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Chimi Rocks!

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If you have room for a new chess hero, make it Batchimeg "Chimi" Tuvshintugs. She just beat her third GM of the US Championship, black against Becerra! She beat Fishbein in the first round, Kreiman in the third, and drew with black against Gulko in the fourth. Only a loss to group leader Yury Shulman slowed her down. The 19-year-old Mongolian lives in my old stomping ground in the East Bay. I'll try to get her to share some annotations from her games.

John Donaldson is already guessing at the huge rating leap she has in store and fills us in with some other info on his club's new star member:

She's played opposition over 2550 and scored 3.5/5. He rating going in was 2208 FIDE and 2271 USCF. In both systems she's gained around 50 rating points. Even if she falters in this system, she has killer tiebreaks. Her only loss is to Shulman, who is leading the tournament.

She plays faithfully in the Mechanics Club Tuesday Night Marathons. (Eight round swisses, 30'+90", g/30) and she usually wins. (One game a week with two week break between events.) She always calls her coach Batsaikhan Tserendorj "teacher." He's only expert level but she swears by him. Over the last month or so she's been parked on the 4th floor of the Mechanics Club with her laptop studying chess. This with her job and studying for school. Both of her sisters are also on the rating list. One I think still lives and plays in Mongolia. Batchimeg is quite ambitious and I think she would love to be on the Olympiad team.

More coming soon. Donaldson is now filling us in on the veritable golden horde of Mongolian players in the US today. Apparently there are more strong Mongolians here than in Mongolia. But the husband-wife team Tegshuren Enkhbat and Tsagaan Battsetseg that were in the last championship didn't make it this time.


I just hope that she doesn't get brought down by the nature of Swiss tournaments. She faces hard competition, while others can stay close by beating the (relatively) weaker players, and then lose the final game and finish 2nd. I can't remember which woman it was that this happened to a year or two ago, but she also had a great run, but not quite THIS good.

We might also add that the first win represented her first ever win against a GM, so this run is even more impressive...


This is exactly what is wrong with this format for the women's title- that the woman who truly does the very best can actually lose out on the title simply due to pairings.

While I may be an elitist as to the level of the actual chess moves, as discussed recently in another thread, I have to say I am enjoying several of the stories. You have to love how Chimi is doing, and having known Josh Friedel almost since he walked into a chess club for the first time, watching him on track for his 2nd GM norm has me pumped.

I'm wondering when Chimi got so good??? I mean, I used to think I was equal to her in strength. I have a healthy +3 score in tournaments. And yet, I somehow don't see myself as going 3.5 out of 5 against Grandmasters anytime soon. Except in my dreams.

By the way, a correction. Chimi's loss came from GM Yuri Shulman, who currently sits at 4.5/5 and a full point clear of the field in the B section. Yes, this also means Chimi is tied for 2nd in the B group after five games. Amazing!

Somehow managed to mix up Chimi with Elliott Liu... Fixed it.

This run is very impressive. Kudos to this young star! I wonder if she's single ;-) ;-)

She is doing great. We should be happy for her and not try to tear her down. She has obviously worked hard to improve her game since last year fpawn.

I am so happy. I watched her win her games. today was again incredible. the fans on ICC just go wild. Everyone seems to have fallen in love with her. they are all so incredibly supportive.

after the game I went over it with Fritz. and I was surprised. in general Bacerra was hitting all the right moves but the game stayed about even. then suddenly things opened up on the king side and Fritz began to favor Chimi. she has great killer instinct as she kept choosing the best move and just caught him in a mate in 3, then mate in 2 where he finally resigned.

and the kibitz board on ICC went wild. just wild.

Mig I hope that the official site can start to publish the Tournament Performance Ratings. you do that for Linares and Corus etc on your site. so I know you can do it for the US Championships. Not like you need a new project to keep you up all night. but just think Mig. one day the tournament will end. they will throw you into a room with a bed and lock the door and let you sleep. haha. but not until then.

these kids beat me up at 15 and 16. now they are 19 like Chimi and Josh Friedel and they are leaving me alone and beating up the GM's. I admit years ago I watched one of my friends lose to a 10 year old sitting on telephone books. he could not reach the pieces. but he was deadly. I laughed. his moves were so precise and perfect. there was nothing to do but laugh. that 10 year old is now very well known and I am not sure of his present title.

there must be something funny going on that these young kids can do so well.

Great Tournament the BEST...... Better than Linares and Corus for me. Super Web Site. Great Job to the Web Master ~ Mig.

Playing kids sucks! :)

I like kids...they taste like chicken.

I think they taste like frogs legs.

If you get any commentary in Mongolian that you need translated, please let me know.

John Donaldson predicted this when he gave his lecture last Tuesday at the Mechanics Institute club. He was very excited about her possibilities. Having, at that time never hearing of her before I was dubious. I guess she is proving him right and me wrong. Good show for her.

Ha, pretty funny to see Kamsky upfloated to play Tuvshintugs in round 6 of a Swiss.

This is all a great advertisement for the present system of having gender-specific qualifying places and separate title within a mixed tournament.

With a separate women's event, the women would not have the chance to challenge towards the top. And all the tired male GMs would go on thinking that a woman could not beat them.

Tough games for the girls. I feel sorry for poor Ben Finegold's wife. She has yet to win a game. It looks like Larry Christiansen's wife and Ben Finegold's wife will duke it out on the last board. Liz Vicary seems to be fighting the odds, though Vicary's blog looks suspiciously written by Vigorito--incognito!

Tough games for the girls. I feel sorry for poor Ben Finegold's wife. She has yet to win a game. It looks like Larry Christiansen's wife and Ben Finegold's wife will duke it out on the last board. Liz Vicary seems to be fighting the odds, though Vicary's blog looks suspiciously written by Vigorito--incognito!


