Mig 
Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Author, Author

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This week I'll be meeting up with Jennifer Shahade, the 2002 and 2004 US Women's champion, Black Belt and Dirt contributor, and the author of the new book "Chess Bitch: Women In The Ultimate Intellectual Sport." (Due out in September 05, book description below.) I'm finally going to start running occasional book and product reviews and this seems like a good place to start.

My requirements are simple: the item and access to the author. (Phone or email okay.) I'll tip the forthcoming item, you post some questions, then I'll post my comments with the author's answers. Various vendors keep offering me affiliation deals but I haven't decided whether or not to accept one or not. I get around 150,000 visitors and half a million page views per month (and 2,000,000 hits if you enjoy big, irrelevant numbers), and Alexa lists Ninja as getting more traffic than Chess Cafe, which is sad if true. I know from comparing Alexa's guesses (extrapolated from visits by people using the Alexa toolbar) to my own stats that theirs are weird, but relative traffic levels should be fairly accurate.

Anyway, linking to a place to purchase the items makes sense, although from some of the bizarre and offensive comments posted under the Polgar item, apparently making any money (even for charity) from chess is a sin. Please write my landlord about this chess world vow of poverty, will you?

Getting back to the topic, post your questions for Jen about her book. And suggest something/someone you'd like to see here next. (I'm going to do Susan Polgar's fine book just to spite you bastards.) If you are an author and want to see your life's work torn to shreds by anonymous strangers, let me know.

[Susan Polgar has weighed in with an insightful post on things brought up here and in the item on her simul.]

Publisher's description of "Chess Bitch"

In the game of chess, the strongest piece�the Queen�is often referred to as "bitch," and being female has been long considered a major disadvantage.

Chess Bitch, written by the 2004 U.S. Woman�s Chess Champion, is an eye-opening account of how today�s young female chess players are successfully knocking down the doors to this traditionally male game, infiltrating the male-owned sporting subculture of international chess, and giving the phrase "play like a girl" a whole new meaning.

Through interviews with and observation of the young globetrotting women chess players who challenge male domination, Chess Bitch shines a harsh light on the game�s gender bias. Shahade begins by profiling the lives of great women players from history, starting with Vera Menchik, who defeated male professionals with incredible frequency and became the first woman�s World Champion in 1927. She then investigates the women�s chess dynasties in Georgia and China. She interviews the famous Polgar sisters, who refused to play in separate women's tournaments. She details her own chess adventures�traveling to tournaments from Reykjavik to Istanbul. And Shahade introduces us to such lesser-known chess personalities as the flamboyant Zambian player Linda Nangwale and the transgendered Texan Angela Alston and the European female chess players who hop from one country to another, playing chess by day and partying long into the night. For those who think of chess as two people sitting quietly across a table, Shahade paints a colorful world that most chess fans never knew existed.

101 Comments

Well, the word "Bitch" is certainly guaranteed to boost sales.

This book sounds like a table thumping smash. I can't wait to read it. Lots of us crave more realistic "adult" chess books..even though the usual prudes are offended by the truth every time it slips through the cracks. Angela Alston is the Jayne County of chess..I've witnessed her in action down here in Texas and couldn't help but notice the silly raised eyebrows following her around the room. Thank you in advance Ms. Shahade.

I would like to ask about her views on "the bizarre and offensive comments posted under the Polgar item".

How much is chess envy and self destruction in general, and how much is gender related?

After reading the book I've found that so many of the personalities could easily get there own book. In fact some seem to have lead very cinematic lives. Do you have any plans to dedicate future works to the likes of say Sonja Graf? I could see a film on her happening.

I've never heard the queen referred to as "bitch." Do I live in a chess backwater?

>>> I've never heard the queen referred to as "bitch." Do I live in a chess backwater?

Nor have I. I suspect it was the suits in marketing that decided that.

I've enjoyed J. Shahade's writing in Chess Life, so I expect good things from this book. The title does put me off, however.

Mig, feel free to pay the rent by signing a deal. Who cares if there is advertising on this site? I suppose I'd appreciate if you would vet the products, but that is probably impractical.

I would not be surprised if Ninja gets more hits than Chess Cafe. I used to visit Chess Cafe, but frankly it just got dull. It is far more interesting to visit Chessbase and this place.

I have no problems with people making money from chess (if they can do it!), but I do think Susan Polgar goes overboard with the manner in which she self-promotes. I wince at some of her comments almost every time I read something of hers. I want her to succeed in promoting chess, and I am happy if she profits from it, but I don't like distortions.

>I've never heard the queen referred to as "bitch." Do I live in a chess backwater?

Maybe it's because you _don't_ live in a backwater?

Anyway, I've never heard anybody refer to the Queen as a bitch either.

I love Chess Cafe, but there's no community there, no banter, no give and take. I go there, read articles, and go away. It's like going to a lecture given by a famous PhD. It's more fun to be in the small study group run by a grad student.

Whenever I've read Shahade, I've always loved how opinionated she is. If I don't agree with her, so what? I've been entertained either way. I'd love to hear her honest take on any number of things, Susan Polgar for instance, so I have a feeling I'll love her book.

I was surprised by something Susan Polgar was quoted as saying in the book. I suppose its not earth shattering, but surprising, and almost comical.:)

I've heard all kinds of terms used for chess that aren't politically correct. Just recently I watched a master level player analyze his game. He noted how a certian move allowed him to "rape" his opponent. So calling the queen a bitch is not surprising.

I think bravehoptoad (would love to know the story behind that name) has hit upon the solution to who you could link up with Mig. Aren't the grad student study group and the PhD lecture both at the same overall site, a college or university. You provide what ChessCafe doesn't, they provide what you don't - seems like each would benefit. Besides it would save me some clicking. :)

My question:

