The International Chess Federation has placed a moratorium on trans-identified males competing in women’s chess events.
Can’t we women just have spaces and places for ourselves? I think that is even more important than rankings.
No man can ever be a woman and can ever begin to understand what it’s like to be a women. And no one ever asked women if we wanted men barging in and treating women as “therapy dogs” for men who want to be women.
This is very interesting. As a long-time corporate manager having worked with many intelligent and capable men and women, and as a near human behavior scientists from all the education I have pursued on the topic to help me unravel the puzzles of workforce performance and achievement, my observation has been that everyone is different with respect to what I call their basic foundational brain wiring… with much of the negative aspects able to be overcome with practice and persistence and maybe some therapy. Jordan Peterson might label it personality, but I see another layer of cognitive function that is influenced by personality but is malleable.
But the stronger the foundation brain wiring is, the more difficult is overcoming it… the less malleable it is.
And my observation for females in general is that their brain wiring tends to cause them to value more group affiliation and less individual competition. I suspect this is biological… probably evolutionary. It is not impossible to overcome, but many female bosses, coworkers and employees really struggled with it. For example, they would not speak up in a team meeting even though they had an important contribution preferring instead to not cause conflict with a coworker. They would refuse a promotion where their coworker friends would report to them (management is lonely).
I think this tendency to focus on the human aspect of things causes a difficulty to contemplate the big picture of challenge or opportunity. The female brain is thinking “how will everyone including me feel about this thing?” vs “what can I do to get this thing accomplished?”. This might be a subtle difference, but in the dog-eat-dog world of high competition, it is often the competitive disadvantage.
Obviously there are many competitive female athletes. But I agree that there is an imbalance of competitiveness. Males more often see individual competition as a requirement. Their MO is to completely destroy the competition but, if moral, respect the competition. Females more often have internal noise in consideration for how their competition and others might feel about them destroying the competition. This difference works when females are competing with females and visa versa, but is fraught with challenges when genders compete with each other.
I did read it. She may have qualified, but nobody in the chess world believed Susan was in the same class as Judith, from what my sources indicate. Qualifying is fine, it means you are in the big leagues. Clearly the top women players in the world are better than 99% of the men who take chess seriously and who strive to arrive in the big leagues but fail. I recommend Sasha Chapin's 2020 memoir, "All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir about Chess, Love and Ruining Everything." It's funny and heartbreaking, but also hugely informative. He was a good player who plateaued out of the big leagues in spite of his blood, sweat and tears - he would never have beaten the Polgar sisters - but he is a brilliant observer of human nature, and of the astonishing demands a career in chess makes. We're not talking about the layer of talent underneath the Olympian summit, though, we're talking about the summit. I find that this nitpicking is a very good illustration of the hypothesis.
Soooo the profound conclusion of this writer is “women are dumber than men.” Good god it’s not even worth a response -- but let’s do it anyway. Colin Wright should be ashamed publishing this drivel. If you’re going to make a claim as broad as “all differences between men and women in STEM and chess are due to inferiority of the female intellect” then at least prove it. This op ed (it is not even remotely close to an actual essay) is so thin its laughable and I’m fascinated people are even responding to this in a remotely serious way. Although i do appreciate the comments, and the fact that the writer is doubling down on her vapid argument by washing the thoughtful responses in “nah women are just stupider.”
Denying any potential role of socialization despite ALL the evidence of gendered differences, the ignorance of the many types of intelligence -- indeed who decided the genius philosopher or poet who can’t do math is less smart than the mathematician? -- the assumption that IQ tests, standardized exams, and STEM are universal, final markers of intellect and nothing else can be -- come on Colin this is just pathetic.
Demonstrate some nuance, some analysis of the potential flaws of your own argument, your own assumptions and blind spots. (I thought this was a publication of depth and nuance?)
Otherwise Barbara you’re really proving the point you’re making in this article, but not in the way you think.
Magnus is absolutely ruthless in the Endgame, winning 100+ move games thought to be draws. Look at some of Gotham Chess's videos. Look also at John Fish's satirical video on cheating in Oct 2022.
The solution I think is just to stop using the nonsense words "transwoman" and "transman." Among adults there are men and there are women. That's it. "Transwomen" are men. "Transmen" are women. Whether transgenderism is a real biopsychological "thing" (like depression) or just a pseudoscience like astrology and recovered memory syndrome is beside the point. Your sex is what you were conceived as and that's what governs what doors we open and close.