I have to respectfully disagree. This is a great argument for having 2 or 3 wildcard spots given to people who will make interesting matchups for the fans and the press. European tournaments, including Linares and Wijk aan zee, have done this for years--it's how people like Radjabov were first showcased.

Chimi is having a great run, at what I hope will be the start of a great career. I am delighted to see her doing so well. But her presence near the top of the board doesn't cancel out the negative symbolic importance of having the bottom of each section populated almost solely by women.

The message continues to be NOT that "a 2400 player is a 2400 player" but rather "most women can't play--anyone that can is the equivalent of a solar eclipse."

One of several problems with having the gender-segregated invitations is that while they do nothing to dispel the second true half of that assumption (that women who play well are rare), they do everything to promote the first demonstrably false impression, which is that women in general can't play.

1600's play worse than 2600s. No surprise. But that shouldn't translate into "men play better than women," which is the unfortunate visual message of overlaying the two events.

Remember that separating the two events wouldn't prevent any woman from "challenging towards the top." In 2005, Chouchan Airapetian, rated lower than Chimi is today, became the first woman to qualify for a gender-neutral spot at the US Championship. Chimi, Irina Krush, Susan Polgar, and several other women could qualify for gender neutral spots in a single event championship the same way that men do--by playing well in the qualifying events.

Chouchan has already proven it can be done. So any woman who wants to challenge at the top already has a path to do so.

Having the gender-segregated invitations merely insures that there will be women at the bottom--it does not guarantee any more women near the top than gender-neutral invitations would.

Again respectfully,

The fact that Kelly Finegold even qualified for the U.S.Chess Championship is proof that there is something wrong with this system. This tournament is similar to Celebrity Boxing. It's like watching Ashley Simpson going 9 rounds with Marvin Haggler. It's painful to watch, because you know she doesn't have a chance. It was cruel to even allow this spectacle to take place. Her participation only makes women look more inept at chess. Her ability is what it is. It isn't fair to put her on display where she is completely overwhelmed by much, much stronger players.

Hey Mig,

Can you correct the Browne-Perelshteyn result in the round 4 results on the US Champ website? It says they drew, whereas the gamefile (and concurrent pairings) state that Perelshteyn won.



The organizers and the USCF realized their mistake, and closed the loophole through which Kelly qualified. Kelly qualified by being the only woman (who paid to qualify) in her qualifying event, and scored 2 points. Next year, they also need a 50% score to qualify too.

This won't change the probability that there will still be women who qualify, who are a lot weaker than most of the men, but should weed out the 1600's.

KCotreau how many women actually made 50% when qualifying... I guess not so many, if we exclude the US Open. Doing a bit of homework we see that Zenyuk made exactly 50% at Foxwoods, Ross exactly 50% at WO and Chimi, before she was Chimi, made exactly 50% at the NAO. The "other half" of the list N.Christiansen, Epstein, Cotrell, West(yes she was nominated as a replacement but only because of her "performance at the NAO" The women who time in time out are likely to make 50% or better either don't play or qualified by rating.


You point out exactly the problem with the new 50% rule.

The gender-segregated invitations are being offered to people in one pool (women only). Then an additional factor is tossed in based on a DIFFERENT pool (50% performance in a non gender-restricted event). No other sport/competition has any similar rule, because it's inherently contradictory.

If you only want people who can score 50% in an unrestricted event, then only issue unrestricted invitations.

If you want to issue special gender-restricted invitations, then base it on performance within that gender-restricted pool.

There was absolutely no "loophole" involved in Ms. Cotrell's qualification. It's a factor of the size of the pool from which she qualified (women interested in paying extra to play for gender-restricted invitations), nothing else.

(Of course, the alternative is just to have a single event with a single qualifying standard, my own preference.)



Your statement about gender-based invitations:

"they do everything to promote the first demonstrably false impression, which is that women in general can't play."

is not correct. This has not yet been clearly demonstrated. Anyone who looks at the top-100 US women is going to wonder why the level is so abysmally low. Good results by Tuvshintugs (on a gender-based spot) help to demonstrate the point that women can beat top men.

The visual message any time now or soon of having one gender-neutral event will be that 'women do not play chess'. If Chouchan had to play for a spot in the top 64 against the top men rating seeds, she would not make it. Her spot is only 'gender-neutral' in that a lot of men don't have to play for it.

Having one women - Chouchan - in a low position is not going to bring a lot of women into chess, or make them stay in.

The truth is more important - women are generally near the bottom, because they are not at the level of men in the US right now, but women can regularly beat 'male GMs' and rise up.

"Negative symbolic importance" means nothing. Getting and taking chances to beat GMs, especially not so humble soft-spoken ones (like Nakamura) means something! Even if it takes a gender-restricted spot to give someone the chance.

The best thing for youth chess would be to combine boys and girls into one section (e.g. at World Youth) and award an overall prize and an other-gender prize. These days, that would often be a girls prize. Sometimes especially in younger groups and more so in future that would be a boy's medal. But girls would be heartened by how often they could win.

The British Junior championship works more or less like this. Girls winning overall age groups is not so unusual. The US has lost an opportunity by taking a path of all-integrated gender youth chess until Susan Polgar stepped in). In the US, women's chess is particularly weak (apart from the whims of the State Department in acquiring Mongolians).

DP, I was just pointing out how the new rule will prevent the aberration that currently taking place. Again, my personal views on the subject are well-known: Abolish women's chess.


You make some interesting points, but I'd suggest the following:

1. Award three prizes: best boy, best girl, and best overall. That can stand forever, should have all the advantage of an "other gender" award and none of its confusions or complications. Same thing with top 100 lists: publish 3 in each category.