Is the word "Bitch" a cheap attempt at getting the book some attention, or is there a valid reason for it?

~~~~~~~~~~~

If you can get some money (big IF) from the site, why would you have to consult any strangers? Frankly, this is bizarre stuff from a guy who just a paragraph late ignores the almost unanimous opinion of those same strangers that Polgar is way out of line when slef-promoting with a series of unnecessary exaggerations and misleading claims.

I have never heard anyone refer to the queen as a "bitch". I live in NY and played countless games against all sorts of players, from unrateds to GM's, kibitzed thousands more and not a single time was the queen called a "bitch".

My feeling is this is just a very crude attempt at drawing attention to a book that will probably sell no more than 500 copies (not an attack on the book or Miss Shahade herself; just a realistic estimate of what amount of interest this type of book by this caliber of author in this type of market can generate).

In any case, I wish Miss Shahade the best of luck with her book.

Never heard such reference to the Queen either. Must be shameless attempt at promotion of her product. Let's flog her! [Sarcasm]

I highly doubt the title is an attempt at drawing attention. I think its more of a summary of what the book is about. Jennifer feels a lot of people have a certian image of women in chess. Her book goes about enlightening people on the truths about women players. "Bitch" tends to be a catch all derogatory remark about assertive women. The book is about assertive women and the sterotypes surrounding them. So the title in my opinion is appropriate.

Now if she called the book Chess c**t, then I would agree with you.

I would like to ask Jennifer Shahade whether she has ever been asked to do something to promote chess which she declined as inappropriate (for whatever reason)?

Best wishes for the book...

Rather a stretch, Jerry. To me, the title seems like a purely marketing move. "One woman's journey in chessdom" would not sell nearly as many copies.

I have rarely heard of bitch being used to refer to the queen accept among highly juvenile circles. But that was something Mig said, not Ms. Shahade. The title I think refers to being viewed as something of a second class citizen in the chess world.

I also live in New York and have played countless blitz and tournament games. I have heard the term "bitch" used to refer to the queen, albeit rarely. I've even heard it used by female chessplayers.

However, the book is not "Birth of the Chess Queen". "Bitch" perhaps refers more to male attitudes toward female chessplayers as well as female chessplayers' self-image. "Bitch" can have many connotations and can be used as a term of female self-empowerment. e.g.

1) The Meredith Brooks pop song "Bitch" http://www.meredithbrooks.com/sites/mbrooks/music.php

2)Bitch Magazine (Feminist Response to Pop Culture)
http://www.bitchmagazine.com

As a marketing ploy it may be shrewd (catchy title) or not (Mommy won't buy it for her 12 year old daughter)

I was actually a bit shocked when I first heard the provocative title. Maybe that is the intent. I wonder how they will handle the marketing of the book. As mentioned by Mr. Eisen, how do you get parents comfortable enough to buy it for a 12-year old? If you have to do a lot of explaining of the title, then it is probably not a good thing... in a technical sense. However, irony has met success in marketing many a time.

At a time when rap music is attacked for inappropriate references to women (the "B" word), it may cause enough furor to attract attention. If Jennifer's book is about success stories, then is she implying that it is acceptable to address women by that term? I haven't read the book, but she probably addresses that.

GM Maurice Ashley's book, "Chess for Success," is scheduled for publication on August 9. I'd be interested in reading a review and some reader comments. I am not sure how to reach Ashley, but I suppose he has e-mail or a website somewhere out there.

This is like the 8th time this book has been promoted here. Getting kind of lame.

The book will be interesting. Also I have a question is Ashley's book a game collection or one of those books about how playing chess helps you succeed in life?

Peace...

Jen has explained, in interviews and other such forms of media usage, the significance of her title. She addresses the role of women in chess in specific and in society in general and how women who aim to advance in male-dominated areas are often met with this reference from male peers. I'll try to find the places where she speaks of this, but if I can't, then I am sure that she is perfectly willing to qualify her title. As an aside, it is true that mommy might not buy it for her 12-year-old willingly, but it is also true that many 12-year-olds I know throw this word and worse about daily, so let's not pretend that Jen is running the danger of introducing people to some alternate linguistic universe. She stated that she hopes for her book to be read by high school-aged girls, anyway, and let's not be naive enough to pretend that they have never heard this word. Great title, Jen.

Hotep,

Maliq

I think the title is offensive and a sad testimony to the decay of U.S. society. It's interesting to observe in reading the other comments that while some cleary found the title to be an afront, they were too afraid at others being offended by their taking offense to say so directly. Isn't it nice how liberals have effectively "neutered" decency to the point of making people feel bad about speaking out against this sort of thing?

Peace...

Look, prude, your standard of "decency" is not universal, nor should it be. The title is not a testament to the decline of U.S. society; rather, it is a testament to a society opening up to the actuality that there is more than one way to feel about something, and that many interpretations are possible without one deserving more merit than another. Take your conservative BS elsewhere; this is not a campaign forum for self-righteous right-wingers.

Hotep,

Maliq

Thank you for making my point Maliq.

Well said Maliq. It's amazing how much a prude can read into comments by folks they've never met. We're judged indecent simply by our reaction to one word from a book title? If the title is harsh and a bit "adult" it will be less likely to get into the hands of kids whose parents would rather they stick to "the Smurfs play chess" or "Barney learns the Kings Indian".

Drudge: Hmm, 8th time the book has been "promoted" here? That sounded rather high, but lucky us, there is a search feature. It's the second time I have mentioned it at all, the first time being in passing in March when it wasn't discussed.

Ah yes, those darned liberals must be responsible for these dangerous, dangerous words. Blaming is usually easier than thinking. Maybe others just find it more interesting to discuss than to shout they are offended by the bad, bad, word and run away.

As for L. Bacan and the "nearly unanimous opinion" [sic] that Polgar is horrible and that it's a "big if" about making money from this site, perhaps you should give talking about something you know about a try. That a few jerks enjoy attacking Susan for the crime of not being as quiet as they would like her to be is wholly irrelevant to me. The only agreement has been that exaggerating a few claims isn't good. That this is a crime against humanity or that it in any way casts her prolific cast of activities into a negative light is a joke.

As for this site, it has been profitable since the first week of operation in December, 2002. I have always run this as a sort of open source project, openly discussing various aspects of running the site, the newsletters, the blog, and the message boards.

Lastly, what does "caliber of author" mean? Jen's a fine writer, which you would know if you had ever read anything by her. Amazing how much misinformation and hate you managed to fit into such as short post.

sad - i'm sure you remember cheney's recommendation to senator leahy ....or bush's opinion on adam clyman ... or what he likes to talk to his old man about when they're bonding ...how about o'reilly and his loofah... pretty salty left wing stuff.

I was gently startled by the title momentarily. And quickly began wondering in what context it would pertain. Love Jen's free thinking commanding presence on chess fm... and fully expect that the title is not gratuitous.

I would think the title refers to Elizabeth Wurtzels book "Bitch : In Praise of Difficult Women" (ask Jen about this), and if i guess right here, the title seems very fitting.

Mig wrote:
"Amazing how much misinformation and hate you managed to fit into such as short post."

Hmmmm... is this personnal attack? Have'nt you wrote that you were deleting personnal attacks? lol ;-)

Mig:

Please, have some decency and don't distort my post in order to justify you shady journalism.

I never said Polgar is horrible. I said that it is the almost unanimous opinion of those posting here that her practice of exaggerating he accomplishments when promoting herself is not in good taste or even necessary. It is pretty obvious that the problem I, and most other porsters have, is NOT with Polgar's self-promotion; it is with the way she goes about it.

Please, show some integrity in not personally aatacking people who present an alternative view. You have manged to lie, attack others, call others "bastards", etc. Please, show some decency. You're beginning to show some sort of desperation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I speak about Jennifer Shahade's "caliber" as an author, I'm simply referring to the fact that her name carries no weight when associated with a book. The facts are that she is not particularly accomplished as a chess player, she has never written any books and there's no guarantee that this book is going to be anything special form any perspective (as a well-written book or a source of exceptional analysis or from a historical perspective).

