Greengard's ChessNinja.com

2006 Women's WCh

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FIDE has put up the final list of players and the pairing tree for this 64-player KO event that starts in Ekaterinburg, Russia on March 10. The top seeds are a mix of veterans like Cramling and Chiburdanidze and the new school with Koneru, Kosteniuk, and Lahno. Defending champ Stefanova, former champ Zhu Chen, and another Chinese player, Xu Yuhua, are somewhere in the middle.

In such a balanced field, anyone over 2400 might win in this format. In a curious twist, my national loyalties are split in the first round as Irina Krush faces Claudia Amura, the lone American versus the only Argentine. Ninja friends to root for include Krush, Almira Skripchenko, and Svetlana Matveeva. The top rated women in the world, Judit and Susan Polgar and Xie Jun of China, aren't playing.

My opinions about professional women-only events have been given here many times � nice for affirmative action but in the long run harmful to women's chess by insulating them from top competition. Judit Polgar's mere existence turns a contrived title into one that is almost insulting. Anyway, chess is chess and big money KO's are always fun to watch in a train-wreck sort of way. And I'm always happy to see money going to chessplayers. Nice logo, too. I'd like to get a larger version.


Any photo of Matveeva available?

Thanks, a lot of pro photos on that page. Chessbase is promoting chess pretty well online.

On the other hand, the Women's events tend to feature uncompromising play, with fewer quick draws, and more tactical slugfests. And the top seeds have fairly serious games, even if they can't compete with Judit.

I analyzed that theory years ago; it's a myth. It's just that these are higher profile events and male 2400's don't often play for big money for high stakes. Even with that, if you take a sample of games played by men with similar ratings the draw percentage is the same. We're just used to only watching 2700's play and they draw much more.

There might be a few factors, like women feeling an obligation to play harder since the event receives so much attention. Most minority groups feel pressure to outperform in some way.

Humpy Koneru must be the slight favorite to win the event, although Sasha Kosteniuk will be a strong rival. Stefanova also can't be counted out.
Among the Dark(er) Horses, there is Yelena Dembo, who has recently shown some fine form, and also Monika Socko (who can probably count on being seconded by a strong player!). And then there are the Chinese women....

"2700s make more draws". I would add a possibility that the 2700+ ones consider these draws as wins, unlike the spectators. Especially when playing closed tournaments. Robin-round tournaments were always promoted by players and trainers as ones where a draw gets you usually up the ladder, as opposed to swiss tournaments, where you often drown, when drawing a game.

Yelena Dembo, a rising star from Greece, should be able to play some good games over there.

I also expect revolutionary theoretical novelties to be unleashed by the women.

Hopefully there will be some interesting interviews to read!? I am looking forward to these.

I also hope that the women can prove chess as an art. Other sports are starting (continuing) to claim being an art:

"I view boxing as art. Sure, two gladiators enter a ring to do battle, but there is a strategy to every move you make, every foot movement. If you were to put paint on my feet when I entered the ring, you'd be able to the see the Picasso at the end of the match, and that's probably the best way to show people what boxing really is." Oscar de la Hoya

A Chess Myth was discussed upstairs somewhere.

That's a great idea!

There a lot of myths in chess (for example, that most Grandmasters sleep until noon) and I recommend to those who have time, to write a book on it! It just may become the best-seller of all time.

"Chess Mythology"... let me know of a growing collection.

Here is a very nice (related) game (White wouldn't agree) I just saw:

[Event "Ch Russia"]
[Site "Samara (Russia)"]
[Date "2005.5.21"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Matveeva Svetlana (RUS)"]
[Black "Kosteniuk Alexandra (RUS)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Eco "D17"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.Nxc4 Bb4 8.f3 O-O 9.e4 Nxe4 10.fxe4 Qh4+ 11.Kd2 Qxe4 12.Qf3 Qxd4+ 13.Ke1 Nd7 14.Bf4 e5 15.Bd2 Bg4 16.Qg3 Nc5 17.Rc1 Rad8 18.Be3
Bxc3+ 0-1

Alexandra continues to "surprise" with excellent attacking chess, considering all her activities at her site (unless she has a twin sister).

Chick chess, as is chess between male IM's, is boring. When you are used to watching the 2700s play super tournaments, the level of play between 2400s-low 2500s is just pathetic.

Abolish women's chess...and in the spirit of the Olympics, women's curling too. Is that REALLY a sport? I freely admit it takes a great deal of skill, just no athletic ability. I easily walk around more between moves during a chess game.

And one last thing: I am STILL trying to figure out why they gave Kosteniuk the GM title for winning the Women's European Championship. The FIDE handbook clearly allows for one norm to be awarded, but not the whole title. This has never been explained other than by having perky breasts.

Boring is hardly the right word. They play more actively, more aggressively, and make more mistakes, which are necessary for tactics. All of this means more exciting chess, if objectively inferior chess.

95% of the chess population can't tell the difference between a game between 2500's and one between 2700's, period. Mostly because there isn't much of a difference most of the time. A 2700 has a some extra talent, no doubt, but it's consistency and pure resistance that makes up most of those points. A 2500 can play spectacularly brilliant games too. We just don't pay much attention to them, so who would know? Unless the games are commented and/or annotated, that 95% never see how good, or how bad, they are.

This isn't a bad thing, as such, but on a game-to-game qualitative level it's hardly noticeable. We like the stories and the names behind the games as much as the games. I could take a dozen decent games from the Gibraltar Open between the 2400-2500 crowd and post them annotated as the games from Linares and wouldn't receive a single message about it. (Well, maybe the guys in Linares.) Nobody would say "Topalov would never play that move!" The 2700's blunder too, as we've seen abundantly. Heck, if this had been a swiss we'd wonder if Ivanchuk threw that game against Svidler it was so bad!

The superstars distinguish themselves with tremendous consistency and occasional brilliance. No small thing at all.

Hi Mig. I can easily tell the difference in most cases. I can see what you mean by not boring, but that is all point of view. I revel in that consistency, and without it, I am just not as interested...even if the game between 2500's features some fireworks. I know other strong players who would agree with that.

I find the old Karpov games anything but boring, whereas, most of that 95% you mentioned would be screaming "boring" if they were being relayed now on the ICC. (I have been on ICC that long, and they used to do just that to Karpov's games).

Of course even the 2700's blunder, but that doesn't mean the other 40 moves played were not great moves or at least a lot better than those of 2500's, and that I learned something from them. Even though Topy was lost for a long time last night, it was still very interesting to see how carefully Vallejo Pons had to play to win the "won game".

I also patently disagree that you would get no comments about the games from Gibraltar being posted as those from Linares IF anyone master level or above took the time to read over them. Having followed Linares every round, I probably wouldn't re-read the games, so you could slip them past me due to that probably, but not due to content.

Recently I was thinking of giving selected games of all levels (1400-2800) to students for guessing the elos of both players (they only give values from 0-10, for now). But, for this experiment, I currently don't have access to the same elo range of students. I'll do it someday, it will be interesting to see the results. Will a super GMs game be rated as 1800, will the 1700 game match be rated as 2600? This experiment would be interesting to make at a GM camp. I know kids of 1500 elo, who can make 15 moves of legitimate GM theory, thus "confusing" the master evaluator in the opening section of the game.

On Judit, I think one can with Chessbase 9s new search options, and the Megabase, pursue exact statistics on how she scores against women only. That would be interesting to see.

Did Kosteniuk switch to USA?


"...CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Many in the sporting community have compared Alexandra Kosteniuk to Anna Kournikova. But this Russian beauty actually wins tournaments. She's a chess grandmaster and the number one ranked women's player in the U.S. And did I mention she's also a model?
Alexandra joins us from Miami this morning. Hello, Alexandra. Thanks for being with us...."

Many say (including me) that a Grandmaster is the highest chess title. But isn't it - "World Chess Champion"?

I don't know how she does it, but she certainly left her legacy, as few chess women have.


I'm trying to search the Net on GM titles, stumbled on this one, our host Mig is quoted here:


GM Kosteniuk lives in Florida, but is still a Russian citizen and affiliated with the Russian federation for FIDE purposes. This is not unlike GM Anand, who lives in Spain much of the year but retains Indian nationality.

Last week Kosteniuk scored 5/9 against (as it happens, all male GM) opponents rated 2600 or higher at Aeroflot, by the way.

The answer on Ms. Kosteniuk's GM title after tying for 1st at the European Championship was, according to GM Susan Polgar, due to an error in wording in the FIDE handbook, which has since been changed so that it can't happen again.

It could only apply if someone took first in the event AND had a 2600+ performance rating, which Ms. Kosteniuk did.

It appears to have been a "cut and paste" error, where the wording was copied from the wording from another event (but I'm not certain of that).

Anyway, at least according to GM Polgar and others who wrote about it at the time, the title was required to be awarded under the then published regulations, but the regulations were then corrected so it couldn't happen again.


As the strongest women players have regularly been rated 2500 or above, these kind of complications do come into gender-segregated events more and more often. Regulations which were intended to cover the awarding of a gender-segregated title are modified to acknowledge the fact that a number of the women already have IM or even GM titles, and these kind of errors can then happen.

