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The Real Reason So Few Women Play Professional Chess

  • #1

    OK. Sorry I started this conversation. I thought people who could play chess would also be able to read. The issue I wanted to discuss wasn't sexism in chess, which is undoubtedly present (given the level of commentary). The issue was that the chess profession is so poorly regarded worldwide that of course any group of people who start out in it under the burden of prejudice won't stand much of a chance. I still say women should opt out of the female chess ghetto of "women's" tournaments. But since few of you seem to be able to read. I give up. I'd rather talk to my pet tortoise about this issue.

     

    It’s a natural law that when resources are scarce competition for them is brutal (emphasis on “brute”). I’m not talking about competition in chess tournaments; I’m talking about personal survival in the poverty-stricken chess economy.

    Jennifer Shahade’s Chess Bitch  is all about competition for the paltry cash in the business of professional chess. The book is one of the saddest analyses of an industry I’ve ever read. She attributes the problem to sexism, and vividly depicts the unfulfilled lives of female players. But although she convinced me the chess world is rabidly sexist, she didn’t convince me that male chess professionals have all that great a life either (Read this article about the GM House sponsored by the Northern California Chess Association.)

    Witness: the prize for the Anand-Topalov World Championship match: 1 million EU.

    Compare this to poker championships (the field in which Shahade currently competes), which annually (not every five years or so) offer prizes of over twice that (not to mention the gambling proceeds otherwise involved).

    Compare this to golf prize money: several players win several million per year, not to mention commercial endorsements and all the rest.

    So, the reason so few women are professional chess players is that women understand there’s neither a lifelong career involved (like a professional lawyer, doctor, or even physicist has) nor a lucrative, short-term career. In addition, the reason that the chess establishment is so sexist is that they understand this, too. There isn’t enough room in professional chess for the top ten players of either sex, so all the men band together to keep the field of contenders as small as possible.

    Addendum: The Women's Championships are a great hoax perpetrated on young, female players. A player who spends most of her time competing against any subgroup of the population is condemned to a chess ghetto. Women will never gain the experience they need to win a true world championship if they waste any of their time playing in the female ghetto.

  • #2

    This has to be the dumbest post I've read today, the top men band together to keep the field of contenders as small as possible? Give me 5 examples where the chess proffesionals has banded together to exclude female competitors the last 10 years.

  • #3
    Tricklev wrote:

    This has to be the dumbest post I've read today, the top men band together to keep the field of contenders as small as possible? Give me 5 examples where the chess proffesionals has banded together to exclude female competitors the last 10 years.


    Thanks for calling me dumb. I guess you must be ignorant of the basic laws of economics. Maybe you should read about the law of supply and demand and the development of trusts in every industry. A wink and a nod does it. And it can even happen without the culprits being aware of it.

  • #4

    I think what Tricklev is trying to say is that you have illustrated in chess that there are multiple parties competing for scarce resources (in which economic theory says that trusts will develop), but you have made no connection that would suggest or prove that those trusts would be based on sex or gender.

  • #5

    I feel like an idiot after reading this... no actually I feel like you're an idiot ccambretti.

  • #6

    Personally I believe that the reason that so few women chess professionals exist is that in the countries where chess is highly regarded, women are marginalized members of society.

     

    In places like the United States (which for all intents and purposes has two professional chess players) and most of Western Europe (the countries that most embrace egalitarianism amongst the sexes and genders), chess is culturally seen as a fringe activity for socially incapable males.

  • #7

    Oh gees, way to go about it, give me no examples where this has happened. Instead give me the supply and demand line, which is a real factor in economics, indeed, and it is most likely stopping alot of promising chess players from going down the road to chess proffesionalism, but this goes for both men and women. And you still haven't described how (or given examples of it happening) chess proffesionals (men) actively excluded female competitors.

     

    And yes I did call it stupid, just because it's a stupid feminist conspiracy theory doesn't make it any less of a stupid conspiracy theory.