2. Similarly, if you want to invite some women who can beat men, just do it. Use 2 or 3 wildcard spots to invite women who are likely to have a chance. Don't fill the bottom 20% of the field with women who've no chance.

3. Don't underestimate the power of a negative visual image. Those studies have been done many times. Show 1st graders pictures of a hospital where almost all the doctors are men and almost all the nurses are women, and you'll get back a response from 2nd graders the next year that women aren't as good at medicine as men. You'll also reduce the numbers of girls who say they want to be doctors relative to a group where you simply showed a hospital picture of doctors with 75% men and 25% women.

In other words, the presence of the overwhelmingly female subordinate group changes the preception of what women can do, and can more than counterbalance the impact of positive role models.

4. Your comments about Chouchan are mistaken. In the 2004 Chicago Open, she finished with the exact same score as GM Nakamura, and she qualified for the 2005 championship on that basis. It was the tournament performance of her life, but she did it fair and square, on an absolutely equal basis with some of the top men in the country.

As long as the qualifying process allows for some slots based on a single event performance, this is possible. there is no reason that other women cannot also do it in the future.

6. Women can play chess--when they choose to play. Now they don't choose to. We have had over 60 years of gender-segregated titles, events, and prizes, and it hasn't changed the percentage of women who play tournaments to anywhere near the levels of bridge or scrabble. Maybe it's time to look at a different approach.


Mig, when do we vote for the best blogger? I may change my mind, but right now I am voting for:

1) Ildar Ibragimov (gotta love that poem)

2) Franc Guadalupe (all-around good blog)


You can't compare Airapetian's 5 points in Chicago with Nakamura, in terms of performance; a 7 round Swiss has its foibles.

My point is that having one woman - Airapetian - in this year's US Championship would not have as postive an image for woman in representation and performance as the present turnout.

Your 2 or 3 wildcards are likely to miss the one or two who are going to shine that year.

"Women can play chess - when they choose to play" - well they will choose not to if there are no gender specific spots at this stage.

Jeux/ Jeuxde / whatever its not my real name after all


But if there were no gender-segregated invitations, it's quite likely that one or two of the 2400+ rated women who did receive gender-restricted invitations might have qualified on a gender-neutral basis. Or perhaps not--but until the gender-restricted invitations are removed, there's no way to tell. I certainly don't think Chouchan would have been the sole female competitor, though.

Regarding Chouchan's qualification, that was my mistake, and you're quite right--if all they wanted to do was invite the top 64 rated players and be done with it, Chouchan wouldn't be in the group. (There would be 2 women invited for a percentage of about 3%, pretty close to the percentage of adult women USCF members.)

But of course they don't just invite the top 64. My point on Chouchan is simply that she qualified on an absolutely fair basis for the gender-neutral invitation that was available--in the same way that many of the men qualified. The "foibles of a swiss" are what allowed most of the under 2500 players to qualify.

All I meant, and again I apologise if I was confusing, is that since the men aren't being invited strictly on rating, there's no reason women between 2000 and 2400 can't qualify in the same way without needing a separate gender-restricted track.

I've talked to a lot of girls and women players in the last 10 years. I would say almost universally they were inspired by Susan and Judit Polgar, not by the availability of a WFM title.


"...it hasn't changed the percentage of women who play tournaments to anywhere near the levels of bridge or scrabble"

Are you suggesting that those two games require the same commitment and talent from the players as chess?

One can argue the merits of any game or sport. But the point is rather that although in the 1700s women played chess socially, at the present time the same level of interest (chess at about Benjamin Franklin's level of play), they mostly don't. But they do play other tournament games. In the 1700s, women with leisure time played chess but not cards. Now they play cards but not chess. The game hasn't changed--social habits have.

I would argue that hobbyist chess, say at the 1200 level, requires a level of commitment notably less than that of completing law school. In the 1950s, the percentage of women playing tournament chess and women entering law school were roughly equal.

Now half the entering class at almost all American law schools is female. Yet the percentage of women playing tournament chess is no more than 5%.


It's not an issue of commitment or complexity. It's not a matter of the game itself.

All I'm saying is that gender-restricted inducements have been tried for decades. Yet this year the US Championship could not even find enough interested candidates to award all the gender-restricted invitations it had on offer. Women obviously aren't lining up to get these.

So why not try it the other way? Treat women chessplayers as equal for 5 years, and see if they respond. Compare both the ratings of the top 20 women and the percentage of women members. If there's no improvement over the current situation, we can always go back. Or try something altogether new.


One possible motivation I know of for studying jurisprudence is to make absolutely positively sure that one has never ever to deal with mathematics or natural science. Seen in this light, the high representation of female students in law schools combined whith a low figure of female chess tournament players actually makes sense. On another note, your figures for the 50s are propably too low to draw any conclusions in view of any correlation.


Your arguments are cogent and your gender-neutral suggestion is certainly the right course to take.

Without starting a flame war, bridge and scrabble are at least in a similar strata as chess insofar as they both take years to master and they both need a lot of dynamic thinking.

It's a good question as to why chess is so unpopular with women and you make a good point that the existing quota system over the last generation has not made a dent...so why stick with it?

Answer: because most people delude themselves and believe that giving someone something for free is the same as having someone earn it.


Well, it's an interesting argument, but the data doesn't support it. With regard to natural science, more girls than boys now take AP Biology. That's a big change over the same time span.

In fact, I used law school rather than medical school in my example because the last time we discussed this stuff someone made the claim that women entered medical school to avoid the complexities of abstract thinking in an adversarial context such as found in jurisprudence.

The truth is US women now enter law school and medical school in about the same percentage relative to men, and that percentage has now risen to about 50%.

