Women in Chess – a matter of opinion.

Jan 15, 2008, 1:21 AM |

We’ve watched it on TV; documentaries such as, “My Brilliant Brain – Susan Polgar, (Episode 2).” We’ve read it in magazines, in newspapers, and on the forums of Chess.com. There’re times when it does get old, especially with frivolous banter and the extremists.

I thought Zahir Ahmadov took an interesting approach as he gathers the thoughts of GM Kateryna Lahno, WGM Lela Javakhishvili and WGM Firuza Velikhanli on the notion:  are men better at the game, and if so why?’

His 1st interview was with Kateryna Lahno. Here are the excerpts:


Z.A. How many hours do you prepare for chess every day?

K.L. It depends, but mostly I spend for chess five to six hours every day.

Z.A. Why do you think men play better than women?

K.L. I think men’s techniques are better than women’s?

Z.A. Well, but what is the reason for that?

K.L. The reason is different emotional tunings of the two genders. Women are more emotional than men, which is why they fail when it comes to nerves. Moreover, women are more nervous about different things. Most men would think that these are very tiny problems in life.

Z.A. Then what makes Judit different to other girls, who cannot make it to 2600 or over?

K.L. I think Judit started playing in her early ages. Moreover, she works hard on chess. This makes her different from others.

Z.A. What do you think about the future of women in chess? Do you think time will come when women will play just as strong as men?

K.L. That will probably happen sometime in the future, but I think that the number of strong female players will always be less than strong male players.



Lela Javakhishvili seemed to agree with the notion that men are better because they are stronger. But first I asked how much time she spends to chess every day.

L.J. When preparing for special events or tournaments I spend seven hours on chess every day, but on normal days my preparation does not exceed four hours.

Z.A. Why do you think women perform poorer than men in chess?

L.J. I think it is linked with their physical power?

Z.A. Physical power? But chess is about thinking?

L.J. Right, but female players become exhausted more quickly than men because they are weaker. That is why they may fail by the end of the game. Physical power may be decisive in many games. Take any game you want. For instance, in tennis women can never compete with men…

Z.A. You well might be right. However, there might be other reasons. Do you think that women perform poorer than men because historically they had more distractions than men, like chores at home? Even today, in our cultures women cannot spare time for chess like men, because they have lots of work at home. Is this the case with you?

L.J. No, I do not think that that is the reason. I do not have a brother to compare but I think even if I had one I still would find more time than him to devote to chess. Actually, it is my mother and sister who do the housework, not me. Therefore, I can find sufficient time for chess every day.

Z.A. Then what do you think about the future of women’s chess? Do you think women will be able to play like men?

L.J. I really don’t know. It is too difficult to answer.



Firuza Velikhanli won her second consecutive game against one of the leaders of the tournament, V. Cymilte, so I was sure that she would answer my tedious questions about the genders.

Z.A. Do you spend much time on chess?

F.V. Actually, I have spent no time on chess recently. To be more precise, I have not spent sufficient time on chess for the past year. I gave birth to my third child a month ago, so I did not have time to prepare. But I simply could not turn down the offer to take part at this tournament.

Z.A. May I ask you why men play better than women?

F.V. This has already been proved that women can play like men…

Z.A. How? Women can hardly make it to 2600, while only Judit is over 2700. The difference between her and her closest female follower is 135 points? Yet even Judit is not in top ten today…

F.V. Well, first I should say that Judit is a phenomenal lady. Second, the problem is that unlike men most women cannot devote their lives to chess. Personally, for me chess is not the most important thing in my life, my family is.

Z.A. Ainur Sofieva and you were strongest players of Azerbaijan about 15 or 20 years ago, but today many young males make GM norms in this country, easily exceeding your highest ratings. Meanwhile, Azeri female players are not among the best 50 female players in the world…

F.V. Ainur made a career for herself and did not devote herself to chess. I started spending my time with my family. As for the young generation of Azeri female players, I think they have always received less attention than boys in this country. Things are changing with the election of the new management of the chess federation. I hope more money will be spent for women chess in Azerbaijan in the future.


For a full extent of Zahir’s report, please go here: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4132