seeing any TV poker players in bikinis. Probably for the best considering their world champion.

Dear chess friends,

Who is speaking about a sex here??!
It seems that many people here still don't understand something
We are talking about a contest where WOMEN SEND THEIR PHOTOS because they want to participate in our beauty contest,because they want to get attention TO THE WAY THEY LOOK AND THE WAY THEY DRESS! ( that is the thing which most of women like and if u dont give them enough attention and respect they will leave you, GUYS!!!) And also because these women WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A BETTER FUTURE FOR CHESS and to make chess looking as more decent and "normal" game for everybody!!!
And here we have a few conservative people that think that if a woman who looks good publish her photo on this site - This is something that connected to sex,underwear or...!!! Come on guys,all they need is ATTENTION AND LOVE!!!! (My wife posted her photos on WCBC site too!).
Women spend many hours for buying clothes, a make up and creams, do sport to look good, AND THEY WANT MEN TO APRECIATE IT!
Talking about myself- I had many women in the past (now I am married!), and many times I dated women just for my respect of their efforts and to be able to say a woman how good she looks!!!
My question is: what about you, Guys?! what is your problem to enjoy nice photos of beautiful and intelligent women that bring only good reputation to chess (without any relation to a SEX!!!)

They'd like to prove that chessplayers can be normal,open minded people who appreciate anything positive and beautiful in this world!!!

There is nothing against chess, it is just about changing the image of chess and also to attract the attention to nice women who play chess. Women like compliments and they REALLY WANT US (MEN) to tell them it from time to time...
OK, These are few free advices to you guys...I hope you got my ideas even with such a bad English (English is my fourth language by level...I speak more or less 5 more:-) ...but the idea is more important than the way we express it).

I am still hoping you'll give a respect to people who devote their free time to improve the image of chess and to make many women and men to smile and be happy...and not only to complain and see the bad side in everything the do.
Even take a look on Kasparov- he is a GENIUS that he has done the best move of his career and you are crying and crying...
Come on! He will be back in a few years,but also he will win much,much more money for that COMEBACK and also the respect than he would never win by playing and playing tournaments that he already has won many times...
GARRY IS A GENIUS and, again, he has calculated few moves ahead :-))

Best regards,

GM Arthur Kogan

I don't think there is a lack of comprehension of the respective positions, Arthur. Even SHOUTING won't help! There is a well-developed school of thought that says glorifying the physical aspect inevitably comes at the cost of the other aspects. That is, something of a zero-sum situation.

I don't think most of those "in protest" are concerned about the women who submitted their photos and enjoy the attention. The larger issue is what it says to other women chessplayers who don't enjoy such attentions. Many, including Jennifer apparently, would prefer not to have their appearance made into an issue in the chess world. Projects like the site mean this will happen more to all women chessplayers, not just those who participated.

I don't think male players would understand this clearly until they started to be passed up for tournament invitations in favor of men with lower ratings but who were better looking. Sounds funny, doesn't it? The cult of physical appearance is mighty and its effects are deep and wide-ranging. The impact of something like the WCBC is difficult to measure, but you can't tell someone who is offended that they aren't!

Thanks for your posts, this has been a surprisingly good discussion. In a former life I spent a lot of time on this stuff and things tend to get polemical early among the uninformed. I'd no idea there were so many intelligent lurkers out there!

And I hope you're right about the comeback, Arthur! I'd be happy to call him a hypocrite if he came back. Delighted.


Incredible, Artur talking about "a few conservative people". What we are talking about is not prudishness, and I would thank you to stop this assertion that those who disagree with your three-ring circus act are just out to create a world devoid of sexuality. The argument has always been, and shall remain, that this contest has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with chess and is therefore not a way to promote the game at all. The women happen to be chessplayers, at least some of them, but this is an opportunity to arouse men and claim some noble cause in the process.

Artur, I speak directly to you now. This issue is not about women wanting to feel attractive. This issue is about the fact that there are other forums for these purposes, and chess should not be made into one. You are NOT promoting chess. This is indisputable fact. I will debate you in any open forum or private channel and at no turn will you be able to land some solid evidence of such actions promoting chess as a sport. You are promoting your fantasies of the women, and while it is perfectly fine for you to admire these women, PLEASE do not tell me that introducing a collective into our ranks which is in search of some sexy model-type is the way to advance the sport.

You keep harping on this idea that people are afraid to admire women, but nobody has said that we have an issue with admiring women. You introduce the fact that your wife has posted her picture, as well, and I ask you, so what? Does this mean that it is the thing to do, just because she has decided that her value as a chessplayer is to hold a rating for her appearances rather than for her talent? Tell me, if Microsoft wanted to market a new line of products by holding some contest to determine which of its sales representatives turned men on most, is this good business?

Artur, you, Vlad, and all others associated with WCBC should be ashamed of yourselves for pretending that this activity is about promoting chess. Not one damn pawn will be moved today because somebody said "Wow, she is really hot!" Who is going out to buy chess sets now because of this contest? Maybe you can convince yourselves and even others that you are doing a service, but I can go head to head with you and establish that you are not. The best you have offered thus far is "What is wrong with making men happy to look at beautiful women and having women feel attractive?" If this is the basis for your argument, then shut up about promoting chess, because these are two clearly independent objectives. (BTW, I wonder how some female who is rated as a 2000 will benefit from this "attention".)



Please let's avoid the insults and insulting tone. Keep things informative. State your opinions. Instead of "that's stupid" try "I disagree." It works wonders in appearing like an adult. Calling things stupid, etc. is not helping and I will start editing and deleting, which I am loathe to do. I don't want people to feel they are entering a life and death struggle if they post here. If your opinion doesn't stand up on its own, don't use insults as a prop to hold it up. Otherwise, the Usenet is open to you. Thanks.


Mig, I understand your contentions. However, there are perspectives which are merely matters of opinion, and then there are those which are just indefensible positions, which are, for lack of a better term, stupid. To say that I disagree is to grant an alternate argument as a viable one, and where I do not see such viability, I will not grant it the same standing as a perspective which is worthy of consideration. All social scientists will tell you that we are, by definition, open to other interpretations of reality, for it is the essence of our research models. However, we are not, and I am not, open to assertions which have nothing behind them. Very far from using insults to buoy my arguments, I build them based on logic and challenge for rebuttal. When the rebuttal I get is "But others like it!", then this is not worthy of an "I disagree" address. Also, when I receive posts which say that people are "ignorant jerks" for opposing an idea, then I will respond in kind. I hold myself to a standard of addressing matters honestly and representing my views as best I can. I am not an advocate of political correctness in lieu of calling a spade a spade.



You have to be capable of refuting someone's opinion without treating it, and them, as totally invalid. Huge difference. It's "only an idiot would say that" versus "you're wrong and here's why." I will not permit the former method of arguing. Just about everything is indefensible, or even stupid, to someone. But since the people holding these opinions obviously don't think that, and will learn nothing from being told that, it is nothing but hurtful to procede in that fashion. It is a tactic, and one not fit for this forum. If the other people don't play by your rules and insist on believing what they believe despite your best efforts, you have to live with it.


Okay, Mig, here is the deal. I am completely at liberty to say an idea is stupid. Never have I said that an individual is stupid. If somebody interprets an attack on one's ideas as an attack on one's character, then that is not an issue I am inclined to contend with. I clearly state my reasons for opposing somebody's ideas, but there are points at which we must recognize that not all ideas are valid. For example, if some Islamic extremist was to tell me that I should die for not believing as he does, I would be hard-pressed to find it within myself to grant validity and thus say "I disagree". There are matters on which we can disagree, and then there are matters which are just wrong. We are not debating opinion here, mind you, but fact. (If the best somebody can offer is opinion, then the argument is already over.)

With regard to my comment that the organizers should be ashamed of themselves, I summarily refuse to withdraw this assertion. My position is that this WCBC is an embarassment to chess, amongst other things, and there is nothing wrong with saying that people who introduce an idea I view as detrimental should be embarassed about it. Let us not turn this into some debate on this particular matter, instead leaving the space for the original issue at hand, but we may discuss it further if you send me a personal e-mail.



I posted it because my original statement wasn't directed just to you, Maliq. Many people are accustomed to the Usenet and message boards where flaming is de rigueur, so it's worth making the point in public on occasion.

I understand your position, but to coexist peacefully in a public forum you have to concede that there is simply isn't time or space to conclusively disprove the validity of every argument you don't agree with. By valid I don't mean acknowledging it as possible or feasible, only that there are people who believe this and will continue to despite your best efforts. No matter how forcefully you declare that you do not agree, and that no sane person possibly could, it will not achieve anything other than offending individuals and poisoning the atmosphere.