Do these kinds of changes mean that we are likely to see more women taking up tournament chess as a hobby in the years to come? Perhaps. Perhaps it may be simply that it is the economic incentive of "a good career" that drives women to pursue these challenges in spite of discouraging opinions about their genetic destiny, and chess, as a hobby, cannot offer the same motivation. I suppose we'll see.

I know that what seems patently self-evident to me--that women need no special incentives or lowered standards to play well, but rather that where the atmosphere of a club is welcoming to women, women will play--is an argument I am doubtless bound to lose, at least for the time being. Most women who benefit financially from the special privileges will continue to cling to them; those men who in some way benefit from believing that chess is too complex for women will continue to believe so; and most of the other people will just keep their heads down and play chess. So it goes.


(Eppur si muove.)


Hey Mig, maybe you've mentioned it elsewhere but what is this story about Kreiman having only qualified by disreputable means? Any more info on that?


If women enter schools at the same percentage as men, then what percentage other than 50 would that percentage be?


My apologies if that wording was confusing. Let me restate it: at present in the US, the percentage of women in first year law school classes is about the same as the percentage of women in first year medical school classes.

In other words, contrary to the hypothesis poisonedpawn put forth, women are not entering law school as a way of avoiding natural science, since they are equally represented in medical school. (Nor as someone previously suggested are they entering medical school as a way of avoiding competitive careers, as they are about equally represented in law school.)

And at the present time not only are these two activities (women entering law school and women entering medical school) equal to each other, but they are now about equal to men.

So to answer your question, if 5% of the first year law students were women and 5% of the first year medical students were women, then the percentages in the two fields would be equal, but still less than 50% of the total class in each.

However, over the last 50 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of women in both professional schools. They are not choosing one over the other, and they are no longer underrepresented relative to men. 50 years ago women made up about 5% of law and medical school students. Now they are close to 50%.

Yet the number of women who are registered tournament chessplayers in the US has not changed much over the same time period. It's still only about 5%. It's hard to come up with any theory based on the nature of either women or US society that can explain why law and medical school participation has increased so much more than chess participation over this period.

It seems more likely that there has been a difference in the recruiting methods used in chess and in, say, law school. So since our methods (mostly incentives for the top
5% of women players) haven't worked, I think it's reasonable to look at what has worked in other intellectual activities where the participation of women has grown significantly.

On the other hand, it may just be a question of the value of the incentive--a good career presumably carries more weight than a FIDE title. To explore that aspect further we'd have to look at other noncareer activities.

I hope that clears up the confusion.


p.s. If anyone wants to google these numbers, be aware that there was a huge push in the year 2000, and the stats for the classes of 2004 will be quite different than some widely reported numbers from the mid-nineties. So make sure you get the most recent data.

Oh, and since I imagine it will be the next question: according to the US Department of Education, as of 2004 women receive half of the 4 year college degrees in mathematics.

So if we take 1000 recent college graduates who majored in math, 500 of them will be women. But 20 times as many of the men will play tournament chess.

I don't know why, either. (I have a guess, but no data.) But at the very least that's an indication that we should be trying something different.


I'd like to point out that Dungeons and Dragons has not seen a significant increase in female participation to rival Law School and Medical School admissions.


We must remember that Chess skill depends greatly on a person's spatial reasoning ability. You can Google studies on spatial reasoning and gender differences and you will see that these studies found that women are biologically limited in spatial reasoning. This is the way they are made. It isn't about intelligence, it is a kind of blindness. It is a matter of "X or Not X" you either have it or you don't. Just as some people can't see the color green, some can't see potential moves on the board.

Maybe women these days are too busy and don't like wasting their lives on a game with no payoffs!? This makes little sense, since in general women love to play games.


More research is finding that women are just as competent as men in spatial reasoning; that it is (or can be) a learned skill.


More research is finding that women are just as competent as men in spatial reasoning; that it is (or can be) a learned skill.

To bring this back to Chimi, I think the hype and pressure of playing Kamsky finally got to her.

Actually, the studies indicate that men and women on average have a different approach to spatial reasoning, and that men's produces the initial results faster. Not better. This might indicate that men will be better at bullet at a master level rating, but not that they will be better overall. (And then, of course, even that argument may need to be reconsidered, as Susan Polgar won the US Blitz Championship with an amazing 10-1 score when she participated a couple of yeas ago.)

The usual example given is that men find their way with compass marks while women use landmarks. But both get there. And both can have their skills improved in the other area with teaching.

It's already been established that different people approach chess differently. Some have a constant internal dialogue about the dynamic imbalances in a position. Others think in chains of moves. Both tend to think the other pattern a bit strange. (AS GM Lein once said, "I don't think like a tree. Do you?")

This difference has been wonderfully apparent when listening to the various commentators on Chess.fm, for example. Some GMs begin with critical squares. Some with dynamic imbalances. Some with move chains.

There IS a testable difference in spatial reasoning between the genders. But it's not the difference that was first reported, nor commonly believed.

The original tests were simple speed tests. Tests in the last 10 years have gone much deeper, and produced the landmarks vs compass marks difference I mentioned above. (This, supposedly, is why women will stop for directions--women are, in general, better at following landmark-based directions than men.)

So I would suggest that the data shows:

a) different people, even male GMs, think about chess differently. The fact that chess is a popular game for blind people indicates it's not simply a game of spatial reasoning.

b) Even if spatial reasoning is a significant component, the kind of spatial reasoning that women are good at should be particularly appropriate to chess, which clearly has "fixed landmarks."

Here's an example: one of the tests which men and women do differently is to memorize a landscape bsed on compass points, and then to start from a different perspective. Men begin by figuring out where North is, then reorient the entire map intheir heads.

Women tend to begin by locating two features, like a mountain and a tall tree. They know the relationship between the two landmarks. Once they determine the new relationship, they then know where to look, landmark by landmark, for everything else. This process takes more time than the compass point process, but produces just as good results.