Going back to when major league baseball was first integrated, similar problems arose. With Robinson playing in the majors, was the MVP of the "Negro Leagues" then likely to be a better or worse player? It was just very confusing all around, and the segregated league died away in a few years.

I note that GM Kosteniuk included a tip for girls in her February 16th podcast: "Play always together in events with boys, and you will become a much stronger player." I hope that soon she will begin to follow her own very good advice. :)


I generally agree with Mig's perspective on women's chess (and therefore am mostly...amused... by Susan Polgar's), but there is something to be said for events like Ekaterinburg.

If nothing else, if it were just a tournament in Ekatinerinburg with mostly male players where the top seed was equivalent to Pia Cramling, we wouldn't be talking about it - so there is a sponsorship/public interest/promotional angle.

Like it or not, Kosteniuk is more fun to look at than Svidler.

So maybe we shouldn't think about the quality of the chess at women's events as the primary issue (because if it were we wouldn't be paying attention unless it was a 4 player quadruple RR with Cramling, two Polgars and Xie Jun) (Damn, that's a good idea).

The issue is promotion of chess as a sponsorable commercial sport. That is the future, folks, Kirsan can't fund GM events out of the Kalmykian treasury forever.

In case anybody had doubts about Tsasha'a K's ability as a GM, review carefully the results of the Aeroflot Open in moscow last month. Wasnt she the highest female finisher? In playing all male GM's? Didnt she also come out with an improved ELO and was performance Elowell above the "GM mark"? hmmm, must be some kind of talent somewhere behind her "perkiness" in that GM heart of hers. And as far as her getting her norms or not, ironic isnt it that after the awarding of her title, she went on for another few tourns where she would have gotten more "norms" anyway, kinda hushed the critiques if I remember. She has been coming on strong. Playing more strong events, and winning. Have to give the young Lady lots of respect for keeping active enuff to stay as beautiful on the board as off. Busy woman, but still one of the best in the world. I am looking forward to Alexsandra meeting up with the Polgar sisters when all are at their peak, playing great. Wouldnt it be something if next major "Mens" event, there are two or three beautiful ladies at the top of leader board playing it out for the title. hmmmmmm pay good money to see that event for sure!

Crazylocha, if you like her so much, you should learn to spell her name. :) Tsasha? Alexsandra?

One of the curiosities of chess is that becoming an IM/GM is very difficult, but once one becomes, usually many IM/GM norms follow easily. Psychology does it's part. I hope that soon IMs and GMs will not be ranked mainly by their titles and elo, but primarily by the number of subsequent norms achieved, confirming strength and distinguishing all.

For example K...: GM+122 GM norms, ...., NN: GM+0 GM norms. A difference easily proving the ultimate superiority of the first, rather than the wavy elo, which remains a value, too.

Imagine GMs and IMs playing GM and IM tournaments for additional norms!?

Maybe then, GM Short (and others) would reconsider placing "GM" in front of his signature? http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2842

A question: has there ever been a tournament, where GM/OM participants were required to play only "pure grandmaster" chess, follow the book style ones, with no tournament strategies and extreme risks involved? Would all games end in dull draws, or, maybe not?

Fortunately, the women will fight it out, without theoretizing too much (unless they have men coaches), and I'm looking forward to seeing these games.

OK, I found the change in the FIDE handbook that affected both Ms. Kosteniuk and Ms. Peng last year.

The regulations as adopted and published at least 6 months before the European Championship originally read that if trying for a GM title/norm (the "GM" column in the table), the Continental Championship entry was:

12 game 2600+

After it was realized that both Ms. Kosteniuk and Ms. Peng qualified for the GM title immediately, it was changed to read:

9 or more games 2600+
= 20 game norm

By the way, the same problem existed with the IM title, and it was also changed, but no one qualified for it at the 2005 event.

The same problem also would have applied to any zonal championship held during that period--the regs as published indicated a title would be granted rather than a norm.

You can see the February 2005 regs here:

So nothing special was done for Ms. Kosteniuk and Ms. Peng--it's just that their federations studied the regs and found the qualification and applied for it.

The regs for norms and titles do change from time to time (consider the issue of whether norms expire), so that's not something new, either.

Since the regs were published at least 6 months in advance and the problem occurred in entries for multiple events, not just gender-segregated ones, it hardly seems likely that they were designed to benefit a particular player or players.



Normally I find your comments highly accurate, but in this case, I don't believe so.

First, relevant to the discussion is that Kosteniuk got the title back in March of 2004. Reading the page that you linked to had no date on the actual page showing when those regulations went into effect, but if you were right and they were adopted in February 2005, that is still almost a year later than she was awarded the title. That said, when I look at that page, I would swear 100% that that is not the page that was there when Kosteniuk received her title. As an outspoken critic of her receiving the title at that time and not earning it, I visited that page dozens of times then (and many times more for other reasons too), and it is just not the same page with the same requirements.

When the Handbook was updated, I didn't bother to note specific changes to the upper portions of the page dealing with the direct routes to titles at the time, but I clearly remember when they made the changes, and that I did specifically note that they upped the required number of games from 24 to 27 in section: "1.50a Two or more norms in events covering at least 27 games". This is relevant to my memory and to when this occurred and more to why I do not trust the pages on that archive site. The 27 game requirement is nowhere near as old as November 2003 as those pages suggest (they are all the same from that date on). As a site, the archive can be useful to some degree, but it is not very accurate at all. I could prove this point at great length if necessary, but just type in fide.com at the archive site and click on any of the 2004 dates, and it returns the current home page with the 2006 events clearly listed. Other times, it doesn’t even return the main fide site at all, but some other site I have never even seen before. I believe the page looked more like this at that time (regardless of the date listed at the archive): http://web.archive.org/web/20030821031942/http://www.fide.com/official/handbook.asp?level=B0101 .

In any case, I still believe the changes were all done long after Kosteniuk was given her title, not before as you contend. The only possible legitimate explanation is the amendments had been adopted, but not published on the web site, but I tend to doubt that.

Lastly, I note that my contentions were not just mine. These points were hotly debated at the time, when memories were fresher as well as the web site being current, and many intelligent people also would have had to miss this point. I repeatedly pointed out at the time that she was only entitled to a norm, and no one ever pointed out that I was mistaken.

Kevin Cotreau

An impromptu ICC forum was held to glamorize Humpy Korernu with a stage name. The winner was Swindella McQueen.


Thanks for the correction on the dates. That's why I try to always give the source links--sometimes the sources are incorrect, so someone can point that out.

And of course, you're right--I compounded things with my own error, because I was off by a year. (To be honest, since I don't follow gender-restricted events, I didn't really pay attention at the time.)

Again, thanks for the correction.



Listing Susan Polgar and Xie Jun among the higher rated players is a mistake as they have been inactive for a while and based on rules or fairness criteria do not deserve their old rating.

To summarize, Judit is the only top ranked player not playing.


I heartily admire Ms. Kosteniuk. She has taught the world a very important lesson -- that even if a woman gains fame through chess achievements, there's no reason she can't parlay that into even greater fame (and rubles!) with a whole bunch of glamor shots.

Women's chess is easy to get cynical about. Fundamentally, you have the problem that players ranked around #200 in the world are playing each other, yet they call it a world championship. This, even though chess is a mental sport where women should not be inferior to men.

I can see the rationale, but all squirming and rationalizing aside, it does make one giggle to see a 2515 crowned as "world champion."

I know they are inactive on the FIDE rating list. What they "deserve" is not up to you, or to me. And that's not how ratings work. They don't go down over time. If and when they play again, their ratings will be the same.

Xie Jun played last June (in a Chinese team event that apparently hasn't been rated); Polgar in October 2004. Both made performances well over the rating of the highest-rated player in Ekaterinburg. Either would desevedly be considered the favorite if she played.

appreciation of womens chess or scholastic chess or club vs. club matches or State championships is of course all a matter of what you choose to focus on as important. It's wonderful to follow the highest echelons of the game (and I do) but let's face it..the average chess player is probably rated about 1450 and would slice a pinky finger off to play at a 1700 level for a couple years. To these folks (and 1900's like myself ) 2300-2500 players are mighty strong. We count..because we buy the books and take the lessons that put food on the masters tables. The world womens chess scene seems strong enough to plenty of us and worth following.

I dont think that women's chess is not worth following. I have seen many games between women that are far more interesting than some 2700+ rating games. Maybe it is because i find it difficult to understand elite chess. But i dont feel shame for it, i am not a professional player, just an amateur who wants to have fun.

Almira i want to marry you!!!

Ps. Maybe if we abandoned the artificial discrimination between male and female chess would help women to become as good as men are. Do not forget that chess is a mental game in which men are not supposed to have any innate advantage....or not...???....;-)

Special chess titles for women should be abolished. They are demeaning and unnecessary. I see no reason why women can't compete in chess under the same standards as men. They certainly compete these days for medical degrees, law degrees, Ph.D.s, and other intellectually challenging pursuits without lowered standards.
Any kind of lowered standard is an insult to all the women who have worked hard and still work hard to get on the same level playing field as men.