As the saying goes, in discussions like this one facts are opinions you agree with. Just like Arthur can't tell Jen she can't be offended, you can't tell Arthur his idea has nothing to do with chess. To him, and that's the important part, it has very much to do with chess. They genuinely believe this is a good thing for chess, for the women participating, etc. You have made a case for why it is not, but becoming more strident will not change his opinion where facts have not. Calling it stupid certainly won't, and it is a subjective and universally pejorative term. Its only purpose is to invalidate and insult.

I'm trying to keep discussion moving forward and also prevent ill will. When half of a post is information-free criticism, it's a bad sign. Saying something is wrong and invalid over and over doesn't make it so.

Many comments have been made that this rating site is a perfectly acceptable way to "promote chess". There are connections being made between Anna Kournikova (in tennis) making this kind of "beauty contest" an alright way to promote a sport. Let me correct that assumption.
Anna Kournikova, by selling semi-sexual pictures of herself, has done nothing but promote HERSELF as a strictly sexual object to be used as an advertisement which, unfortunately, also cheapens the perception of tennis. She is not respected as a tennis player, rather, tennis is considered a cute little quirk that makes her all the more sexy and therefore, marketable. This quirk sells HER to a specific audience, the same way Playboy Magazine has a surprising number of models whose "turn ons" are fast cars and power tools. Its just a way of selling to a targeted audience.
Venus and Serena Williams are two strong tennis players that have promoted THERE SPORT because of their fierce talent and individual style (which is considered sexy). Similar to the wonderful Jennifer Shahade.The difference is respect. You respect Venus,Serena, and Jennifer as strong women who just might kick your butt in a round of their respective sports. The Anna Kournikova's of the world (such as the ladies submitting their photos to this chess beauty contest) are trying to promote themselves using a respected sport as leverage, and in doing so, cheapening the image of the sport as well as themselves.
Be honest. A site like this is just replacing the naked playboy bunnies who love "fast cars" with more cleanly dressed women who love chess. Its the same thing, just geared for a different audience. The result is also the same, you are titilated by the pictures and fantasize about your "chess babes" but that doesn't equate to respect- and when you are trying to oogle photos of women who are in the same competitive realm as you, you are dis-respecting them, and that is unacceptable.

GM Kogan,

The kind of attention that most women want from a boyfriend is different from the kind of attention that they want from their boss and their coworkers.


Ryan, chess is a human endeavour. While it is true that i hold the not-so-pretty but excellent female chessplayer in higher regard as a female chessplayer who is gorgeous, the existence of these female chessplayers does not end in the sphere of chess. This is where the not-so-serious side of this whole debate comes along. This side has nothing to do with chess, it's just fun.

It certainly is my idea that one reason chess is unpopular is because chessplayers are considered geeks...and you know, many times they are. In certain regards, i am a bit geeky. If the public sees that either it's not so terrible to be geeky at some aspects, or that not all chessplayers are geeks, is that not a good thing in either case?

Just think about it...is not some adolescent boy rather fascinated with a sport that has some social benefits, too (like pretty girls who are fans of that sport?), than with something that is surely to put his love life completely6 out of it's misery? To me it makes sense...pretty girls exist in chess, too.


Yes, I can see that chess is suffering from lack of presence by adolescent and teenaged boys. How can we ever expect anybody to love the game because of talent? No wonder Carlsen, Karjakin, Radjabov, Nakamura, etc. despise it so!

I work in New York City, where scholastic chess is HUGE. We have absolutely NO problem with keeping boys involved in chess. On the contrary, it is the girls who tend to withdraw once adolescence changes the way in which they are viewed at tournaments. (There are other causes, but this is an important one.) There is no basis for forwarding this argument about chess needing to appeal to adolescent males, because it already clearly does. Furthermore, we are again back to this utilitarian approach whereby one collective is justifiably sacrificed in order to benefit another.

More than anything, I note that talented young chessplayers have one overwhelming concern about careers in chess which have nothing to do with female presence: there is no financial future in a chess career for them. One can dream of becoming a professional athlete, because there are lucrative contracts which accompany a rise in such sports as basketball and baseball, but to dream of being an unrewarded genius is not so appealing. This contest serves as little more than a distraction to these problems, and, indeed, produces one of its own. (My female students do not, by and large, look favorably upon this contest, so I can see that it at the very least serves to give some females pause as they consider a future in chess.)

On one final note, I wish to know exactly how many people who are gawking at these women are actually non-chessplayers. It is one thing to quote statistics, but we must have an understanding that some statistics are basically irrelevant or hold some other interpretations which may alter their relevance altogether, and this issue of how many hits the site has received is a flawed statistic. I am willing to bet Yankee Stadium that the heavy majority (if not all) of the visitors to the site are already associated with or interested in chess in some way. Otherwise, it makes little sense to peruse a site of chessplaying women when more revealing products exist elsewhere. If this argument indeed holds true, then it should be noted that convincing chessplayers that chess is attractive is like convincing a student who just graduated from Harvard with honors that doing homework is a good thing. For all of the drawbacks of this contest, it is unlikely that it even reaches a target audience outside of the chess world.



Regarding the best way to promote a sport...

It is always interesting to note that in sports where men and women are in different leagues for physical reasons, the men have inevitably been paid much, much more by both their franchises and their sponsors for the simple reason that they were financially more valuable.

A dinner with Shaq, for example, will raise much more money and get more press than a dinner with the best WNBA player.

I really liked the distinction Viviane Broceliande makes above between women who promote their sport and women who use their sport to promote themselves.

Venus Williams has the richest endorsement contract ever offered a female athlete: $40 million from Reebok (over multiple years).

The next year, Kournikova announced that SHE had a "$50 million contract with Adidas."

However, Williams' contract was a guaranteed $40 million. Kournikova's was a guaranteed $3 million with a whole series of incentive clauses for things like "winning a Grand Slam" tournament.

Adding a few pretty women may create an additional photogenic moment, but it is performance that promotes a sport--and in most cases it is performance that sponsors pay for.

After all, when's the last time you saw an individual cheerleader given an endorsement contract?

Chess itself IS used as an advertising icon in the US and Europe. In the United States, we have failed to provide an organization that would channel the EXISTING ad agency interest in chess into specific endorsements for individual chessplayers.

Even the excellent AF4C has done more to promote scholastic chess as a concept than individual stars.

(Witness, for example, the fact that in a field of 64 players, the official program for the last US Championship included individual biographies for fewer than 10 of the competitors.)

That may be inevitable in a not for profit organization, but it does cast light on a major hole in chess promotion in the US.

To promote chess we don't need "babes in bikinis." We do need an organized press strategy that can connect the existing chess iconography with individual players.


Haha,a great discussion, bravo all! (Except Maliq insulting arrogant style…)
I can completely agree with the last comments of Mig about a mature and responsible behaviour you should use in your writing (Why to be childish and start insulting people for there ideas ..There are many nice and polite ways to express yourself...)
Look and take example from 'Super Mig'!
His opinions are usually based on a respect to the other person even if at the same time he might have a completely different opinion to the other person.
Why use insults, and an arrogant style and immature style by offering such childish arguments as 'My female students….'Maliq… what is one American school out of so many millions in the world?! How old are you Maliq? that your opinions and conclusions are based on these young girls?!)
And all this without giving pause for thought and without even waiting for the results of the websites success. This reminds me of a typical arrogant and over confident view of chess players: for example when a chess player declares that he is going to win FOR SURE before the start of his chess game, then he gets into a winning position and then waits for his opponent to resign (NO RESPECT!)-he is making a mistake and loses...
After the game he might say “I was winning the game”' “I am a much better chess player than you” “you played so badly”...
But a clever answer of his opponent might be “ok maybe you are correct -but I won!” the result is 1-0'!!!
A familiar story amongst chess players, do you see my point?
Here I can finish my last efforts (I AM TOO BUSY these days, sorry:-)) in this subject in such way:
We are making a beauty contest, most people like it- few do not, but there are objectors to most things in life, overall I feel the website is very popular.
Many women that play chess are happy, few are not...it's normal!
Most of the people in America voted for Bush (I don't like it!)-but he won the vote and therefore people live with it…
We have already had many propositions for sponsoring chess tournaments for women, giving big prizes-(even online-no importance emphasised how they look!) something that is not so common in chess- ok, few will not participate...it's there problem!
We know that there are many strong women chess players that spent many years for studying and playing chess and they deserve to be more respected and have a chance to make a living by that- some of you don't understand or even know it...
We (Me+Short,Tkachiev,Tyomkin,Milos,Fontain and so on...) are proffesional chess players that made and make a good living by playing or teaching chess- and I believe that other titled chess players also have there rights to try and make a decent living by playing nice chess tournaments with normal conditions.
Most of the arbiters make a good living from chess-most of the women do not...most chess players do not!
The Chess world need a drastic change to help all these people and especially women’s chess in order to get a chance to make a suitable living out of it and not to have the need to gamble and play poker in order to live.
The ideal is just to play nice chess games and make your living thanks to your own brain!
My hope is that more and more people open there minds and become less selfish by only thinking about there own interests, there students, town or country!
Our Chess need's a real help of open mind people that love chess and are ready to take risks, even by losing some time and some money...