A sport (or a prison or a violence shelter or a public bathroom/locker room) that is designed to accommodate women ought not to accommodate men. No matter what gender they think they are. There is no need to parse whether the brain of a "transwoman" is more like that of a man or more like that of a woman. It is a man's brain. So he plays in the men's chess division. Full stop.
The activists have tricked us into saying that there are such things as transwomen -- even if we disagree with trans ideology, we are still bullied into calling them transwomen -- and this sucks us into bizarre discussions about whether they have an unfair advantage over women or whether they have the right to compete against women (and invade their other spaces, too) just because they "identify" as female "gender". This is nonsense and 10 years from now we will realize that we were all fools and cowards for letting this go on as long as it did.
When my brother and I were young, I (female), would usually win the first time around at any given game, probably because I am older. Then the little devil would *study the game* relentlessly until he could win every time! There were a lot of things I would rather do than spend that kind of time (and dogged attention) to win at something, and I don't need to be 'equal' to men on this level. We contribute different things!
Judith's two sisters were good players, but it was only Judith who had a shot at the ultimate prize. I wasn't aware of the hardships they faced. What is relevant that Judith did play at the top. And her privilege lay in her formation as a player. It is easy to say that there are "potentially" millions of girls who could perform at that level. I would settle for one world champion to get that particular ball rolling.
I agree with the male variability hypothesis, but can respect spaces for women while holding an open mind about the cause. I don't think the fact that a minority of men might be smarter then most woman necessarily has to be the answer. I don't think we have all the answers to intelligence. For example, I'm happy admitting that Asians outscore Caucasians on intelligence tests in America, yet I don't think they are smarter, as a group, then white people. I don't think we (collectively) have all the answers just yet.
The thesis of this article - that men simply are more naturally competitive, aggressive, spatially aware, etc and therefore will inevitably dominate at the top levels of chess, necessitating female-only chess spaces for biological reasons - was falsified decades ago by the Polgar sisters, in particular Judit Polgar. Raised by a father who was a social constructivist about genius and intelligence, Judit astounded the world by breaking Bobby Fischer's world record to become the youngest ever grandmaster at the time before breaking into the top 10 of "male" chess players. She did this in part by refusing to ever play in women's events, on the grounds that her abilities were on par with those of the best men, and her success is probably partly explained by this. Interestingly, Polgar was also primarily known for her relentless aggression on the chessboard, again defying gendered expectations.
Most "biodeterminists" about chess genius dismiss the Polgars as "exceptions". But of course, any plausible theory about the origins of genius and male success in chess needs to actually explain the exceptions, not simply dismiss them. (Imagine if a 19th century physicist dismissed the double slit experiment as an "exception" to the general success of Newtonian physics and therefore didn't feel the need to account for it in their theory!) That would be a terrible way to handle science, yet it is the norm among biodeterminists about genius when I ask them about this case. They simply think that describing something as an exception to the rule is enough to explain it.
One biodeterminist explanation for Polgar's success is that she simply happened to be born with an extremely rare set of genes and hormones that caused her success. This is too implausible to be taken seriously - the idea that a female child with a 1 in a billion set of genes and hormones simply happened to be born to a social constructivist father who believed women could be as successful as men at chess is too ludicrous to be taken seriously. The odds this would ever happen are astronomically low. This is doubly true considering that Polgar's sisters were also exceptional chess players.
A more plausible, biodeterminist-lite explanation is that Judit was born a very intelligent child - say in the 99th percentile of overall intelligence - and was then given the right set of environmental conditions to succeed in the top 10. But if this is true, there are *millions* of girls with equal or greater potential to be top 10 players. The difference is that those girls aren't being given the right conditions to succeed at that high level.
The thesis of this article should not be that it is *impossible* or unrealistic for women to succeed at chess at "male" levels, but that it's simply not important to create the conditions to cause those girls to succeed, and that we shouldn't alter our society to do so. That's a more honest and realistic position, but it's also more clearly anti-feminist.
Great article on the uncomfortable issue of male dominance in chess. Magus Carlsen himself popped up on a Youtube short recently to assure us he doesn't believe in an innate male advantage. He might really think so, and if so he might be right. But given the secular pieties of the ruling class, and their enforcement by the Inquisition of cancel culture, any such declaration must be viewed with caution. Why risk your reputation, social standing, endorsements, and maybe even your livelihood by saying the wrong thing when you can be utterly safe by blaming it all on the Patriarchy? Carlsen didn't get where he is by making bad moves. And suggesting men even might be innately better at any cognitive task than women, even on average, or even only at the outermost extremes of ability--that would be a bad move in the current socio-political climate.
