December 4, 2010

Women and Chess

The World Women Chess Championship is starting today! While checking the official website , I remembered one question I was asked during my presentation of my final thesis in Psychology University:"You are always in the middle of the chess world...can you tell us why women are worse chess players than men?".

Ever since I started playing chess, I've always heard the following questions:
"Why are men better chess players than women?"
"Do you have an explanation for men's chess superiority?"
"Why men rank higher than women at chess?"
"Can women play chess as well as men?"

The following videos might be an answer:)


Gender and chess - The ever changing, never ending question...but there is a problem from the very beginning, from the way the question is asked! It already implies the answer, it's guiding you to search for reasons why are women worse chess players than men, which you are already taking it as a premise and than jump to the wrong conclusion.

Many explanations have been given for the disparity: biological, social, psychological, cultural and so on. But now scientists say you just have to do the math, statistics can explain everything
A study published by the Royal Society, London, finds that men's superiority over women at chess at the top levels can be explained by population size. Since many more men play, there's a wider range of abilities, meaning more individuals at the very top.
An Oxford study says that "women are just as good as men, but they just don't like the game".
Both explanations sound reasonable to and women: equal but different in many ways, that's for sure. 
One last remark: somehow women take their loses more personal than men do. After a game has finished, the men chess players almost always check the game together, thus learning from their opponents, they have more interest to find out the truth; on the other hand, in women's games, you can see so much passion and even hate, which makes it almost impossible for them to be able to check with a cold look their game afterwards. It's not good for our chess improvement, but definitely it's much more fun for the public:)

Fore more information, here are a few links illustrating the above conclusions:





  1. Interesting article, Alina! Since you are on the subject, I recently found a study from a university in Sweden. ... I don't take this study very seriously, but it's fun reading :-)

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, I will check it soon:)

  3. How about you and your husband? You are both roughly the same age and I suspect you both enjoy the game. How come there is a rating gap between you two? Is it talent, or time spent training, or you have maybe started playing at different ages?
    Do you think the difference, whatever it might be, is related to gender? Let us know!

  4. That's always the main question from both sides...usually men like to point out that intelligence is the key factor for the difference in chess strength:)Which is normal, it helps their ego:) The gap between me and Erwin is just an example, a separate case, which is not enough to draw conclusions. The sample is way too small for that.
    Of course there are gender differences, but in the same time, so many different factors are involved in our life. And in our case...well, maybe another time:) Maybe it's even better that he is stronger than me, we have no fights or endless discussion on who is better in this or that position:)


  6. Thanks for the links. Judging by the pictures, they look well-informed and up to date! Unfortunately, I don't really understand the language...

  7. Well it seems that men are the best Masterchefs in the kitchen despite the fact that women like to cook very much! :-) Diferences by both genders are a fact of nature and Nigel Short is right with no surprise because he is a well educated man. I would like to advice this book for every couple reading: John Gray - "Men are from Mars and women are from Venus". :-)

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