So what if the way to get some more chances and publicity will be by using ideas that are used in many other sports and businesses to get some more money around and get more media around chess?!
If after all this- only few women will make a living out of playing chess, modelling or making publicities (even like Kournikova or Williams...)
I would say: you are right!
The idea was not the best-could be great to have a lot of respect and to make a decent money by just playing good chess,but sometimes the way to achive a result is not by the most logical or ideal way...
And this is a story for another chess game...


The interesting thing is that chess is NOT "unpopular" as your note suggests.

Chess is one of the most popular activities in the world, played by people of all ages and in most countries.

And chess sets and books continue to sell every year, far outdoing most other games. (Poker, a recent phenomenon, has a different aspect, and we'll have to see if it lasts.)

When most chessplayers say they want to make chess "more popular," what they usually mean is that they want to make it more lucrative for the GM players. That's a very different issue than simple popularity.

Consider this: in the US, a player in the top 15% (master and above) can at least supplement an existing income pretty nicely through lessons. Many of these lessons are sold to parents and schools who buy them for children.

It is almost impossible for a backgammon or bridge pro to make a similar income from lessons.

So one could argue in fact the exact opposite: that it is the G-rated nature of chess that helps support a legion of midlevel chess pros. And even that it is its "high class" image that causes it to be used in advertising now.

Shift the public perception of chess towards the beauty contest side, and you might be putting an entire generation of chess teachers out of work. As well as also reducing the total number of endorsement opportunities for the GMs.

Ultimately chess is seen as different from other activities because of the absence of luck. Even those who don't play see it as a symbol of high power intellect in a competitive setting. Coolness, courage, calculation. It has value as an advertising symbol for these aspects--a value that is not easily replaced by other sports or games. (Golf comes closest.)

Physical attractiveness is often described as "a crap shoot" (a dice throw). Meaning that genetic celebrities are so because of an accident of birth. They are lucky to be born more beautiful than their neighbors.

If you make chess "hot" by moving emphasis to random chance factors, you immediately require it to compete with literally dozens of other activities that involve random genetic factors. Chess loses its uniqueness, and its ability to score an advert where no other activity can.

There are many things that can be done to make chess more lucrative for its top players, and to promote it better. But we can do that best by preserving its unique characteristics, not by making it yet another of the "dice throw" sports.


I personally find Mr. Soter's arguments much more compelling and thoughtful than GM Kogan's, and I'm not sure why Mr. Soter is getting bashed, unless perhaps its because he is disagreeing emphatically with a GM. Clearly, many posts allowed by Mig on this site are much more strongly worded than anything in Mr. Soter's posts, so I wonder what the fuss is about? Perhaps you could clear the air, Mig, by posting some rules of engagement and then enforcing them uniformly against all posters. But it's your site, of course, and you must do what you please in the end.

GM Kogan criticizes Mr. Soter's style of argumentation, and then proceeds to employ a number of sly slurs against Mr. Soter himself. Et tu, GM Kogan?

-Geof Strayer

Oh, I'm all for treating others as you would like to see your mother treated. As with arguments among couples, after five minutes it's not about the subject matter, it's about how you are arguing. ("Don't you talk to me like that!") Some people have thicker skins, others are new and surprised to be addressed at all, let alone criticized. Can't cover all the bases. As in life, the worst crimes are committed by those who are sure they are right. Should teach us something, but it doesn't. When you are right that's when you should be extra courteous and kind. After all, you have the facts on your side, right? Why get personal if your argument stands on its own?

The simplest test is to ban yourself from mentioning other posters at all. Talk about the content, not the person. There is rarely a need to reply directly to someone, no one will misunderstand you. Just make your point to the world. (Unless your point is "So-and-so is an idiot!)

GM Kogan,

Thank you for taking the time to post! I do think it's a bit early to declare something a "success" or "failure." And when you say that "most women that play chess" like the site, I think that's a bit early to call as well.

We'll see how many of the top 100 women by rating actually participate. That will give the best objective evidence one way or another as to whether women chess professionals consider the beauty contest a good promotion.

As of today, March 12th, you had only 6 of the world's top 100 women by rating participating, and not one from the top 10. Of Americans, you have 2 women from the US top 100 who participate at your site. And only 2 of the Dutch top 100.

You have 11 Russian women, but even there only 5 from the top 100 in that country.

So based on the evidence, it doesn't really look like most female chess professionals are interested in your promotion. It appears to be your site which represents the "small minority," not the other way around.

Time will tell.


p.s. I am myself not particularly "conservative" nor, if it's of any interest, did I vote for Mr. Bush. I would be careful about assuming that any particular person's reactions to the chess beauty contest reflect a specific political philosophy, as I think you'll find that, at least in the US and Europe, it is social liberals as often as social conservatives who question the role of beauty contests in promoting women's activities in other realms.

The 1wcbc.com site does not load properly for me. It is very slow. Maybe caught it at a busy time? I only viewed the site for maybe 3 minutes before I lost patience with the dialup-like loading.

Anyway, it seems to me the site is offerring a useful service to women who happen to also play chess to widen the dating market for them to include male chessplayers. I don't know if it is indeed a dating service but it sure seems like it to me.

I don't accept the argument by GM Kogan that the site promotes chess. Instead, I think the site offers increased chances for women chessplayers to leave their country for the wealthy west, and, I believe that is the primary reason the women submit photos to be rated so they get exposure.

Rating the women is a humiliating experience to many who do not make the top ten, but the men are rated in many areas and some sites rate men on pure looks alone. In sports, the men are rated in every conceivable statistic, goals, hits, runs, steals, errors, saves, assits, etc. In Forbes magazine, the men are ranked according to wealth. In Cosomopolitan Magazine and many dating sites the men are rated hot or not.

In elementary school, many of you still remember what it was like standing outside at the soccer field during recess or lunchtime. The 2 popular kids are the captains and they alternately pick players to be on their soccer team. The fat or unpopular kid always gets picked last. The men learn very early that they are always rated.

So now in this thread, rating women chessplayers on looks is wrong? Perhaps it is. Perhaps in the distant future none of us, men or women, would be rated on any superficial features such as looks, but it does not change the fact in the here and now that we all, men and women are rated in everything, especially looks.

Better looking men and women get paid more for equal work than the non-lookers. Try these sites for starters:



Yes, that is our daily lives. Men and women are paid according looks. Is it wrong? Yes (and no), however, it doesn't change the fact that it happens.

There is hope though, according to this site:


It seems there are times good looks are not as important to people but that is not common, imo.

Returning to chess, good looks are not only important in getting people's attention but also to hold their attention. A chess babe (but not bimbo - morons, etc) doing the commentary may or may not promote chess but it can never hurt. Assuming Susan Polgar's voice is pleasant sounding, if she did color commentary on something like ChessTV she may not garner increased ratings but she won't hurt ratings either. That is just as important as promoting the game. By way of example, there is an evening news program in my area which features this East Indian male anchor who sports an earring and dyed hair. He isn't ugly but his look, the clash between the earring, the dyed hair, and the girlish eye makeup, is offenive enough for me to quickly surf by the channel. The anchor failed to hold my attention and that is just as damaging to ratings.

In short, rating women may be wrong, but it is not a fight that the chessworld should enter (we are financially weak). Let other fields take up the fight. Instead, go with the flow of the rest of the world. It is well-known that sex sells (ask Hollywood). Less well-known is good looks do not hurt ratings. So yes, I support a babe wheeling in the money in the WPT (catch my attention), as long as that babe doesn't say anything stupid to ge me to switch channels (fail to hold my attention). I would support something similar for chess. Again, I understand the women's issues but let that be fought on some other battlefield.

By the way I'm reasonably certain that one of the young females on the site has not by any means agreed to be on the site, unless they have changed their mind in the past week (When I spoke to them they had absolutely no idea this site existed yet there were pictures of them on it.)

I mentioned this to the organizers and they claimed they would do everything to ensure something like this doesn't happen, yet I notice her pictures were never at any moment removed from the website.

It's possible that she may have since changed their mind and decided to allow the organizers to keep their pictures up (Although I suspect they have never even talked to the orgnaizers), but please note that this girl is a minor and was entered in this contest without any consent or knowledge.

Hi Gregg!
please e-mail me privately with the details- I am not aware of it. We'll take care on this immediatly!
Thank you

First of all I'd like to thank all of you for your feedback and for showing interest to our project. Unfortunately, I have to exclude Maliq from the
list, who's posts begin with "peace", but then continue with insults and
We are not trying to convince you to like our project, but just try to be
more deplomatic.