The women who attain the WIM or WGM title are good players, to be sure. But so are the many men who have attained the same rating level. It just feels wrong to me to confer an artificial title on one segment of the chess community simply because of --- because of what? Because there aren't enough women in the sport? So what. Women who love chess will flock to the game. Those who aren't interested won't play. It doesn't matter that there are fewer women who do opt to play, as long as there are no barriers erected to prevent women from playing. As far as I can see, there are no such barriers.

Furthermore, I don't buy the argument that special titles will get more girls interested in chess anyway. IMHO, it will be the achievements of women like Judit Polgar that might help spark girls' interest in chess, not the existence of special titles that can't help but send the following message: "Girls aren't good enough for a REAL title."

On the question of Kosteniuk's title, of interest is the following. It is the minutes of the meeting in October 2004 that awarded the title. Unless it is fabricated, it supports Susan Polgar's information.


Crazylocha, you suggest that Mrs. Kosteniuk made some GM-norms after being awarded the title. Now I had a look at her tournament history


but failed to find one between October 2001 and January 2006. There were some 2600+ performances, but only in women-tournaments without enough GM's to make it a valid result.

Could you please help me out and give an example of another GM-norm of her except for the one at the recent Aeroflot-tournament? Otherwise I'll just keep on thinking that that was her first GM-norm.

In my memory the rules for the GM-title were as Duif mentioned: a 2600+ performance in the Continental Championship. The problem is that Mrs. Kosteniuk (nor Mrs. Peng) never did so. She made a 2600+ performance in the Continental Women's Championship, which is clearly not the same.

Obviously Mrs. Kosteniuk has GM-strength. But so far it seems that she has not met the official requirements for the title yet.


Yeah, looks like she got lucky to become a GM so fast. There are many GM-strength players (Ben Finegold comes to mind) who really have to struggle to get all of the norms.

Seems to me that the unrestricted titles (IM, GM) should require exclusively results from unrestricted events (as opposed to WIM, WGM restricted titles). This could be a first step towards phasing out restricted titles, and longer term, phasing out most restricted events.

"...as long as there are no barriers erected to prevent women from playing. As far as I can see, there are no such barriers."

-quoted from Dauw

Oh, that's rich. Just because there are no clearly spelled out barriers for women in chess must mean that it's a level playing field for men and women, or boys and girls, right?

Such an attitude is either hopelessly naive, or deliberately blind. The social barriers have yet to fall completely in the sciences, politics, finance, and other prominent fields, despite certain starry-eyed opinions to the contrary. Certainly, things have improved greatly in the past 40 years, but it only serves to point out how far we have to go.

Could it just possibly be true that this smug, 'there are no barriers for women in chess, so why aren't they competitive?' attitude is one of the social barriers for women in chess? After all, chess is still, primarily, a HOBBY rather than a CAREER. If I were a woman, and had to put up this smug condescension every time I played in a tournament, I'd seriously consider other hobbies.


I don't think anyone is arguing that there aren't occasional issues of sexism. The question is whether restricted events and titles help or hinder. As a woman who plays only unrestricted events, and as the mother of sons as well as a daughter, I think a better societal message is sent by treating a 2400 player as a 2400 player, regardless of gender.


This is my point of view.

I am very much against special conditions / rules to acquire the overall title such as IM or GM. Everyone should earn the same title the same way. We already have female titles. Let's not cheapen it even further.

However, I support giving additional training and motivation to younger female players to keep them in the game longer. Through serious training and opportunities, they can improve and excel to reach the same level as boys. That is what I am trying to do through my foundation.

These are the 6 female players who earned the GM title the traditional way (3 norms / 2500 rating):

1. S. Polgar
2. J. Polgar
3. P. Cramling
4. Z. Chen
5. A. Stefanova
6. H. Koneru

(7) N. Zhukova has 3 GM norms. She needs 2500 rating to earn the GM title.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

I have two words for "cynical".

They are "Judit Polgar". His entire post is basically refuted by her very existence.

gmc, do you think Judit Polgar would be where she is today without Susan and Sofia Polgar? I was a master when she learned how to play chess.

She was willing to work hard (while many other female players did not) but she also had more opportunities than 99% of other female players. It takes both to succeed. How many female players have 2 elder siblings this caliber and full suport from both parents?

I can assure you that I am more familiar with this situation than anyone else.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

I just read that post ov VQXTL's pointing to that .pdf file. That really doesn't address the main point, that of why she got the title and not one norm. There have always been exceptions to number of GMs required or the number or foreign players, sot that doesn't bother me. She should have only received on norm though.

No question when Susan Polgar first started playing, there were barriers, but I think it is fair to say that they are long gone, and thus, so should women's titles and special events.

So that people stop describing my position for me, let me spell it out:

1) Regarding women-only titles, so what? If FIDE wants to hand out special titles for women equivalent to a strong candidate master (WIM) and a strong master (WGM) and make money off this practice, let them. Or, if you don't like it, run for the presidency and change it yourself. If a chessplayer can't tell the difference between a GM and a WGM...he has worse problems.

2) Nowhere in my statement is there support for 'special priviledges' for women; as a matter of fact, it doesn't argue against it either because that was not the point I was trying to make.

If one takes all chessplayers that play competitive chess (goes to tournaments with some regularity--highly subjective, but bear with me), what percentage of them are women? Anywhere from one to five percent, depending on whose statistics you accept. Now, take the bonafide titled players--GMs and IMs. What percentage of them are women? (This statistic should be readily measurable.) How significant is the difference between the two percentages?

The problem does not lie with the women that are playing chess now; they're performing reasonably to expectations, given their small population. It's the fact that more women aren't interested in playing chess. And if it's not a de jure barrier against women in chess, what could possibly be stopping them? It can't possibly be the guys yammering about 'special treatment' for women, and in extension, the presence of women in chess, could it?

As for the claim that the existence of Judit refuting my arguments...gee, Marie Curie was the first PERSON, man or woman, to win two Nobel Awards in the sciences. Surely, no one is claiming that the early twentieth century was a bastion of gender equality in the sciences?

Ms. Polgar overcame amazing odds through hard work, determination, the support of her family, and many pioneers who helped to show her the road to becoming a top-10 chess player, and potentially even higher. And she did it the 'proper' way, without special provisions. For that, she has nothing but my heartfelt admiration.

The fact remains that the primary reason why Judit stands alone in the top tier of chess is because there simply aren't enough women playing chess for there to be many more women with her determination, familial support, and opportunities to ascend to the top of the chess hierarchy--or even to try to stay where they are.

Regarding KCotreau's point about the .pdf with minutes of the Oct. 2004 FIDE title's committe meeting: I think it does address the point of why a title was granted. That is, everyone present believed that is what the regulations said at the time. You are free to believe that FIDE misinterpreted its own rules, but clearly no special exception was made. Both players qualifying under what was believed to be a special feature of the rules were given GM titles. It was noted that there was concern about the then current state of the regulations, and that the issue of ammendments was referred to future meetings.

At the risk of sounding like Lawrence Summers, recently 'retired' Harvard president, the reason is simple: Men and women are (shock) different. It is a well known scientific fact that men and womens brain chemistry are totally different, that their hormones in their bodies are different, and that these differences in levels lead to different behaviors regarding decisions in a particular set of circumstances. Whether or not Susan, Sofi, or Judit are high level players (and obviously they are) is irrelevent to the question.

The idea of seeking social causes to the problem also is inadequate to me. Chess, along with nearly every other intellectual pursuit in the US, always carries social stigmas. Do you find varsity level football players playing in US scholastic events? I dont think so. The idea that somehow chess is the masculine sport and that there is rampant descrimination is utterly false. The fact is, most chess players in the US are children, or teens who rarely have those sort of predispositions. Parents who discourage their daughters from becoming chess players or scientists are rapidly dissappearing too, for economic reasons. They know that the best path for their child is to have the ability to choose their own career path, and not have to rely on marriage for financial security. Chess is a natural means to develop any childs problem solving ability.

So we have two opposed forces at work, once again it is the nature vs nurture argument. Luckily by changing nurturing, we change nature eventually.

Mr. Parsons,

I'm not quite sure of your point.

If you are discussing why so few women play chess relative to men (in the US, less than 5% of registered adult tournament players are women), there are three facts to consider:

1. From 1400-1800, chess was a social game played by both men and women of the upper classes in Europe. Queen Elizabeth I played, as did Mary Queen of Scots (two ladies of very different temperaments). When Benjamin Franklin went to Paris, he often played chess (according to Thomas Jefferson’s letters) with socially important women who were of equal or greater playing strength to him. Look at the art from this time period. Chess was socially acceptable for women, and women played. At that time, women hardly ever played cards, which were not considered an appropriate game for them.

2. By the 1900's, women commonly played bridge, and that remains true of today of tournament bridge. Culturally, look, for example, at the Agatha Christie mysteries--if there is a character "with an excellent brain" who is a superior bridge player, it is quite often a woman, and that is considered a typical social type, not an aberration.