Is Miss Shahade a bad writer? I don't know.
Is she a good writer? I don't know. And nobody knows, because she has never published a book.

The honest question is: why should anyone treat this book any different that the thousands of promptly-forgotten chess books published every year?

Am I saying the book sucks? Not at all, because I don't know. It might be great; it might be very bad, or something in between.


It is also a fact that books written by 2300/2400 players don't sell much. As simple as that. It's not an attack on Mrs. Shahade; it just the truth.

I'm not questioning whether the term is mainstream and used by pre-teens... it is. I suppose my point is whether the term "Chess Bitch" is being used in a positive light. It certainly is used for shock value... all the time. As I said, there is enough irony in the title to draw attention, but it will be VERY interesting to see what impact it will have on sales.

If it is positive, then are we saying that it is now acceptable to use when referring to chess women? One thing is for sure, Jennifer (and the publisher) has a LOT of courage. If I wrote a book titled, "Chess Niggas," I would expect to be run out of the chess community by players of African descent (literally). I don't believe Jennifer's book will get quite the same reaction, but it certainly has resulted in an interesting discussion... and she's reading.

Wow, I have long been a fan of MIG, but to have him call many of us 'jerks' because we dare to say something against Polgar is repulsive. I think what I wrote above was appropriate and not worthy in any way of being called a jerk.

That's exactly my feeling, Knight Tour.

I think Mig is setting a very bad precedent by calling people "bastards" and "jerks" because we don't agree with Susan Polgar exaggerating her accomplishments. Even if we were wrong (not the case, though), I think he could offer some argument to refute or position, without having to engage into personal attacks of the lowest level.

I'm pretty sure that if anyone called Mig a bastard or jerk in this blog, the post would be deleted on the spot.

I believe there is a lack of clear sense of direction in the chess community regarding which way to go: for example, Polgar, Jennifer and Mig seem to be driven by the same passion to promote chess to a wider audience and to make it a more profitable operation. With Kasparov gone, this goal seems unrealistic. On the other hand, they also need the support of the chess community at large, which does not understand at all their efforts to expand chess in this particular way. This tension also explains the curtain of silence surrounding Kramnik's decline or that of other promising players: all of a sudden we were left without Kasparov, a brilliant leader whose presence would allow us to view all of these ups-and-downs as natural. It will take some effort getting used to the fact that we are some sort of weird cult in the eyes of the world, something we forgot a long time ago.

Well said Mr.Bacan. Blogmeister's behaviour is well known.

To the topic:
Its a false statement. In NY chess circles, I have never heard anyone referring Queen like this. Even 'play like a girl' I never heard this anywhere. Anyways, it is a cheap try by the publishers and the author to get some attention.

Well said Mr.Bacan. Blogmeister's behaviour is well known. Somedays great! and its not same on a day like this.

To the topic:
Its a false statement. In NY chess circles, I have never heard anyone referring Queen like this. Even 'play like a girl' I never heard this anywhere. Anyways, it is a cheap try by the publishers and the author to get some attention.

What's the big deal about the word "bitch"? You'd think we were all in third grade.

So what if it's provocative? It's no crime being provocative.

Yes it is, if you are referring to woman chess players. When, where and why, a chess queen became a chess bitch? Compared to this kind of chess promotion, Susan Polgar's chess promotion is far better.

What's wrong with all of you? It's hardly as if the book is called 'Chess c**t' is it?

Morgan wrote:

>>>>
What's wrong with all of you? It's hardly as if the book is called 'Chess c**t' is it?>>>

There's nothing wrong with anyone her, including you, Morgan.

The simple answer to your question is that people draw a line when determining how far you go in using adjectives. For example: some draw the line at "Chessplayer", others at "Bitch" (like you), others at "c**t" and yet others at something much worse.

As you can see, TO YOU "bitch" is perfectly natural and acceptable, but "c**t" isn't; to others, "chessplayer" is perfectly natural and acceptable, but "bitch" isn't.

I, personally, would have a very hard time finding legitimate reasons to consider Mrs. Shahade a "bitch". My guess is that the publisher is in the same situation, thus the lame explanation for using the term (according to the publisher, in chess circles the queen is often referred to as a "bitch", but we chessplayers know a bit better).

To me, it's pretty clear this is just a cheap, classless and not-well-thought-out attempt at drawing some attention to what might (or might not) be and otherwise fine book by a young writer making her first inroads into the chess-publishing jungle.

Time will tell how good or bad the idea is.

Peace...

Ryan, your post is quite presumptuous. Learn to limit your statements to what you know as fact rather than trying to make blanket statements about things which you cannot POSSIBLY establish as fact. You are not an authority on NYC chess culture, and reality within this culture does not limit itself to the scope of your personal experiences. The term has, in fact, been used on the New York City chess scene. I have been a player on this scene since I was a scholastic player in junior high school, and we used this term in our chess club; we didn't invent it, but, like everything else we did as chessplayers, simply imitated the mannerisms and lingo of those who represented what we thought were the average chessplayers. The "play like a girl" thing is also not a far reach, as I just returned from teaching a chess camp just outside of Philadelphia in which one of the kids in my group insisted that he wanted the class team match to be broken up into boys vs. girls because "boys are better than girls." My group was ages 5 and 6.

Hotep,

Maliq

Maliq:


Peace...

I have heard the word "nigger" used in Washington Square Park to refer to some black-skinned player.

That does not, in fact, mean that GM Ashley's book should be titled: "The Nigger As A GM". Some things are appropriate. Others aren't.

Just because a certain gettho part of the city refers to a woman as a "ho" and a black man as a "nigger", it doesn't mean that everyone is also using those terms. I find that completely offensive, as a person of mixed blood (yes, I'm very proud to have some black in me).

That said, I have never heard the term "bitch" used in that context in over 20 years of playing in NY. Maybe it has been used by a few in a few occassions, but that's very far from what the publisher would have people believe:

>>>
In the game of chess, the strongest piecethe Queenis often referred to as "bitch," and being female has been long considered a major disadvantage. >>

See the word "OFTEN"?

I don't think anyone can establish beyond any doubt that the word has or has not ever been used. That's not the point in this discussion. What can be easily established is that the word "bitch" is NOT often used to refer to the queen in the game of chess, in NY or any other city that we know of.

Maliq:
So far, you are the only one here, who has used or heard of it. Good, if your chess club used it. I wonder if it had even increased the women membership. The main point is not if some one or a chess club has ever used the word. Read the Publisher's note. Its says, 'chess bitch' is OFTEN used in chess circles. Just because the Publisher and you have used the word, does not make the whole chess world using it.

"Dirty" Jim McCormick always called his queen "The Bitch". He was a chess master from San Fransico. lol

Peace...

The point, Ryan, is that you argue for extremes, whereas I have never made such a claim. Indeed, the claim of "often" may be quite misplaced, to say the least. However, your "never" is also clearly misplaced, inasmuch as you only are able to cite your personal experience as evidence of this term never being used. Incidentally, regarding my junior high school chess team, the girls used the term, too. At no point have I spoken to the benefit nor detriment of such action, but I can cite examples that confirm that your claim is anything but accurate.

Hotep,

Maliq

All right Ryan, if the title _Chess Bitch_ is a crime, then what law is it breaking? What's the sentence? Why aren't she and her publisher being indited?

L Bacan says "...people draw a line when determining how far you go in using adjectives." What exactly is a "line"? Are we still talking matters of legality? If it's not illegal, then what exactly is this "line"?

If you're trying to use law to keep people from being offended, then you're doomed to disappointment. No government in history has been able to keep people from being offended.

Furthermore, what's wrong with being offended? It's an inevitable part of life.

I'm sure glad you guys are writing on this blog and not on the message boards. The moderators would be deleting your posts constantly.

First of all, let me just say I am female. And in my opinion Susan Polgar and Jennifer Shahade are both the type of role models who are appropriate for young girls.