Bored of You writes:
"Anyway, it seems to me the site is offerring a useful service to women who
happen to also play chess to widen the dating market for them to include
male chessplayers. I don't know if it is indeed a dating service but it sure
seems like it to me.".... ..."Instead, I think the site offers increased
chances for women chessplayers to leave their country for the wealthy west,
and, I believe that is the primary reason the women submit photos to be
rated so they get exposure."

Many of WCBC contenders already live at the "wealthy west" and definitely this
is not a reason they send us their pictures. Their personal information is
accessible to WCBC administrators only and I can assure you that we'll not
provide their personal information to anyone without their permission. Same
for pictures- no images posted on WCBC without a permission of the
contender and we are investigating the case Gregg talks in his post. And, if any woman applies to us asking for contact details of some male GM,
we will not provide any info either- our project has different purposes!
The main idea of WCBC is to introduce female players to a chess
community, and to promote women's chess.
I'd like to note that very few women can make a living from chess and the
prizes in women's tournaments are incredibly low comparing to men's
tournaments. And, in most of cases, WGMs and WIMs spend alot of money to
play in international events without having any real chance to make some and
even to cover their expenses. So, we believe that our project will help to
imrove the situation in women's chess and in chess in general.
Cheers, Dima Tyomkin

Hello, Tyomkin, thank you for posting!

I am a little confused, though. There is no discrimination against women in terms of prize money in chess, because any woman with an equal rating can play in exactly the same events as the men, from Aeroflot to the big Open coming up in Minnesota in May.

The fact that the prizes offered for 2300 and 2400 players are lower than the prizes offered for 2500 and 2600 players is only fair.

To make more money, 2300-rated women just have to do what the 2300-rated men have to do: play better. :)



I am amused by individuals speaking about me casting insults, when I specifically speak of the ideas rather than the people. As I have said before, at no point have I said "This person is an idiot" or "That person is a fool." Intelligent people have misguided and sometimes outright foolish ideas. (As a person who works closely with PhDs all the time, I can definitely bear witness to this.) I am sorry that Mr. Kogan takes it personally that I recognize his idea to be foolhardy, but please look in the mirror if you find yourself taking offense at some character assault that has never been made.

Tyomkin, my posts reflect very matter-of-fact perspectives, and I present them as such. You are defending your idea, and so you take offense to harsh criticism of it, but I submit that anything less than harsh criticism would be a false representation of my understanding of the situation. If I was to say "Well, Mr. bin Laden, I really don't think your actions are so wise, but that is just my opinion," would this suffice to rebuke his actions? There is a time to be diplomatic, and a time to be straight-forward. Matters which may do harm to a sport are not to be taken lightly. Also, Tyomkin, do not be hypocritical; it was YOU who started the insults by calling people who opposed this bogus idea "ignorant jerks." Don't dish it if you can't take it.

With regard to my classifications of some of the ideas presented, I must say that I am not particularly concerned with people taking offense at these classifications. There is a simple solution, for example, if one does not want to have one's ideas called chauvinistic: Do not forward chauvinistic ideas. If you do not want contentions to be called absurd, then do not forward absurd contentions. In my book, doing right by a collective burdened by a lower ascribed status is much more important than making people in higher strata feel happy. There is always time for addressing hurt feelings. Other matters, however, are more pressing, and are capable of doing damage which is both exponentially more relevant and more difficult to amend.




I just wanted to call attention to a particular statement:

"Maliq, what is one American school out of all the schools in the world?! How old are you Maliq? That your opinions and conclusions are based on these young girls?!"

Profound. Make what you will of this quote.



I fully support Maliq. It is Tyomkin who started the insults. Later myself. So I am sorry to everyone who got offended on the other side. But Maliq is straight forward and I share all his concerns in this matter.We would like to keep the great game pure, away from this worldy attractions. My love for Chess is because of great Masters. I would like to imitate them, follow them not just in Chess, but in life. Nimzowitch, Lasker and other great Masters including GK are not just great Chess players, but also great Philosphers, mathematicians. So, we need great people who inspires and draw the people to the beauties of Chess. But sadly, if you associate Babes, their outward fashion, bringing sexy look, the game's purity, its divine nature will flee.

Yes I agree with Artur Kogan. Come on guys it is not as if the girls are posting XXX pictures of themselves(with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions). The only thing that is really XXX about the site is some of the posts by male horn dogs usually in languages other than english, The idea of normalising the game and promoting and complimenting these women is good. Maybe it is the evaluation part that is a bit lacking. Perhaps you could keep the evaluations private just list top 10 not to hurt anyone's feelings. Or perhaps you could make it more like a real beauty contest which is not simply one dimensional (just looks) but also have a bit more... small paragraph and also game collections for viewing would be cool. Just a few ideas...

As a 1710 rated player who has had few women and struggles with just one language, I find the fact that Arthur Kogan is rated 2592, and has had many women and speaks more than one language, to be by far the most objectionable thing I have read on this message board.


Women's tennis became popular long after King and Navratilova...by popular here I mean it became profitable even on the same level as the men's game. The problem with women's tennis was always lack of competition, I mean there was a large gap between the good and the not so good...so always the same people won...e.g navratilova, graf etc...The game reached new hights when natural beauty was introduced this raised the popularity, e.g., the # of women participating world wide AND this in turn increased the competitive aspect of the game due to the larger number of participants from all over the world. This aside, I never said that rape or murder or whatever would benefit chess, you simply interpreted this wrong. But if the game gets more exposure either by internet or t.v simply because people are interested in what the chess players look like, let's do it. What is wrong with judging a person's looks? I don't understand this western mentality....yes we are objectifying women....women objectify men....I mean these are real things in everyday life....I am not saying one player is better then the other because they are better looking...I am associating a beautiful woman with a game of chess which traditionally is not viewed as such....In fact the mainstream opinion was always that chess was for the dorks, really ugly girls etc...this is not true of course and we need to show that it is not true...chess players are NEITHER dorks nor a bunch of ugly outsiders....taking the righteous approach of not objectifying our poor defenceless women is just unreasonable, I mean did we actually ask the girls?! They are the once sending in the pictures, clearly they are not that opposed to this...the problem was always that men did not give women a choice a voice, well here it is....and they are taking this opportunity to voice their opinion by SENDING in pictures....


I agree with Jim´s comment.The fact that this man is actually a GM and speaks a lot of languages shows he is an intelligent guy.It would make sense if they kept this contest as a funny thing, a boutade as frenchies call it. But pretending it is good for chess is unsound. It has always amazed me how intelligent men can lose thread when it comes to women's beauty.:)

Fontvella, its true that there exists a lust of eyes, lust of flesh and pride of life in this world. So even the mighty can fall for this if they dont have the Wisdom.


Sasha, do not misunderstand our contentions. Nobody is saying that it is wrong to notice an attractive woman. Nobody is even saying that it is wrong to notice how attractive another chessplayer may be. This argument does not suffice, however, to support the contention that this contest is thereby justifiable and a benefit to chess. If there is extensive coverage of a beautiful female who is competing in some tournament, then this is one thing. However, to remove chess from the equation altogether is questionable at best, and the contention that this somehow helps to make chess more popular is quite flawed.

As I have mentioned previously, this site is not even accomplishing the goal of publicizing chessplayers (NOT chess) to a non-chessplaying public. The first and only time I encountered news of this contest was when I logged onto chessbase.com, which I venture to think not many non-enthusiasts are frequenting nowadays. This idea that we are beautifying the image of chess is tempered by the fact that it is a self-image which is being addressed, if anything at all.

On one final note, you are incorrect about beauty causing an increase in competitiveness in women's tennis. Such an assertion must be defended vigorously, because, as with the contention that this contest helps to popularize chess, the burden of proof is on the person(s) making the claim. I find your claim here to be flawed, because I have yet to hear any of the women tennis players interviewed state that they began to play because they saw people taking notice of the players' beauty and wanted to be considered beautiful, too. Many have said that they wanted to be the next Graf or Seles. Please look again at your interpretation of events surrounding this sport.




If you'll look back, you can see that this thread was started with comments by a female player, and other women have commented here as well.

I agree with you that the number of top women professionals who choose to participate will be solid objective evidence as to whether they consider it a good promotion.

I gave some numbers earlier, but so far no one in the top 10 (and at least 2 requested their photos be removed after they were posted without permission), and fewer than 10 of the top 100 women had sent their photos in.

Of course it's early days yet. It will be interesting to see what happens.



