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Aronian Interview: Hey Ladies...

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ChessBase has up a translation of a Berliner Zeitung interview with Levon Aronian. Some fun stuff from a fun guy.

Mr Aronian, since the beginnings of the game men have dominated chess. Why is that?

Women cannot play chess.

But that is no explanation. Wasn't it your sister who taught you chess?

That is true, but women are generally much too emotional for chess. If they want to play really well they have to change their character and suppress their natural instincts. They have to take on male qualities. After all chess is a rough and hard game. . . .

In chess is it good to be happily or unhappily in love?

Hmm. Perhaps it is better for your game if you are in love. On the other hand when you are in love there is a danger that your passion is not enough for both, and that you are going to be disappointed with your game and at the same time disappoint your lady.

Are you speaking from experience?


Oh, I think you've disappointed plenty of ladies all at once with this one. There is no denying that women on the whole have not been successful at chess. The disparity at the top echelon cannot be entirely accounted for by the small number of women who take up the game. But as with, say, investment banking and other insanely obsessive and competitive endeavors, I don't think the chemistry part is as relevant to performance in action (e.g. at the board) as it is in overall dedication and lifestyle. The testosterone-driven hyper-competitiveness required to do the work and focus on such a narrow thing for so long day after day rewards men for what you might also interpret as a fault.

That is, the same obsessive/competitive characteristics are expressed in many other areas that aren't as rewarding or as respected. Comic book collecting, for example, or sports trivia. And we all know plenty of men who are as fanatically devoted to chess as most pros despite being 1000 points lower-rated. There's also a nurture aspect in that, of course, as boys are brought up to be hierarchical and competitive and girls are largely discouraged from such overtly "boyish" behavior.


Yet another, just another, eastern european sexist pig.

>There is no denying that women on the whole have not been successful at chess.>

Do you think so ? then you are a racist, sexist, and conservative pig.

Denying reality, believing passionately in the palpably not true, is the chief occupation of the "liberal/progressivist". Kudos to Aronian for talking straight.

Ovidiu, you are somewhat bitter after the election, aren't you? Everything in your post makes sense, except that conservative/liberal part. Denying truth is not liberalism, it is idiocy.
Aronian is quite liberal in his views as far as I know, btw.

>Aronian is quite liberal in his views as far as >I know, btw.

He doesn't sound like one, therefore he is. No ?

It's a neverending, somewhat dull debate, but as J.Polgar has proven, women are quite capable of playing top 10 level chess if the required conditions exist. Therefore one must look for other reasons than inherent capability. I wish Mr Aronian all the best in his future romantic endeavours.

"Denying reality, believing passionately in the palpably not true, is the chief occupation of the "liberal/progressivist"". Er, the man is entitled to his views, but if they are sexist nonsense he must reckon with some public disagreement. Nobody denies that men dominate chess but inherent lack of capability is bunkum. Ovidiu, how is it that you are still talking here and are not in some torture chamber being interrogated by sinister Obama agents? Are you on the run?

As I said, he is just stating the fact. "The King is naked", if you will. Does nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism.

J Polgar is not statistics. She is an "outlier".

Judith is awsome , Aronian should be in the same cell as Russeau :)

The Man is not stating the facts. He is just proving that being really good at chess does not make you a moral philosopher.

When a man like V. Kramnik underperforms, he is being excused for 'his illness'. When a woman like J. Polgar has two children that does not matter.

Aronian's statements say nothing about women's or man's abilities, but they say a lot about his common sense.

It's a simple matter of numbers: there is probably more than 100 male players for every female. You can see this very clearly at big opens in the USA.

Women are generally more menrtally stable than men, so fewer females than males will be insane enough to take the game with the seriousness/idiocy required to excel at it.

All 'top 10' players are outliers.

We can do 'an Ovidiu' on any person one we choose. There may even be some truth in our 'analysis.

It's no excuse, but Aronian has a reputation (to defend) of constantly joking - so he may well not really mean everything he says.

And the journalist, knowing or having heard about Aronian's character, seemed to have fun and/or professional interest to ask questions which yield 'interesting' answers ... from Aronian, but probably not from most other top grandmasters.

As far as 'liberal' is concerned: There are so many definitions of this word - depending on who uses the word and in which context, it can be a neutral assessment, a compliment or an insult.

Lev 'em and leave 'em.

>Aronian has a reputation (to defend) of >constantly joking

Aronian has little to lose so he can afford to talk open.
The president of Harvard, Dr.L.Sommers had eventually to resign over making an Aronian-like
point. The liberal-creed is a sacred dogma within most, if not all, the US academic settings.


Judith is outlier, because she does not fit into distribution produced by top-100 women. She is 2700+, but there are no female players in 2600-2700 range; although there is enough base of 2500+ players.

It's nothing to do with liberal or conservative. It is pure logic.

thesis from Aronian: women cannot play high level chess. (NOT that women are not producing the number of chessplayers they theoretically could.)
Judit Polgar has been a top 10 player.
Judit Polgar is a woman. Logical conclusion:
thesis 100% disproved.
"there are no female players in 2600-2700 range"-

If you erase the division of gender from competitive chess in a few years the number of woman in high level chess will be more representative than it is now.
I wonder if this way of thinking is like a culture scar that Aronian has.

"there are no female players in 2600-2700 range; although there is enough base of 2500+ players."

Humpy is 2618. There are only 12 women from 2500-2599. That qualifies as "enough base"? Some analysis would help.

Yeah, right.
chesshire cat:
Aronian says: "Women cannot play chess."
"My wife plays chess."
"My wife is woman."
Thesis disproved.

I think you got it wrong. The claim is about the average, the mean value if you wish. He just formulated it in a non-formal way, but trivializing it is not proper.

OK. Then, there is no explanation why there are not enough 2500+ players, because there is enough 2400+ base.

Well playjunior, there is no arguing with you, so I will not waste my time. I've seen your type of shifting theses too often to bother. So the "average" women cannot play chess, is that your new claim? Polgar can play high level chess but let's wipe her out of the argument as she does not fit your pre-reached conclusion. Continue your illogical "debate" (in which you will acknowledge no other evidence) with yourself, good luck.

Actually, I think all this thing is a bit lame. There is enough data available on FIDE website, and instead of checking whether the hypothesis "Men are better chess players than women" is statistically supported, we are kind of trash-talking. If I am not lazy, I will do this, maybe later.

It's a kind of a tired old topic, but anyway...

Some men have the troubling tendency to underestimate the cold and
calculative part of the female mind. Such men tend to suffer in
relationships. I am convinced that intellectually women are the equals
to men. The only difference is that they have more important practical
priorities in life than playing nerdish games. Cause they're the
stronger gender. It's good they can get emotional at times...



Aronian and Ovidiu are obviously not arguing that every man is a better chessplayer than every woman.

I believe they're just arguing (rightly or wrongly) that men have a general genetic advantage in chess-playing and that Judit's success doesn't refute them.

Imagine that no woman had ever been rated higher than 1600, and suddenly long-lost sister Zso Zso Polgar becomes world champion and top-rated player for the next 25 years. You wouldn't say women play as well as men, you'd say Zso Zso was an anomaly.

As you know, the whole point of the debate is that the elo statistics don't reflect the relative abilities of men and women, because women have fewer opportunities. But OK, let us assume that the ratings exactly indicate chess ability. Then in the last 10 years women must be getting dramatically better at chess, right? I bet the average elo rating of the top 100 women has been rising much faster than that of men. So, whatever the reason behind this strange biological improvement of women, we should expect them to overtake men and dominate chess in about 30 years.

Greg, Aronian's words are in no way unclear.
"Women cannot play chess."
Whether this wassaid in jest or not, this means that all women are incapable of high level chess, which we can infer is what Aronian means by "chess". Now whether men are GENERALLY more suited to chess than women is another argument which I don't want to enter. Polgar's success, anomaly or not, proves that women are indeed capable of high level chess. This destroys Aronian's claim. If every other woman in the world was 1200, it would still prove that women have the capacity to play at top level, while not explaining why more women do not/cannot do so. In this case it was training from an early age that differentiated her, but the cause is irrelevant. One must look elsewhere than intrinsic capability-which is what Aronian says loud and clear. People can try to twist his words this way or that (although why they bother I don't know). It's not like this topic is of such incredible importance, in fact it's painfully old, but what the man says is plain wrong, why try to justify him because he plays good?

Having a father who is a psychologist and a mother who is a statistician, this topic has naturally engendered more than a few family discussions, all of which come down to "these people don't understand the scientific method."

My father says the only way to test whether men have an intrinsic "genetic superiority" at chess is to take 1,000 men and 1,000 women who don't already play, teach them the rules of the game, and have them play as a group in supervised tournaments for about 1,000 games each. Then and only then would one have enough data to draw a reasonable conclusion.

My mother says that people don't understand how to analyse the data that they have. The top 1% of US women are in the top 1% of US chessplayers. Given the very small numbers of women who play, about the only valid statistical conclusion that can be drawn is that an experiment like the one my father suggests would be worth pursuing.

My own personal experience as a woman rated over 1700 is that in almost every tournament I've attended throughout my career, the average female player has been rated higher than the average male player. My parents both say that's irrelevant, because the numbers are so small, but they agree it certainly shouldn't lead one to the automatic conclusion that women are inferior players.

GM Maurice Ashley has suggested that the real question isn't why can't women play chess, but rather why don't they. After all, in the last 35 years women have gone from being less than 5% of the student body at most medical and law schools in the US to about 50%, yet we've not seen a comparable increase in tournament chessplayers.

Another friend of mine, a woman rated over 2200, feels she has the answer to that one. When asked, "Why don't more women play tournament chess?" she responds simply, "Have you talked to the men who do?"

GM Aronian would appear to provide weight for her theory.


you have to LOOOOOOVE the title of the story at chessbase: Aronian: 'I have a lot of blood in my brain!'
as opposed to having a lot of blood.... exactly where? hehehe

Well, we haven't had a dirt thread reach 100 comments in awhile. This one ought to make it to 100 by dinner time tonight!

Duif wrote:


Absolutely true.

The cruel reality is that 99% of male tournament players have some sort of serious problem with simple socializing.

