I just finished reading the new article on Chessbase,
“Explaining male predominance in chess” by Robert Howard
(http://en.chessbase.com/post/explaining-male-predominance-in-chess). Judging from the few comments posted Mr. Howard has started a firestorm. He writes, “If the male predominance in chess was due just to social factors it should have greatly lessened or disappeared by now.” He concludes with, “This conclusion is unpalatable to many but it is best to acknowledge how the world actually is.”
Ruth Haring is the President of the USCF. She sent me this email Sat, May 24, 2014:
Hi again. I do have strong opinions, but the reason I do not blog is that I am too busy to keep up.
What do you suggest ? I could write something.
I view it as a statistical problem. When we get 50% women tournament players we can expect parity. I am working to encourage more women to play so as to increase the numbers, and thereby representation at the highest levels. If you take a random 4% of a population, you might find women tournament players outperform that random group.
Robert Howard simply refutes Ruth Haring. Actually, what he does is blow her thinking out of the water!
I lived with two sisters and a mother and from that experience I learned there is a difference between the sexes. All I have written is that there is a difference between males and females. I have always thought it a wonderful thing. I cannot imagine what kind of place this would be if we were all the same.
The world of chess has changed because of the influx of girls. Because of the vast number of children there are more women involved with chess because of what is now called the “Chess Mom.” When I write something like this there are those who mistakenly think I am negative when it comes to female participation in chess, when all I am doing is pointing out a fact. Women bring something different to the table. I am not making any value judgement, just stating a fact. I have no idea whether or not it is a good, or bad, thing. I urge you to read the article on Georgia Chess News, “From the New GCA Director of Communications” by Laura Doman, the new board member (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/06/01/from-the-new-gca-director-of-communications/). This more than anything I can write illustrates what a woman brings to the chess world. Make no mistake, I mean this in a positive way. Women bring a social aspect to chess that men lack. I saw this when I played backgammon, where the percentage of women was exponentially larger than in chess. Yet the fact is that the women were not as strong as men. For example, the two strongest female players in Atlanta were Kathy and Debbie. They both won a fair number of Monday night tournaments. The matches were only seven points and the duration of the tournament was only three or four hours. But when it came to the two or three day weekend events, and longer matches, neither of them ever did well. I played in the World Amateur Backgammon Championship in Las Vegas twice, and female players never fared well. Granted, this is anecdotal evidence, but it is all I have to give.
When men are in a room with other men and a woman enters the dynamic is changed. When I first began playing chess the Atlanta chess club met at the downtown YMCA on Lucky street. One night two women entered. They were the first women I had ever seen at the club. They were treated rudely and left. I left my game and went outside to apologize even though I had not been involved. One was terribly upset, but the other smiled and thanked me. We played later, but not chess! That was the last time I saw a woman at the ACC. Years later a girl, Alison Bert, began playing chess. I gave her a few lessons, not for money, as is the case today, but because I liked her and wanted to help her. I must have done a good job because Alison beat me in a USCF rated game.
When it comes to women being involved in anything, I always think of something I read about the advantage Western civilization has over those of the Muslim faith because the latter suppress women. They do not allow women to bring anything to the table, and are therefore missing half of their being. Even if it is true that women are not, and may never be, as good at playing a game, it does not mean that what they bring to the board is not just as valuable as what a man brings. Not to mention the fact that they look so much better bringing it to the table!