4. Mah Jongg is a game that is played almost exclusively by men in Hong Kong, and almost exclusively by women in New York. In Japan and the Netherlands, it is played by both men and women. At the first World Championship a few years ago, the overall individual champion was a woman from Japan. The overall team world champions were a team of 4 Chinese men. Gender was neither particularly an advantage nor a disadvantage.

So there is no question that social customs influence who plays games. Chess was once quite popular with women, while cards were almost never played. Now bridge, even tournament bridge, has a slight majority of women players, while their numbers in the chess ranks have fallen to 5% or below.

Finally, if you were trying to say something about the relative abilities of men and women as chessplayers, there's no evidence for male superiority there simply because the numbers of women who play are so small that when you get above the top 1/2 of a percent, it's not statistically significant that there are so few women players.

My father, who was previously the Dean of Education at one university and is now the President of a small graduate school in psychology (and who has also taught statistics from time to time) has pointed out that there is really only one way to determine whether gender plays a role in chess ability. Take 2000 men and 2000 women who don't already play chess. Teach them the game, and have them play tournaments against each other. After about 5,000 games each, you will have enough data to determine whether there is a gender effect in chess performance.

Until then, one can make an argument for nurture based on the examples I've already given, but nothing can be said about nature one way or the other.


More on Kosteniuk's title. KCotreau has posted a wayback machine reference for substantially earlier than the Dresden European Women's championship. Duif posted one from after the award was already made. However, the following is the link to the one that was active at the time of the championship:


Unlike KCotreau's, this already has the "12 game/2600 = title" for a Continental Championship. The only ambiguity is the status of a Continental Women's chamion ship. This was only clarified later, listing them separately, and removing the instant title (also, various other generic requirements were added for the instant titles - consistent with indications in the minutes I posted that these would be considered). Note, however, that in later versions, though Continental Women's championship was listed separately from Continental Championship, their norm treaments have remained itentical.

So from this record, the only interpretation made by FIDE that is not completely unambiguous is whether Continental Championship should have covered Continental Women's Championship. They apparently decided that is what had been meant, and, as I noted, these have retained identical treatment in the later handbook versions.

The only other grounds for suspicion is KCotreau's claim that his memory differs from the wayback machine. Well, it is hard for a non-conspiracy theorist to give this much weight. I see a completely consistent evolution of the handbook in the wayback machine. For anyone else to credit this, it would be necessary for KCotreau to provide reputable sources for disbelieving the record.

This is a strangely anti-women thread. There was no mistake in the FIDE regulation that gave Kosteniuk and Peng a GM title. They got the 2601 result and following the rule did not have to meet any particular mix of GMs, etc.

This is the SAME rule that until 2004 made several men into GM on one 12-game rating result, in the Olympiad, without needing any mix of titles among the opponents.

Winning womens world or European title is surely harder than getting GM norms is some obscure tournamant well out of the public eye. WC and olympiad are also less susceptible to buying and selling half points and points.

I usually agree with Susan Polgar, but I do not like her creation of the usage of the term 'earned GM' title, seemingly opposed to 'undeserved' title. ALL the women listed as GM in FIDE records have EARNED it and deserve it.

There are some dubious titles still on the regulations. Arab or ASEAN under-10 champion gets an FM title?

African Junior champion gets IM title right off!! No need to even play any FIDE-rated players. Compared to say World Youth Under 18 Girls champion, these guys are getting an easy ride to a title.

Dauw is right in the clarion call to have one set of titles, period. She is a woman who has excelled in several academic and professional areas outside of chess (I will not use the term high-falutin' here) and applies her experience to the world of chess and its strange segregated titles. Of course, her chess needs work as she progresses towards the unified and utopian IM and GM horizon.

On the other hand her statement "they are demeaning and unnecessary" might scare those who covet or already have the [unnecessary] women's title -- what to do? How to cushion the shock of Simplification Day when we simplify things and snatch away women's titles? A FIDE label pin? Well, either a label pin or a Certificate of Merit; whichever fits into the FIDE buget better. Or, the famous asterisk in the ratings database - it's a placeholder to indicate that once upon a time, the person in question had something (we don't know what, but it was something). Or, the "grandmother" clause - let them keep their deprecated titles in perpetuity.

The flip side argument, that FIDE can do whatever they want (even award Albino Titles) and it really doesn't matter that much, has a certain lazy appeal but it results in a lot of strange labels floating around these days, such as WCM.

Does anyone remember the debate that swirled when FIDE introduced the FM label? Back then even that was considered odd, a label to be linked to a certain numerical rating -- purists wanted it all done by FIDE Congress, voting on norms --- to demonstrate IM or GM performance. The purist camp thought it would be too easy to manipulate/acquire/produce a certain number for the desired label and they wanted to keep voting down bogus norms. The counterargument was that the new-fangled FM label would increase the player rolls by affording a certain ego boost to a segment of the player population. That may be the strategy FIDE adopts with the women's labels, some sort of marketing/P.R./ego boost. Dauw points out she doesn't need the artificial ego boost; and I see agreement from other women in this forum. It only remains to plan for the apocalyptic Simplification Day.


"The title formerly known as" *?

warm regards,

Hi Duif,

I agree that the statistics are not present for a rigorous comparison between the relative strength differences (if any) between men and women. The point I have is that men are naturally drawn to the game, because it appeals to them at a 'lower' level (I'm speaking of course about the different chemical make up of men and women in general.) While the examples you provide seem to be compelling, they are of a particular socioeconomic group (high social class women) who may have had the time/inclination to take up different arts. In comparison to the rest of the chess playing population in the time periods you mention, chess was still very much a 'mens game'...

What is happening now is a social phenomenon that is different from what you describe. I disagree with the notion that women are discouraged from chess, but rather there simply wasnt a society wide active interest in the development of womens chess. The new phenomenon is now to actively promote the game amongst all school children and in the USA it is relevant because women are seeking the basic skills to survive independent of marriage.

So I guess to sum up my point, the lack of encouragement is not the same as active discouragement.

Hope that helps clarify :-)

I don't care, I just want my WFM title. I earned it.

If a Continental Women's Championship is considered a Continental Championship, then an " under 10 Continental Championship" is also a Continental Championship, I guess. If some kid makes 10,5/11, with a sky high performance rating, 2600+, should it get the GM-title?!

There is only one Continental Championship for each continent: the one where everybody can play, regardless of their sex or age. FIDE made a mistake by treating a Continental Women's Championship as a Continental Championship, and handed out too many titles.


Wh0 is "FiDe"?

"Founded in Paris on 20 July 1924, the World Chess Federation (Federation Internationale des Echecs, known as FIDE from its French acronym) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the supreme body, responsible for the organization of chess and its championships at global and continental levels....

FIDE issues the rules of chess and the provisions pertaining to the organization of the Chess Olympiad, World Championships and all other FIDE competitions. It awards the international chess titles of Grandmaster, International Master, FIDE Master, Woman Grandmaster, Woman International Master, FIDE Woman Master, International Arbiter and other titles."


Congrats to JF, but was it painful ;-)

VXQTL, can you even read? The .pdf file says nothing more than the 2 women not having met enough GMs still met some other requirement ("1.21: Mr. Stubenvoll said that following the current regulations for a GM title according to 1.2 it is not necessary to meet any number of GMs. The committee agreed. Therefore Ms. Kosteniuk (RUS) and Ms. Peng (NED) achieved the GM title". It says nothing about whether they should have gotten more thnan one norm as I have repeatedly maintained.

Second, will you guys stop using that crap web archive site as a reference? I gave you a way to prove with no doubts that that site does not return accurate results. I can use that site to go back to 2004 and return pages from the current site at will, dated 2006.

You may want to question my memory, which is quite good, but you have yet to prove that I am wrong. On the other hand, I can prove that your site references are utter crap.


I checked, and am told that the Internet Archive (also called the WaybackMachine) is accurate to index date as long as you use the full URL of the page.

The problem you saw occurs if you attempt to use links off the page. Then you will get the "closest date," which may be years ahead or behind, as you noted.

I've never tried to use the links off a snapshot page, so I was unaware of this issue, or would have mentioned it when I first posted. so I apologize for any confusion on that score.

The Internet Archive has been around for a decade, and is acceptable as a citation source for peer reviewed journals. You just do need to know that the index dates are only valid for the original entered URL, not for any links off of it. Otherwise you need to read the timestamp in the URL to determine capture date.

So in this case, enter http://www.fide.com/official/handbook.asp?level=B0101

rather than trying to start from http://www.fide.com and linking down from there.

Again, my apologies for not being clear about this the first time.

From the Internet Archive FAQ, which explains how to see where you are after a link:

"How did I end up on the live version of a site? or I clicked on X date, but now I am on Y date, how is that possible?

Not every date for every site archived is 100% complete. When you are surfing an incomplete archived site the Wayback Machine will grab the closest available date to the one you are in for the links that are missing. In the event that we do not have the link archived at all, the Wayback Machine will look for the link on the live web and grab it if available. Pay attention to the date code embedded in the archived url. This is the list of numbers in the middle; it translates as yyyymmddhhmmss. For example in this url http://web.archive.org/web/20000229123340/http://www.yahoo.com/ the date the site was crawled was Feb 29, 2000 at 12:33 and 40 seconds. "

I do think the Internet Archive can be a useful reference, but obviously the timestamps can be confusing without explanation.