They can't get laid, they can't talk to women, they are stupidly obsessed with chess. In short: they are abnormal and not too bright. They have wretched lives, regardless of rating.

Of course, there are exceptions. I have met some wonderful, intelligent and productive people through chess. They are a very small minority, though.

Bottom line: women are as perfectly capable of any mental feat as men, but they choose better things to do with their life than to devote it to a simple game like chess.

Aronian, like Kasparov and many other weirdos are under the impression that a high rating equals a high intellect. Not true at all. (And yes, I'm a male and I'm a rated master, so I have no "hidden agenda", other than loving women).



There are at least three possibilities:
A) Aronian is saying that women can't play at Top-10 level and has never heard of Judit Polgar,
B) To Aronian, "playing chess" means playing above Judit-level, say, top-3 level,
C) Aronian is saying that generally speaking, women don't/can't play as well as men.

"A" is unlikely. Neither "B" nor "C" is refuted by Judit's success.

Duif, I agreed with your post until it mentioned that 2200-rated woman friend of yours. I don't think you can blame the men for the fact that more women don't choose to play chess. If I understand her point correctly - it is very simplistic and offensive - and mostly offensive to women who supposedly would play chess only if it allowed to meet the men they liked. Men don't take up chess to meet women, (and don't seem to pass judgement on the women chessplayers taken as a group, I might add - at least most of them don't). Whatever happened to just playing chess because you like the game? So it is not clear how your friend's comment can be taken seriously. She sounds bitter, if you ask me. For all we know, women chessplayers as a group don't think any less of the men chessplayers than vice versa. And yet it is men who have better results in chess.

Irv, so you admit to having a wretched life and all those other things? :) Anyways, given what you said, allow me to doubt your chess mastery. :)

Huh, how are you going to check your assumption with FIDE data Playjunior? You will take the average of men and women and pit it against each other? or the 10, 100, 1000 best men and women? It's irrelevant, we don't know the real numbers behind these ratings, that is, how many women and how many men play chess. I'm not talking here rated 1600+ chess, but chess in general. I don't think there is an easy answer with any data set, certainly not with FIDE one. Also, talking about some genetic dispositions is just not on - what evidence do you have? Absolute nonsense.


A 4th possibility is that, on some level, Aronian is concerned about having his own masculinity questioned. He describes himself in the same interview:

"As I said I am a romantic. I love literature, art and music. In art Titian is my favourite, in classical music I admire the pianist Svjatoslav Richter. He is full of fire, and I love this kind of fire. In jazz it is Coltrane, but also Keith Jarrett. I listen to this music before a game, it inspires me."

One can imagine the typical "Joe Sixpack" reaction to such a statement.

The easiest way to defend against a charge of not being macho is to say "This is totally macho. No woman can do it."

I don't know if this applies to GM Aronian, but I do think that some of the men who make the illogical statement that "No woman can play chess" are really saying "Don't question MY masculinity just because I spend a lot of time playing chess."

It is really a defensive statement being made to other men, and has nothing to do with women at all.


It's sad that you didn't get the satire behind the whole interview.

Duif, again, I disagree. "Joe Sixpack" is an American stereotype, not an Armenian one. Believe it or not, there are countries in the world where a man can say those things and not have his manlinesss questioned. So I don't think it is fair to psychoanalyze Aronian by the standard of a mythical "Joe Sixpack". Before we interpret Aronian's statements as an apology to a Joe Sixpack (who, strangely enough, is apparently an avid reader of a chess section in Berliner Zeitung), maybe we should consider the fact that maybe Aronian has never met Joe Sixpack and isn't aware he owes him an apology.

I agree. Aronian was probably joking around, not issuing an anti-feminist manifesto and a challenge to progressive thinkers everywhere.

No. I would have to think about it a little, but here is what I am thinking about.

I would first check whether "men and women differ significantly in their ability to play chess".

ELO formula assumes certain distribution of ratings; I guess that's the normal distribution (I have to re-read ELO/Sonas articles). Assuming it is true, you can take women/men data and check whether they come from the same distribution (with same mean and variance). This kind of test works even if you have much less woman players than men (e.g. you can take Kolmogorov-Smirnov test). I also assume that for the normal case there are many special tests, which give statistical significance even if you don't have random sample from two populations, but, say, top 1% percentile of each.

"Take 1000 women and 1000 men teach them to play and run a test". Jeez.

Duif - love your reasoned insights - it's great to have you back!


I understand what you're saying, and I'm sure you're right. There are many great people who play chess, male and female (most of my own best friends are chessplayers).

I don't think she was talking about making friends, though, or meeting people she liked. And mostly it was a joke.

But it is true that most chess clubs are not very welcoming places for women. In my experience, the difference is that there are jerks everywhere. But in most places, when a man is a jerk towards a woman, other men will step in to cool things off. I have known only three men in chess who do that on a regular basis. Instead, most chessplayers just try to ignore the situation.

This leads to some uncomfortable and sometimes physically dangerous situations. I don't think it's a coincidence that most of the women who are strong players travel with a husband, father, or brother who also plays. Then they are treated differently.

I was somewhat unusual in that I traveled by myself. And I was physically threatened several times over my career. One guy, a 1500 player, that I had beaten in an afternoon round came and banged on my hotel room door at 3 in the morning and said "I know you're not a girl, and I'm going to prove it!" I was 22 at the time, and, yes, it was pretty scary. And that was not the worst experience.

But even setting aside those issues, I know very few chess clubs where a new woman entering is not immediately accosted in some fashion. She's just there to play chess, but people want to talk, to ask questions, insist on knowing her rating, want her take on the Polgars or "why women don't play chess." It's stressful. It's a little weird. And it's an experience that many novices choose not to repeat. It's not bitterness to be aware of that. Just experience.

I would very much like to see more women play tournament chess, for many reasons. I would strongly encourage every man who plays to encourage his female friends to play.

But most importantly, I would encourage any male player who sees a new woman at a tournament or a club to treat her like any new male player, and to intervene, politely, if she is being harassed. A simple, "Hi, I'm Mike, welcome to the club. You can get a game by...{whatever local convention is}. If you have any questions, just ask." is all that's needed.

The more women are treated like serious chessplayers, the more serious chessplayers will be women. I think it really is that simple.


Motivation. It's interesting that the only woman player whose name could be mentioned in the same sentence with "world champion" was cajoled and bludgeoned into chess excellence by her father.

Maybe Duif's thought-experiment about training 1000 boys and girls equally is being carried out in China. Did the former Soviet Union encourage the girls as much as it did the boys? I never heard about any girls at the Botvinnik School.

I'd guess that if you had an equal number of boys and girls putting in equal effort at chess you'd have an equal supply of male and female WCCs. Or maybe not.

Irv's right. I once stumbled into a women's event at a local chess club. The players all showed up on time. The director began announcing the pairings. Everyone stopped talking and paid attention. No one whined about her pairing or asked for the info to be repeated four times. No irritating board mannerisms. No one smelled bad. I felt like I was on Mars.

I can see why women wouldn't be comfortable in the chess scene as described by Irv.

Duif, that story about the 1500 player is rather bizarre. I could understand it if he was 2500, but 1500? (Just kidding). I guess some chess players are crazier than I thought.

As for women being accosted in a chess club - I think it is just natural. I don't think it would be any different if you were a guy and you wanted to join a club or some activity where women are the majority - whatever the activity may be of the top of my head, a dance or a yoga class, for example.

I think when men accost a new woman in a chess club, they probably have good intentions - like trying to be friendly and make her feel welcomed or whatever. So I guess it is a no win situation. Either you approach the new woman and then you are annoying or you don't and you are standoffish and you don't make her feel welcomed.

Anyways, for what its worth, I am a guy, I am don't feel like going to a chess club either. I prefer to play online. And I can totally imagine that if I were to go to a local chess club, after I beat a strong player or two (which I would probably do) I would be subjected to the same kind of nonsense and questions about my rating and chess improvement, etc. Anyway, I would probably still go if it was cheap (or free) and close to where I live, but it is not, so I only play online these days and I am quite happy with that. So, yes, chess players can be annoying, but I don't think they single out women.

first of all - please read the complete interview!
(First he says, you have to have a "male attitude" to play good chess and then he says best chess players have to have a "women attitude"... :-)

And second - Aronian has given a very similar interview in the last Olympiad in 2006 as well...

He is a very funny guy and the interview is from first to last word complete nonsense.
The only thing Lev is telling the truth about is his interest in reading and music.

And last but not least Aronian's girlfriend is Arianne Caoili from Australia - who is (of course!) a chess player!

So please don't take this interview too serious, read it with a smile and try to understand the irony.

Have to admire Aronian's honesty. And must laugh at some(Americans) who are so sensitive about anything that might be offensive to some groups. So what, I say. Relax and learn to laugh.

"A) Aronian is saying that women can't play at Top-10 level and has never heard of Judit Polgar,
B) To Aronian, "playing chess" means playing above Judit-level, say, top-3 level,
C) Aronian is saying that generally speaking, women don't/can't play as well as men."

The other two crossed my mind, greg, but (B), the idea that women can make it to top 10 but not top 3 is a weird thesis that would require complex justification, and was not implied, I should think, and (C) just ignores the Judit factor.
@Duif..I remember weird stuff going on when a 2200 woman was at a club event, guys staring at her and whispering and giggling among themselves while glancing over. I mean fully grown men. Add to this the weird dress sense and tendency of chessplayers to eat lunch out of plastic bags in tournament halls, coupled with reeeeally weak players talking non-stop bout chess and never meeting any women, bad breath, social ineptitude, gotta agree on the "chessclub not attractive to women" idea..(though they could found their own, that's not so relevant-and we're not all bad either)

The argument is not just practically unsound (i.e. Polgars), but it's basically garbage. Whenever something this big is reduced to essences (men are X, women are Y), it necessarily leaves out important context: Mig mentioned lifestyle, but domestic economy, support structure for women and chess, gender expectations, etc.

Underneath Aronian's argument (and I always root for him in games) is the basic idea that chess is for aggressive, rational people, who are always men, and not for passive, emotional people, who are always women. In this logic, a icy butch lesbian is the same thing as Ivanchuk.