You keep saying flawed but you don't say why! You say i misunderstand the contention and again you don't show where! you say my arguments do not suffice yet you don't provide any concrete evidence as to where! You say the site removes chess from the equation but it does no such thing...It simply relates it to some of the beautiful participants in IT. I personally don't care how a person gets introduced to the world of chess whether it is through some other interest like those of women or through books or through t.v or whatever, as long as they get interested. Anytime somebody sees the word chess...anytime somebody hears the word chess it is an inprint on the psychi...do you know how the commercials work? they work by inprinting the products NAME in your brain so when you have a choice you subconsciously chose their product...this is sort of the same thing....if a person has chess in their brain and it is associated with something position e.g a beautiful woman...they are more likely to chose IT over something else to do or for their children to do....Say a man who would never let his daughter get involved in chess because he is afraid or has a sort of negative stigma about the game might change his mind that is a POSITIVE can't you people see that? And not only are the chessplayers getting notiriety from this but CHESS itself....Further, You say that beautifying tennis had nothing to do with its popularity? Oh really? The reason why women's tennis is getting by far larger exposure on television then EVER before is because of the tennis beauties and even if any of the girls would admit that they started playing tennis because of this the reason why they got introduced to the game is because they got exposed more to it VIA this television exposure. You know it is a lot easier to get on t.v for a sexy woman in ANY field. You say my argument is flawed but i fail to see where and maybe it is because you clearly fail to mention where as well.


The story of women's tennis is long and complex, but its real breakthrough came through the efforts of TEAMTennis in the late 90s and the fact that Venus Williams could serve 127 mph.

There were many other factors involved, of course.

Women's tennis now often gets higher ratings than the men's, but that appears to be mostly a matter of the fact that women's tennis offers interesting STORIES, not just dresses. For example, when the Williams sisters played each other in 2001 and 2002, their ratings were half again higher than when there was a final between Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters in 2004.

Women's tennis ratings were consistently DOWN throughout the period when both Serena and Venus Williams were not playing due to injuries. Attendance at events were also down for the women's events.

So it hasn't been a steadily upwards path...In fact, 2003 was a pretty bad year. The CEO of the WTA, Larry Scott, believes that it is the "personality factor" that makes the difference in how strongly fans connect to the sport, NOT the "beauty factor."


With regard to what fathers would think, on this I can speak with some experience, having coached in elementary schools for a number of years.

Judit Polgar had the single biggest impact on bringing girls into the sport precisely because she was seen as a positive role model.

I believe that any association with a "beauty contest" would cause both schools and parents NOT to choose chess as an activity for young girls, quite the opposite of what might be intended.

As you may know, many school districts are already taking steps to ban poker from both middle schools and high schools even when no money is bet, so its "hot" image certainly isn't helping it become more popular in that regard.

There are many arguments to be made about how best to promote chess among those twenty and up. But with regard to promoting interest among the parents of young girls, I am quite certain that a "chess beauty contest" will only reduce parental interest.


Oh, and with regard to "easier to get on TV for a sexy woman in any field..."

I suggest you take a look at the most successful female talk show hosts for a counter example. Oprah Winfrey has had the highest rated talk show in television history for over 10 years without having "beauty queen" looks. And the highest rated new talk show host is Ellen Degeneres.

TV "Q factor" has much more to do with likeability than how good a woman looks in a bikini.

And Oprah is worth financially many times more than the most successful supermodel.

Finally, it can help to remember that the potential audience for most events, or the potential buyers for most sponsors, include women as well as men.

If a woman celebrity appears to be concentrating too much on sexual appearance, it can reduce the amount of money she can make because she may not be effective in reaching a female audience. This is why Paris Hilton isn't doing cosmetic ads, but Julianne Moore is.


And one more thought about what "sells"...

SHREK 2 made four times as much money as CHARLIE'S ANGELS 2.

And if you look at alltime revenues, not one of the top 15 movies relies on "a bikini factor" to sell tickets.


Romance, talking animals, and superheroes all outsell beautiful women in low-cut blouses.

So if you really want to promote chess to a wider audience, start thinking about promotions that will appeal to the Shrek 2 ticket buyers. Because that's where the real money is. :)



Not to go off topic or hijack the thread but your statements regarding imprinting and the subconscious cannot go unchallenged. Closely related is the idea that subliminal advertising is effective. This idea is now discredited (not effective). Here's a wikipedia link and Google will return good papers on the topic:


As for the topic at hand and not addressing you, Sasha, but those who oppose the WCBC site, I have already posted something farther up the thread. However, I have this to add. The evidence is overwhelming that sex sells, though the truth of which still does not address that it (sex appeal):

1. objectifies women,
2. degrades women,
3. can lead less than perfect women to tragic consequences (anorexia, suicides, cosmetic surgery, etc).

The validity of all three is undeniable and well-documented. Yet, I do not oppose the rating of women nor oppose the use of sex appeal. At the same time though, I actually believe judging people on looks is wrong in cases where perfomance has nothing to do with looks. The major reason I do not oppose is we live in a material world and sex appeal is a commodity that can be bought, sold, and traded like any other commodity. Unless we all take a vow of poverty and live with monks and nuns, we cannot deny we are all materialists.

Participating in the material world, making use of sex and sex appeal in particular, there will be collateral damage (anorexia, etc), but there is also collateral damage in trades of other commodities. Every time you support millionaires you are not supporting non-millionaires (every time you buy a ballgame ticket you are not buying from the mom and pop shop down the block). The collective action means somebody gets unnecessarily richer and somebody else gets unnecessarily poorer. This process gets filtered down right to the near bottom of the food chain where some are just barely surviving and then one more week of bad luck they are out to the streets. That is no less damaging than some woman getting sick from anorexia.

Of course, there is also collateral damage from the purchase of oil (wars, global warming), tobacco, alcohol, diamonds (civil war in Sierra Leone), books (cut trees), toys (babies choking on them), fast food (clogged arteries, diabetes, etc), guns (criminal activity), etc.

Not all people who buy guns commit crimes, or buy fast food and get fat, but then, not all women become anorexic after watching beautiful women. This answers point 3 above, that there will always be collateral damage in just about anything, including the objectifying of women.

Does rating women on looks degrade women? Yes, but it happens all the time and it also happens to the men. Many women feel inadequate because Hollywood likes beautiful actresses and the fashion world likes beautiful models. Well, Hollywood and the fashion world also like handsome men. Why are the men not complaining? Besides, according to GM Tyomkin, the women voluntarily submitted photos. To the women who still feel degraded even without submitting photos (rating oneself by comparing how others rate similar looking women), I have news for you: the men, probably the overwhelming majoriy, will rate you on looks anyway, with or without the existence of the WCBC - we, the men, are just being polite by not mentioning it. And there are many men, like me, who go the extra distance to avoid prejudice on looks. Do the women secretly rate the men on looks? I strongly suspect so. This answers point 2 above.

Objectifying women? One word: hormones. Most men can control it for otherwise most would be in jail. Many men go the extra distance to avoid prejudice. Probably the overwhelming majority secretly objectify women. The real issue is, how much harm the resulting prejudice has caused? Do men really take a beautiful but skilled woman less seriously? I am not aware of any studies being done in this area but I do know beautiful women get paid more for equal work.

Perhaps "objectifying women" refers to the effect on women who are not as beautiful. That is, less than beautiful women want to be judged on the quality of their work, not on their looks. This is the flip-side of the paragraph above: less beautiful women get paid less for equal work. The men suffer similarly too, meaning the quality of work issue vs looks is a wash for both sexes.

Perhaps objectifying women can lead to other effects such as rape. According to the FBI, 62.3 women out of every 100,000 women were raped in 2002:


These are small numbers when compared with the millions of women who are objectified every day. Would these numbers decrease if women were not objectified? Don't know, but I doubt the existence of the WCBC would contribute to these numbers. In any case, there is no clear cause and effect between objectifying women and rapes.

Perhaps objectifying women can lead to increased sexual activity but this borders on the absurd. Every period since forever women were objectified. Is sexual activity wrong?

Finally, perhaps objectifying women equals less respect. Sorry, respect is earned. Women who do good work are respected. One example is Sandra Bullock who did a porn film early in her career but is now an A-list respected actress. Another respected actress is Glen Close and she has and will still do nude scenes. There is also the example of Paula Abdul, who was once a cheerleader for the LA Lakers (there you go Duif, a cheerleader who made it big) and is now a respected singer currently co-hosting/judging on American Idol. Of course, there is Madonna, who once posed for Penthouse and has objectified herself to the extreme, even produced a book, SEX, and is now highly regarded in the music and entertainment industry - no one denies she is smart with tremendous influence. This answers point 1 above.

My conclusion? Fighting the good fight (rating and objectifying women) against the WCBC is akin to being penny wise and pound foolish. There are far bigger fish to fry. Fight Hollywood or any of the beauty contests. In any case, the women's issues with respect to the WCBC are negligible and debatable.