Both Susan and Jennifer have done well - better than any of you writing here - in promoting chess. This is a difficult task, but a worthy one. They are doing whatever they can to make chess more popular, especially among young girls. And, it's working. I have seen it - I have heard it from young girls, especially about Susan. They idolize her, which is what we want.

Don't belittle either of these women. They are both very talented - in chess, in writing and in promotion of the game.

Any of you with a decent ethical mind will know that we should be praising these women and trying to support them. (On the other hand, a male chauvinist pig, a term I hear all the time - will just go on knocking them because he is jealous that they are so far superior to him)

Inky,
While I feel your heart is in the right place, I think some of your comments are inappropriate. First, it is not fair to classify anyone who says anything negative about a female as a chauvinist pig. Many of us would be arguing just as vehemently about a male GM using a classless word in the title of a book! My feelings on the subject are independent of the sex of the writer, and I DO think it is appropriate to discuss whether using such a title is beneficial or not.

Second, your comment about Polgar and Shahade's writing ("better than any of you writing here") is also not fair. Of course these two can do better promoting chess than any of us, simply because they are well known! They are not necessarily better writers than all of us. Some of us make our livings through writing, and are not so bad at it!

Where I come from, "bitch" is the only term for the most powerful piece on the board. The occasional unknown who uses the word "queen" is immediately marked as a weak player.

Peace...

Ah, so knight tour has brought up the issue of "classless" language. Here, we run into the necessary challenge of establishing what is "classy" and what is "classless". The problem with the latter term is that there really is no such thing as "classless"; more appropriate is often an interpretation of an action that is regarded to be so beneath the elite class as to be almost valued as absolutely nothing by them, thus our "classless" term. A parallel example might be "Bf3 in this position is not chess," which is a term many have both heard and used quite often (various moves substituted for the example Bf3), when, in fact, such a move clearly IS a chess move, except that it might occur in such a position that top players would consider it a "non-move" of sorts. Whose class, then, are we aiming to appeal to with the title of this book? Certainly, it is NOT the class of those perceived to be oppressive to women who enter this competitive arena. Could it be just that class of "non-existent" individuals that Jen is appealing to? It should seem that terms such as the one used to describe the title of this book are not universal enough to be of much value, for what one person considers to be classless is considered to be quite on-target by many others. More to the point would be classifications such as "appropriate" or "inappropriate". These do not attempt to impose moral standards beyond those already recognized by society at large and instead focus on the effectiveness of the title in getting people within the target audience to open the first page and the ability of the title to represent what will be found on those subsequent pages.

Hotep,

Maliq

Arguing the extremes rarely leads anywhere. Choice of vocabulary to frame the debate is critical.

Calling the title "Chess Bitch" "offensive" is simply a way of saying it's offensive to you, and is therefore meaningless as anything more than one vote in a vast opinion poll.

"Appropriate" is a slightly better try, but still falls short. Appropriate for what, and to whom? It's not a shovel, designated for a single task. The title of a book has many purposes and the publisher and author decided that this was the best one for their purposes.

As was discussed in our interview, Jen felt the title 1) described the content of the book, in both attitude (confrontational) and the aggressive, assertive women within. And 2) it put her in the right frame of mind to write in such away about such women. She had to live up to that title, in a way. And 3) of course it's catchy as all hell and a good attention getter, just what you want in any title.

Of course we can debate the reasoning of any of those statements in a theoretical sense, but that's where the title came from and it's far from invalid on any count.

I think it's obvious to just about everyone that there is little or no tradition of using the term "bitch" to refer to the queen. That the publisher's blurb (not written by Jen) felt necessary to say that smacks of chickening out a little after deciding to use the title in the first place. Not a big deal.

On the other hand, there is a tiny chance that Casella is telling the truth, and Jeremy Silman (the publisher) is another Southern Californian. But for now I'm assuming that the "it's a name for the queen" bit was a cop-out, even if it's true somewhere. Which is a shame, because it trivializes an interesting title while the real reasons (well, 1 and 2) above are quite relevant and interesting.

I don't loosely toss around terms like chauvinist, and haven't yet. But I don't think it's a coincidence that Jen and Susan have come in as such hot topics around here, and have suffered preposteriously inordinate criticism for trivial perceived offenses. Chessplayers of all level are rating obsessed and there is a sense of resentment that players like them and Kosteniuk have received attention beyond their ratings.

That they have done a lot of hard work to garner that attention is actually criticized, because it's not the "pure" way of doing it by becoming a 2700 or whatever. Gender enters into it overtly (Kosteniuk) and otherwise when people resent attention garnered due to gender. Even male GMs like Yermo have been hassled by such people, his criticisms called jealousy, blah blah.

There are thousands of people out there doing a huge amount of good for chess without being world-class players. Sponsors like Erik Anderson, writers like Leonard Barden, the organizers, arbiters, editors, etc.

And if it's not that, what? No way does a little resume simplification and self-promotion deserve this sort of anger. I don't for a moment doubt that gender is a part of it for many people, consciously or not.

Mig wrote:

>>>>

I think it's obvious to just about everyone that there is little or no tradition of using the term "bitch" to refer to the queen. That the publisher's blurb (not written by Jen) felt necessary to say that smacks of chickening out a little after deciding to use the title in the first place. Not a big deal.

On the other hand, there is a tiny chance that Casella is telling the truth, and Jeremy Silman (the publisher) is another Southern Californian. But for now I'm assuming that the "it's a name for the queen" bit was a cop-out, even if it's true somewhere.

>>>>

This is a fair assessment of the facts as we know them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for the criticism of Polgar, careful reading of the posts will reveal that the majority of posts are supportive of her as a player (at least I know mine are) and very few (perhaps 3 or 4 out of 50) attack her persona. Most of the criticsm is directed at the way she foolishly pads her resume. I use the word "foolishly" because she doesn't need to. Her accomp-lishments are very real and very worthy of praise. Only a moron would deny the fact that she has achieved a lot in her chess career. That's why all the exaggerations and misleading claims are so hard to swallow. It has nothing to do with gender; if Kasparov ever claims to be a "7-time World Champion" he will suffer the same amount of criticism.

I agree with L Bacan, I think most of us are very supportive of women's chess and hope that it will truly take off some day. I know I am not chauvinistic nor a jerk, which is why I took such exception to MIG and Inky using such phrases. I absolutely believe that the vast majority of people in the world still find the use of the word in Jen's title to be highly offensive. This does not mean we are all prudish, but rather that we know this term is basically used in a derogatory context, and thus we don't like it. It gets used more and more often on television and in the movies, but this does not mean that we should all just give in and decide that it is ok now. I would have this same opinion for the title of any book written by any sex of player, and I resent being told otherwise.

I think that the vast majority of players admire those who, like Jen and Susan Polgar, who are fighting to advance women's chess (and thus chess altogether), but I think that many young women in chess look at these ladies almost as heroes. They may not ask for this hero status, but it is there, and that is why it is disappointing to me to see this title used. So many young women will want to read this book, and using such a term in the title is flat wrong...in my opinion.

It's natural that women would attract far more attention than their ratings "merit." Women at the top of a male-dominated sport tend to attract attention. It is human nature to pay attention to the unusual, and it is human nature to pay attention to members of the opposite sex. Those two factors alone would serve to bring Polgar to the forefront of our attention, far more than any other 2550 ever could.

Having said that, I have a lot more respect for Polgar's youngest sister. Not only is she a much better player, but she is unfailingly modest and pleasant. I have never heard her exaggerate her own achievements at all.

I don't think many of the posts are slamming Polgar. I am no fan of hers, but I respect her accomplishments. Mig, I think you are getting a little too offended here. You are making arguments against something that hasn't really been said. No one is bothered by her promoting chess and making a buck. It's not sexism or xenophobia, it's common sense as far as I'm concerned. I don't care if a chessplayer is male, female, monkey or chicken. I just think "women's chess" is full of hypocrisy.