Unless we are only reading part of his comments and he goes into more detail elsewhere...

I think Duif has the most insightful assessment of the situation, and I'm amazed at how ready some are to dismiss her firsthand experience. I have never really spent much time in a "real" chess club, but I have been on ICC for many years (sometimes all too literally). The atmosphere created by the members when someone like Judith Polgar played -- or had her games relayed -- was repugnant. Comments would always follow the same trajectory, ultimately spiralling into judgments on her looks, how "hot" she was, who else was hotter, etc., ending in bans, censoring, and the usual rubbish.

As a sentient human being, I don't need a class in statistics to imagine this mindset being played out in "real" chess clubs everywhere -- although perhaps kept more under wraps, simply because most people are (for some strange reason) less bold (masculine?) in person than they are on the internet. (And if one supposes that Eastern Europeans are not more patriarchal and -- yes -- antiquated in their configuration of social relations among the sexes than in many parts of the world, I don't know where to start). For a woman, I would have to imagine the environment of the average chess club to be discouraging, dispiriting and demoralizing. Why would anyone pursue this game in such an atmosphere?


I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing was a joke on GM Aronian's part. The truly amusing thing is how many people do take the topic seriously...


The Joe Sixpack remark (which I did say might not apply to GM Aronian) was intended as the same kind of joke as well. It's a good deflector for the intense guys who want to delve deep into the apparent psychological inferiority of women, though. So do read it as a "tongue in cheek" remark.

I've never beaten a male 2500 player. I did have one follow me into the women's restroom at one event. He had a reputation for being generally annoying to everyone, not just women. But I do think the experience for the women he harassed was significantly worse than for the men he annoyed. With the men he was sarcastic and cruel. But with the women he included a physical component which was truly unpleasant. Everybody had a story to tell about this guy. But only the women's stories included physical intimidation.

Most guys are very nice, no question. But my experience has been that the nice guys allow the not so nice guys to get away with more in a chess setting than they would in other places. I have no idea why that's true.

There are, as I mentioned some exceptions. I know one tournament director, one Grandmaster, and one "ordinary" 1800 player who are deft at confronting harassment and defusing it. Perhaps there are more these days--that would be good to hear.


Oh come on. Get enough teenage girls into a situation where they observe a 7 hour broadcast of a chess game together and tell me they will not talk about whether Kramnik is hot and about which chess player is hotter - even if they are as serious about their chess as teenagers can be.

As for the Eastern Europeans: with all the feminism in the US and, to a lesser extent, western Europe, does the West produce more and better top female players than the Eastern European countries? I don't think so.

As I mentioned before, Playjunior, comparing even the both full distributions won't bring you anything because they do NOT contain all players, but only the best rated (who participate in FIDE tournaments). Who knows how many women (and men) are not listed but play, or have played chess.

And their Elo is not their ability, but rather skill level. Ability is connected with potential, talent etc. Elo doesn't measure potential but just how good somebody is. What they did to get there, how much or little they had invested in chess, can't be assessed by Elo (not rated tournament games).


I think Duif went a little haywire here:

"But most importantly, I would encourage any male player who sees a new woman at a tournament or a club to treat her like any new male player"

followed by:

"The more women are treated like serious chessplayers, the more serious chessplayers will be women."

1) Men should treat women like men, and therefore
2) "Serious chessplayers" = men

...and about the crass J6Pack comment in response to Aronian's attraction to Richter, Jarrett and Coltrane: perhaps the straight male archetype isn't what it used to be. At any rate there are other places in the world, and musicians travel.

I too think that the average chess situation in most cities is not appealing to the average woman.

I am curious, though, whether Duif's experiment may not already have been basically carried out. They keep their training secret, so we will probably never know, but I wonder whether the Chinese use a similar base number of young women and men to get their up and coming stars? I wonder whether they subject them to the same rigorous training methods, or do they do it differently for men and women? If all other things are equal, then it is curious that their men have gone much higher than their women. I would suspect therefore that the training is not entirely equal.

Duif's firsthand experiences are interesting and useful, but her secondhand knowledge of psychology and statistics is nonsense.

Dunno what they do behind closed doors, but certainly in practice the Chinese women play far weaker competition than the Chinese men. That is, other women. Hou Yifan continues to play half her games in women's events, where she is almost always going to be the top seed.

I take Aronian's statements as those of a well-known provocateur, but that is not to say he does not mean what he says. The observable evidence, ignoring all the reasons and nuances, is that women don't play chess as well as men. Of course few things are ever so simple as that. The Polgars blew up the literal "can't" verdict. There is far from enough evidence to show either way that if as many women as men played chess at the amateur level that they would also have the same representation in the top 100. Arguments about spatial visualization and other biological factors are in their infancy as far as determining what is used in chess, let alone what makes a good chessplayer. Figuring out if one gender has more of that x-factor, assuming it exists for the sake of argument, is a long way away.

My statements above are more about the observed and verified differences between boys and girls. That is, girls with higher testosterone levels testing with higher aggression/competition levels and boys with lower levels having fewer school discipline incidents, etc. There are all sorts of these studies in education. There is a solid basis for men being more competitive on both nature and nurture grounds. Certainly much more solid than anything about actual aptitude in the non-study aspects of OTB chess.

The socialization argument is valid. For all of history, the way men do things was/is considered the right way. To succeed in business, women had to act like men, to over-simplify. That is still largely considered true in business, politics, and other areas. That is slowly changing.

Some women enjoy all the attention they tend to get in chess clubs (and comic conventions, etc, to continue that analogy). This perpetuates the difficulties of women who do not want such attentions and who just want to play chess.

As for nonsense, calling something that is quite different from proving it.

Ok, this discussion has taken its own path - but please keep in mind what Aronian did in this interview.

First he said: women can't play chess because they are too emotional. As a strong chess player you have to be stone cold. But then he describes himself(!) as very emotional and romantic, even saying "I get too excited" and "too much blood in my brain" (by the way, where can the blood on a man go? right... ! - got the joke?) and refers to very emotional music he hears before a game.
(which is just a lie (he doesn't listen to music at all before a game)) and it is also completely against the "stone cold macho man" theory he first stated.

I think I said enough here.
Keep discussion the man vs. woman theme as long as you like, but you are all completely missing the humor in this interview, the very smart way of telling nonsense Aronian loves so much.

(As a native german speaker I can add, that the translation from German to English made on the chessbase.com site is not a very good one, but this is maybe not that important here anyway, because most people seems just to take up the "woman can't play chess" statement and don't read the whole interview and start to think about it...)

As far as China is concerned, maybe they give men and women "as much support as needed to achieve the respective goals" - which is for women to become female world champion and win the Women's Olympiad (both has already happened) and for men to do the same in the men's (or 'open')competitions [still to come ?].

From this point of view, it would make sense (like it or not) to give the men extra support, better trainers, stronger competition, .... . After all, since Judit Polgar does not participate in women's events, a 2500+ rating is enough to be at or near the top.

As far as I know, there is one country (formerly 'region', it was part of the Soviet Union and not an independent country during the times I am mostly referring to) mostly known for women's rather than men's chess - Georgia. Does anybody know why? Was it just 'one strong woman makes two, then three, then five, ... or was there particular support for women's chess? It is a hypothetical statement, but maybe the Polgar sisters also came that far (partly) because there were three of them !?


I apologise if I was confusing, but your analysis of my remark skipped the process discussion. I'm talking about the several steps it takes to go from being a novice to a serious player.

So the "a)" was just a new player at the club. That woman, whether a serious player or a hobbyist or a novice or someone visiting a friend should be treated as any other welcome potential new member, irrespective of gender.

And by the way, if that visitor is a woman, then it's NOT necessary to immediately jump into discussion about why women can't/won't/don't/shouldn't play chess, which in my experience is what usually happens.

I assure you, if I had a nickel for every time a conversation with a new acquaintance at a chess venue included the word "Polgar" in the first 10 minutes, I'd be a wealthy woman indeed.

If the novice visitors who happen to be women are treated like people who are interested in chess, rather than weird social anomalies, they are far more likely to eventually go on to become serious chessplayers.

A question like "Have you been following the Grand Prix?" is a much better opener if you're trying to determine if the woman is already active in tournament chess. Or you can just go ahead and ask "Are you rated?"

Regardless of the answer to that question, it's honestly not necessary to mention the Polgars at that moment.

If the answer is a yes and a number, then something simple, again, like "Paul should be a pretty good match for you. We have a number of Class {whatever} players in the club." is good. Or "Where do you usually play?"

If the answer is no, then "We have quite a few people who just play for fun. To get a game, {local convention}. If you have any questions, just ask." Or, if prefer, something like "We're always glad to see new people. What brought you to the club?"

It's not necessary to mention whether there are or aren't other women in the club. It's fine to flirt a little if you feel like flirting. The point is not to make a big deal out of how weird it is to see a woman in that room.

I once went to 6 weekend swiss tournaments in 12 weeks. For fun, I tracked the number of times conversation initiated by people I didn't know attempted to discuss why women aren't any good at chess. At every event, my rating was above both the mode and the median.

The usual conversation went something like this:

{Some guy I've never met before}: So, do you think there will ever be a woman world champion?

{Me}: "I guess we'll have to wait and see."

{Guy}: Comment on: Freud, or Spatial Analysis or Judit Polgar or women in the army or Vera Menchik or something similar.

Just once you'd think they'd bring up Anand vs Kramnik, or whether Kasparov will ever get back into tournament chess, or how many people are playing online. Or the Petroff's. Or how many points should be awarded for a draw.

Nope. It's always some topic that boils down to: "You're weird. Why do you think that is?"

I suppose more accurately in my previous remark I should have said "The more novice players who happen to be women are treated like people who might someday become serious chessplayers, the more serious chessplayers will happen to be women." But it's not as catchy that way.

Again, I apologise if choosing the pithier version somehow obscured the process steps.


All the PC bullsh*t in the world isn't going to change the fact that men are superior to women in most endeavors. Get over it and move on!

I remember an interview that i read/ heard. I think it was on Chess.FM (I am sorry, that i cannot be more helpful here ...it was more than a couple of years back)

A GM and a WGM were being interviewed and they were asked the question :- What is the difference between womans and mens chess. And I think the GM answered, that women's chess is a lot more tactical and seems more fun while men play a lot more positionally.