I had earlier tried both ways, and I still contend that it is not accurate. That link to the page does not return the right page, and I am more than sure about that. Look at the reference I pointed out earlier to norms now covering 27 games. That does not date back to 2003 as the page in the archive that you gave would indicate.

I understand how their date stamping works, but that above example totally destroys their credibility in my eyes. I don't know what to trust from them when I know that page is wrong, and unfortunately, it is the center of our discussion. Of course, I initially went directly to the page, but was pointing out later that even putting in www.fide.com returns garbage also. Again, I note that numerous links that I tried directly to the fide.com home page return a page that I had never seen before that is not even the normal fide.com site.

It is clear, peer journal acceptance or not, that relying on that as a source is very questionable. I am going to write to FIDE to see if someone can tell me exactly when the 27 games requirement went into effect. If it is when I contend (much later than 2003), that will prove beyond any doubt that the archive is not accurate, even when you enter a direct URL.

I will let you know if they help me out and are able to answer.


I just sent an e-mail to the head of the "Titles and Ratings" committee. If he doesn't return my e-mail, there are a dozen more people also listed on the committee that I will contact next.


I'd like your help on a matter that involves looking up a previous version of a live FIDE page.

I wish to retrieve the INITIAL (preliminary or whatever they called it) version of the current (January 2006) FIDE rating list.

That initial version, posted early Jan. 2006, gave you the option to pull up a spreadsheet of ONLY NEWLY RATED players (i.e., those who got FIDE ratings on that list for the first time). That's the one I want.

Unfortunately, I neglected to save the Excel download that first time I looked at it. When I finally got around to trying to save it, I found that FIDE had replaced it with the final version of the Jan. rating list -- which seems to have ONLY the complete list, with no separate breakout of NEWLY RATED players.

Can you give me a code or link that will retrieve the earlier version? I want to be able to compare my initial FIDE rating with those of other newly rated players, rather than with the entire FIDE list. (My recollection is that the "new players" list had about 1,900 names on it.)


I'd like your help on a matter that involves looking up a previous version of a live FIDE page.

I wish to retrieve the INITIAL (preliminary or whatever they called it) version of the current (January 2006) FIDE rating list.

That initial version, posted early Jan. 2006, gave you the option to pull up a spreadsheet of ONLY NEWLY RATED players (i.e., those who got FIDE ratings on that list for the first time). That's the one I want.

Unfortunately, I neglected to save the Excel download that first time I looked at it. When I finally got around to trying to save it, I found that FIDE had replaced it with the final version of the Jan. rating list -- which seems to have ONLY the complete list, with no separate breakout of NEWLY RATED players.

Can you give me a code or link that will retrieve the earlier version? I want to be able to compare my initial FIDE rating with those of other newly rated players, rather than with the entire FIDE list. (My recollection is that the "new players" list had about 1,900 names on it.)

VXQTL can't even read. An ignorant little man that fancies himself a chess historian, armed with his 1200 rating, his free time, and his hatred. I've seen him do this at other sites. You should't reject his company KCoutreau. He is just like you in so many ways!


If you can get the information directly from FIDE, or from someone who has copies of the handbooks, that would bge great.

It's helpful to remember what the Internet Archive site shows. It's just a screen capture of the site at that moment. Not of real life. If the organization takes awhile to update its site after a regulation change, there's nothing the Internet Archive can do about it--or is intended to. All it's showiong is what the page looked like on that date, not what the real regulations were.

The datestamp on the link you gave is August 2003. It shows a requirement of two norms covering 24 games. The page captured in November 2003 shows the requirement for 27 games.

According to the following page from the 2003 Canadian Championship, the requirement changed from 24 games to 27 games effective July 1, 2003.


So it looks like FIDE took a month or so to post the new regulations (not uncommon for them).

Again, if you can get the actual regulations from FIDE, that would be great.

FIDE is not always consistent in what it posts to its site (or when), but it appears to me that these are the July 1 2003 regs:

p.s. As to the issue with the "completely different site"--I don't know if you remember, but there was a problem with ownership of the FIDE.com and fide.org domains in 2003. So people kept being told to check different temporary domains while it was straightened out. Again, all the Internet Archive can show you is what someone would have seen on that date if they typed in wwww.fide.com .


(The USCF official bio as of February 2006 for Hikaru Nakamura still doesn't list him as US Champion, for example. An Internet Archive capture can't show more than what theorganization has posted.)


The Internet Archive takes 6 to 12 months to post its page captures, so it won't be available there yet even if they did catch it (and they don't always catch files that go along with web pages).

You might try asking on the message boards to see if anyone has it. Otherwise, the usual suspects: Mark Crowther, Chessville, Chessbase.


to Jon Jacobs--

I believe this is what you're after:


My Google-fu is unstoppable!

-ed g.

Francis urquart, I don't hate, but I won't pull punches either. Believing there should be no separate women's chess is not hate, just common sense striving for true equality. Geeze, I thought women wanted that. I must be stupid too.

I just like accurate facts, and at least I am trying to prove my points using facts. My letter to the head of the FIDE committee proves this desire. No response from FIDE yet, but if I don't have one by tomorrow, I will send my e-mail to a different member.

Not that you referred to me as a historian, I do not consider myself a historian, nor do I care to be. I am just a facts guy. I just happen to be quite familiar with the key page we are discussing. On the ICC, most of you who watch GM games regularly know me as PhishMaster. If you are familiar with me, you know that I have answered a lot of questions there over the last 9 years, and most I dare say, accurately. You would also know me as a bit irreverent and having a sense of humor, as I crack jokes there all the time....this is not hate. People on ICC constantly ask about how to earn FIDE titles, and sometimes you get inaccurate information whispered. Whenever that happens, I always refer to that page, so I can cite a reference. That is the main reason I have read it so often.

Because I was so familiar with that page, when Kosteniuk got her title, I used my knowledge of that page to double check and see that she should have only gotten one norm. I was flabbergasted, and at that point, I became an outspoken critic of her receiving the title. That is not hate, and I do not dislike Kosteniuk herself....It is called fairness.

I also have the guts to use my real name (next time spell it right please) here, and always have. Considering your hate-filled post, that would make you quite the hypocrite.


Since "women" applies to a couple of billion people, there are a lot of different opinions in the group. About everything. :)

Even among women chessplayers. Some play only gender-restricted events for religious reasons. Some play only unrestricted events for personal ones. Some play both, and the usual reason given is that there is a financial advantage to doing so. But I'm sure there are others who see a tradition in the gender-restricted events, or a chance to promote chess.

For myself, I like Jackie Robinson's idea: "It is better to behave as though you believe you are equal, than as though you hope you might some day be equal."

But that's just my own opinion. :)


p.s. I was able to verify from the 2003 Canadian Championship handouts that the FIDE regs changed from 24 games to 27 effective July 1, 2003. The Internet Archive can only show you what the page looked like on a particular date--that's its function. Since the page we were looking at was August 2003, it looks like FIDE just didn't get around to posting the new regs for a month or two--not uncommon for them. By the November 2003 page capture the 27 game requirement was posted.

You know what strikes me as interesting? There are so many people who are so dead against gender-restricted women's events, and call them degrading and counterproductive and irrational and everything else, but there are all sorts of other events out there which are restricted on OTHER bases which seem "natural" and "reasonable" and don't get challenged.

Take, for example, the large residence-restricted event which starts today: the "U.S. Championship". Or is it citizenship-restricted? Or is there any easy shorthand for it? In any case, it seems to me that all the arguments for why "women's chess" is a bad idea work just as well - or just as BADLY - to prove that "U.S. chess" is a bad idea. "Why not just have a big open event?" "Why patronize U.S. players by giving them their own little event that they can win even with their weak ratings distribution?" "Wouldn't U.S. players improve more if they spent more time competing with the top European and Asian players?" And so on, yada yada yada. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to take every other argument in this thread against gender-restricted events, titles, prizes, etc., and transpose them into arguments against a U.S. championship.

Now, a lot of people reading this are going to have this kind of reaction: "You are just being silly. There have always been national championships, state championships, club championships, age-restricted championships, and so on. They are obviously reasonable things that serve clear needs, whereas the rationale for gender-restricted events is obviously much more dubious. You can't mean what you say when you compare the two. You are being purposely argumentative." No, I'm not. WHY is being an estadounidense more "legitimate" or "basic" than being female? WHY is it more reasonable to designate and honor the best player among U.S. citizens/residents/whatever than the best player among women? WHY are women thrown on the defensive all the time about women's chess, and yet we take it for granted that guaranteeing the existence of a big tournament limited to "U.S. players" is a basic responsibility of the US Chess Federation?



The reason is simple. Gender is an accident of birth.

A person can change their residence--many of the players currently contesting for the US Championship title have previously been citizens of another country.

So although of course it is more difficult to leave some areas than others, in theory anyone who wanted to contest for the US Championship could, eventually.

