Chess, the Swimsuit Issue?

Chess, the Swimsuit Issue?


     Sports Illustrated is, of course, the mainstay American sports magazine. I mentioned Swimsuit in the title to allude to the fact that SI is also a mainstay of this article (and as a lurid attempt to lure and tempt readers). Actually I'm not writing about SI, not the Bobby Fischer issues or the Lisa Lane one, but about one tiny article nestled between huge ads for Gilbey's Gin,  Briggs and Stratton engines and Bic lighters on the adjoining pages 22 and 23 of April 08, 1985.  The writer was Jim Kaplan, an SI staff writer whose expertise was baseball (currently, he has written 18 books, two of them, ''Pine-Tarred and Feathered'' and ''Playing the Field,'' on baseball;  edited "The Baseball Research Journal;" has been a bridge editor - all with only being graduate of Milton Academy, Yale University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, MA in Journalism.  Accoring to the NYTimes, His father was an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and a former Royall Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. His mother, Felicia Kaplan, a poet known professionally as Felicia Lamport.). 


      Under the Category heading "Perspective," Kaplan wrote about men and women in chess, giving his article the title:
In The World Of Chess, Man Thinks Of Himself As King, Woman As Pawn.

     What surprises me is how some writers can write so well and incisively outside their field of expertise.  I had a good bit of contact with David Shenk when he was writing the "Immortal Game." Although he was starting from ground zero, he ended up writing one of the most enjoyable and intelligent books on the history of chess.
     Jim Kaplan is of the same cloth and his article delving into the predominance of men in chess was very well researched and equally well presented.

"There's no known biological reason why women shouldn't be able to play the game. They have minds to ponder with, eyes to perceive with and fingers to push pawns with."

What a nice way to put it!

"By and large, fathers don't teach daughters, boyfriends won't play girl friends; in general, men avoid playing games with women. Their excuses are as feeble as those once used to discourage women from becoming scientists and mathematicians: Chess isn't ladylike or sexy, women don't have the patience or logic—what's a nice girl like you doing in a seedy chess club like this?"

Kaplan laid the blame for the lack of women players squarely on men's shoulders.

Most importantly:
" The more harmonious side of chess—a duet for two musicians—is frequently ignored in the heat of combat. Says Manhattan's Diana Lanni, the 13th-ranked U.S. woman, "Chess is pretty, creative, esthetic and artistic—all things women are supposed to be interested in." Alas, few women are exposed to such beauty." 


The entire text can to Kaplan's 1985 article can be read here
If women and chess really interest you, please read his article.

Jim Kaplan, for the record, is definitely a chess lover who has written many chess articles for Sports Illustrated, though baseball seems to be his field of expertise.