Again, this is a huge generalization and not necessarily true. But I remember that after this is started following some of the Ladies games and I actually enjoyed it quite a lot.(I am too bad chess player to appreciate the difference between 2400 play and 2700 play to be very frank). I honestly started wondering if people would cover the names and just look at the moves, would they actually prefer the Men's game.

This was then...nowadays I just root for my favorite players who unfortunately are all men.


GM Susan Polgar has said: "A 2400 player is a 2400 player." There is no discernible difference in style based solely on gender if you compare players of the same rating.

In the 1980s, "women's chess" was always described as more drawish, passive, and positional than the aggressive tactical "men's game." Judit Polgar changed that perception in the 90s. But I think Susan's analysis holds in either decade.


If the two groups are being trained for different goals, they're not receiving the same training.


Aronian is a complete sexist nerd! If I was in Dresden... hm... perhaps all the women chessplayers could get to their round half an hours early and teach Aronian a lesson! A black eye and broken nose would sure make him look great for the cameras!

from miranda01 :)

Miranda do remember to read him his Miranda rights before meting out such treatment!

I am pretty sure they used to say womens chess was a no holds bar throw everything at them tactically even the kitchen sink.

As we all know, Aronian's former girlfriend http://jaynir.wordpress.com/category/pinoy-world-celebrity/ is not a 2750, but she's not a patzer either. (Her dance partner looks hunkier than Aronian, too.)

Since Aronian's statement was more condescending than anything Fischer or Kasparov ever said (and those were pretty bad), and since Aronian seems a bit more cultured than your average chess player, I'm inclined to take the remark as tongue-in-cheek.

Which is not to say that excess testosterone doesn't help...it's just not necessary.

I just laugh at some of the interpetations in this thread. Some folks here certainly have too much blood in their head. How about a clear translation...

Wo liegen Ihre Schwächen?
Mein Problem ist, dass ich während der Partien manchmal zu erregt bin, dann beginne ich zu fliegen und mache Fehler. Manchmal habe ich so viel Blut im Kopf, dass ich nicht mehr denken kann, dass ich keinen klaren Blick mehr für die einfachsten Dinge habe. Ich bin dann völlig vernebelt.

What are your weaknesses?
My problem is, that during some games I sometimes get overly excited; then I begin to fly (drift) and commit mistakes. Sometimes I have so much blood in my head that I cannot think, that I have no clear sight of the simplest of things. It is then, that I am in a complete fog.

Before we crucify the guy, consider that this slightly provocative statement was more tongue in cheek than anything to get all militant about. Let's have a sense of humor. Smart ladies don't get all jumpy about such things...


A man cannot be a good balerina said Maya Plisetskaya and all men applauded.
Aronian said.... and all women are ready to tear im appart


Interestingly, in a recent conversation among ELO ~2000 players (like myself) one guy suggested more or less the opposite: "With woman chess (referring to the world championship), at least I understand: it's about fighting for weak squares, open lines, vulnerable pawns, .... with top-level man's chess quite often I do not have the slightest clue what's going on !". To which I replied: "So in this respect, Judit Polgar plays like a man ?!" "Yes indeed, you got my point !"

This may well confirm that it is more about rating differences than inherent gender-specific differences.

Duif: "If the two groups are being trained for different goals, they're not receiving the same training." That was exactly my point - speculative but in line with Mig's remark that "in practice, Chinese women play far weaker competition than Chinese men." As long is this is the case - most women and or their trainers being happy to play only against other women and not competing against men at top level - 'apparent' differences between men and women are sort of self-sustaining.

A radical solution to this problem (if it is taken as a problem) would be to abandon separate women's chess altogether. But this would certainly change the atmosphere at the Olympiad, especially the Bermuda party .... .

Quote from Doc (aka Meke)
As I mentioned before, Playjunior, comparing even the both full distributions won't bring you anything because they do NOT contain all players, but only the best rated (who participate in FIDE tournaments). Who knows how many women (and men) are not listed but play, or have played chess.

And their Elo is not their ability, but rather skill level. Ability is connected with potential, talent etc. Elo doesn't measure potential but just how good somebody is. What they did to get there, how much or little they had invested in chess, can't be assessed by Elo (not rated tournament games).


As I mentioned in my post, during comparison you have to take into account that you don't have the full distribution, but top percentiles only. If you are saying that it is impossible to reconstruct a normal distribution with its approximate top-x% percentile-sorry, I don't believe so.

Regarding your remark about potential and skill... We don't care what they did to do to get there, as soon as you are professional you have an incentive to be as good as you can be. If female players have potential but don't have skill, then I don't understand what is "potential" then, and what is the use of such potential. I think Judith makes 10x the money Kosteniuk makes, so I cannot imagine what would keep Kosteniuk NOT to perform as well as Polgar if she has the POTENTIAL.

Maybe potential is not important as well, but we should try to find out "potential for potential".

Only tangentially related to this post, and in response to Mig's earlier ranting about equal-sized Olympiad Open's and Women's teams:

I think they equalized the team sizes to increase the dating potential at the Olympiad. Did you know that the ("Muscle") Olympics of Athens and Sydney each used about 100,000 condoms distributed to the athletes?


He is probably joking...

but of course, if he wasnt joking it would be really bad. still, he probably is joking. maybe he didnt even know it was going to be published, (or even that it was an interview!). it would be a very typical journalist behaviour to just print the words and not all parts of the discussion.

anyway, a comment on the logics applied to the argumentation here.
the important part, which cannot be easily proven wrong, is the genereal claim that men are geneticly better suited for playing chess than women. the fact that there are exceptions (polgar) isnt really relevant since there can always be exceptions in nature (or maybe polgar is more of a man than we think...). it is actually very hard to prove it wrong with anyinductive method. to knock it down you have to analyse the human brain, say waht makes a good chess player, and how that is affected by differences in male and female brains.

of course, to prove it right, you would have to do the exact same thing. because it is incredibly hard to look at "the way things are" (like, men are better chess players) and say what is because of our society and what is genetic. So the main point is that NO ONE IS RIGHT! But, that leads to IT IS WORSE TO BE WRONG THAN NOT RIGHT! Which means if (and only if) Aronian means what the interview says, because there is no proof one way or the other, and because it is very bad to claim things about peoples sex/race without proof, we can all throw rotten eggs at him.


"IT IS WORSE TO BE NOT RIGHT THAN WRONG!" is what I meant. (that is, to claim things that cant be proven one way or the other, and are a kick in the face to those (all women in this case) who cant say anything to prove it wrong.)

You are mixing apples and oranges playjunior. You can't reconstruct the full normal distribution because you don't know how many of them play - the bigger the number the of people the better the best performers. You just don't know what is the ratio between men and women playing chess for real. Without it, it's just pointless.

Some people work less and achieve the same results as other folks who work more. Other log the same practice hours and get still get different results due to different practice methods. If you don't see the connection between potential (whatever it is) and the current performance level, I can't help you either.

I see the connection between potential and current performance, I don't see the difference. I say all the players pursue monetary and professional excellence and I do not see why female players, after putting 10-20 years of their life into the profession, should not try as hard as men, especially if they would get rewarded as good or even better as men.

And that practice methods remark - Isn't Kosintseva sisters' trainer the former trainer of Kasparov? What do you need more? If the female and male have the same "potential ability to perform at certain skill level", why shouldn't the same training be applicable to them? We don't have different textbooks in physics for girls and boys, do we?

Regarding the distribution-I mentioned before that I do not know every detail. But you can surely estimate the base number of players. For example, you could try to find out what percentage of not-so-successful players drops out from a certain rating category (example: 50% of players rated 2200 that do not make to 2300 stop being active). There are so many ways you can come up with a reasonable estimate.

>A man cannot be a good balerina said Maya >Plisetskaya and all men applauded.
>Aronian said.... and all women are ready to tear >im appart

True as a general statement and obviously due to genetic differences but there were few striking exceptions, as Ninjinsky.
Men should not be forbidden to pursue balerina-careers only that in terms of statistics and chances you would better not bet on their inherited physical and emotional gracefulness

The man is not a politician. He's joking. Haven't any of you lot ever said something to get a reaction? Like a laugh... and then we forget it and move on...

100 comments is the goal of this discussion.

Yes, here is my contribution.
This discussion about some tongue-in-cheek statements is ridiculous. Let's move to 100 comments and forget it.

Why can't men be better (intellectually) than women at some endeavors -- and perhaps even vice versa? No two males bring exactly the same intellectual abilities to the table, and the overall IQ scores of men will fall on a bell curve. So why should we expect male and females to be the same across the board in abilities if men aren't? Male and female brains are even hardwired differently and a CAT scan can tell the difference between a male and a female brain.

Studies have shown that men are better at dealing with abstract information -- better visual-spatial capabilities. This translates into men being better problem solvers, particularly in the sciences like mathematics and engineering. This is seen at the high end of the IQ scale -- where men are better at seeing how various ideas and concepts are interrelated. Women are better at verbal skills, which probably translates to better on average english skills like writing -- and women may have better (on average) memories (many of the verbal skills are memorization feats).

The superior male ability to solve problems means in the real world is that men develop the vast majority of the knowledge base -- they solve the problems and come up with the ideas that develop new knowledge. If you are attending university and learning some field of endeavor, the chances are very high that the vast majority of the knowledge base you are learning in that field was developed by men. 99.99% of all math theory, like algebra and calculus was developed by men. The field of math would look no different today if you removed women's contribution to the field. 99% of all inventions from the transistor to the pneumatic drill -- invented by men. 99%+ of physics and engineering developed by men.

Perhaps the most striking area where this difference between men and women makes itself felt is in music composition. In classical musical composition there has never been what could be considered a “first-rank” female composer. We have Mozart, Bach, Handel, Beethoven … etc., but women composers are a footnote in the history of classical composition. One is hard pressed to find even any minor composers that are female that did anything of significance. The situation for the composition of musical scores for movies (sometimes referred to as program music -- very similar to classical composition) today is no different than it was over 200 years ago in the time of Mozart -- men completely dominate. From the theme to 007, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Zhivago … etc., all these movies have musical scores written by men. One would likely be very hard pressed to find even 1 or 2 movies in the top 250 at IMDB with music scored by a women -- it just isn’t one of their strengths.