Since chess games do NOT offer problems in varying perspective (the White King always begins the game one square to the right of the Whitte Queen, and we don't force players to sit with h1 in the lower left corner sometimes), there doesn't seem to be any reason to argue that compass point skills will be of particular value--again, except perhaps in bullet at very advanced levels.

So I don't dispute the compass marks vs landmarks difference--it's testable, at least in untrained people. But I don't see that it necessarily explains the difference in chess popularity (especially since chess used to be much more popular among women with leisure time than it is now).

As I've mentioned before, my father (who is a psychologist and formerly Dean of the School of Education at a university) has pointed out that the only real way to know if there is a gender difference in chess skill is to take 1,000 men and 1,000 women who don't know the game, teach it to them, and then have them play a couple of thousand games against each other. At the end, we might have some data worth using regarding gender impact on chess skill. Perhaps you're right, and ccompass mark skills do make a difference. Logically, I don't see it, but the data would be interesting.

In the meantime, though, simply adopting some of the recruitment methods used in other areas where the percentage of women participants has gone from 5% to 50% does seem worth trying, if only on a pilot basis.


Has it been established that chess is even about spatial reasoning. Sorry about my ignorance on this topic, but my understanding was that chess players view the board and pieces in the abstract as some as squares and things on them that have relationships not having nothing to do with the physical nature. For example, when playing chess, I refer to the actual picture of the board in my head, nor have any picture in my head. I also spend more than half my time not looking at the board. Even when looking at the board, I am not constantly adjusting the image as I do my poor excuse for calculation. In effect, I can't imagine that chess for me is somehow spatial. Its just that the knight on "f2" can play to "e4" or "g4". Rowson said something similar and I don't think this is uncommon at all. Please correct any misconception, possibly on what is included under spatial thinking.


The only formal work I've seen is van de Groot's, and his indicated that chess was more similar to a language than a geometry problem.

He showed that the higher the rating, the better the player was at reconstructing a position that FOLLOWED THE RULES OF CHESS. But that masters were no better than amateurs at reconstructing a position with, say, 3 Kings, or with 2 Kings right next to each other.

This is similar to language skills, where it's easier to remember a list of words than a list of nonsense syllables.

I suspect that those with good spatial reasoning can apply that to chess. And those with good verbal reasoning can apply that to chess (they're the ones doing the dialogues in their heads). It's a complex game, with a lot of access paths.



This is how memorization comes into creating chess skill. When a player has better spatial understanding, it allows for more creative play. This also proves that players who study for years and can't move past a 2200 rating have limited spatial reasoning ability, depending mostly on their recall of games played in the past or games studied. Biologically speaking, women's brains are made chemically different than men's brains and lack the potential to play better chess. They play like computer. They program themselves in algebraic formula and act accordingly.

"I know that what seems patently self-evident to me--that women need no special incentives or lowered standards to play well, but rather that where the atmosphere of a club is welcoming to women, women will play--is an argument I am doubtless bound to lose, at least for the time being." -Quoted from Duif

Why would that be the case? I can't imagine anyone arguing that, if the average chessplayer had as blase a view towards female chessplayers as they do nowadays towards, oh, female teachers--instead of being regarded as second-rate chessplayers, or worse, an abberation to be gawked at--more women would not be interested in chess as a hobby.

Regarding your stats suggestion, Duif, isn't there a viable simulation of your best-case model? One I came up with is as follows:

Take an equal number of random male and female unrated players, and track their ratings progression for a period of several years. If one can assemble the original list of players, the tracking is child's-play.

It's not optimal, and disregards certain important variables, but it's doable--and can yield potentially helpful data.


At least according to my dad, the problem is that we already know that not very many women play, so we can't consider the ones who do as statistically representative of women in general.

To be able to draw a valid statistical conclusion, you have to isolate the variable being tested (in this case, gender).

That's why you'd need to select people who didn't already know the game.


As the (adoptive) father of a 9-year-old Oriental chessplayer(!) myself, I take an extra bit of pride in seeing an Oriental girl do so well in this powerful event. Nothing about her losses to the two top players in her section detracts one bit from her wonderful play against the three GMs she has beaten. She clearly has the talent for great things - and not, as Judit P would point out, just against women!

I pointed out to my wife last night that not only was Chimi playing Kamsky - almost ALL the women were paired against stronger men, rating-wise. That's gotta tell you something about the power of inspiration! That most of them lost those games last night says to me that the rating system is, overall, on target: over many games, the stronger player will GENERALLY win. Not "the stronger sex", mind you, but "the one who finds the best moves".


Birem Shaf, I think you are merely hypothesizing with your spatial theory and it being needed for creative play etc. Duif's reference to a study that shows that chess has algebraic formulation is in line with what I was saying and what I have hear in the past such as in Rowson's The Seven Deadly Sins of Chess. Is algebraic type reasoning somehow less prone to creativity then geometry (being a mathematician myself, I mean this only so far as it can be taken, but to me the idea is ludicrous)? Even supposing this, I believe that your transformation to talking about computer-like play is rather tempting because computers are indeed the ultimate example of something that uses symbolic representation(as well as strict rules) but mixes up the point quite a bit. What you are mixing up is the algorithm for deciding moves with the how one views the game. Just because you don't refer to any visual imagery at the board when you are calculating doesn't mean that you are deciding upon your moves in a machine-like way? You can still be able/unable to grasp really unusual/strong moves whether you are thinking about Nf3-h4 in your mind or actually staring at the board and carrying it out in your mind. No one, probably not even you, understands what goes into a brilliant move, but we can both agree that somehow being able to step away from set in stone dogma is a good thing. This has absolutely nothing to do with how you view your representation symbolic or analog or whatever. People can be spatially brilliant(being able to clearly forsee positions out to infinity and still play purely by rules(I'll calculate 10 moves if my material advantage is +2 or more, choose line, else not or something). Then again aren't computers the ultimate champion for both symbolic framing and dogmatic reasoning? Again, I am not an expert. If you have any actual research to back your side it would be interesting and by all means feel free to set me straight. Nevertheless, I think your point is probably unproveable because suppose you ran a test spatial reasoning ability vs. elo(as Duif points out this is really oversimplifying but assume it to be a starting point of analysis) One objection would be that people who are better have on average spent more time with chess and have maybe thus developed their spatial reasoning. How can you reply to that?

