Was Abby Marshall a Prodigy?

Apr 1, 2011, 3:09 PM |

There is an article on seedmagazine.com titled, The Second Place Sex: Why chess may be an ideal laboratory for investigating gender gaps in science and beyond, (http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_second-place_sex/)
Abby Marshall is quoted in the article, after being called a 'female chess prodigy'. From the article: But as put by female chess prodigy Abby Marshall, accustomed to being a minority in the chess world and recognized for being the first girl to win the national high-school-level chess championship, “Any tournament that isn’t an all-women’s tournament is basically a guys’ tournament.”
Was she ever considered a 'prodigy'? If so, when and where? What constitutes a 'female chess prodigy'? Is a 'female chess prodigy' different from a 'male chess prodigy'? If so, how?
Ms Marshall is quoted in the article, "I don’t think that there’s something that shows that men’s and women’s brains are different in a significant sense."
The young 'prodigy' is simply wrong on this point. The corpus callosum is larger in women than men, leading to speculation that women use much more of their whole brain than men, who seem to be more 'right' or 'left' brain oriented. This is from Wikipedia: "Both neurologist Roger Gorski of the University of California at Los Angeles and author/brain surgeon Leonard Schlain, M.D. have stated that women have 30% more connections to the left and right hemispheres than men." With a quick search of the internet I found this: 10 Big Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Brains (http://www.mastersofhealthcare.com/blog/2009/10-big-differences-between-mens-and-womens-brains/)
But this article is the one the young 'prodigy' should read first: Neuroscience For Kids - The Brain: Right Down the Middle, where we find written, "In adults, the average brain weight in men is about 11-12% MORE than the average brain weight in women. Men's heads are also about 2% bigger than women's." We also find this, "The major pathway that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres is called the corpus callosum. (The corpus callosum is the fiber tract made up of 200-250 million axons that is cut in split brain patients.) Some claims have been made that the corpus callosum is bigger and more developed in women than in men. These claims have even been reported in the popular media (Time Magazine, Jan. 20, 1992, pp. 36-42; Newsweek Magazine, March 27, 1995, pp. 51)."
"Also, The hypothalamus is one area of the brain with well-documented differences between men and women. Two areas of the hypothalamus, the preoptic area and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, have clear differences in female and male brains." You can find this at: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/heshe.html
Jennifer Shahade, Author of the fine book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, weighs in with, “There may be some distinctions between men and women, but they’re really marginal compared to what really matters, and that’s spending a lot of time studying and practicing chess”.
The 'distinctions' between men and women are "marginal?" Really, Jennifer.
Ms Marshall writes a column for the Chess Cafe (www.chesscafe.com). I assume she receives a stipend for writing the column. Her only claim to fame is that she was "the first girl to win the national high-school-level chess championship." I seriously doubt she would be writing the column if she had not won the event. Money is hard to come by in the chess world. The fact that she is writing a column on openings in lieu of a titled player points out one of the things wrong with the world of american chess. There are many Grandmasters who have given their lives to the Royal game who could, no doubt, use some extra money as they advance in years. They have the one thing that cannot be taught, experience. They may not have the energy and stamina to compete with the youngsters writing books and columns these days, but they have something it has taken a lifetime to accrue, that being wisdom.