There have been many women pianists/violin players, and they play very well, but playing compositions is largely a feat of memorization. One can't create a new composition by memorization, and there is no concrete rule-book on what the next note should be in a composition -- so the problem is largely abstract. The rise of Jazz and big-band era music in the US since the year 1900 is another example where men did virtually all the composing. This is despite the fact that it's very likely that more women than men in middle and upper class families since 1900 took music lessons and played the piano or other musical instruments. Even back in the time of Mozart, it could be argued that women in the upper classes had more opportunity to become composers than did men. The arts like musical composition and painting/sculpture were not particularly attractive to men because it was very hard to make any kind of living in these endeavors. This alone would have dissuaded many men from pursuing these artistic endeavors. Many artists of the time had to try and seek out wealthy patrons to support them. The men in upper class families were expected to get involved in the family business or some profession to support themselves. Women on the other hand (particularly the women of leisure in the upper class) could readily pursue music and other social activities to their hearts content.

Not only did men write and develop the music theory, develop the music notation system, they invented and developed and made the instruments (violin, cello, oboe, drums …etc). Women's contribution to the field of classical music is basically nil. If you listen to classical music or opera, there is a 99%+ chance you will be listening to something by a male composer. While some women will claim that there are a fair number of women songwriters in "pop" music, it is a little known "secret" in the industry that the vast majority of the music to these songs is actually scored by men. The vast majority of women are songwriters in the sense that they write the words to songs -- not score the music.

Other areas where men's superior spatial ability makes itself felt is it design. All the great cars designs through the years from .. Bugatti, Porsche, Ferrari, …etc. … -- all by men. The great architectural designs from St. Peters, the Pantheon, Taj Mahal -- designed by men.

continued …

There are 2 other factors that I think contribute to men generally excelling in some fields. First, men are more passionate about some fields of endeavor, and passion = interest = excellence. In my university days, I frequently would stay up all night working on various computer problems with a couple of friends. I've never seen a woman that had such a passion for some field of endeavor that they would give up so much sleep just to solve problems because they had such and interest and passion in that area.

Secondly, men have a wider distribution in abilities on things like IQ scores. In other words, more men will be distributed higher than women, and farther out at the high end, but there will also be more men at the low end too.

"… There were twice as many men with IQ scores of 125, for example, a level said to correspond with people getting first-class degrees. At scores of 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman. …"

See … http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4183166.stm

" … In one Johns Hopkins University study of gifted pre-adolescent students, boys outperformed girls among the top scoring students on math by 13-to-1…."

See … http://www.kimberlyswygert.com/archives/002589.html

The higher up the IQ scale one moves, the higher ratio on men over women.

In the Scripps National Spelling Bee, I believe the numbers of finalists was about evenly spilt between boys and girls. But, this is largely a memorization feat, so one would generally expect girls to do at least as good as boys, if not better. Note: I think the superior problem solving ability of boys doesn't generally show up until boys start to mature and reach 14-16 years of age, so any study that tests kids 10 or 12 years old and concludes there is no difference between men/women in any cognitive ability isn't valid in my view. Also, although women "may" have better memories on average, the wider distribution of abilities in boys (flatter wider Bell curve) means that one may find a small distribution of boys that are equal in ability to girls in memorization. This (or the passion for the subject) may account for boys doing as well as girls in the spelling bee) if in fact women do have better memorization abilities in general. There is also the question as to whether this superior ability (supposing it's true) starts at a young age or develops as girls mature too.

If we move from the spelling bee to a problem solving environment, like the IMO (International Math Olympiad), an international math competition for 20 year old’s and under and with no post secondary education. This is another good example of where this ability of men to solve problems is better …

See ... http://imo2006.dmfa.si/index.html

This math competition is dominated by males year after year. The top scores (Gold medals) are by males year after year.

Most of what happens in an educational environment at schools, and even university, is memorization and regurgitation. One memorizes a set of facts, problems, or things, and then on a test one regurgitates them. Even in college mathematics and physics, most of the problems on a test have already been run through in class. So, if you put in the studying time and are reasonably intelligent enough to remember how the problems work out, you can usually do well. The real difference between men an women happens when they go out into the real world and have to apply what they've learned and solve problems that may not have any concrete definition, or have not been worked through precisely before. In the real world theory gets put into practice with problems that are abstract with many unknowns that have to be solved.

Leaving college a women may have the same grade point average as a man, but once out in the real world, men's better problem solving ability generally allows then to excel at the top of many fields. But then women, thinking they are equal to men in all respects like to point to equal "qualifications," and cry discrimination when they don't do as well as men out in the world. I'm confident the top 100 female chess players could, if taught chess theory, regurgitate the theory on an exam as well as the top 100 men. But actually playing the game, applying the theory in the field, and solving the chess problem, men do better. And in chess, memorization of opening and former positions can only take one so far, then it becomes problem solving. But since the problem is largely abstract (no concrete rule book will tell you the next move) men have shown their ability to solve chess problems better.

All this means is that Aronian has been socializing with the wrong women. It's
not uncommon for a great chess player to be
clueless in other areas in life. This impish,
no-lifer should be left alone to wallow in
his own ignorance. So, leave him alone!

Pure, if lenghty, nonsense, Larry K.

The OBVIOUS reason that women have contributed far less to the sciences than men is that until recently (less than 100 years!) women had very little access to education, work or any cultural activity/career outside the house. The kitchen is not a place where you'll develop your scientific mind...

The reason we don't have more women at the top of the rating list is the same reason you don't see many European male players in Major League Baseball: they have a very small pool of players, so it is rare to see any of them making it to the top.

As simple as that.

(not to mention that excellence in chess does not require a high IQ, as can easily be determined by the huge number of morons aspiring to make chess a "profession" or thinking that chess is a sport!)


It was men that started, organized, and built the first universities in Europe going back to the Middle Ages. From the brick and mortar to the knowledge base that we call the sciences today; it was virtually all built and developed by men -- not women. (These universities were an offshoot of the Christian monasteries except they concentrated on the secular sciences rather than theology and philosophy). Why didn't women (who had their own convents/monasteries) in Europe develop and create the first universities? No one stopped women from doing so. There are no examples of women building up these institutions and men stopping women from doing this. In fact, there were likely many more women in convents than men in monasteries, yet they never became the great centers of learning in theology/philosophy like the monasteries did.

If one goes back 150 years in the US, I believe were women only colleges just as there were men only colleges. In fact, as of the year 1900, I believe there were more women only colleges (denying education to men, by your ideas) than there were men only colleges. These women only colleges, with only women students failed to develop the knowledge base as men have in many of the sciences. Nothing was stopping women from excellence in most fields and turning these women only colleges into great learning centers. Women could have developed great mathematicians at these colleges, and pushed the knowledge base in math -- but they didn't. And most universities as of the year 1900 were open to women.

So men built up these University intuitions to begin with, and then women go onto claim they are denied an education? Were men supposed to provide women with this education? Why is that? Why should men have to provide women with these institutions and education (you know, the people who built these institutions to begin with) and not the other way around? Why didn't women build, create the knowledge base, and educate themselves, or, build these institutions and provide men with an education?

The fact is, if men are better at developing the knowledge base in the sciences than women (as shown by history and my examples above), if higher education and the academic positions are very limited, it's better that men take up most of these positions. This is in the interests of pushing the knowledge base ahead faster, because as history amply demonstrates, it's men that do this much better than women. As education becomes more widely available (in more economic wealthier societies) and the knowledge base of academic fields becomes better established, then it is only natural that more women take up some of these fields.

Also, previous to the year 1900, many male inventors had no college education and were self-taught. Quite a few great composers like Georg Philipp Telemann (1681- 1767) were self taught.

See … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Philipp_Telemann

Your premise of total equality between the sexes intellectually doesn't hold up to rational scrutiny. How is it possible that men could hold women back more in education, than women hold men back in education -- if the sexes are totally equal?

Just on a related matter. Are you free for a drink sometime? I think you are very insightful and interesting. I play chess ok, have good personal hygiene and have a wide range of interests outside chess.

In the interest of getting 100 comments... very interesting insights Larry K. I can't say i've ever spent much time considering the differences between the sexes to be a very prudent use of my time. No one disagrees that men are more visually oriented then women. However, the length people will go to declare this a weakness or strength in practice is very different... I see many women that happily declare this a weakness so that women can be viewed superior. However, practically speaking, I think it depends on the activity you're discussing. Clearly as it relates to chess, it is a strength. I wish I had a study onhand but psychologists love to utilize chess as a tool for studies. I believe they concluded that on average visually men were taking in 1/4 the board 4by4 at a time and women were on average taking in 1/8 of the board. This is an interesting development that visual learning shows. I believe they declared it was impossible to take in more than half the board at once and figured only someone like Kasparov who had spent a ton of time practicing would be capable of this feature.

Still, one has to question if the lack of women at the top isn't more to do with 'socially' acceptable view of chess. Aside from Irina Krush, J Shahade, Anna Zaton, the three polgars, Hou Yifan, Koneru Humpery etc how many women can practically make MONEY at this. Not many, regardless of talent - it is extremely difficult to make money at chess (sex aside of course). So how many women due to social and pratical pressure give it up for something else? I would argue probably a higher percentage of females are realizing these facts before they ever reach master titles. At the class A level especially, I notice a ton of women who given time and practice would EASILY attain IM if not higher. However, one year down the road they've all but disappeared from chess. You have to stop and ask why.

The final point, just on a perctange variable.... the field is dominated by men because MORE men play it at every level. Women don't outnumber men in the profession at any age, rating or otherwise. There simply is more men playing and thus should be more men at the top just as at the bottom. Do you think in engineering a field always dominated by men that if you inserted 100 extra females you'd see one 100 extra top flight engineers? No of course not! you might see 1-2-10-20 etc but 100? NEVER. Statistically speaking this is an impossible gender aside. If you hand picked 100 females trained them from ground up their whole life to be a top flight engineer... then yes. This is the difference.