Sasha, relax with the exclams! Read through my previous posts, where I lay out my case in its entirety regarding this contest and its relevance to chess. This contest removes chess from the equation inasmuch as participants do not even have to be actual chessplayers in order to enter. The fact that many happen to be is a happy coincidence.

With regard to my assertion that you misunderstand the contention, there is no way that I can explain how you misunderstood. I specified what the contention was, so you either understand or you do not. My position is clear: there is nothing wrong with admiring gorgeous women, but this contest does not find a beneficial reconciliation between chess and sexual attraction. Beyond this, there is no way to further clarify what is already clear. A simple test to verify whether or not you have flawed reasoning is to strip your arguments of unsubstantiated premises, or assumptions based on bias or favorable view of one idea over another, and then see if it holds up absent the emotional ties. It is because your arguments contain several assumptions which are unsubstantiated (such as that females decide to take up tennis because of its relevance to their sexuality and simply fail to admit this, indisputably an opinion rather than a known fact) that they are to be considered flawed.

You, along with some others, continuously ignore my statement regarding target audience. My brother is on full scholarship at Indiana University, working on a PhD in cognitive psychology, so I am well acquainted with matters of decision-making. I am a sociologist, so I have had plenty of exposure to the concepts which guide collective identities and mentalities. Primary amongst the issues manufacturers face is how to make their product more visible to an unreached target audience, and a beauty contest which is judged by people who are already involved with chess does nothing to reach the non-chessplaying target audience.

Finally, I find your assertion that some parent will want his or her daughter to become a chessplayer because of things such as this beauty contest to be downright absurd. Duif makes several points which speak well to this position, so I will not elaborate on it except to say that most parents I know teach their daughters that they are worth more than their looks and are troubled by the idea of them being no more than sexy images for anonymous men whom they will later encounter in some complex work force situation or competitive arena.



At least somebody provides constructive critism here hint not malik. Anyway, your statements about tennis are all in comparisson....williams sisters vs. non-williams sisters ratings say nothing about the rise in popularity of tennis from the MIDDLE ninteties and not early 90's until today. If you believe that williams sisters single handidly built women's tennis then you are quite wrong althought they with their compeling stories and their compeling father did help it grow in the biggest market, the STATES. But nevermind that....i will only add that kournikova matches consistently had higher ratings then anybody elses for whatever reason. Next, what i meant with the whole parents comment was that it would add a positive association with chess for MOST mainstream parents and FUTURE parents who otherwise would not consider chess for their children due to negative stigmas attached with the game or simply lack of exposure. As far as succussful women I never talked about individual success did I? you could have also included Rossane in that little rant up their. But please don't tell me you will doubt the reason for mostly good looking people on t.v? the ratings are higher. The same goes for movies shows etc...this is not to say that there aren't exceptions, there are....because looks ofcourse are not the only thing....The shrek comment was also completely misunderstanding my point, shrek was more popular because it appealed to a higher variety of people....KIDS and THEIR PARENTS who had to take them to see it....hence the reason for higher gross....at least give it some thought before you bring up examples like that.....and in order to appease shrek ticket buyers (parents of kids) we need to make chess associated with something positive instead of the mainstream junk that it is usually associated with....




as a fellow sociologist it strikes me a bit when you continually can't make an argument...I NEVER said that women chose tennis because of sexuality...I said it is on T.V more because it is sexy therefor it gets more exposure therfore women chose it or their parents chose it for them and therefor the game gets more competitive (simply by having more people participating and dipping into talent pool of other sports) which further increases popularity...cause-effect....I never said that a beauty contest would attract parents...I said that getting rid of stigmas will...two of them are that girls don't play chess...and those that do are usually ugly....can you follow all that?


Okay, Sasha, maybe I misunderstood your contentions. Do not ask me if I can "follow all that", however, as though I am some uneducated child. I follow much more complex concepts than these with ease. It is why I have three elite graduate programs vying for my participation in their PhD programs.

It is not even worth opposing your statement that I cannot make an argument; previous posts speak for themselves to those who are willing to read without predispositions against what I have to say. I must say, however, that your claim that dismissing stigmas will help to advance chess is betrayed by the fact that it is difficult to claim progress by replacing one stigma with another. Chess is not an activity which parents despise; on the contrary, there are a hell of a lot of parents who want their children to be good at chess because they consider that it means they have raised little geniuses. I know this from about nine years of teaching chess to scholastic players, including the last five with Chess-in-the-Schools. A beauty contest would be hard-pressed to better the image of chess and alter it to a degree which would interest many parents.



I think the arguments supporting WCBC are a little funny. More or less, supporters are saying "This has been happening forever, calm down". That is really poor logic, don't you think? Just because the objectification of women has been commonplace doesn't mean its a good thing and it certainly does not mean it should be ignored.

Think of how far we, as human beings, would have advanced if we decided not to embrace new ideas, morals, societal norms because others (read: bad ideas etc.) had been in place for "time out of mind". Cannibalism was considered the honourable and "normal" thing to do for New Guinea natives up until the 1970's, when the natives were informed that "kuru", a shaking malady that is slowly lethal, was transmitted through eating flesh and rubbing it on their bodies. When they stopped eating other humans, "kuru" disapeared.

Vis a vis; when you see that negative effects are being propogated throught certian actions or activities (think: posting WCBC website) maybe you should cease and desist. Avoid the inevitable "kuru".

As for those who believe that this is such a "small problem" and that we should focus on the big picture... also... not the best logic. Ever heard the little anecdote about a war being lost "all for the want of a shoe and a nail". Small things add up. The idea behind battling "hollywood ideals" is start on your home turf... fix what you see around you, not ignore it. The "real problem" isn't "Hollywood", its right infront of us on this chess website. Just because there are larger wrongs in the world does not mean that smaller ones should be ignored.

There are a few excellent books about women in sports, you guys should read them. You can probably get "Are We Winning Yet?" and "Built to Win" at a library if you're in the US. (My sister has a degree in women's studies so I've been picking all this stuff up by osmosis and argument for a decade.)

Btw, the women's tennis boom, when it went from a sideshow with few spectators, no tour, and almost no money, was in the 70's thanks to Billie Jean King and then Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (whose "sexiness" was controversial at the time). It was because they played excellent, athletic tennis. When the power game started to dominate the men's game (Sampras, etc.), many realized that women's tennis was often more enjoyable to watch.

If you are really interested in this topic, you can stop reinventing the (square) wheel and read "The Beauty Myth" (Wolff) and "Backlash" (Faludi), the modern basics of this discussion.

Saying "look, there are pretty chessplayers!" only perpetuates the overall obsession with appearance; it buys into the myth. To break the real stereotype you succeed regardless of your appearance and are accepted on your own terms. To me, all the happy, pretty, women in these contests don't make up for the "average-looking" girls and women who are thereby told they are inferior human beings. Or the beautiful ones who wish they could be respected for something else.

I strongly recommend "The Beauty Myth," a great book with real research, not some jeremiad against men or sex, or whatever other fears some men seem to have about women who don't want them to stare at their chests.


Thanks for the insight, Mig. I will check out the books if I can. Maybe I will just purchase them from amazon.com or some such rather than borrow them from a library, so that I may have them present in my book collection whenever such issues as the current one arise and need to be addressed, especially if I have a daughter when I am older.




Regarding Oprah, view the show but don't watch, hear the show but don't listen, analyze the message but don't judge. What can you conclude?

I concluded: Oprah is one hour of spam. Spam = $$. The audience is carefully groomed and guided to a desired conclusion to any issue. The show uses standard psychological buttons, is scripted, and uses shills in the audience to laugh, cry, clap, and cheer at the scripted times (as well as being prompted by the sign guy). The spam is either tied into an issue or is presented as the issue.

Still can't deny her success though.

Another show that makes a lot of money and is still going on strong is, "The Price is Right." It too is one hour of spam presented as a game.

Both shows owe their financial success not necessarily to the quality of the show as to the one hour's worth of commercials. With so much air-time devoted to advertising, both shows can do without beautiful women, though TPIR does use models.

Note that the hosts of either show are not unpleasant. Put in a skinheaded tatoo girl in a dominatrix outfit in place of Oprah and see if the show survives. Also, a sexy woman is not appropriate to the type of show Oprah is, self-help healing.

Last point. The bikini factor is designed to attract men. Obviously, shows like Oprah and TPIR have audiences who are predominantly women, and in the case of Oprah, women who were hurt/rejected by men - self-healing content. As a counter-example, I cite the highly rated Baywatch.

viviane broceliande wrote:

[ I think the arguments supporting WCBC are a little funny. More or less, supporters are saying "This has been happening forever, calm down". That is really poor logic, don't you think? Just because the objectification of women has been commonplace doesn't mean its a good thing and it certainly does not mean it should be ignored. ]

It has been happening forever with good reason: hormones. It is just as difficult for the men to fight hormones as for the women to fight hormones during her period. This does not justify the objectification but still, hormones are a powerful force.