I know Jen and like her, and I think she has no illusions. She is a 23xx player who gets a lot of attention and she takes advantage of it (and I don't mean that in a bad way). The title of her book doesn't mean a thing to me. Someone like Krush takes a different route. She is serious about chess and keeps playing strong opposition. I don't know her but have all the respect in the world for her.

Kosteniuk is a joke. I can't believe Casella lost to her like a bitch. As far as I know, she never earned the GM title. But she got it (my understanding is she was awarded the title for winning the European Women's Championship, which is an automatic norm, not title). Look at chessville.com, where she has annotated games because there are pictures of her dancing on the beach. What a joke. If you want to look at girls on the internet there are better sites than chessville!

And Judit? Well, she is simply great. When you look at her play, are you really thinking about the fact that she is female? She doesn't trumpet up her gender or fudge her accomplishments. She lets her chess do the talking, and rather successfully....

First, go back and read the thread on Polgar's simul if you want to know what I'm offended by. People were quite vicious. I don't mean everyone, obviously. But I don't excuse the language used about a friend who means nothing but the best.

Dave, your charge of hypocrisy is my point. I'm not a fan of "women's chess" at all, but this discussion has little to do with that. I don't approve of Kosteniuk's methods, but why is she a joke or a hypocrite? If there is an audience and someone finds it, that's not being hypocritical. Maybe the fans who enable her are idiots, but that's as far as I'll go.

As for Judit, she gets far more attention than her chess deserves, as great as it is, and always has. This is entirely normal. She doesn't go out of her way to exploit it and it has become less relevant with her years at the top. But simply as a minority she will always receive disproportionate attention. She will be interviewed more in San Luis than all the other participants combined, perhaps barring the Indian and Russian press.

And if you can make it to the top ten, great for you. You can just play chess and make a good living. That doesn't mean you should shut up and starve if you don't. If a 2300 (or 2500 or a 2600) can make a living as a writer, or as a coach, or organizing events or whatever, that is fine, too. Those routes require more self-promotion, of course.

Chess is a sport and some will be more successful than others. I don't see writing a book as a sell-out. You sum it up nicely. You have respect for Krush and Judit because they shut up enough to fit your standards of propriety and "just play." Others are "taking advantage of attention" and are clearly less-than in your eyes. I believe this is a common view. Many want chess players to be what they want them to be. If you can't "just play chess" to a world-class level you should go away and not distract from those who do, it seems. But if a 2500 male chessplayer got extra attention for also being a professional soccer player or a model, I strongly doubt it would draw criticism.

I don't entirely disagree with the "just play" mentality in that I would also love to see top players get more attention. I don't like to see someone giving an exibition get more attention than the winner of the tournament. But other sports have this too. Your Dennis Rodmans, your slam-dunk champions, your .250 hitters who go on to fame as broadcasters. These side-shows help the sport, they don't hurt it.

At least i don't mind these women chess players doing whatever they do, but what i do find annoying is when they merely use their status for buffing up their egos.
Writing a book or modelling has nothing to do with that yet, but taking every opportunity to exaggerate your accomplishments and smile to the camera and wh*re yourself is a completely different thing.
But i would like to raise a point of criticism. i've heard Shahade talking on chess.fm and to me she sounded like a high school girl, not being able to comment very well on the games and i do wonder what does she have to write about. She didn't seem too talented at using words, and since writing a book isn't easy, it makes me wonder if she wrote this book herself. Also i remember her criticising strongly on the women chess players beauty competition which made her look not just a little annoying..
But hey, that's just me.

I am not saying any 2300/2500/2600 "should shut up and starve" A ten year old at the mall in Florida won't be bothered by Polgar's resume semi-BS, but many in the chess world are a bit put off by it. She could get the same attention just by listing her accomplishments. As soon as Judit took a little time off to have a kid, Susan was quick to call herself the #1 female player. and 6 time world champion? Women's Blitz 1992 counts, you know. Come on. For many this is totally unnecessary fluff that makes her seem less credible.

As far as Kosteniuk on the beach...to me if you want "equality" and respect in any field, you earn it in that field. I call her a joke because she promotes herself as this great player, when she is really just a mediocre player that dances on a beach. Yes, there are probably fools who go to her website to drool over her. It's like a stripper- who is exploited, the woman or the men who throw money at her? But this stripper is not in the strip club...

Judit may get extra attention, but she is a real player too. I didn't say Jen was "less-than" in my eyes, which you imply. She is just lower rated than "just play" Irina.

And I don't think anyone has to "go away"...

Peace...

Sacateca, your post is bogus. Jen sounds like a high school girl?! She was educated at Masterman High School, one of the elite public high schools in the country, and received her degree from New York University, not exactly of low-tier status. In addition to this, Jen has written many things and has proven herself quite competent with regard to use of the english language. Your "did she write the book herself?" implication is absolute foolishness, as there is no reason to believe otherwise except your obvious bias against Jen. Finally, she was quite right to criticize the BS beauty competition, which hasn't done sh** to promote chess, as was easily predictable. The contest was one of the dumbest ideas ever and was exponentially more pretentious with regard to promoting chess than any other gimmick I have ever seen or heard about.

Hotep,

Maliq

Peace...

Fluffy, if you look at the rating list, Susan was, in fact, the top woman player in the world while Judit was away. There was nothing bogus about this claim. As regards Kosteniuk, why should she have to choose between being a chessplayer and being everything else that she chooses to be? She is a chessplayer, and she is a model. She does not need to choose which one is more important. Kosteniuk takes on a role as an ambassador of chess, and this is permissible, because she was at the highest possible point that a non-World Champion can be with regard to women's standings. She has earned her respect in the field of chess, and she has earned her respect in other areas, as well. She has a right to live her life, to have people searching websites for her photos, etc. and still gain success in various events (which she indisputably has done). Nobody complains when Derek Jeter takes advantage of his celebrity status to forward his modeling career, yet we complain about Kosteniuk doing it. If she is a "joke", then what of Derek? Fluffy, here, find your double standard or concede that your point is without merit.

Hotep,

Maliq

Maliq

I never said Polgar's claim was bogus. I claim that some things are misleading, and obviously many agree. I never said she hs not had great achievments. I never said she can't promote herslef or make a buck.

I will call Derek a joke if I open Sports Illustrated and he is sitting there in his underwear. Of course I may call him a joke anyway because I am a Red Sox fan.

I'll respect someone like Michelle Wie or Danica whatever because they are competitors. But if Wie shows up on the cover of a golf magazine in a bikini, I'll call her a joke too. Kosteniuk has a right to live her life, sure. I never said she didn't. But I have a right to think she's whoring herself out too, don't I?

Maliq made this comment- "Sacateca, your post is bogus. Jen sounds like a high school girl?! She was educated at Masterman High School, one of the elite public high schools in the country, and received her degree from New York University, not exactly of low-tier status."

This is very bad logic and therefore a poor attack on Sacateca. Many people have gone to 'elite' schools and still can't put two English words together properly- just look at the leader of our country!

More relevantly, live commentary has nothing to do with writing whatsoever. Two entirely different skills sets, especially since this isn't even a chess book (i.e. no analysis). Live work is nerve-wracking and it takes a lot of practice to not sounds like a twit.

Presumably Jen Shahahade made it to NYU on her own merits, not as a legacy scion. Although Maliq did make the gaffe of referring to the relationship between two constants (rather than a curve) as exponential.

Masterman is hardly a country club type private school..my son went to school there. You qualify based on tests and your potential in a chosen field (no, chess skill is not considered). Plenty of siblings of Masterman students attend neighborhood public schools. If JS is a Masterman alumni she had to earn her way in and work her butt off.

Peace...