If I may briefly return to Chimi--

Despite the loss to the indomitable Gata Kamsky, we (myself and friend Jon from the Arlington Virginia club where Chimi once played) are solidly on the Chimi Express. Gata is no slouch, and we think she played honorably despite time pressure and the eventual loss. It will be interesting to see how she plays out in the remainder of the tournament, but I hope she keeps chugging right on along. Always nice to see a new face in the pool.


Sigh, the old men vs. women debate. All the empirical evidence points to more men than women being at the extreme ends of the bell curve. However, the egalitarians, because they believe that the world must work like their moral ideals, refuse to accept that women, as a statistical group, are simply less suited for heavy mental tasks (both for social and intellectual reasons) than men are.

Chess is just one manifestation of this. It's not about being a good lawyer, but about being one of the very best lawyers. I have no doubt that there are lots of women out there who could be weak GMs and strong IMs. But world beaters? There aren't that Judit Polgars and there aren't that many Sofia Kovalevskayas either - that's just a fact of life!

Oh, please not the old men v. women debate.

Let Bobby Riggs rest in peace.

After Chimi's loss today, a GM norm is most likely gone unless she goes 2/2 in the last games. She is still very much on track for an IM norm and probably has already secured a WGM norm.

For an IM norm, the FIDE handbook chart says that she only needs the 3.5 points that she already has for the IM norm, provided her average opposition stays above 2531. Her opposition is currently at an average of 2565, so the last 2 opponents only need to average 2410, so it is still a great chance based on the players around her in her score group.

After Chimi's loss today, a GM norm is most likely gone unless she goes 2/2 in the last games. She is still very much on track for an IM norm and probably has already secured a WGM norm.

For an IM norm, the FIDE handbook chart says that she only needs the 3.5 points that she already has for the IM norm, provided her average opposition stays above 2531. Her opposition is currently at an average of 2565, so the last 2 opponents only need to average 2410, so it is still a great chance based on the players around her in her score group.


You may want to change the adjective. 'Asian' refers to people; 'Oriental' refers to objects, such as furniture, and still retains a faint odium of its old pejorative use.

the real problem with the mixed tournament is being ignored. the major problem is that they interfer with properly picking the best winner in both the womens division and the mens.

you can look at this as an applied mathematician would look at it. the entire tournament is riddled with unfairness and inequality everywhere. the situation when looked at closely and properly is almost a joke.

there are too many problems to go over them here. but basically the mens champion should be playing all grandmasters and showing he is the best by playing 9 grandmasters in 9 rounds and winning.

the women's champion should be playing all the other women and beating them to show she is the best woman. instead what we have is a random even with a champion who will win games from men. totally inappropriate. this tournament in no way shows who is the best women player.

My suggestion is to have a womens tournament first and seed the winner into the mens tournament. also the mens tournament should allow all women who qualify according to the qualifications of the tournament. the mens tournament should have a floor of 2500. meaning no player below 2500 can qualify. except for the womans champion. all women above 2500 may qualify.

with a 2500 floor all men will have to face stiff competition and not get free wins from playing low rated players.

I suggest you look at see what is happening. those above 2500 are at the top. but they have easy wins from those in the bottom affecting the standings at the top.

those in the lower half have their standings affected by playing those in the upper half.

yes I love chimi. she has done well. now in these last 2 games she has lost to men at the top. she is not playing and winning games against he women. she should play all the best women and win against them.

the way the present tournament is set up is a farce to both the men and the women. it is not a true championship tournament. it is more like the world open with everyone represented in one class. the format intruces too much luck into it. Nakamura is not allowed to play the top people and beat them so as to make up for his poor start. he has to rely on others to beat his competitors while he is confined to play lower lever players. this is not the way to have the best player show he is champion.

if nakamura and Kamsky are the best players then how come they are not given full opportunity to prove that by playing top level grandmasters. it is because of the format. it is not the correct format.

I believe it would be better to simply allow all grandmasters rated above 2500 who want to compete to play in a swiss tournament. there should be no easy games. the winner will have played 9 rounds against 9 grandmasters and proven he is the best.

The womens champion should be the best women proven by playing against women and winning. not someone who has the luck of draw and gets points playing against men.

sorry but better to face the truth now.


I need to express my views some more. I want to say I love the women who play chess.

this is about the US Champion. I have called it the mens champion but I really dont want to use the word men. I want it to be simply the US Champion. Only those who have a chance to win should be included. any sex. I dont want the qualifing to eliminate anyone who has a chance either. I say simply that the winner is going to be someone rated 2500 or above so allow all players 2500 or above to enter the tournament. that way we do not eliminate anyone who is qualified to win. Susan Polgar is over 2500 and is free to enter.

Now this does eliminate most women simply because no very many women are rated above 2500. therefore if someone asks the question who is the best women player we need to hold a tournament of women to answer the question. the proper way to answer the question is to have a tournament of all women.

now every weekend there are tournaments. all these tournaments are open to both men and women. they do not need to have lower rated special slots for women in this tournament. women can play against men every day of the week and every weekend.

so let us forget about sex and get on with picking the best US Champion and that can only be done when the tournament has all the players of the highest rating. when we include low rated players we introduce luck and other factors into the decision.