You can bring up all the feminist writting you want, but compare the popularity of women's tennis from the 70's to the 80's to the 90' and finally now, you will notice that women's tennis was dead as a sport in the early 90's, dead. Women had less exposure (and no nobody cared about the quality of their game), made less prize money, etc...Kournikova single handidly did more for the popularity of tennis then any of the women you mentioned and she was not even a good tennis player. Her matches always got the highest ratings regardless of the quality. The clothes that women where on the court have gotten more and more skimpy, these women are photogenic and this benefits the sport...people do not need to hide chess away from the mainstream, it is NOT a game for the brainiacs, outsiders, etc., the point is anybody can play, boy, girl, pretty, ugly...that is the point. You talk about obcession with appearance as if it is necessarily negative....I for one do not believe in this. Why do top players where suits? To look professional, ok....but why does wearing a suit makes you so...i can where a clown suit to the match and people will point fingers regardless of my performance or approach to the game itself..they will judge my appearance...on the other hand they will compliment my suit. When a woman wears something beautiful we compliment her, why? Looks is the answer...and there is nothing wrong with that as long as this does not sway our objectivity of that person. That is the point, nothing else. Feminists want to ignore this and somehow change it, but i don't buy it. Opposite sexes, same sexes whatever, people are attracted to eachother by looks, personality, etc...but looks is part of this equation no matter how much people want to deny this and call it shallow...The same way appearance is part of other sphere of existance and can be used to advance even chess....One last thing Mig, I never attributed success to appearance, NEVER....My point is that appearance, just like in other industries, can make chess popular because it is full of attractive, intelligent, funny, etc people..and there is nothing wrong with that...

It's not feminist writing, it's research. You are wrong about women's tennis being dead in the early 90's, that's all. Steffi Graf and Monica Seles were playing epic battles to good ratings and making record amounts of money. Kournikova did little more than sell a lot of men's magazines and make other players wonder if they could get attention without putting on a bikini. Little girls in tennis might think they should spend more time on their hair and their tan than on their backhand, and where would that leave the sport?

How about some numbers? Wimbledon women's prize fund in 1976: $10,000. In 1990: $207,000. That's a twenty-fold increase. In 2004: $560,000, around 150%. I'll point out that similar rates were seen on the men's side. The conclusions? Steady promotion of the sport is what succeeds. Organization and excellence. Personality doesn't hurt, and there is no doubt that attractive people are easier to market. But not at the cost of compromising excellence. I've had talks about this with Kasparov's manager Owen Williams, who was a tennis pro (long, long ago!) and later an ATP founder and organizer before getting into sports management. Long before Kournikova there was Evert and the original teen dream Tracy Austin. Marketing their looks (or not) was a major issue, and it was generally decided that to do so would trivialize the women's game. It would mean not selling the sport, something that could only be fatal in the long run. What to do when your champion is someone like Navratilova who refuses to play the beauty queen?

Top male players wearing suits does not result in people ignoring their chess. Just about any comparison across genders is nonsensical. As I said above, when unattractive GMs don't receive invitations you can start making comparisons. It's not about attraction, it's about emphasis and the long-term success of a sport. As Sofi Polgar put it succinctly years ago: "Girls, play good chess!"



The link discusses Olympic regulations regarding women's beach volleyball...

Regarding the prize funds, there is a general rise in salaries across all pro sports since 1976 for both men and women. Excellence in sport? Not sure I would conclude that. I think it has more to do with charging more for everything, along the lines of charging what the market can bear. Ticket prices have also risen. So has concessions. So has the fee for a 30-second commercial. Parking. Jerseys and ballcaps. Pay TV. Inflation. Population. Worker salaries have also risen so they can afford to attend the same number of games but at a higher price. I concede there is also an increase in overall attendance but that is closely matched with the overall increase in the number of pro sport teams. As for excellence, perhaps there is also a rise in steriod use.

It is unclear to me if the rise in prize money or player incomes are due to organization and excellence, but at the same time I do not accept the idea that the rise in prize funds in tennis is due to sex appeal either. Maybe we simply don't have enough evidence to conclude anything.

Here are some links:


[ A decent paper by a prof but lacks numbers ]


[ Same prof discussing sex and advertising ]

[ A small study of 20 subjects on the effectiveness of sex in advertising ]


[ Discusses women's issues ]


[ Interesting discussion of sales, marketing, sex appeal in sport, and attendance ]


[ General perspective ]

It seems the notion that sex sells is widely accepted as gospel and the only consideration is it be done right. However I had difficulty in finding the definitive study. The link above with the 20 subjects does not impress. Still, since advertisers are continuing with the sex message, I will continue to believe sex sells. I concede that sometimes sex in advertising is harmful, but I never disputed that at all.

Most of the world does not even know that chess players are normal looking guys with suits. They think they are all dorky or insane guys playing for a few pence or the hustlers in the park. it maybe a little stretched to say that this will change the image of chess simply due to its scale, but if it got in the media enough who knows. Anyway, I also see nothing wrong in itself with the contest! We all know Judith Polgar is the best female chess player. To rate someones beauty among the subsets of chess players is like ranking someones beauty in the state of Indiana. Moreover, these girls are submitting their photos. To the women that don't like it, as well as the men, simply keep your photos off the page.

As another note I do think that something should be done to address Ms. Shahade's concern that women may be hurt by low ratings and rude remarks. Also I think something should be done about very rude remarks made to the very attractive girls as well. I have seen a couple of posts that are quite desperate and disgusting.

To add to Mig's recommended readings: I really like the author Michael Messner. He wrote Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports.

"Girls, play good Chess!" got it Sasha?
If all the Chess players men and women wear some decent clothes, it will certainly improves the image in the world. Sure, wearing a suit really looks professional, and because these top players wear, its giving a good image to the public. But when women wear Bikinis in tournaments, does this really give any positive image? Let the women wear decent clothes and play some good Chess!

That's a very good point about Oprah--the audience is different than for a beer commercial.

With regard to "sex sells," the point is clearly that it can sell some products to some people at some times, as you mention.

However, it's not very successful in selling products to a general audience which includes women. It's never successful selling children's items to parents.


It's also interesting that, as with Oprah, television when it is aimed at a general audience also isn't just about the "pretty people."

Angela Lansbury made MURDER SHE WROTE the #1 rated drama for over 10 years. Doris Richards (the mom) is much more important to the succcess of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND than Patricia Heaton (the wife). On CHEERS, Rhea Perlman (Carla) was arguably more important to the show than Kristie Alley (in her thin phase).


To sell some products to some men, use cheerleaders.

To sell most products to most women, use friendly women (think Diane Amos, the pine sol lady), romance images, children, flowers, or (cute) animals.

To sell to parents, use cute. Not sexy.

You can find a perfect example in magazines. Maxim (which almost always has a sexy woman on the cover) sells about 900,000 copies per issue.

Good Housekeeping and Family Circle, which hardly ever have a sexy woman on the cover (they're usually seasonal themes) sell over one million copies per issue. Each.

Different audiences, different approaches.


If our goal is to get more women to play chess, a single feature interview in Oprah with a young girl who plays would unquestionably bring in ten times as many girls to the sport as a year long internet "chess beauty contest." (For one thing, the readership of that magazine is over 2 million.)

If our goal is to bring more money into chess, it seems a lot easier to look at the family audience as the biggest target. And we should always remember that women are half the purchasing audience for most products.


p.s. By the way, thank you also for the Paula Abdul example. However, she didn't become famous while she was a cheerleader. She moved from there to being a choreographer for Janet Jackson. It was almost 10 years after she'd been a cheerleader that she had her first hit song.

So while she's a cheerleader who later became famous, I don't think she quite serves as an example of a cheerleader who gets an endorsement contract.



We agree that different types of advertising targets different types of audiences.

The original article by Jen Shahade discusses the women's perspective in relation to the WCBC. GM Kogan claims the WCBC promotes chess (in general), a claim I do not accept. However, it is obvious to me the WCBC interests chessplayers who are men, and, it also raises the profile of women chessplayers who voluntarily submitted photos. The question raised by the JS article is, does the WCBC really promote chess and is it harmful to the interests of chessplayers who are women. I tackled the latter by claiming:

1) There are bigger fish to fry (Hollywood, fashion industry, etc).

2) Ratings happen to the men also.

3) Hormones are partially to blame.

4) There is collateral damage in almost everything we do (counter point to claims that beauty obsession leads to anorexia etc).

5) The rating of women on looks will happen regardless of the existence of the WCBC.