Well, fluffy, we all have our faults. :-) (Go, Bronx Bombers!!!) Now, this concept of "whoring" simply MUST be found not only to be a double standard, but to be a flawed standard even if treatment of both genders was uniform. There is this idea, now prevalent throughout many societies, that sexuality is a negative thing, something to be more ashamed of than proud of, and that anything highlighting an individual as a sexual entity MUST be looked down upon. I disagree with this tendency, as I can find no reason for this mentality beyond keeping with precedent and what was learned as a child. There is nothing wrong with being both at the top of one's profession AND a sexual entity. (Jeter DOES have four rings, does he not, fluffy?)

On a closing note, to macuga, it is perfectly reasonable to use the term "exponential" for my purposes. For example, I would say that, on a scale of 1-10, with (1) being minimal damage and (10) being major damage, Jen's use of the term "bitch" as part of her book's title might score a 3 because it does run the risk of confusing people who take the title out of contest, while the "beauty contest" gets a value of 9 for the way it completely dismisses chess itself and instead turns the elo system into just another tool for marginalizing women and reducing them to only sex objects. This is easily expressed in exponent form, 3 to the second power.

Hotep,

Maliq

Actually, exponential equations tend to refer to ones of the form a^x, rather than say x^2, which is a quadratic eqaution. And while technically any two scalars are exponents of each other, they are only uninterestingly so. The usual usage of 'exponential' among mathematicians refers to curves and equations.

I should have said 'positive scalars', of course.

Hi everyone!

First of all, congratulations Mig for running a wonderful website! It is nice to see many enthusiastic chess players debating various chess issues. Secondly, thank you for bringing up many interesting topics for chess players.

Now, I would like to respond just once to many of the issues discussed here:

1. Would Chess Bitch be my #1 choice as a title? No. Do I think Jen and Jeremy have the right to use that title? Of course! That is their right and I hope the book will sell very well. Jen is a very imaginative writer and I hope she will write a lot more. Good luck Jen! I am very proud of you.

2. My accomplishments: Until 2001, I could not care less about promoting any of it. Why? Because I was not out there promoting chess on a daily basis. I was busy being a Mom or chess player. When I was very active in chess, a multimillion dollar offer was made by a very generous chess supporter to do a Hollywood big budget movie about my life and my sisters similar to In Search for Bobby Fischer. My sisters and I turned it down. Why? Because our job was to get better to be the best in the world. We did not care about marketing or promotion. Everything else was a distraction. None of us was into chess marketing as Kosteniuk when we were at the same age. Maybe we should but that is debatable.

However, I am at a different time of my career now. I no longer compete regularly and I don't think I have anything left to prove. I think I have the right to be proud of the accomplishments of my sisters and me. I am also especially proud of what my sister Judit has done. She is a Chess Mom now and she is still as determined as ever.

2. My resume. As far as know, there is no item in there that is incorrect. Yes, I did win the World Blitz and World Rapid Championship in 1992. I also specify the type of World Championships on my website:

http://susanpolgar.com/polgarchess/achievements_polgar.pdf

These were two official FIDE World Championships. Just about every top women player took part in these two events including my sisters Judit (who came in 2nd in one and either 3rd or 4th in the other on tie-breaks), Sofia and Chiburdanidze, etc. Judit was the #1 seed in both of these World Championships. Some people may or may not care for these World Championships. That is up to them. I am equally as proud of them as any other title in my career because I competed against the best in my field and I came out clear first in both when I was not even the favorite to win. Many players proved themselves in Blitz, Rapid or Classical Time Control. They can claim that they are good or great in these time controls. But to go out and prove it is always the hard part. Therefore, it is as important to me as my 1996 World Classical Championship title.

3. How to phrase things in the bio. Well, I don't know what is proper and what is not. Do I say "4-time Women's World Champion" or do I say "won 4 Women's World Championships". Perhaps I should say "winner of the World Classical, Rapid, Blitz and Girl's Championships"?

I checked with various people in the business of publishing and what stated was what that was recommended to me. They told me to make it short and general in the heading and clarify it in the actual bio. They said not to make the heading too long and not to include too many details. I followed their advice. Random House, Macmillan and Everyman Chess all chose to write it the same way. Again, people may like or dislike how it is worded. That is their right.

4. Incorrect bio. To my knowledge, everything stated in my bio is 100% correct. I could go on and list a lot more but these items are the most important for the mainstream media. Again, one may word them differently. But what is my role today? My role and my #1 mission is to promote chess in America, especially for younger girls who tend to quit chess at around 3rd and 4th grade. The USCF tried for years and they could not stop this trend. Now we all know that the mainstream media usually do not cover chess. That is why I have to come up with interesting events to get their attention to cover chess.

5. Self-promoting / marketing. If I want to promote chess to the mainstream folks, what am I supposed to do, not talk about myself? Or should I not answer their questions about my accomplishments when I am asked? You may know what I have accomplished. They don't.

For example, I physically trained for many months for the Guinness World Records event. None of us knew if it was even possible to break the record because to get more than 321 people from open registration to sit for 16-24 hours is quite a feat in itself. I did it to get the attention from the mainstream media for chess. It worked because all the TV networks, AP, print media, radio, etc. were all there.

People also assumed that I made tons of money out of that event. The truth is I received $0 for it. 100% of the money raised will go to the Susan Polgar Foundation, the US Chess Trust and the Boca Raton Chess Club. I even paid my own airfare and for my children and babysitter. I donate close to $100,000 in cash, products, and services to chess each year but I don't talk about it anywhere. In fact, I have never talked about it publicly. I do it because I love the game and I want to help chess grow. That is why I am confused about the charge of self-promoting. The bottom line is when you try to promote chess to the mainstream media, sometimes some info become redundant but that is the price you have to pay. I can't please everyone.

6. Double standard. When I did not promote myself and I was happy just being a Mom, people criticized me because I did not do enough as a World Champion to promote chess. When I played in mostly men's tournament, people criticized me for ducking the women players.

When I decided to make a point and compete in each World Championship at least once, people also criticized me for playing in women's events.

Now I am going out there busting my chops every single day to promote the game and I am being accused of too much self-promoting. You damn if you do and you damn if you don't. Is it possible to please everyone?

Each and every chess player can go out and promote the game to the best of their abilities. Let's do that instead of being critical of everyone else who is trying hard to do something for chess. If people spend as much time promoting chess as they are criticizing the people who do, I think chess would be much better off. I think Garry did a wonderful job bringing attention to chess. Was he perfect? No. No one is. But the bottom line is he tried his best. I hope every chess player will also do their best to promote this game. Call your local TV station. Contact your local newspaper. Write to your politicians. There are many things that can be done to help the game.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.com
www.SusanPolgarFoundation.org

Mig - Why did you censor my last post? It was not an attack on anyone, nor did it contain anything offensive. I defended my position and you deleted it. Why? Do you not believe in the first amendment? How would you like it if someone started censoring your blog?!

Oops - didn't see that someone had already made the 'Chess c**t' observation - apologies.

Peace...

Macuga, I apologize if I offend your mathematical sensibilities. I am not a mathematician, but rather a sociologist, and my form of expression is quite acceptable in the sociological realm.

Now, onto what Susan has written. As I have discussed for several years with individuals within the US chess hierarchy, there is always this dichotomy between people who play chess purely as a sport almost of sacred standing and those who try to use chess experience for other means. Others have indicated that there is this desire by some to champion only players who dance with the pieces and shut up about it. There is, likewise, a desire from others to see the word "chess" creep into the public's consciousness at any cost, even so much that they are thrilled when this intellectual sport is inexplicably applied to some George Bush strategy. At the midpoint, hypothetically, are those who admire both those who succeed in silence and those whose voices resonate louder than that of Bob Shepperd at Yankee Stadium, but these are difficult to find in actuality.