In the same way, divisions of age, while time bound, offer a stage that everyone can at some point in their life play for. Every 21 year old was under 10 at some point. Most people will be over 65 at another. So lifestages restrictions while limiting the particpants to a current group, were still available to everyone at some point in their lives.

Gender or racial restrictions, though, are for 99.999999999% of the population permanent, and based on nothing more than the accidental combination of genes in the original conception.

I have one daughter and two sons. To say to them, "This is a prize that only one of you may ever contend for" is restrictive far beyond a regional event.

In the question of physical sports, it can be argued that the clearly demonstrable median advantage in height is enough to justify a separate "protected" title.

But the median IQ of both men and women is exactly the same. Testably, demonstrably the same. So there is no median justification for a separation in intellectual pursuits.

In most physical sports, the higher the class, the higher the median height. Sure, there are always a few Spud Webb exceptions, but on average a Division I football player is bigger than a Division II player, and those in turn bigger than a Division III average. Pro players are bigger yet again.

But Grandmasters are not, on average, taller than IMs, nor IMs, on average, taller than Masters. And if height is not a contributing factor on average (always on average), then gender is not a justifiable reason to create a restriction.

So as you touch on, the question is not just who is included, but who is left out--amd why. Walter Browne had a choice about which national championship to contend for and, although born in Australia, became a 6 time US Champion. Lev Alburt, Boris Gulko, Hikaru Nakamura, Yasser Seirawan are all Americans by choice. (As are Susan Polgar and Irina Krush.)

Gender or racial restrictions, however, do not allow for this option, and that is why they can fairly be judged to be a different kind of restriction.


petrel has a valid point. Kudos.


How many women there are on the earth is an irrelevant point. In chess, since it is a mind exercise, women are supposed to be equal, as can be demonstrated in many other areas. And, frankly, you have truly always struck me as one smart cookie yourself.

The question is do you want to be equal or not? I really just don't see the point of having separate tournaments any more.


Thanks, Kevin.

Speaking only for myself, I play only unrestricted tournaments (although not many any more due to my health). As a fan and USCF member, I would prefer to have a single US Championship with a single qualifying standard.

All I meant was that even among women chessplayers, there are a lot of different opinions about this.



(a) In the first place, it IS possible to change your gender these days. It is costly and difficult and requires a great commitment - as is changing your citizenship or country of residence. For that matter it is not so easy for everyone to obtain U.S. citizenship, and as for other countries it is even harder. It would be easier for me to get gender-reassignment surgery than to get Swiss citizenship, for example. I think most people don't consider their nationality, country of residence, or citizenship as discretionary as you apparently do for the sake of this debate. Anyway, are you saying that on the day when gender reassignment becomes cheap, swift, safe, and routine, you will drop all your opposition to gender-restricted chess tournaments?

(b) Actually, I agree that gender is more permanent than citizenship for most people. But I swear I don't see how this is an argument for why a citizenship-restricted championship is BETTER than a gender-restricted championship. I would say that the argument went entirely the other way!

To me, it seems obvious that if some characteristic is malleable and temporary and (thus) was not a "central characteristic" of their identities, there is no point in trying to build a structure of events around it. Nobody would organize a tournament restricted to people whose Internet handle begins with "p" for example. People are only motivated to have championships within groups that they identify with.

That's why there are national championships and national teams at the Olympics and why nobody questions the idea of a U.S. championship. It's not because nationality is seen as discretionary and trivial. It's because nationality is seen as enduring and important!! If we get to the point where GMs, IMs, and FMs really do change citizenships annually at will like changing teams in the Bundesliga, THEN I think people would start wondering why we are throwing our money around having a U.S. Championship whose participants are basically a random collection of the world's chessplayers.

Therefore, by emphasizing the relative permanence of gender assignment, you are in my view strengthening, not weakening, the case for gender-restricted events.


Mr. Cotreau,

How consistent is your passion for equality and high-quality chess? Having argued that "chick chess" played between 2400's-2500's is "boring" and "pathetic" compared to 2700+ chess, would you argue, on similar grounds, that the "Yanqui chess" that we will see in San Diego, with nary a 2700+ in the field, is also "boring" and "pathetic", and will you call for its abolition? Do you ask US players if they "want to be equal" to European and Asian players, and dare them to drop the U.S. championship's citizenship restrictions? If not, why not?



I said it was possible for a very small minority--that's why I didn't say 100%.

Your original comment was that any argument regarding a gender-restricted event would apply just as equally to the residence-restricted US Championship.

Since well over half of the 2006 US Chess Championship participants have had at least one country of residence other than the US (I believe it's 40 out of 64), I stand by my counterargument that the two represent qualitatively different kinds of pool restrictions.



Of course there are differences between gender and citizenship, but I still don't see how it works out that these differences have the logical effect that you want them to have. Why does the fact that 40/64 in the US Championship pool were not always US residents make the US Championship MORE defensible? Why does the fact that 100% (as far as I know) of the females in the pool were always females make the Women's US Championship LESS defensible?

NOTE: by the way, this is not meant as an argument that you personally, or other women in chess, "ought to" support or participate in women's events. In every struggle for equality different strategies are advocated, particularly as situations vary: busing vs. community control, for example. These differences aren't usually as antagonistic as people want to make them; I think it's almost (not quite) funny when people want to use J. Polgar as a club to beat up S. Polgar with.

Also respectfully,


One more thing and I'll stop spamming for a while: as it happens, the FIDE rating distribution of women as a whole (internationally) is not that far off from the distribution of US players, although you can see that the US has benefited from the immigration of some 2500+ GMs. Thus, the #10 woman on the FIDE list is Stefanova at 2499, and the #10 US player is Shabalov at 2595. But as you go down the list it evens out: the #49 and 50 women are Galinnina and Ryjanova in a tie at 2413, and the #49 and 50 in the US are Krivantsov/Ziatdinov at 2449. The #100 woman is Medvegy at 2364, and the #100 US player is Stephen Muhammad at 2377. By comparison, the #100 Russian is rated 2516!!

The arguments against women's chess include the following: that the top players are too weak to play interesting chess; that they should concentrate on improving their play by playing against stronger opposition; that it is patronizing to women to have prizes limited to women who are really playing up to the standard of men; and so on. Well, since the ratings of US men are more or less comparable to the ratings of women in general, don't the same arguments apply? Isn't the field in San Diego too weak to produce interesting chess? Shouldn't they concentrate on improving their play? Isn't it patronizing to them to have a US event and a US prize at all? Wouldn't the correct thing be to give the US championship to the US player who does best in the FIDE world cup or some big open tournament or something - JUST AS the US women's championship is going to the woman who does best in San Diego?

I think the most common answer to this argument would be that our desire to find the top US player has something to do with national pride and national spirit. After all, historically, a "champion" is not necessarily just someone who beats all comers in an event. It is also someone who champions his/her constituency, who fights on their behalf and represents them in a broader arena. The US Champion is someone we in the US would cheer for in competition with other champions. OK, I don't say that that's not legitimate. But why does NATIONAL pride go unquestioned, while WOMEN'S pride, women's desire to have their own champion, their own representative - insofar as it exists, and of course not every woman wants this - why does it have to be on the defensive all the time?



You raise some interesting questions, although you also seem to be mixing together three or four contradictory arguments, so it's a bit difficult to respond coherently.

First, the USCF can pay for its own national championship if it wants to. And for many years, that championship was one step in the cycle for the overall champoinship (to be honest, at this point I have no idea whether the "zonal" concept exists or not).

I have no problem at all if a group of women want to get together and pay for their own women's championship. I still wouldn't participate, but Jen Shahade has convinced me that some women do find a social benefit in that kind of event, and it's no different, really, than a particular club having its own event.

And I actually would have no problem if the USCF decided to have a Men's Championship, a Women's Championship, and an Overall Championship--and if the winner of the Men's and Women's were each guaranteed an invitation, just as, years ago, the winner of the US Junior Championship was also guaranteed an invitation.

The main thing is to get away from a two tier system, where there is an Overall and a Women's. Which implies that the Overall is the Men's, which it isn't (even if the official competitors' welcome letter continues to refer to it that way. Sigh.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The option of a three part system: Men's Championship, Women's Championship, and Overall Championship.

That would be the ratings equivalent of the 1970's Russian Championship, US Championship, and World Championship. Three separate events (no cheating by declaring the Men's to be double purpose).

Of couse the problem is that the USCF has very limited resources. It can't afford to pay for a three part system.

Although I would not make a rule that women can NOT compete in gender-restricted events (that's an individual decision), I can, as a USCF member, suggest that I feel our group resources are better spent elsewhere--just as someone else is free to suggest we should spent $75,000 to stage a left-handed championship, if they like.

But the difference between all of that and your attempted parallel between the US Championship and FIDE is that FIDE doesn't have to pay for the US Championship. Not a dollar, not a ruble, not a Swiss franc. The US pays for its own championship. So the fact that the rating distribution at present is way off of FIDE's doesn't matter. If the USCF wants have one for its members, it's using its own resources to do so. Personal choice.

