The pay and attractiveness of women's chess

The pay and attractiveness of women's chess

Dec 13, 2013, 9:59 PM |
Susan Polgar wrote:
There isn't even a blip on the media radar about the Yifan - Ushenina match. Why is the coverage poor for women's title match? The media interest, on the other hand, is huge for the Anand - Carlsen match...

There are a number of reasons for the difference.

The women's match is taking place in China. There is a huge difference in time zone. It's true that there is usually a lack of interest in women's chess in the first place. And this match-up is not very interesting based on the perception of the media and fans, as the rating difference is more than 110 points.

*Ushenina-Hóu. There, fixed that for you. Obviously a lot of respect for her there. Anyway...

Of course, in contrast to these considerations regards the Women's World Championship, Anand-Carlsen's venue of Tamil Nadu is practically in the same timezone as California (Americans didn't have to get up at 3am to watch the live broadcast), and Anand-Carlsen aren't also around 100 points apart.

Could it be that the real reason is that Anand-Carlsen was the actual World Championship? Not the "Men's World Championship", just the World Championship. Open. Anyone can compete to enter. I could. You could. The lady around the corner who sells me whisky could. We'd have a rather uphill struggle, but the barriers would be related to what's between our ears, not what's between our legs.

And yes, Ushenina is quite unknown, not because she's a woman, but possibly because she's barely a Grandmaster, let alone a "Super-GM". Her highest ever rating is 2502. Now, this is an achievement not to be sniffed at, but to ask that it attract the same attention as Carlsen's 2872 is asking a bit much. It's not sexism - it's 370 rating points.

If anything, being a woman will tend to attract attention to one's chess play, given the minority presence of women in top-level chess. Hóu Yìfán's peak rating of 2639 lands her in superstardom and we all know her name, contrasted with, say, Anton Korobov's current rating of 2713 and his relative obscurity.

Susan Polgar wrote:
There is equal prize money for men and women in tennis. What are the steps necessary to get equal prize money in chess? 

It took a lot to get women's tennis on level terms with men. Billy Jean King was a force in changing women's tennis. After winning the US Open in 1972, she refused to defend her title in 1973 unless women got equal money as men. Other top women players supported her position. She also led a movement to boycott events that didn't offer equal prize money .

Unfortunately, chess players do not unite for better conditions. This problem is not exclusive to women. Top male chess players can make a very good living. Many of them are millionaires or quite wealthy, thanks to Bobby Fischer. However, most GMs aren’t making enough money.

When I stood up against
FIDE protesting unfair conditions in my women’s world championship title defense in 1999, not even a single player (male or female) supported my fight for fair play. Consequently, prize funds for women went down further. Unless chess players, especially women, join hands, nothing will change. FIDE should get an experienced media/marketing and PR person to promote women’s chess and chess in general.

*Billie Jean King. There, fixed that for you. Obviously a lot of respect for her there.

An important difference is that in tennis, there is men's tennis, and there is women's tennis. Pretty equal, a few bits and pieces notwithstanding (and the inequities that do exist now are in the women's favour; more pay and less work than their male counterparts - so we'll probably not be hearing much more about that).

In chess, there is chess, and there is women's chess. There is no "men's chess". Carlsen is not the "men's world champion". He's the World Champion. Nothing stopped Ushenina from being in his position, except that she can't play chess like he can (no criticism of her there - after all, I can't even play chess like she can!).

Similarly, regards "top male chess players can make good money" - you could omit the "male" there. It's not about the fact they're male. It's about the fact that they're the top chess players.

Otherwise, you might as well say "top male chess players with hair can make good money", since we don't see any bald people at the top. But where, I ask you, are the campaigns to get more bald people in the top level of chess? Why isn't there an event for bald chess players? We could have a bald chess championship, and demand that the event attract a prize fund comparable to that of the open World Championship.

And just look at the way disabled players are being systematically squeezed out of top level chess. Not one person in the upcoming candidates tournament is in a wheelchair. This needs to be changed now!

(ideally not by pushing Vlad down the stairs, though)

Susan Polgar wrote:
I would like the prize funds for women to increase to men’s level.

What, zero? Because I don't see a "men's world championship". And other events in general, similarly. They're "women's" or "open" (the only counterexample that comes to mind is the Olympiads, which does have "men's" and "women's" groupings, but that's the Olympic model overall, and, for better or worse, a special case isn't made for chess). You show me these marvelous prize funds you're seeing for "men's" events.

Susan Polgar wrote:
Women are also incredible fighters on the board. There are a lot more decisive results in women’s chess

There are a lot more decisive results at my local club, too.

Here's the thing: the drawishness of top level players is because they make fewer mistakes, not because they're male.

If you are suggesting that the reason Carlsen is rated 2872 and Ushenina has a peak rating of 2502 is because she's an "incredible fighter" and he's not, then you're mis-assessing something somewhere.

Simply, in chess there are more decisive results when people make more mistakes.

Susan Polgar wrote:
They also generally dress well and conduct themselves better than men.

And smell nicer too. Wait, what? I can haz objectivity please?

Susan Polgar wrote:
It remains very hard for a woman to make a living as a professional chess player... If it is hard to make a living in chess for women, few will be interested to pursue chess at the highest level.

This doesn't apply equally to men?




Source article