For some reason, people are gravitating toward the extremses, so that one approach will necessarily cause displeasure amongst those who advocate for the other. Here, Susan, you are right in that we cannot please everybody, but one thing that must be understood is that everybody is not worth pleasing. Who are these people levying criticism? What have they done with their lives? Indeed, sometimes, not only is it NOT worth it to try to please everybody, but it is also worth it to disregard altogether what some people say. There are those who do not understand, and then their criticisms are valid, because you must enlighten them. There are those who understand better than you might, and so their criticisms are to be taken into account for the benefit of refining your ideas and approaches. Unfortunately, there are those who just REFUSE to understand, and they are, quite frankly, a waste of time. Discern the nature of the source of criticism and only then decide what to spend your valuable time responding to. Likewise, although we might prefer to skip this measure, we must also analyze the source of praise to determine what is an asset and what is really not.

Hotep,

Maliq

Thank you, Susan Polgar, for your generous and detailed post. Clearly some time and thought was put into it, perhaps beyond the call of duty. Of course, for every savage detractor of your work, you have many sincere admirers like me -- both of your efforts and of your chess.

If your posts are totally and entirely off topic and contain no useful information whatsoever and can be interpreted as flaming or flame-bait, they might be deleted. If you use a real email address I will explain the deletion. If you insist on anonymity, there is little I can do, because writing a long explanation like this one and entering a moronic "censorship" discussion here every time someone wonders why I deleted their brilliant "liberalz are stoopid" post is just as bad a distraction.

As for the first amendment, sure I believe in it. I believe in the freedom of this press to publish what the publisher (me) wants. Show me a newspaper that provides unlimited and unrestricted space for reader commentary. Sarcasm aside, I delete maybe one or two posts per month and certainly don't real all the comments (around 6,000 have been posted). If things go off topic in a relatively interesting, peaceful, and somewhat related way, that's one thing. The point of the comments section is so people can post information, opinion, and questions, preferably on topic. "Why are you hypocratical [sic] liberals attacking me?" is none of the above. It's pure flame-bait and if you want to discuss what that means, send me an email. I won't allow this to hijack this thread, which has been valuable and very much the sort of thing the comments section (usually more interesting than my original items) was created for. Thanks.

Thanks for Susan Polgar for her comments. For what it's worth, i find it hard to disagree with the points she makes.

So sociologists routinely describe 3.1 as being exponentially greater than 3? Those wacky sociologists!

Mig wrote
"I delete maybe one or two posts per month"

You're in big trouble 'cause you've already deleted 2 this month. Mig, please be honest, we all know that you're deleting more posts than you pretend. ;-) lol

Yah, yah. But sometimes we go a few weeks without such a contentious thread. I can't remember exactly the last time that happened, mind you...

Peace...

Macuga, who said anything about 3 vs. 3.1? I spoke specifically about 3 vs. 9, which is easily expressed as the square of three. People often make comparisons such as "This is twice as bad as it was before we amended it," and this reference to multiplication is quite permissible. Along the same lines is it permissible to say "As bad as her singing was, his was exponentially more awful." It suggests a higher variance, which can certainly be represented in ways other than exponential form, but the term "exponential", applied for emphasis, is not misplaced in my comments.

Hotep,

Maliq

Hotep,

Maliq

Any references? I refer to peer-reviewed sociological journals. "Exponential" is thrown around so often these days, very often with little understanding of where this term comes from, or what its original significane was. It is a pet peeve of mine.

who cares? why don't you clowns just exchange emails to debate this?

Peace...

I acknowledge your pet peeve, macuga, and I have several of my own, but here your displeasure is displaced. In response to fluffy, I appreciate very much being referred to as a clown. Maybe I shall don the giant shoes and big, red nose to complete the image. We people in academia have to maintain a sense of humor in order to counter the long hours of research, so we might as well go all the way with it, right? While you are busy coming up with insults, try answering my response, which shot your "whore" theory to shreds. Come up with a better reason than "That is what I always learned," too, before you throw your "joke" and "whore" label around, too. Less labeling, and more substance, please.

Hotep,

Maliq

The term "exponential" has been made fashionable by sensationalistic news people who do not know what it refers to: growth processes. There can be linear, geometric, or exponential growth, depending on the speed of the growth process.

Peace...

I guess not. Yes, I dis you calling you a clown, for which I am really only joking because you guys are having a little debate that is completely off topic of this thread. I guess you didn't notice.

"try answering my response, which shot your "whore" theory to shreds." Huh? You must be kidding. You are comparing Derek Jeter's modelling (which I know nothing about but I'll take your word for it) to Kosteniuk? What a ridiculous analogy. All right, let me look at your "argument".

Derek Jeter is a top professional is his field. He is male in an all male field. He is modelling outside of this field. I'd bet most baseball fans outside of NY would not even know this. To me this akin to Kournikova doing commericals, whether for stocks or sportsbras. Celebrities do things like that.

Alexandra Kosteniuk is a mediocre professional in her field (this is not a knock on her- even Polgar said something to the effect that a 2500 is a 2500). It's a bit different from something like tenis where there are differences between men and women that count- physical strength. In chess there is no difference that I am aware of. She is female in a male dominated field. She is annotating games on a chess site in a bikini. The novelty of being a female player isn't enough. She has to remove some clothing and prance around on the beach. She is certainly entitled to do this, and I am entitled to agree with a poster here that she is whoring herself out.

You have women competing in tradtional male fields all the time- the Polgars, Danica, Wie. Yes, they get extra attention for the novelty of being female. So be it. But I don't see any of them in Chess Life, Racing Today, or Golf Magazine in a bikini.

Polgar's post is very well articulated. I don't really think anyone claimed that anything on her resume was incorrect. Some of it just seems a little bit fluffed up and misleading, which I think puts a few people off. I can certainly see advisors not in the chess world choosing to word certain things a certain way though. If I was an astronaut and someone said they had been to The Moon, and it was really an amusement park ride called The Moon, it may annoy me a bit even though it wasn't technically untrue.

There are several very strong female chessplayers, but most of the chess in female events are crap. I know, I know, that sounds sexist, but it is not. It's rating-ist. Most of these games are between players 2200-2500, and are junk. I mean, do we clamour around the games of male players 2200-2500. Of course not. We look at 2600+, at least. If I want to look at games of midrange players, I'll look at my own crappy games.

Peace...

Fluffy, I apologize for not recognizing that you were joking and taking offense.

On the note regarding Jeter, yes, he is a top professional in his field, but he would not be considered great except for standards beyond mere statistics. He has never been the shortstop with the best batting average; meanwhile, his contemporaries, Nomar Garciaparra (two batting titles) and Alex Rodriguez (one batting title) were the best hitters in the league while he was receiving such praise. He has never been the most potent power-hitter for his position; Rodriguez led the league in homeruns and runs batted in on several occasions, and Miguel Tejada led the league in RBI last season. Until ARod moved to third base to play for the Yankees, Jeter never had been considered the best fielder at his position. Also, at no point has he been considered even the most productive hitter on his team; Bernie Williams led Jeter's first team, the 1996 Yankees, and Paul O'Niell, Tino Martinez and others carried the load for their offense in subsequent seasons. Even as he has matured, he still does not lead the team's offense, which is carried by Gary Sheffield and ARod, nor does he provide the leadership in the clubhouse that Sheffield does. In short, part of Jeter's greatness DOES come from the fact that he is a sex symbol and thus draws attention beyond what his abilities merit. He is an excellent player, to be certain, but he is held in higher regard than players who meet his season's power numbers by the All-Star Game every year. This would not be if he did not play on the big stage that is New York and get so many women swooning over him.

Hotep,

Maliq

The post by Polgar is simple an well written and maybe that is because it does not have the usual "Paul Truong assisted Susan Polgar in the preparation of this column". I think the bombastic tone of some writings signed by Polgar come from P. Truong, as you can tell by reading articles signed by him. Frankly I dont blame Polgar for this minor sin but I can see her with simpathy since the sad Anna Hahn affair