Tommy, with all due respect...I can't believe you're not having a blast watching this tournament. I've been following the entire field of players from the favorites to the lowest rated. Males, females, juniors, old guys, long shots, husbands and wives for Pete's sake. It's like a buffet of the chess scene in the USA in 2006. With internet access to the games and information on all the players it's a fantastic format. It's FUN...and anything this fun can't be fundamentally very wrong. I love seeing players like Chimi kicking butt who might be restricted from playing if you establish a "protective" rating minimum so that favorites don't have to risk embarassing upsets. This championship extravaganza is a very broad view of American chess..and I like it that way as opposed to the same old same old narrow gauge round robin (although I admit I would follow that too). I suppose you could always end a swiss tournament like this with a round robin (well, two) to satisfy traditionalists..that's up to the generous sponsors of course. Isn't that a very old idea as opposed to a new one? Anyway, C'MON TOMMY...quit thinkin' and start drinkin'..knock back another tumbler of Scotch...let your hair down...or take it off. Two more rounds to go..

"not someone who has the luck of draw and gets points playing against men"

Sure, Tommy, it is a lucky break to get games against men (OK boys)like Nakamura, but that should not prevent the person becoming women's champion.

Ah, the wonders of a Swiss tournament!
Fun to watch? Certainly.
A fair method of picking a champion. Well, perhaps not, but then, what is the "best" method??

I am having a blast. This is a great tournament but I want to have the best player be the champion and that means not dependent on luck.

I ask the question is this about the US Championships or about having fun. if you want to have fun then just call it the San Diego Invitational. and lets do the US Championships as a separate tournament where the emphasis is on doing the job correctly not in a random haphasard illogical method. My mother always said if you are going to do it then do it right. and this tournament is definitely not being done right. and as an applied mathematician with a great understanding of what is happening here statistically I feel an obligation to point it out to everyone.

lets look at the women. this is a 9 round event. at minimum the top 4 players in each group should have played a game against the other 3.

Also it is obvious that for the women it is a mistake to break them up into 2 groups. they should have a 1 group tournament where the best player shines. There are simply not enough women players for a two group tournament.

with the present setup the ultimate winner is determined not by beating GrandMasters but by a fast game with another woman who the player was not allowed to play in the course of a 9 round tournament.

Remember if you want to determine the best player in a Group then you want them to play against each other in that group. not determine the winner based on playing people outside the group.

This is the same logic why we insist on a Match to determine the world champion and not play against other people. we need to bring them to play against each other.

Group A

19 WGM Goletiani, Rusudan 3.5
24 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 3.0
25 WFM Ross, Laura 3.0
26 Zenyuk, Iryna 3.0
28 WFM Vicary, Elizabeth 2.5
30 WIM Epstein, Esther 2.0
32 Cottrell-Finegold, Kelly 0.0


Group B

20 WIM Tuvshintugs, Batchimeg 3.5
27 WFM Abrahamyan, Tatev 3.0
29 Airapetian, Chouchanik 2.5
30 West, Vanessa 2.5
31 WFM Itkis,Hana 1.5
32 WCM Christiansen, Natasha 0.5



Where do you draw the line at 'doing it right'?

Take the old US Championship format, a round robin of 14 or 16 players. Nothing's more fair than that, right? Hmm...half the players get more blacks than white, but that's the breaks--after all, it's randomly determined what everyone's draw number is.

So, a double round-robin. Even assuming number of rounds isn't an issue, is playing only two games against every opponent really representative?

Well US championship is a cool thing but isn't quite important when compared with Linares event. And even in Spain, nobody seems to care a lot about the fact that a 18 year old boy is leading such a field.
When it comes to the next world champion, everybody talks a lot about Karjakin and Carlsen, but very few say "Radjabov"... maybe the chess world should pay a little bit more attention to a boy who was able to crush Kasparov at 15, who's able to lead the strongest tournament in the world at 18 (same level than San-Luis by the way, and both tournaments are 8 players double robin... says a lot about FIDE's work), who has positive score against Topalov as well.
The elo rating is not everything : look at Bacrot, he reached 2735, has impressive scores against 2600 GMs, but is unable to defeat almost any player above 2700. Radjabov's rating is not terribly impressive, but his ability to defeat anybody makes him the most serious contender for the title in the future years.

Wow! This is really frightening for me, but I actually agree with Rouslan. Probably should take a sedative tonight for sleep. By the way, Radjabov turns 19 on the 12th.

as to the relative importance of Linares or the U.S. championship I've got to say that's a matter of perspective. What's more important..the pork chop on your plate..or your salad? I personally want to eat both. Of course the calibre of play is higher at Linares. I don't feel like I'm some sort of clod for following my national championship a bit closer though. I've seen lots of these players in person some going back many years. It's only natural. I also can't blame anyone living outside of the US for yawning at the San Diego event. If I had a kid participating in a "puny" scholastic event this week, THAT would be my priority. I agree that Radjabov seems to have unfairly been swept under the rug though.

This year's championship has flaws: the champion will have done nothing to prove his slow chess superiority over any member of the other group; there are problems mixing in some of the lower-rated players.

But, folks, any event of this sort involves compromises to lure sponsors, to generate public interest, etc. This is not the world championship, this is the championship of the U.S., where we have relatively little public interest and, currently, no players at the very top. So until one of us is ready to fund an "improved" version, let's thank the organizers for their efforts and relax and enjoy the free show.

One final round to go today.

My opinion is that the women are getting a totally unfair tournament for them to decide on how well they play and for picking their Champion. they should be playing against each other not randomly against GrandMasters rated many points above them. It might be different if every woman played all the same grandmasters. but that is not the case.