6) Society pays beautiful people, both men and women, more (meaning society in general rates beauty).

7) Respect is earned (counter point to claims that rating on looks degrade women and can earn respect later, eg Paula Abdul, cheerleader to star).

8) Finally, on the advertising issue, sex is used to target men.

So to answer the question, does the WCBC harm women's issues? The answer is _arguably_ yes, but does it matter? The analogy I use is, there is a big forest fire and somebody throws a match into it. Does the match matter? Tackling the big fires, Hollywood, fashion industry, hormones, society's preference to pay beautiful people more, will do more good than trying to put out a lit match (the WCBC).

Duif wrote, regarding Paula Abdul:

[ So while she's a cheerleader who later became famous, I don't think she quite serves as an example of a cheerleader who gets an endorsement contract. ]

Would anyone notice Paula Abdul had she not get exposure as a cheerleader? Hard to say, but it is definite she got exposure, though whether that led to her success should be answered by those who gave her the big break as to how they got to know her.

Duif wrote:

[ If our goal is to bring more money into chess, it seems a lot easier to look at the family audience as the biggest target. And we should always remember that women are half the purchasing audience for most products. ]

I agree that we should target other audiences, famlies, women, etc. Right now, the focus seems to be promoting chess to the young, Scholastic chess eg.

The current target audience, the young, has two fundamental problems. One is that many leave the game after completing school. The other is youth gets its money from their parents, meaning disposable income is small for this group. It does make sense to promote the game to families rather than to youth alone.

However, one overlooked group with plenty of disposable income is retirees. They play chess for fun so prize money is not important and will purchase all sorts of chess products, even useless ones because they have the cash. We won't get any new GMs from this group but they could easily be the backbone to the chessworld.

Take a look at what retirees do in shopping malls. They buy junk. They need an excuse to get out and walk around the mall so they buy junk from there when they probably have already bought everything else. Better that they buy chess junk.

I like this idea and dont't really see it as an "or" thing but rather an "and" thing find that most current chessplayers started when they were young college or younger but few adults take up the game later in life eeven when they are actually jobless enough to take it seriously. I think they feel like they cannot do it like it is too complicated to just start playing. The chess community should work on this .

Yes, I agree, the retirees idea is a very good one!

I started chess last year at age 30 and ended up playing in the Vegas tourney on a whim. Now I am going to the HB Tournament. I guess any demographic is the right demographic if you know how to market to them.

Another interesting reaction from a guest on the WCBC forum:

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 6:03 pm Post subject: Hipocrasy


There seems to be a bit of hipocrasy going around here. Jennifer has clearly used her good looks (or at least the USCF has used them and I have to assume with her permission and perhaps with her being paid for the use) to promote herself and to make money. Kosteniuk had pictures up here that were posted that we pulled down, but surely not due to alruistic motives...she has her own website where he pictures can be found. Surely she just wanted to control access to her pictures, which is completely her right. But the idea that this site is flawed because certain peoples pictures do not appear here is not a fair arguement, since there can be all sorts of reasons for the pictures not being here.

Humans love to compare and rate things. The love lists. Look at the success of all of the shows that rate the top 10 this or that. The top 50 love songs, the top 20 red carpet gaffs, etc. We are also natural voyeurs, at least in the US the culture is that way. Look to the huge success of reality TV which has little to do with reality and is essentially a bunch of different chance to be voyuers watching people put into different crazy situations. This site is no better or worse.

It seems doubtful that the site will do much of anything to promote chess good or bad. Outside of the chess community who even knows it is here. But it is hard to see it having damaging social consequences either.

I ask you...when Jennifer and Irina got dolled up and did their little exhibition match in black and white wigs, was that immoral to be promoting chess by having two pretty girls dress up and play a match together? Did it garner any interest? How can you sit back and argue that the objectification of woman is a terrible thing and participate in an event like that at the same time?

All photographs are not created equal. Looking your best or looking interesting is not the same as putting your appearance ahead of everything else. We wouldn't want professionals of any sport to look like crap at an event. I rather doubt the poster cannot understand the difference between looking your best when you represent your sport and a beauty contest.

If a chess magazine includes photos of players or if a fan wants to put a poster of Vladimir Kramnik or Judit Polgar on their wall, great. Nothing wrong with having heroes. If a part of the chess community wants to put a row of women chessplayers up on the global wall and ask people to rate them, don't pretend these things are similar. Disagreeing with exploitation of appearance at the cost of appreciation of the sport does not mean you are in favor of burqas for all. It means maybe you should stop and think about the feelings you are creating in young girls who play chess or who might be interested in chess but who don't think their appearance should matter.

As for the white and black costumes, they were chess themed. White and black. Get it? Karpov and Pia Cramling dressed up as a king and queen for an exhibition event once and I don't think they were really thinking of selling their appearance over their chess. It was a fun game. The relevant term under discussion is "beauty contest." Answering that it is human nature to compare things is like saying we should judge authors on the size of their feet. If Jen and Irina had come out in their costumes, had the spectators vote on who was better looking, and then gone home without playing a game, you'd be closer to the mark.

OK, lets get one thing straight...guys will never achieve the same success based on looks that women have achieved. So to compare the "abs of some male GM" to the beauty of Irina Krush or Jen Shahade is ridiculous. I agree that many women might stop surfing their T.V. for a second if some good-looking guy catches their eye, but far more men will do that same. It is simply in our nature. Women are more disciplined, so of course you wouldn't do the same with good-looking male chessplayers.

I believe that the chess community must take one of two paths: either do what is right and present women as intellectuals before works-of-art, which would probably result in a lower T.V. audience (I can hear the screaming now), or accept the fact that viewers *emphasis on males* are going to stop on a channel featuring chess, maybe out of interest but will be more likely to stay there because a good-looking hostess is moderating.

I mean, look at CNN. Their ratings jumped when Rudi Bahktiar was hired as anchor, and fell during her leave of absence before going right back up when she returned.

It is not shameful to use a woman's beauty to get ahead; it is shameful to parade her around...like the world poker tour.

I.E. Rudi Bahktiar is an intellectual but she even admits that her looks have definitely furthered her career. However, she has never been paraded around.


This argument is not a question of whether or not men appreciate beautiful women, nor is it a question of whether or not this is wrong. Mig's comment about Jen and Irina showing up and posing without playing a game is to the point. Stop this argument that we are criticizing people for admiring women chessplayers, because nobody is doing this. We are arguing that chess is irrelevant in this model, that there is no difference here between promoting female chessplayers and female painters. Jen is an attractive woman. Certainly, she knows this and USCF knows this. Within the context of her presence in the tournament environment, I am sure that she is not upset that men find her attractive. Her contention is that this contest does not highlight what should be most important for female chessplayers, which is that they are, in fact, chessplayers. I am fairly certain that she would not like to be told that she can contribute just as much to the chess world as a cheerleader as she can as a champion.

If the WNBA tried to market itself based only on the attractiveness of a Sue Bird, for example, there would be a problem justifying how this action actually promotes the league instead of primarily promoting Sue Bird. Furthermore, I suspect that females in the league who are less glamorous might not feel that this promotional scheme does anything for them or their league. It is much more dramatic in chess, when we are not even talking about a women's league, but an international sport with members of both genders. We should not be aiming to marginalize women and then console ourselves with the justification that it is for the overall good of the sport, because, as others have also observed here, this contest does not even reach a mass audience outside of the chess world. Furthermore, this assertion that sex sells is overused and often misplaced, as there is strong evidence to support the position that sexuality introduced in certain areas actually REDUCES the desirability of a product.



Recent research in economics confirms what biologists have known for a long time, that humans are attracted to physical beauty. This is of course the origin of the term attractive. Several studies in econometrics have found that on average, good-looking people do better in the business world, and have higher lifetime incomes, although other factors are also involved.

Given this, there is no reason why chess players should not exploit the same opportunities available to people involved in other sports. Sportsmen and woman routinely do product endorsements. Further, many chess players are physically attractive -- Judith and Szusa Polgar, Jennifer Shahade, Elizabeth Vicary, etc.

My recommendation: players who are interested should do endorsements for computers and software -- not chess software, but widely-used business software. Chess players are perceived as intelligent. So they would lend credibility to products like AMD chips, Hewlett-Packard computers, and SAS software.

Further, as the current situation with respect to the US Championship indicates, asking for sponsorship without providing anything in return is an exercise in futility. If the goal is more money in the world of chess, then players will have to offer more of themselves to support the sponsors.

Most men like to see pretty women. Chess is commonly perceived to be a male-dominated game. If you put two and two together, such competitions are easily a way for more men to see more pretty women. The notion of popularizing the game, may not hold true as most chess players stared the game because they were fascinated by the game itself and not because of a stunning women. It will always be this way.

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