Why is it so important to some of the men here to convince us that men are "smarter" than women? I ask in all seriousness - what do they hope to gain?

It reminds me of my fascination with SAT scores in high school. I went to school with a lot of incredibly bright people - world class brains. And more than 20 years later, I can see that the highest SAT scorers are not the most pleasant, successful, or productive by ANY measure - personal or professional.

That, to me, is a big part of the problem with the chess world - over-focus on "achievement" as measured by a single number. (I think: by men who are afraid that they don't really measure up in a world that is much more than scalar.)

> As for the Eastern Europeans: with all the
> feminism in the US and, to a lesser extent,
> western Europe, does the West produce more and
> better top female players than the Eastern
> European countries? I don't think so.

Russia-USA (men) 2.5:1.5
USA-Russia (women) 3:1

Is this a joke ? All 4 women playing for the USA today (and 3 out of 4 men)are originally from Eastern Europe .... . And the Russian woman team had superior ratings on all boards - which is arguably still more relevant than a one-time upset ("outlier") in a team competition ?

That's all part of the experimental setup.
All sixteen participants got basically the same chess education. Than half of the males and half of the females are transfered to a feminist country. After a couple of years the outcome of the experiment is determined by a double team match.

(Nakamura somehow managed to slip in.)

Larry K,

Amusing, but historically inaccurate.

Although mathematics was largely closed to women as a professional field until well into the 20th century, there have still been great women mathematicians.


Sofia Kovalevskaya is certainly well known.

Most importantly, though, I wanted to speak to this comment:

"Why didn't women (who had their own convents/monasteries) in Europe develop and create the first universities? No one stopped women from doing so. There are no examples of women building up these institutions and men stopping women from doing this. "

I'm not sure where you studied history, but women who attempted to study academics were regularly imprisoned and even executed (quite often for witchcraft) throughout this time period. In some areas even teaching women to read was a crime.

Women didn't "have their own convents." Convents were provided for women, but as women were not allowed to own property in most of the region, these were not communal organisations controlled by the women who lived in them. They were always subservient politically, legally, and economically to an organization operated by men. Male inspectors did visit the convents on a regular basis to determine the "fitness" of their spiritual and educational practices.

Most universities through the early 20th century barred women on the grounds that education would make them unfit mothers. Edward Clarke, in a famous essay titled "Sex and Education" in 1873, wrote that "an overindulgence in matters of the mind would shrivel women's reproductive organs" and thus threaten society. Clarke was at the time a Professor of Education at Harvard, and his work was both a bestseller and used to justify the limiting of girls' education to about the 4th grade level.

So some women did make academic contributions of significance. That any women at all were able to achieve higher education goals in the face of cultural, legal, and economic barriers, as well as the frequent threats of physical violence, is a testament to the strength of the human desire for "matters of the mind," regardless of gender.

The visible absence of a group from participation in an activity, like the limited number of Asian American grandmasters in chess, cannot be judged historially without also considering the cultural context.

With all due respect,

p.s. I'm no music scholar, but you might look up Fanny Mendelsohn as an example of both talent and the restrictions placed on talent for an accident of birth.

Several of Felix Mendelsohn's most popular works, including Queen Victoria's favourite, "Italy," were in fact the work of his sister.

Since their father disapproved of Fanny's pursuit of composition (He wrote to her in a letter, "For [Felix] it may perhaps be a profession, but for you it can never be more than an ornament,") and since she was not allowed to perform in public, her brother agreed to include several of her pieces in publications under his name. This was in addition to the over 300 pieces that she did publish on her own name, so we do have quite a number to consider.

If you are at all interested in music history, I suggest you look at some of the recent academic evaluations of her life and work. She may well stand as a model for why women who did have musical talent seem to be historically invisible.

Men aren't smarter than women. The sexes just have different strengths. I think its fun to discuss it with open minded, intelligent people. Unfortunately most people are incapable of having this kind of discussion without screaming 'bias' cause they aren't getting proof they are personally superior to the other sex. Sorry folks, the sexes just have a different make up - it is a fact! Men tend to have stronger upper bodies for heavy lifting and women tend to have stronger lower bodies for child birth. Notice how women don't do the ring events at gymnastics?? I suppose this is a horrible sexist idea!!!! No, it is called PRAGMATISM. So why can't we explore chess gently in the same way? In no way is this discussion a putdown to the fairer sex.

I'll contribute 1 more comment towards 100 count.

Isn't this like comparing apples and oranges?? I think the design is different and the expected roles are also different. The problem starts when you try to play a different role than the one you are meant for (but sometimes you are pushed into it by society, people, circumstances, actions) and when you start comparing!

Not only are the sexes not equal neither are the races, nor people.

And quite clearly statistically one race performs consistently at the bottom in mental fields.. while performing quite well in certain sports.

But hey -- this is the time when its the anti-racists who froth at the mouth while the "racists" (most of them at least) are actually quite reasonable people.

>Your premise of total equality between the sexes intellectually doesn't hold up to rational scrutiny. How is it possible that men could hold women back more in education, than women hold men back in education -- if the sexes are totally equal?>

They are not equal, women are clearly better. Except few wretched souls (as those here on this blog) who think that they 'are equal' and who inadvertently help us realize the very cause of the difference : lack of ambition

All this talk about women cannot play chess as well as men are all nonsense. We live in a male dominated society. In spite of that, women have proved they can do anything as well as men whehn given the right opprtunity under proper atmosphere.

They all said the same thing about military service. Just this week, a woman acheived the highest rank in the U.S. military. Men can't block women's progress on the one hand and then claim they are not as good.

Aronian could be joking or really believe what he says, but he is wrong.

you have made the stupidest statment yet saguni. Anyways it wasn't this week the woman made general was on 6/23/08. Maybe you only found out about it this week but you're also wrong to say this is a male dominated society. I recommend learning before speaking.

Intuitively, I disagree Doc. The total number of observations, unknown in this case, should not be required to reconstruct the distribution. What you have is the upper tail of a histogram, and that should be enough to obtain a reasonable fit to the underlying distribution based something simple such as the best fit to the (known for a given mean and variance) slope of the tail. A brute force approach would probably work, but I would bet there is a formal approach documented somewhere. This all assumes the assumption of a Gaussian distributions holds, which is not necessarily solid, and there are ample observations of the tail (probably solid since we have many hundreds of players).

Also in the interests of achieving 100: Can I point out the wonderful irony in a demonstrably stupid man (Larry K) lecturing women on why they'll never amount to anything intellectually?

(Unless you're a woman in disguise, Larry, thus proving your point -- but, wait, that would be such a cunning double-bluff that it would make you clever, in which case... Oh God, where's my gun?)

Here is the opinion of Elisabeth Paehtz, first board of Germany 1, on the Aronian interview (http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/artikel.asp?id=2001324; original in German):

"Aronian is right. Women fall in love, women get kids, do breast-feeding which makes them sleep not well. Women are less analytical, tend to panic and lose track in time trouble."

This is followed by urging to keep separate competitions for men and women ("as in athletics - one simply cannot compare men and women"). And complaining that "men always get preference, the German man's team got a second trainer, we did not ....").

Will she also be 'trashed' by 'feminists' now ?? Was it wrong to distribute this interview, aimed for a German audience, worldwide ? Are these excuses for a) her maybe not realizing her full potential, b) the relatively modest Olympiad performance of the German woman team (as noted on the Olympiad webpage, "now the famous chess nation of Luxemburg gets to play on the stage against the home team").

Asking these questions and now, for the moment, rushing away to play chess rather than discussing about it .... .

Surely that is now 100. Yay for pointlessness

Men are better at lifting weights and killing animals and other men with sticks. Women have better fine motor skill (which makes them well suited for housekeeping).

So while men and women are equal they are not by definition equally well suited for every imaginable task. Why would chess be different?

OK let me throw in my bit.

I also do believe women's skills and mental capacities are not the same as men. Some of this is actually proven scientifically. They are not worse, just not the same. Each excel in different ways.

But the rights and opportunities must be equal. We cannot create restrictions from the outset, even if there are scientific proofs that show perhaps some weaknesses in certain tasks. After all, those proofs are only statistics that apply in general, but not necessarily to every person. A particular woman might become a Judit Polgar. So let them have the freedom to try. And let them see by themselves what that can or cannot do.

It's strictly true about the operation of the convents, but often overlooked is that mediaeval nuns are oft considered proto-feminist because of their voluntary decisions to enter convents seeking education unavailable to them on the outside (eg reading/writing, herbalism, musical composition). The decision not to marry placed women in situations fraught with familial shame and outside danger, hence the modern-day historian's interest in their motivations. Similar research has revealed somewhat bizarre parallels in the case of Victorian prostitutes.

And it really shouldn't be overlooked that women were equals or dominated in Western pre-Christian societies, ie Anglo-Saxons and Celts. In fact it was effectively lights-out for women after the Dark Ages.


On education. No, most universities in the early 20th century did not bar women. Of 622 universities/colleges in the US in 1906 there were …

158 men only
129 women only
335 co-ed

And for your quote of Edward Clarke, and his supposed views on women's education. Why do you feminists always seem to quote one of the most radical off-the-wall viewpoints you can find, and then try and pass it off as indicative of the general view of men and/or society on women? It's dishonest, and it only serves to try and demonize and stereotype men as some evil force bent on holding women down from their true contributions to society. The same type of stereotyping you claim to be against. Oh wait, that's one of the goals of feminism -- to agitate hatred and anger in women towards men for their supposed evils and perceived injustices towards women, so they distort how things really were.

And while there were certainly more men than women overall attending universities early in the 20th century, in high schools the situation was a different matter. In public co-educational high schools in the US there were 283,264 boys and 394,181 girls. So, significantly more women had the opportunity and means to attain a high school education than men did in 1906. I surmise many men were forced to drop out and go work, either on the farm or in some industry to help support their families. Also, in 1906 there were 500 girl only private high schools compared to 304 for boys only. So, in some respects, one can make a case that men had less opportunity for education than women did.

See … http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04088b.htm … for the statistics.