That said, if there is an innate difference, it can't be anywhere near what it is in, say, boxing. It's hard to imagine a woman, in any weight class, being in the world's top hundred, or top thousand if compared against men. Even a woman in the top ten thousand seems like a stretch, given the strength and aggression differential between the sexes. Certainly there has never been a female boxer who would have lasted a minute against a Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali in their prime. But Judith Polgar was once one of the 8 strongest players in the world. She qualified for the candidates tournament to determine the challenger for the world championship. She has defeated Gary Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, and other chess luminaries too numerous to list. Polgar also didn't deign to play women's tournaments. The woman's world championship was hers for the taking any time she wanted it, but she never bothered. It was beneath her.
That brings me to a criticism of this article. Could it be that women haven't closed the gap because of the existence of women's chess? Could it be that insisting on a separate chess competitions for women only reinforces the stereotype that women are innately disadvantaged, such that it becomes a self fulling prophecy? Maybe instead of keeping trans-identifying males out of women's chess, our efforts would be better directed at abolishing women's chess altogether?
I've never been able to understand female-only chess tournaments and divisions. Your ranking is what defines you as a chess player, not your biological capabilities. It's a game that involves both spatial awareness AND strategy: something anyone can learn if they're dedicated to it. However, it takes a lot of time and interest to become a professional chess player. Pro players spend hours and hours every day studying chess moves--something most people aren't interested in. Who cares if most of the people that *are* interested and *win* matches just so happen to be male?
The sad thing about this is the statement "The “greater male variability hypothesis,” according to which, on the basis of standardized intelligence tests, “more males than females get off-the-chart test scores—in both directions,” is philosophically anathema to them."
What kind of a person must one be to deny reality simply because you don't like it? And it's not just the male variability hypothesis (not really a hypothesis, by the way, but accepted fact: men and women share the same average IQ, but men have a broader distribution around it than women, thus more male geniuses and more male imbeciles) but pretty much any finding related to the field of intelligence research. People pretend differences don't exist, or even that IQ does not have anything to do with actual intelligence. They wriggle and squirm to find any explanation other than the simple fact that, as with any other biological attribute, people vary. Why are we so squeamish about intelligence? Is it because it is not immediately obvious, like height, or attractiveness? At the end of the day, it's just the luck of the genetic draw, and we can take no credit if we are taller than average, or smarter than average. But we tend to think research into IQ is evil, eugenic-tainted, or racist, when all we are doing is refusing to understand the one aspect of humanity that is our special gift. We don't have big teeth or sharp claws, we have big brains and co-operate with each other. And we cannot afford to waste good brains: they are the most valuable resource our species has. I should think we ought to study intelligence and do whatever we can to promote and exploit it.
I have been a lifelong feminist but always had trouble dealing with imo extreme views of equality with males, not just politically but extending to the mathematical and physical. So I always muted my position on such things for the sake of being one of the bunch.
But biology is REAL, sex differences must not be easily dismissed, and we wonder why the sex revolution has not been all that was promised? And that's being kind.
But we did not foresee the horrific consequences of accepting every delusionary morsel of nonsense so I am silent no longer.
Lies in the name of 'social justice' are still lies and they will lead us to hell.
Which, imo, is pretty much where we are now.
"The International Chess Federation has placed a moratorium on trans-identified males competing in women’s chess events."
A "moratorium" in this case is just as unacceptable as Tariq Ramadan's infamous "moratorium" on Islamic stoning during a televised debate with Sarkozy in 2003 (see for more details, https://hesperado.blogspot.com/2011/01/fourest-for-trees-translation-of.html ).
I think there is often confusion about the cognitive disparity between men and women. Men occupy the extreme ends of the bell curve. There will always be more male geniuses and more male imbeciles. Women occupy the middle ground more, with essentially no women at the ultra extremes.
This means men really have no competition from women when it comes to extreme cognitive endeavours, like composing classical masterpieces, designing cathedrals or becoming a grand master.
Women can compete with MOST men, but not those extreme outlier men.... who are the men who always walk away with all the prizes and have statues built of them.
Most men are in the same position as women in this regard. They also cannot compete with those extreme outlier men.