  • #8

    don't feed the troll... ;)

  • #9

    You have a highly speculative theory based on a reductive strain in economics, and you decide to use terminology such as 'the real reason...'  You should expect others to call you an idiot.

    Using simple economics, actually, one would assume, if top players really want to earn more money for their woes, then women would be welcomed into the game, as it would greatly increase the size of the potential market.

    Warming to the idea that women don't play chess so much because they are constantly reminded that they don't play chess so much.  So shut up about it already.

  • #10

    Thanks for your collective, male IQ tests. I can call you all names, too. I invite you to find a clever epithet to call me in place of stupid and idiot. I did not say there was an active conspiracy. I'm saying there's an underlying sexism that results from the fact that the prize for excelling in chess is so paltry. My solution to the problem (rather than hurling the f-word at me, meaning "feminism") isn't to pretend there's no sexism in professional chess. It's to find a way to increase the prize money all around. Do you really think Anand and Topalov are adequately compensated for their genius?

  • #11
    Tricklev wrote:

    Oh gees, way to go about it, give me no examples where this has happened. Instead give me the supply and demand line, which is a real factor in economics, indeed, and it is most likely stopping alot of promising chess players from going down the road to chess proffesionalism, but this goes for both men and women. And you still haven't described how (or given examples of it happening) chess proffesionals (men) actively excluded female competitors.

     

    And yes I did call it stupid, just because it's a stupid feminist conspiracy theory doesn't make it any less of a stupid conspiracy theory.


    She gave you the title of a book that outlines it in details including the supply and demand line.

    Stop looking (and barking) at the finger and instead howl at the moon to which the finger points.

    EDIT: That goes for you too, theoreticalboy.

  • #12

    "I’m talking about personal survival in the poverty-stricken chess economy."

    So then your idea would only apply to the small, isolated groups of people that use chess as a means of income.  In the general population of players (over 99%), who can't and don't use chess that way, female participation is also low.

    So it has nothing to do with economics.  Nice try though.

    The title of Shahade's book and terms like "female chess ghetto" are provocative but don't have any substance.  If a female player wanted to compete against the best competition to improve she merely has to travel to strong tournaments just like men have to.  There are no tournaments that ban female players.  The term "female chess ghetto" makes me laugh.

  • #13

    I dunno, 1 million euros for winning a chess match is quite a lot.

    Anyway, apologies for being unclear, but I wasn't calling you an idiot; I was saying that when you use such a definite phrase as 'the real reason' for a highly speculative topic, you really should expect people to react strongly, and you ought to prepare for insults.

  • #14
    Fiveofswords wrote:

    yeah I think women are allowed to enter any chess tournament out there and thats all that matters isnt it? If thats allowed then what can the evil men possibly do to hold women back?


    Whatever I may think about the economics argument, this is pretty naive.  You think legality is the only issue here?

  • #15

    Someone should lock this BS thread...

  • #16

    The Real Reason So Few Women Play Professional Chess....

    is because so few of them are good enough (which also goes for any other sensible sub-set you care to name).

  • #17

    Intimidation, hostility, insults?  Didn't you go to high school?

  • #18
    Fiveofswords wrote:

    yeah i tihnk legality is the only issue. If you show up to a tournament, paly the moves, win the tounrament, what stops you from winnign the tournament? what else is there?


    Well there is the chess gestapo, the black hand, and the shadow government of illuminati working behind FIDE that will snuff them out and send them back to the chess ghetto....or worse.

     

    You have seen the secret symbols in the FIDE logo right?

  • #19
    theoreticalboy wrote:

    Intimidation, hostility, insults?  Didn't you go to high school?


    The majority of tournaments I go to have at least 1 women participating and I've never seen anything like this.

    My most recent tourney in fact, my friend was paired with this out of state women he knew and she soundly beat him -- afterwards we all went across the street for a hamburger and had friendly conversation.

  • #20
    theoreticalboy wrote:

    Intimidation, hostility, insults?  Didn't you go to high school?


     

    I have never found these to be common place in tournament play, whether women or other minorities were involved or not.  When they happen, they are dealt with.

    Just my experience though.

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