--[Duif wrote: Although mathematics was largely closed to women as a professional field until well into the 20th century, there have still been great women mathematicians.]--

There have been perhaps good women mathematicians, but I wouldn't call them great -- at least not by the top men's standards. But my point still stands -- women's overall contribution to the field of mathematics is basically nil. And as far as mathematics not being open to women -- this would appear to be nonsense again. The first page I opened on the link you provided was…

…" Agnes Baxter was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was a student at Dalhousie University from 1887 to 1892. In 1891 she received her BA with first class honours in Mathematics,…"

On Fanny Mendelsohn. The Wiki article doesn't contend that Fanny's father disapproved of her pursuing composition, it just states he was tolerant of her activities rather than supportive. Do feminist glasses so color every thing you read, you can't even interpret what an article is really saying without reading some feminist victim-hood viewpoint into it that is not there? And the idea that she was limited by "prevailing attitudes" is ridiculous. The same article goes on to state that her brother was supportive of her composing and performing activities, as well as her painter husband Wilhelm Hensel. So how could the prevailing attitude be against her?

When Fanny's father stated … "Music will perhaps become his [i.e. Felix's] profession, while for you it can and must be only an ornament". … Perhaps her father was just being realistic, and realized that Fanny's compositions really didn't amount to much, and certainly didn't compare to the quality of compositions of Felix or other composers at the time. Or perhaps he (astutely) understood that women's strength did not lie in this area. Did you ever consider the possibility that Fanny was a lousy composer? It would seem not. Again -- your go out of your way to interpret every little comment in a negative way and as a slight against womankind. Just about anyone can "slap" together some notes and call it music. Now, whether the piece has great artistic merit as a composition is a whole different matter. BTW, I listened to one of Fanny's trios online -- and I wasn't impressed.

And as far as making a general case that women were being imprisoned for trying to study academics, as a general matter in western society -- I call rubbish on this one too.

Your attitude to the issue to men being better than women in some areas (and vice versa) is the same close mindedness you try to portray men as having towards women in the past. The idea that men and women had different strengths seems to have been understood by many in the past. But with advent of feminism, and the rally cry of egalitarianism on modern universities, a lot of people don't even want to consider the possibility of differences between the sexes (witness the close minded attitude of feminists towards Lawrence Summers at Harvard for even suggesting this might be the case).

Larry K,

Thank you for the correction on the timing of the opening of higher education for women. You are quite right that the movement for higher education for women in the United States began in the mid 1800s, so that by 1900 about 20% of US college degrees were granted to women. (The number of institutions isn't really useful in analysis since they vary so much in size.) What I said held true through the early 19th century, not the 20th. My error.

Also, I hadn't realise you were using Wikipedia as your primary information source on women composers. That's helpful to know. If you're interested in the topic, I suggest you look into some additional references. There's quite a bit more to read on the Mendlessohn family than what appears on the wiki page.

Edward Clarke was certainly not considered radical for his time. He was a well respected professor at Harvard, and his book was a best seller.

As to your ad hominem attacks on me and your guesses as to my motivations and usual rhetorical practices, I'm happy to ignore them if you are. They reflect poorly on only one of us.

All of us are complex people. I am the mother of one daughter and two sons. I am as quick to decry prejudice against males as against females. It's one of the reasons that I have long been publicly opposed to the use of general funds for the support of gender-segregated events in chess. I feel it is unfair to men with equal or higher ratings.

But then I don't think chess is a "sport," either, so I tend to be regarded as, well, to put it kindly, "an independent thinker" by most of the various factions in chess politics.


If we're looking at all the factors included, culture, economics, history, then, as Mig has said, there's no question that a greater number of men than women have achieved the highest levels of success in chess.

What we don't, and can't as yet, know is why. We can't do a general statistical analysis on a self-selecting population. We don't know if the women who choose to play tournament chess are representative of most women. We don't know what the impact of being in such a small minority has on an individual player. We don't know why so few women, relative the general population, choose to play tournament chess.

So we just can't say anything, positive or negative, about a general male vs female ability to play the game. A study such as my father suggested taking a randomly selected group from the general population and teaching them the game under the same conditions with the same goals would go a long way towards answering the question.

A similar study testing, say, the ability to play basketball or tennis or run a marathon would, I'm confident, indeed show an innate male advantage sufficient to justify the creation of separate leagues. Even if there were by chance a few exceptional female athletes and a few really dreadful male ones, both the median and the mode would, I'm sure, be higher in the male group.

I'm honestly not sure that would be true for chess. Perhaps. I have an open mind on the outcome. Surely other chessplayers, who pride themselves on their objectivity, can do the same? It's such an easy thing to test properly, if anybody ever wants to. But without a proper test, there's not much point in debating.

That's really the only point I've made throughout: this is an easily testable hypothesis, regardless of which of any of the 3 sides one might individually hope is true. But it hasn't been tested yet.

Fact: very few women have ever succeeded at the highest levels of chess. Opinion: one gender or another is innately superior at the game.

Aronian presented an opinion. It's an opinion that may cause sensible women (and sponsors) who've not yet gotten involved with the game to choose to stay even further away, but so it goes. Prejudice of this type, even if it's only meant as a joke, often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It will be interesting to see if anyone ever does this study. The truly intriguing thing is that whether the results do or don't align with Aronian's comment, it will be easier for everyone.

Although of course Mig would have to come up with a new way of getting a blog topic to 100 comments quickly. ;)



My apologies if you considered the feminist label I directed your way as an ad hominem comment. Your post read like "feminist" talking points -- so I assumed as much. I sometimes forget that many women don't proudly wear the feminist label today, and may even consider it a pejorative.

A few more thoughts on the issue, and Clarke.

I don't think that quote by Edward Clarke represented the general view of women on the 1800's. On the other hand, in answer to the question as to whether some, or perhaps even quite a few men may have had an "attitude" (lesser view) of women in the sciences and intellectual pursuits. I would agree -- many most probably did. But the question is: why did some men have that viewpoint in the first place? And was it justified?

Consider the historical landscape in 1873. A male professor at some university looks around and sees that probably somewhere in the vicinity of 98% of the professors at most universities are male. He sees that it was men who built and designed the university virtually in all aspects. Men put the brick and mortar together, designed the buildings architecturally, designed and built the scientific instruments they used. Men created the philosophical foundation of the scientific method, and it was largely men that used the scientific method to create the knowledge base that was being taught at the university.

This male professor looks across the street and he doesn't see a similar university built in virtually all aspects and staffed by mostly women. What might be a reasonable conclusion at the time be given the circumstances? How about -- women in general aren’t as intellectually capable of generating science and new knowledge on the same level as men are. This, I think, is quite a reasonable conclusion and attitude to take given what he sees when he looks around himself, and, given what he sees has transpired to arrive at that point in history. Now inevitably, some joker like Clarke may take this attitude a little far, and scoff at women intellectually, which is unjustified, but I hardly think his off-the-wall comment was taken seriously by very many people, even though many may have viewed men and women differently at that time.

If one doesn't understand the cultural landscape in 1873, one may not be able to put their thoughts and ideas in proper context. If one starts with the "feminist" premise that men/women are totally equal in all respects. One might be driven to look for reasons as to why one group wasn't as successful in certain areas, and conclude prejudice as the reason. If one starts with the premise that men have intellectual advantages in certain areas as I described above, then one would likely come to view the university landscape in 1873, and what transpired there as quite a natural progression of things. The rise of science was difficult and precarious, and in many cases it took the top few % of men geniuses to push it forward (like the Capablanca's, Fisher's, and Kasparov's, to use a chess analogy). It's the same problem in science, one has to start with some (philosophical) premises to make sense of any data and draw conclusions. But, if the starting premises are wrong, the conclusion one draws will very likely be wrong too.

Once the knowledge fields in various sciences have been developed and established, or matured so to speak, one can then go to one of these university's and learn from the knowledge base that has been created and passed on there. Women may be good at going to these universities and learning (memorizing) the knowledge base that has been already established. But knowing a preponderance of facts and figures, and being able to repeat this knowledge back like an encyclopedia, is not the same intellectual feat as producing this knowledge base in the first place.

I remain convinced of men's ability to deal with abstract concepts better (particularly among the top percentage of men), and I think it gives men what I like to think of as a "philosophic" advantage. This ability helps men connect various ideas, see how these things are interrelated, solve complex problems, and understand better how things work in the sciences. This in turn has allowed men to produce the bulk of innovations in science and technology.

I essentially agree with the substance of Aronian comments (that women don't play chess as well as men), but for different reasons, based on the ones elaborated. I don't think that we will ever see women equalize men in chess.



>I don't think that we will ever see women >equalize men in chess...Cheers, Larry

Chess is a sexist game devised by men to enforce the belief in the subservient status of women.
While apparently the Q is kept in high regard most of the game this lie is blown up eventually because no-one in his right mind would hesitate to sacrifice the Q if that would be the only way to avoid the K being check-mated.

Women who play chess are subtly, indirectly, brainwashed by man-devised game into accepting the sexist worldview. With each game they play women become even more convinced that this is the natural state of things.

That's why most women don't play chess well. They subconsciously sense the plot and refuse to go along with its basic premise.

"While apparently the Q is kept in high regard most of the game this lie is blown up eventually because no-one in his right mind would hesitate to sacrifice the Q if that would be the only way to avoid the K being check-mated."

From the clubs on upward, in a majority of situations wherein the Queen must fall to avoid mate, resignation is the most popular choice by far. That's right, Ovid-kid: without Distaff the Mighty it's pointless to continue the fight, which puts the lie to your lie.

Men seldom do anything women don't allow them to do. If here are GMs it's usually because, individually, a woman allowed it to happen. You know the type, don't you, Ovidiu? Weak, brainwashed and subservient women like the Klaras Kasparova and Polgar.

It is true that the octinational tendancy for the female proculimity to abscond in the mormreeminal daudacity, but I must state that the gomnabulistic way in which chess is played these days would influence the trompulistic manner in which it is played and would manifest itself in a polygerbilistic concentrime way.

The wemotranticide that takes place every day thermulates the incoherent bobulations that are all too common in the current flophynostic climate. While I agree with Larry K, I must disagree with his stance on the quimbient nagestorus optibulational issue. His pimplocious affection for the apelike troppilese disturbs me umpiliciouslu however.