For example Chimi has played much stronger players than Satonskih and has a lower score as expected from the larger spread in the ratings of those she played.

Also with 9 rounds there was plenty of time for the two leaders to have met in a normal slow game to see who would win. now they will have to determine the woman's champion in fast games. it is totally rediculous and irresponsible of the tournament to do this.

I think the women have been sold a bag of worms. they should be protesting the present situation instead of thinking this is good for them.


where do I draw the line.

like my mother said. if you are going to do something then do it right. well I would try to do the best job possible.

here is one option that is close to the present format.

Allow all players with a rating of 2500 or higher to enter the tournament and have a 9 round Swiss. or a 10 round swiss if you are worried about colors. 9 rounds is based on getting norms.

No one except the women's champion is allowed into the "everyone" or mens championship who might be rated below 2500. But all women rated 2500 or above even if they lost in the women's championship are allowed into the overall championship.

Why do I not want to allow anyone below 2500 into the championship. and I guess everyone is missing this super important point. it is because that reduces the luck or random factor to a minimum. all games by all players should be against only the strongest players.

This year is rift with errors and randomness. look closely at what has happened to Nakamura, Kamsky, Chimi, and all the others. look closely at who they played. How many wasted games by the women playing rediculous opponents. while the men got easier wins.

I will tell you what this tournament did.

It gave lots of wins to high rated men at the expense of much lower rated women. it artificially made the men look better and the womem look worse. yes it threw points to the men.

the women should be up in arms over the situation. they should be protesting this tournament. they have been sold a bag of worms. they have been told a circus is better than a womens championship.

the men like Nakamura and Kamsky should be protesting the unfairness of the tournament.

I will state no matter how bad the tournament there will be a winner. but will we have chosen the correct person as champion. will the world view our champion as worthy. I know we have done it wrong. and if you want to be an ostrich then ignore the truth.


Every one of those 64 US Chess Championship participants has a "fan club": family, friends, students, etc., who are tracking their hero's progress through the event.

And lots of folks who might have despaired of ever making it into the top-twelve, or whatever, to play in the US Championship are now given hope.

Those things are good for the growth of chess in this country.

Right now, I think that publicizing and popularizing chess in this country is more important than determining who is really the best slow chess player in the U.S., which this championship obviously does not do.

Maybe you could look at this event as a "chess festival" and take the position that there was no "real" US Championship this year.

US Chess will get international recognition when we produce a handful of legitimate WCC contenders--until then I doubt very much that the international community gives a crap how we choose our champion.

And isn't it a tad patronizing of you to be telling Kamsky, Naka, and the women how they should feel about the format?

Didn't the last visit of a couple of grandmasters to the zoo bring us the Orangutan opening? I'd say Ildar's poem is an improvement. Meg's "maybe because I'm a girl?" was the funniest line but Vicary brings the complete package of chess, tourney atmosphere, and ghost tips. In fact, she'd make a pretty good ghost writer.

Crapola. Assuming that all the numbers are right, I think she needs to draw today to get an IM norm...Had Stephen Muhammad (or anyone previous) be rated 10 points higher, I think she could have lost today and still gotten her IM norm. Well, I hope that she gets her draw at least.


the tournament directors should have made sure that she would make her norm before setting up her game. if she misses the norm because they did not pay attention will be a total disgrace. I can only assume they did the right thing.

How come the Zatonskih - Wojo game ended in a draw in 14 moves ? Is the 30 move rule not enforced ?

" David, Aleks, Alex, Greg, plus my students at 318, who make me prove everything I say. -- Elizabeth"

David , I presume, is David Vigorito. Greg, I presume, is Greg Shahades. Who are the Alexes ? This place is full of them.

By the way, did anyone catch me doing chess.fm's commentary on Round 9 of the Championship Saturday, alongside Danny Kopec? I'm curious how I came off.

Wojt is a real genius. I have no idea where you get the borderline retarded from.


Your personal experience(s) with him has probably been much more pleasant than mine.

Upon further thought, Mig did the right thing by deleting my post. No matter what my "personal experience", I should have kept those comments to myself. I apologize for my impulsiveness.

When I delete trolls and or psycho posts I usually try to delete direct responses to them at the same time. Doesn't happen often. Nothing personal.

Or maybe not--- the fact that one's personal experience with someone is unpleasant has nothing to do with whether he is a genius or borderline retarded. There are many brilliant jerks and many kind borderline retards...

A question about norms- if you earn a high type of norm, say an IM norm, then would that also count towards earning a lower title? For instance, if Chimi had earned an IM norm here, but then picked up two WGM norms in later events, would she get the WGM title, or does the IM norm not count as a WGM norm also? That would seem unfair!

Of course it is an either or situation. You can't use the same norm for two titles. So it makes sense to keep the IM norm in reserve and get a third WGM result rather than cash in the IM norm to get the WGM title. Another interesting thought re titles just occured to me. People have often talked about combating title inflation by creating a Super GM title. Won't it be funny when people start referring to guys like Nisipeanu as weak Super GMs ?!

The Fide Handbook:
"1.50b If a norm is sufficient for more than one title, then it may be used as part of the application for both."


-ed g.

Another smackdown for mindless chitchat! Thanks for setting the record straight Ed.

Her opponents were:


Average opponent rating: 2529.89. That's within a whisker of an IM norm (needs opponents average rating 2531 per http://www.fide.com/official/handbook.asp?level=B0101 ). Better luck next time!

Her opponents were:


Average opponent rating: 2529.89. That's within a whisker of an IM norm (needs opponents average rating 2531 per http://www.fide.com/official/handbook.asp?level=B0101 ). Better luck next time!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 7, 2006 8:39 PM.

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