But the reason it's not a parallel situation with the gender-restricted US women's championship is that it's not just the women paying for it.

Yes, there's a valid discussion to be held as to whether the resources are well spent in that fashion. (Personally, I think chess would be promoted for the benefit of ALL members much more effectively if we eliminated the gender-restricted event and spent the money on a sponsorship coordinator, but that's just my opinion. And, no, that's not a job I could or would take, so it's not a self-involved decision in that sense.)

But that's a different discussion.


What makes you think that men and women can compete each other? Men and women are totally different. Their respective abilities, and duties are different. I believe the idea of women competing against men in anything for that matter is based on the evil French revolutionary ideology. Until the 18th century it was no so. Women were home keepers. Today the world is taken by this ideology that women can be independent. The truth be known that woman is made for man. It is a wonderful and noble thing for women to be home keepers, good wives and mothers. It's sad that this country is soon going to be a nation of individuals. A strong family can make a strong country.


Men and women played chess against each other in the 1400s and 1500s in Europe, just as they do today, as an intellectual pastime.


It did not affect their ability nor interest in being mothers and homemakers.


Duif, ofcourse men and women played chess for pleasure. But they played other games too. There was no serious match play or competition to see who was better. My question is what makes them to think that they can do all things that men do? Are not men and women different? Men does not think that way. They know their limitations. But it's not sad that women are bearing the double curse?


I long ago gave up trying to figure out why any one person holds any particular opinion. :)


Actually Petrel, normally I do find the US championship lacking in quality, so I am pretty consistent. The only reason I am watching intently this year is that my best friend qualified for the first time ever, and is playing.

You are clearly pretty ignorant of my previous statements. I have clearly called for the abolition of women's chess, but never said that women's chess between 2400-2500 is boring. What I said is that all games between those ratings are boring to me, but I have never said anything about, nor called for the abolition of these lesser, yet open-to-both-sexes, tournaments. While I think they are or a lesser quality, and in my eyes, less interesting, I have never called for their abolition.

If you are going to open your mouth, get it right. I am really tired of debating idiots who can't even read my previous comments.


By the way, I forgot to comment about your find in that Canadian Open handout. I would finally consider that a valid explanation as to how Kosteniuk got her title since the rule for the 12+ game, 2600-performance was in effect.

Thank you. I will consider this subject closed, unless the guy from FIDE writes back and contradicts you, which I doubt will happen based on your information.


Mr. Cotreau: I am always interested in "getting it right" and not being an idiot, and in not being ignorant of people's previous statements, and your "previous comment" in this thread on Feb. 26 at 07:37 was, I assure you, in front of my eyes at 15:13 yesterday as I wrote my query to you. So what did I get wrong?

You say, "I never said that women's chess between 2400-2500 is boring." Yes, you did. On Feb. 26 at 07:37 you wrote:

"Chick chess, as is [sic] chess between male IM's, is boring."

You didn't say that ONLY women's chess was boring, but I never claimed you did. You now confirm that you consider the U.S. championship to be boring as well. What did I get wrong, exactly?

I then ASKED you if you called for the abolition of the U.S. championship as well, and "if not, why not?". You seem offended that I would even suggest that you might have done so. But I did not claim that you had done so. In fact, it is not surprising to me that you do NOT call for the abolition of the U.S. championship. This is part of the pattern which I noted in my other posts yesterday.

You believe the U.S. championship, which is open only to U.S. players and excludes other people with better ratings who can pay the air fare, is also boring and of low quality, but you do NOT call for its abolition. Which demonstrates that for you, the "boring" low-quality play, of which you believe women's chess to consists, has little to do with the case. Even though it was the first thing you wrote in your above-cited Feb. 26 post, it turns out that it's a side issue for you. You think the U.S. championship is just about as bad, but it doesn't OFFEND and BOTHER and ANGER you the way women's chess does, and you don't want to DESTROY it as you do with women's chess. This suggests that pure misogyny might be the real explanation for your attitude, but I wouldn't want to be hasty. If you have another explanation for this apparent inconsistency, state it, by all means.


Some interesting ideas on this thread.

1. Tournments for albinos are as valid as for women. There is no a priori evidence or rational hypothesis that would make this correct. Men and women are different physically and mentally, and there is some logic to this resulting in an overall average difference in chess.

2. Men and women score the same in IQ tests, so all mental activities should be done equivalently by both genders. IQ test is not chess, and median score is not useful in looking for champions. Women can perform at top levels of chess, but not in big numbers yet, and so far seem to benefit from separate championships. Gender differences are real although not sufficiently understood.

3. "Someone" should abolish/ rescind gender segregated titles. Well they are not within any power to rescind, being awarded for life. If you abolish for example (this has been suggested) the EdD degree as not rigorous enough, those who already have one will continue to have it.

4. People can change gender! Crude 'modern' surgery can change your appearance, but not your gender. A female by birth will still have XX in every cell.

5. "Someone" will abolish women-only tournaments. I do not think so, that every country will act forecfully at the same time to eradicate these events.

6. Duif, do you really think that adjusted for height and weight, men and women are equal at predominantly physical sports like tennis?

7. I think that women who want to abolish women-only titles are mainly in two groups those who don't personally need it (Susan Polgar), or those too weak to get any title anyway (fill in name if it applies).


I dissent from a couple points: (a) "gender" is generally used for what is socially assigned, that is, precisely what one "passes for", rather than what is in one's chromosomes - such is my experience with the social science literature, anyway....

(b) I don't think your point 7 holds up very well.... WIM Beatriz Marinello is, for example, an opponent of women's chess, whereas GM S. Polgar supports it.

(c) As to your point 2, looking over the FIDE ratings distributions leaves me with the very clear impression that the distribution of women is pretty similar to the distribution of men, except that there are more men in the upper tail of the distribution. The #2 woman in the world is rated 2537 - as is the #400 man. From the numbers alone you might expect there to be 8 or 10 women in that range, very roughly speaking. The non-appearance of that handful of women is where the difference in the distribution lies. But this is precisely the range at which matters like coaching and social support and tournament opportunities and concentration on chess professionally over a period of years without leaving the field become so crucial, and if those things were more forthcoming than the handful of women might appear after all, and I'm not at all willing to assume on such weak evidence that there is any "inherent" gender difference whatever.


First, I apologize, you are correct about my statement concerning "chick chess". That said, I still think you have clearly misinterpreted and misunderstood my previous statements.

As far as the level of chess and equality in chess, those are two totally different subjects, and I believe that I have kept those arguments fairly well separated. Here are my positions spelled out for you: 1) I do call for the abolition of separate women's chess and titles on the grounds of equality, and I am very consistent on that point. 2) I am a strong enough player to see the difference between the games of 2700's and those between 2400-2600's, and it is my opinion that the lower-level chess is boring, if only to me. I am entitled to have that opinion.

Your argument about a national championship dropping citizenship requirements is absolutely foolish. Americans, Europeans, and Asians should indeed compete on totally equal terms in virtually all cases, and I am consistent abut this too, but for OBVIOUS reasons, a national championship is an exception. You shouldn't need clarification as to why this is an exception.

I have not called for the abolition of any chess that I personally consider boring based on boredom alone or for the abolition of the US Championship specifically, nor would I….Just women’s chess due to the inequality of the system. That said, there is no question that a lot of the games at the US Championship will be poor or “pathetic” even, but again, that is an opinion I am entitled to it.

Boring or not, all of the lower-tier tournaments do serve a purpose, since no one could ever get to 2700 without them, and 1500's couldn't even enjoy playing a local tournament on the weekend. That doesn't make that 1500's games interesting, but everyone's interest cutoff level is different, and mine just happens to be quite high. It also means that I am not going to waste 6 hours intently following the games of 1500’s or even 2500’s. Going out on a limb and assuming you are the same Petrel on ICC, you are fairly low-rated, so it is not surprising that you are not as able to discern the difference between the games of 2400's and 2700's, and thus, your interest level is naturally much wider.

I hope this clarifies my positions, as I have always though I have made this crystal clear. I see no inconsistencies, as you claim.

By the way, your clearly derogatory term "Yanqui chess" is part of the reason I went off on you. It makes me think you have something against Americans, and is no less inciting than my deliberate use of the term "chick chess".


That's a lot of points to cover, so I'll answer a few first, to keep it from being too long.

I'm not sure a woman's rating should matter when it comes to interpreting the reasons for her position on gender-segregated titles. After all, there were many African Americans who believed the old "Negro Leagues" in professional baseball should be abolished even though they themselves were never going to be professional players. When a division is made on the basis of a group, and arguments are made that it either inspires or in some way represents that group, then people in that group are enetitled to an opinion. If the issue of gender-restricted titles applied ONLY to the women strong enough to get them, I think most of the arguments for them would disappear.

Moreover the cost of holding gender-segregated championships and awarding gender-segregated titles is born by the entire membership. So as a discussion of best use of resources, it seems to me that every member, male or female, has the right to an opinion.