I conclude that the comprobaldient exoporminisms will have a great effect on the jalimistic bolynoids.

Those aren't even real words!

It was pretty obvious as soon as he made that statement that there would be dozens of people shouting



"It's just that society doesn't let women be as good at chess as men!"

All three are based entirely, 100%, on wishful-thinking.

During those hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, some specific traits in men and some traits in females helped with survival. "Being un-sexist" is NOT an evolutionary value, only what makes a species survive the best way.

Nature itself is sexist, deal with it, men and women are not identical.

"I am convinced that intellectually women are the equals
to men. The only difference is that they have more important practical
priorities in life than playing nerdish games. Cause they're the
stronger gender. It's good they can get emotional at times..."

"The cruel reality is that 99% of male tournament players have some sort of serious problem with simple socializing.

They can't get laid, they can't talk to women, they are stupidly obsessed with chess. In short: they are abnormal and not too bright. They have wretched lives, regardless of rating."

Dimi and Irv are clearly sexist cows who sling around stereotypes about men being inferior to women. When you say "cruel reality" you claim it's the truth, but when someone else says something with the EXACT same tone, you treat it completely different.

What if the "cruel reality" is that men are better than women at chess? If you're fine with the existence of "cruel reality" instead of wishful thinking, it goes both ways.

I'm pretty sure NEITHER one of you has the expertise to judge how well 99% of male chess players are living their lives. I do not believe you spend all day living with a large enough accurate sample of male chess players to make such a claim.

Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.


hank you for the correction on the timing of the opening of higher education for women. You are quite right that the movement for higher education for women in the United States began in the mid 1800s, so that by 1900 about 20% of US college degrees were granted to women. (The number of institutions isn't really useful in analysis since they vary so much in size.) What I said held true through the early 19th century, not the 20th. My error.

"It's a neverending, somewhat dull debate, but as J.Polgar has proven, women are quite capable of playing top 10 level chess if the required conditions exist."

Old, old, old debate.

But in general terms: how can ONE successful person at something prove ANYTHING about general/average/typical inherent abilities of his/her sex?

On average, men are taller than women. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of women are taller than me. If, hypothetically, at some point in time the 10th or 1000th tallest person in the world was a woman (adjusting for the much bigger pool of people on earth compared to the pool of competing chess players) - how would that say ANYTHING about women's "inherent ability to grow tall"?

Judith Polgar is a single exception. As such she doesn't prove anything, in either direction, about her sex.

Seems I'm awfully late to this thread, but I agree very much with the following:

'GM Maurice Ashley has suggested that the real question isn't why can't women play chess, but rather why don't they. After all, in the last 35 years women have gone from being less than 5% of the student body at most medical and law schools in the US to about 50%, yet we've not seen a comparable increase in tournament chessplayers.

Another friend of mine, a woman rated over 2200, feels she has the answer to that one. When asked, "Why don't more women play tournament chess?" she responds simply, "Have you talked to the men who do?"'

The rest of Duif's post very well reflects my take on the subject, too.

"I too think that the average chess situation in most cities is not appealing to the average woman."


If Polgar proves that nothing "inherent" ("genetical" or whatever) stops the female sex from doing equally well at chess as the male sex, then the hundreds (or thousands) of women that DO find our current (male-dominated) chess clubs appealing must prove 100 or 1000 times as strongly that there's nothing inherent in the average woman (or in the female sex) that stops her from enjoying a typical, male-dominated chess club.

If Duif or anybody else says that there don't exist 100 women in the world that genuinely enjoy their male-dominated chess club and that every single woman that attends "normal", traditional chess clubs does it despite disliking the environment there, then I think that someone has an equally big problem with generalization as Aronian supposedly has. :o)

"But in general terms: how can ONE successful person at something prove ANYTHING about general/average/typical inherent abilities of his/her sex?"
Easy. Her success proved that it is possible for a woman to compete at top level. Thereby disproving the biological argument once and for all.
Hypothesis: Women are biologically incapable of top level chess.
J Polgar is a woman and has competed at the top level.
Therefore the hypothesis is false.
I draw no other implictions from the data. I am not discussing the general chess abilities of women here, but rather what seems to me unshakeable logical implication.
In your example above, what would be proven would be the capacity of women to grow to a certain tallness, not the frequency or likelihood of this occurring. Therefore I think it is a false parallel.
I don't possess the scientific/logical vocabulary I require here, so forgive any linguistic inexactitudes.

Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.

latest trend

Mig, please let my latest post here through! Exchange the offensive word with "moron" if you like. :o) It was directed at an anonymous person not posting here (at least to the best of my knowledge) so I guess you simply haven't gone through any posts "held for approval" yet... :o)

I agree that Judit Polgar's success refutes the biological argument, at least its most extreme version ("it is absolutely impossible for a woman to play top-level chess"). But for the rest, I mostly agree with frogbert (Dec. 26 11:49PM).

To elaborate on this, I will throw in two Norwegian names, a very familiar one to all of us and another one that was recently mentioned in the latest Carlsen thread:
1) Arguably, Magnus Carlsen became a (or the) top-level player "despite being Norwegian" - whereas, for example, Kramnik reached and maintained a similar level also (but of course not only) because he is Russian.
2) On the other hand, Ole Einar Bjorndalen became a world-top biathlete also because he is Norwegian. Three reasons come to my mind:
- Norway has a favorable climate for winter sports (after all, sufficient snow is required)
- many people practice such sports
- there may be a dedicated system of state support.

Back to women's chess:
- As I said, the biological argument is obsolete, we cannot say "You want to cross 2600? You are a woman, forget about it!"
- There may be a certain link between quantity of (rather strong) female players and quality of the very best ones. It is not a prerequisite though, as Polgar has proven.
- What might be missing is women's ambition to really compete with the strongest men. In this respect, certain "privileges" for women in chess might be counterproductive: separate titles with lower requirements, separate woman prizes in tournaments.

"I agree that Judit Polgar's success refutes the biological argument, at least its most extreme version "
Yes, like I said, that's all it proves. As for other factors, that is a complicated issue, for me at least, a complex tissue of social factors are the reason why there are not more women in top-level chess.
The idea of women's tournaments/teams has plus and minus factors, I guess the solution is to leave the option open to play in women's events/teams, or, based on merit, to play on the "men's" team.

Concerning your last paragraph, in team competitions this option (women playing on the "men's team") already exists - that's why the men's competition is nowadays called "open competition". But just a few women qualify/are eligible "based on merit": At the Dresden Olympiad, Judit Polgar played on the first/male/open Hungarian team; at the European Team Championship, Viktorija Cmilyte did the same for Lithuania.

Actually IMO "women-only events" have a right to exist, for me this is not fundamentally different from other semi-open tournaments: national championships, youth championship, NATO championship, ... . But separate woman prizes in mixed events are another story: Does it make sense that a man scoring 7/9 gets nothing, but a woman scoring 6/9 earns prize money? Only if women have an inherent handicap - no questions asked in physical sports: in my other hobby running the fastest woman is naturally rewarded while 20 or 100 men may have finished ahead of her. But is there such a handicap in chess?

"why there are not more women in top-level chess" - I agree regarding "complex tissue of social factors", but the first question to be asked should be "why there are not more women in chess _at all levels_": At my own amateur level, at most 5% of my opponents are female - this is based on Germany, France and the Netherlands, maybe Georgia would be a different case?

BTW, such questions are discussed not only over the Internet but also in "real chess life" ,:) : Just yesterday after a tournament, someone suggested that, on average, women are stronger than men. Let's assume that in the Netherlands (or anywhere else) 500 women and 10,000 men play competitive chess: the average rating of those women may actually be higher than the average rating of all men? Hard and time-consuming to get hold of complete raw data, anyone wanting to give it a try?

"I agree that Judit Polgar's success refutes the biological argument, at least its most extreme version "

"Yes, like I said, that's all it proves."

Its "most extreme version" - that anyone of the female sex is physically incapable of becoming a strong chess player - is so ridiculous that it's not worthy a discussion at all.

To interprete Aronian's (jokingly uttered?) remark in that direction was therefore not really a serious option to me. Hence, I was always talking about average/general/typical potential for women - and I guess we all agree that the case of Judith does not constitute any proof in either direction related to that discussion.

I posted another blurb on the topic some days ago, but I forgot about Mig's "foul language" filter, so it's been on hold ever since. ;o) Possibly he lets it through when he's back from his apparent dirt vacation. :o)

As I was "just checking" some old issues of NewInChess, here is Antoaneta Stefanova's take on the issue - from the "Just Checking" page in issue 4/2009:

Q Will we ever see a woman win the overall chess world championship?
"I would certainly like to see that, but I believe it is very difficult because physical strength also counts in chess."

Earlier in the interview a question she may well have suggested herself:
Q What was the politically most incorrect remark an opponent ever made to you after a game?
" 'I can't believe I lost to a female.' It was said by a player with about 1900 Elo and I was already a GM ,:) ."

And now - happy new year!

Mr Aronian, since the beginnings of the game men have dominated chess. Why is that?

Women cannot play chess.

When I read this, I broke out laughing - I dont think he really meant it serious. Always the same silly question: who is better, man or women, who can drive better etc. - I would say he just wanted to make fun of this stuff.

If that was really deadly serious, it would surprise me much.

maybe he thinks men do a bit better in chess, but the comment "women CANNOT play chess" is fun for sure.

The article obviously states "some fun stuff with a fun guy." So what is all this yapping about?

The guy is being sarcastic. I'm sure if it was televised and the viewers were able to see his facial expression, they too would understand that he has a sense of dry humor to his comments.

To the first comment that came from SHANE "Yet another, just another, eastern european sexist pig."

Shane: I am from the same country as Aronian and I don't appreciate you generalizing Eastern Europeans as sexist pigs. We love and respect our women in Armenia. So, therefor you should think before you post anymore "well thought" comments on this site.

"Not getting the satire behind the interview"? This topic is pure gold - people here have been discussing for THREE YEARS, some of which have not even taken into consideration that there are days when Aronian doesn't give you one serious answer and that his girlfriend happens to be a WIM. Seems like this outdated and boring topic still has some fans...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 20, 2008 6:18 AM.

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