Fluffy:

Your double standards are transparent when you accept Anna Kournikovas stunts and reject Kosteniuks.

Wild Thread! Is fluffy Greg Koster...Keep up the good work Mig! Love the blog.

Hey Mig:

You should contact Bobby Fischer and somehow make a deal with him to write his book "proving" that the K-K matches were rigged. In other words, YOU offer to write it for him, as his ghost writer, or whatever. My bet is that his book would make a LOT of money, and so could you!

Isn't that a book that just about ALL chess enthusiasts would want to read, no matter how much it failed to make its point?????

Wouldn't YOU want to read it? Wouldn't all the chessplayers you know want to read it???

Am I way off base here? Am I the only one who wants to read that book?

Bruce, please name one person who made money from working with Bobby Fischer. I'm not saying no one did, but all my recollections seem to involve people losing money or just giving up.

But yeah, I agree with you, I would like to read the book you describe. I would, however, settle for an authorized and updated algebraic edition of "My 60 Memorable Games".

bruce ... gotta title? Chess God? ...Chess Genius?...Chess MF'er? ... Chess Who's your Daddy?...Chess 'got your King Hangin?... need a title if your gonna sell some product.

obstrep:

I don't care what the title is, as long as I GET THE BOOK!

VKW:

The point is that the book isn't really about Bobby Fischer: it's about the K-K matches. For me (and perhaps it's just me), this is the MOTHER of all conspiracy theories, even with the very limited scope of the chess world. Even though I'm pretty sure Fischer cannot prove his point, the extreme nature of the claim just draws me in with a magical power I cannot resist, and I want to know what the argument is. The source of the claim has both positive (former world champion)and negative (probably mentally ill to some extent) value, of course.

With Fischer's claim about the K-K matches out there, I don't even CARE who shot JFK!!!!! Know what I mean?

How could anyone who read the Daily Dirt resist such a book?

Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport.

A few things about this odd title:

Well, for one thing, not to be a Poindexter about it, but the title should either be singular ("Chess Bitch: A Woman ...") or plural ("Chess Bitches: Women ...", etc.).

As for use of the word "bitch", since the book is a harmless bit of chess fluff, there's no damage done. Were it to be a world-class entry in the market, however, the title is unnecessarily vulgar.

Oh, it doesn't really hurt anything specific ... it just seems inappropriate. Kind of like inviting a minister over for dinner and saying, "Hi, Rev. Sit yer ass down and have some grub!" It's not excessively offensive, it's just somewhat lowbrow and raunchy. Certainly, it doesn't portend much of intellectual value inside. No, the only way I see this title fitting is if Jennifer were to have conducted herself as Bobby Fischer has done.

One wonders where we are headed. Maybe "Stomp Ass with the Sicilian" or "Chess for Numbnuts"?

And lastly, the words "ultimate intellectual sport" are enough to make Professor Frink cringe in his Birkenstocks. I mean, after all, 10 year old kids have mastered chess ... so it's not like solving Fermat's Last Theorem. :`)

Peace...

You assert that use of the term "bitch" does not lead one to believe that there is much great intellectual value to the book. I reply that what you say is absolutely bogus and without merit. Words that are considered "curses" now were, for the most part, acceptable members of the english language until it was decided that they were low-class, at which point they became known as vulgar language to differentiate the elite from the lowly. Thus, the hangup is in your own mind and yours is not a necessary and obvious conclusion to be drawn from these circumstances. In addition to this, you forward one of those notoriously illogical "slippery slope" arguments, claiming that acceptance of this title will lead to other titles which may be considered even more offensive. Such arguments are more good for spreading paranoia to build opposition than they are for providing windows into the future; society never quite seems to make it down that slope.

Hotep,

Maliq

Hmmm ... after carefully weighing our publisher's (Mig) earlier guidance regarding censorship and the dangers of wandering too far off-topic, I submit:

------
Malik Soter wrote:
You assert that use of the term "bitch" does not lead one to believe that there is much great intellectual value to the book. I reply that what you say is absolutely bogus and without merit.
------

You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can often get a clue by its title. If we were playing Trivial Pursuit for bullet-in-the-brain stakes, I'd have to choose "Relativity, Quanta, and Cosmology" over "Smackin' Me Bitch Up" every time.

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Words that are considered "curses" now were, for the most part, acceptable members of the english language until it was decided that they were low-class, at which point they became known as vulgar language to differentiate the elite from the lowly.
------

I agree. As man rose from the primordial slime, he attempted to separate himself from it. A superb lexical policy that is all-too-soon evaporating.

------
Thus, the hangup is in your own mind and yours is not a necessary and obvious conclusion to be drawn from these circumstances.
------

Well, every societal convention comes from our collective "minds". Until we can comfortably greet Grandma with "Hello, bitch!", it is probably equally expendable in the titles of chess literature for the broad general public.

------
In addition to this, you forward one of those notoriously illogical "slippery slope" arguments, claiming that acceptance of this title will lead to other titles which may be considered even more offensive.
------

If you leave out "notoriously illogical", I am claiming precisely that. Just as in television, where "if it bleeds, it leads", sensationalism and controversy aren't side-effects of the publishing industry, they are the very stuff sales are made of. This point was clearly not lost on Shahade and company.

------
Such arguments are more good for spreading paranoia to build opposition than they are for providing windows into the future; society never quite seems to make it down that slope.
------

To the contrary, such arguments serve as DayGlo roadmaps for the wary. Society is already heading "down that slope" at breakneck speed. I doubt if there's a Braille newspaper in the world without an "our disintegrating society" article in it somewhere every day, much less TV and the net.

Jenn using "bitch" in her book title won't make headlines. Nor does it make my eyes bulge or my hair stand on end. It does, however, help to make the tone of our culture one tiny bit more strident than it already was.

In closing, though all the above is offered in the spirit of good cheer, I would like to draw attention to the phrases "no damage done", "doesn't really hurt anything", and "not excessively offensive" in my original opinion lest Jenn happen to read this and get the wrong idea.

JustMike

Peace...

Well, your contentions are interesting, but they don't quite speak to what we are discussing. There are many ways in which I would not address my mother nor grandmother, but in which I would address a friend or my lover. Thus, I understand your point, but maybe your example was not the best.

Now, onto your contention that our lexicon has advanced to meet our separation from less-advanced days. This is an absolutely inaccurate assertion. Use of words which are considered to be vulgar is not a sign of lesser intelligence or civility, much as the morality police of our society wish for it to be. There are absolute geniuses who have these terms in their vocabulary, and absolute idiots who refuse to use them. It is purely a matter of individual taste and thus cannot and should not be read as a sign of society "degenerating".

Finally, you are as wrong as two left shoes with regard to slippery slope arguments. It is well-known that they are one of the weakest forms of logical reasoning around and quite impossible to prove mathematically, because they presuppose that one action will necessarily lead to a similar action on a greater scale. One glaring example was the hotly-contested issue of interracial marriage, which was met with the outcry "But if we allow blacks and whites to marry, then soon we will have to permit people and animals to wed!" I have yet to find record of a state-sanctioned wedding between a man and his dog.

Hotep,

Maliq

Maliq --

Really? I thought I addressed precisely what we were discussing, that being my opinion about the propriety of the word "bitch" in the title of Jennifer Shahade's upcoming book.

As to the validity of "slippery slope" as a form of logical argument, well, I suggest it is as valid as your own preferred form, "appeal from authority", which offers that what is "widely-known" is therefore true. Eugene Volokh (Schwartz Professor of Constitutional Law at UCLA) wrote what is regarded as the definitive treatise on the subject of "slippery slope" reasoning:

http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/slipperymag.pdf

Volokh points out that "slippery slope" logic has been accurately employed in everything from school integration to income taxes. In fact, it is currently -- and possibly correctly -- in use by *both* sides in the debate over the War in Iraq.

JustMike

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 5, 2005 5:05 AM.

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