(If you're asking about me personally, I've been in the top 100 US women for a long time. Currently inactive due to illness, but was there last year. My highest ever rating was just over 1800. It's currently just over 1700. So I'm an upper level amateur. But higher rated than, for example, Ms. Cotrell. I have qualified for a number of gender-restricted prizes and invitations over my chess career and declined all of them except one, a favor to a friend very early in my playing career. I did not repeat the experience. So it's an issue that has affected me personally even though I'm a much lower rated player than even a WIM.)


To Duif,

I don't believe that there were many African-Americans who believed that the Negro Leagues should be abolished during their heyday, when the white-owned major leagues completely excluded Black players from participating. I don't think it's a very helpful analogy either. A better analogy might be to historically Black and women's colleges, which continue to exist and to play a role even though African-Americans and women are not barred from attending the major public and private institutions.

Mr. Cotreau,

To take your last point first, I don't in fact have anything against U.S. citizens/residents as individuals. I am one. However, if my use of the term "Yanqui chess" in satirizing YOU makes you think that I have something against Americans, ought I to infer from your prior and deliberate use of the derogatory term "chick chess" that you have something against women? Or want everyone to think that you do?

Now as to the citizenship requirement of the U.S. championship. You claim that national championships are exceptions from the "rule of equality" for "OBVIOUS reasons". You declare that I "shouldn't need clarification as to why this is an exception," and you call my argument "absolutely foolish". I may be as foolish as you say, Mr. Cotreau, but if you read paragraph 3 of my March 2 11:46 post, you will see that I pretty accurately anticipated your response. You are exactly the person to whom I was writing to, or at least about.

I believe that most of the problems in this world do not come about because of the things about which people are ignorant. No, the problem is very often that things seem "OBVIOUS" to people, so obvious that questions about them don't even need to be taken seriously. "Of course" an event limited to U.S. citizens makes sense! "Of course" an event limited to women makes no sense! But I think that's where the interesting discussion STARTS, not where it stops. To avoid pointless repetition, I hereby incorporate by reference my entire March 2 17:34 post.



My apologies for being confusing. I was referring specifically to the period AFTER Jackie Robinson had begun playing in the Major Leagues. Which I think is exactly where we are now. It was a major topic of discussion within the community at that point. The "Negro Leagues" continued to operate for about 8 years after Robinson began playing for the Dodgers, and ultimately failed because they lost their fanbase as well as their stars.

The historically black colleges are a less parallel situation, since they began admitting students of other races in some cases from the beginning. They were an alternative educational institution that accepted African-Americans, rather than an institution which did so exclusively. For example, West Virginia State was 80% white as early as 1964. In fact, one can argue that it was their policy of diversity and their overriding pupose of providing a good education which caused them to continue in existence, as opposed to the "Negro Leagues" in baseball which had no real purpose once the Majors were integrated.


I don't have anything agaist women, just women's chess, and I chose the term "chick chess" to incite on purpose.

I stand by my comments that to compare women's chess and limiting a national championship to citzen's of the nation is a foolish comparison. I don't care if you don't get it.


That's a very interesting point you raise, about the debate within the Black community about the "Negro Leagues" after the integration of the AL and NL had begun. It sounds like you know more about it than I do. If there is a book or something about the discussion, I'd be interested in seeing a citation? Thanks for calling the issue to my attention.

I agree then that the terms of the debate are probably similar to those in discussions among women in chess now, although as with all analogies (my own analogy with colleges was probably even worse) there are problems - maintaining a league, for example, is different from staging an event or establishing a title. And of course the leagues were completely independent of the AL and NL.

The other issue you raise is the funding issue - that is, if I am reading you right, that women's chess is not a separately funded entity, generally, but is supported by the budgets of FIDE, the USCF, and presumably of other national federations. It's also an interesting point. Even among women who are strong supporters of the concept of women's chess, I'm sure you could find some who say that it should be liberated from such sponsorship, as well as others who would say that continuing sponsorship is essential.


"Inciting on purpose".... isn't there a technical term for someone who does that? "Troll"? :-)



There are a number of good books, but one of the most readable that directly addresses the issues of the "Negro Leagues" after 1947 is Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel.


Well, after being accused of not being able to read, and being foolish for relying on the wayback machine, it turns out:

- I read everything correctly.

- The wayback machine was reliable when properly used.

However, to reiterate a point first made by someone else, that I confirmed in my first discussion of the wayback machine is that there IS actually something at least a little fishy about the Kosteniuk/ Peng titles. It has nothing to do with norms, because that wasn't how they qualified. It is, that the version of rules in force then had the 12 game/2600+ performance leading directly to a title, with no other qualifiactions needed as applying to "a continental chess championship". Since World Championship and Women's world championship were covered separately, it was at minimum a generous interpretation to apply this rule to the European Women's championship. I personally don't think it was more than that, but it is valid for someone to consider the titles unjustified on that basis.

Of course, soon thereafter they made this interpretation explicit by separately listing Continental Women's championships, and giving it the same status for special performance rating results. They also tightened up these 'specials' to be required to meed other general criteria that apply to norms, and eventually changed them to yield 20 game norms rather than instant titles.

I want to say I have nothing against KCotreau or how he responded to me. I made a sharp criticism of his argument, and his response was proportionate. I perceive he has strong opinions but attempts to argue on logic and facts as he sees them. The same is true of me.

As to a troll who butted in, I have nothing to say.

Oh as to my strange handle - it has a special personal significance for me that I have explained on another chess server. I use it on all the chess sites I participate on (as well as GO sites). I use a different handle, for example, to edit science articles on wikipedia.


My original question was why Kosteniuk got her title, and Duif's explanation finally satisfied me after 2 years of wondering. I am glad to accept Duif's source as valid, but that doesn't not mean the archive site was right. You can't get a from b. That said, I appreciate that you recognize that I do try to argue facts, and appreciate the same.

Also even though I still do disagree with your comments about the .pdf file properly explaining why Kosteniuk got her title, I am sorry I attacked you first, especially since I am about to comment below about Petrel attacking me first. I should have just reiterated that it doesn't address the issue of why, and not attacked. Most of that was due to my annoyance with that archive web site rather than you personally.


One thing that seems to go on here is a lot of passive-aggressive crap from gutless people, like you in particular. Posting something then waiting for someone to respond, and saying something like "You are exactly the person to whom I was writing to, or at least about", as if you were baiting them is childish and gutless. Either say it clearly and directly or shut up.

In that spirit of directness: Petrel, I don't like you at all, and still think that most of your arguments with me in this thread have been idiotic and make little sense, but at least I don't hide. I state mine pretty clearly don't I?

By the way, what was with the stupid "[sic]" you added to my comments when you quoted me March erd at 08:49. My grammar was perfectly correct there.

I was stating my points, when you attacked me directly first in your March 2nd 15:13 post, rather than debating your own independent ideas, so I am going to consider these my last words on the subject. I am done checking this thread since it just pisses me off to no end, and arguing with you is pointless since you have no sense.

Cotreau (like many misogynistic trolls) really has anger issues, doesn't he? This is why I value such anonymity as I have. I really would prefer it if he didn't know my address.


I think Susan Polgars idea of dividing women GM by some "earning" criteria is somewhat disrespectful to other women GMs, I think Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze contributed enough to world chess and even paved some way for Polgars, and saying that they didnt deserve GM titles is rather somebody's personal obession with superclassification.

Funny that in a thread about the relative merits of men vs women, we find two men (petrel and KCoutreau - at least I presume both are men) entertaining us with a lengthy public "match" in a sport -- CATFIGHTING -- whose "competitors" usually are thought of as female.

Another irony is that (in my opinion at least) both petrel and KCoutreau are among the smartest, best-informed and most cogent regular posters who hang out here.

So, guys, why can't we all just get along?

OH MY G-D! I'm starting to sound like Tommy! Somebody please euthanize me!

Please, Jon, when women do it it is catfighting but when men do it it is tough hard-hitting political and philosophical debate ;-) As to the second part, without making or accepting any claims for myself, being intelligent or well-informed has little to do with sharing interests or values. Being intelligent might just make it more possible to pick out who one's most irreconcilable enemies are and attack them effectively, so what you label "irony" might actually be cause and effect :-)


To pick up the philosophical ball that petrel just tossed my way, I recall what a college friend once told me about the game, "lifeboat." (For those unfamiliar, "Lifeboat" is the original, bare-bones precursor of TV's "Survivor" and most other "reality-TV" shows where participants vote on who gets thrown out.)

My friend, after taking part in the game a couple of times with dorm-mates and others, described a predictable series of events.

The first person who the others vote to toss out of the lifeboat is always the most non-judgmental one playing (let's call him tommy). He gets thrown to the sharks because the players have to live with each other after the game is over, and everyone knows he's the one least likely to hold it against any of them tomorrow and the day after.

The second person ejected from the boat, according to my friend, is always the second-most-powerful person in the group. Why? Because after everyone has made the relatively easy decision to dump Mr. Nice Guy, the next order of business is this: the most powerful person in the boat figures out who his most dangerous enemy is and strives to eliminate him. In the resulting confrontation, the loser is, by definition, the second-most-powerful person. (I admit this is a little tautological.)

Anyway that's the part that petrel's observation brings to mind.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 26, 2006 12:04 AM.

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