In the spirit of the rules?

CM ArnieChipmunk
0 | Chess Event Coverage
Yesterday, Peter wrote an interesting article about the Turkish club competition. I was especially fascinated by the team-setup.

By Arne Moll

"Teams consist of 10 boards, in which the first four boards can be filled freely but on the fifth board, a female player is obligatory. The sixth board is for a junior player (under 20), the seventh and eighth are for boys and girls under 16 and the ninth and tenth board for boys and girls under 14."

Well, let's by all means praise this original idea: they sure know how to promote chess among 'minorities' in Turkey! But wait a minute, the idea may be noble but what about the practical consequences? The first thing that strikes me is that in this setup, a female player will always play against another female. Isn't that strange? How will these girls ever learn to compete with the boys, if all they ever play is other girls? Ditto for the juniors: isn't it more stimulating if they can play against the tough guys for a change?

I've had similar doubts about the German female competition before: why do they play in female-only teams, almost as if they're handicapped, instead of in mixed competitions? Haven't they learnt anything from the Polgar sisters, who refused to play in female-only competitions until they were just as strong as guys? Would these same ladies compete in a ladies-only mathematics competition, or a puzzle contest, as if they have a mental handicap?

I have another suggesion, which seems to me competely in the spirit of the Turkish rules: I want four beautiful ladies on the first four boards. Then, on board 5, a normal guy can play, isn't that fair? On 6, we'll have someone who's black. On 7 and 8, we'll have two mentally disabled people - why not give them a chance? On 9, a religious fundamentalist is allowed play - and we'll respect his wishes to postpone the game to another day if his religion tells him so. And I myself claim to play on tenth board, just like I did in the Dutch competition a few years ago. I scored fabuluously, so why not?

All joking aside, it seems to me this whole setup is taking the thought of positive discrimination a bit too far. It's definitely a good idea to promote chess among females and other groups who do not play chess so much as 'regular' guys. But always making a girl play another female, or a junior against another junior, seems to create the exact opposite effect: segregation instead of integration. Isn't it the point of a competition to meet different opponents, of different ages, with different backgrounds or even different nationalities?

And while we're at it, why only look at gender, or age? Why not skin colour? Or tallness? Or anything else? Where do we draw the line? Shouldn't we just ignore these differences? And the most important question of all: who's really happy with this?

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