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March 14, 2012 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Only two buttons from the top: The European Women's Championship in Gaziantep, Turkey is the first where the brand new European Chess Union Dress Code regulations [pdf] apply. The men’s championship, which will take place this month in Plovdiv, Bulgaria will follow. ECU General Secretary Sava Stoisavljevic answers some questions. Players respond.

The pieces of the clothing should be crisp, show no excessive wear, no holes and shall be free of body odor, says the code, and it demands "a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look with colors, fabrics, shoes, and accessories, for both men and women". No caps or hats, too—except for religious reasons. No word on mini skirts, though. Not yet. This is basically ECU experimenting with the idea: The World Chess Federation does not have a dress code, and even the host, the head of Turkish Chess Federation Ali Nihat Yazıcı says that they have nothing to do with it [Turkish], calling Stoisavljevic a "blabbermouth" and describing the code as "vague and unintelligible".

Unsurprisingly, the media mostly treats the news as a ban specifically on female cleavage which, as the Time magazine lets us know, 'could cause even the most expert chessman to focus on checking her out rather than delivering checkmate'.
posted by procrastinator (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
There is a definite psychological game behind what is actually being played on the board. In the male world of chess, intense staring, tics, fidgeting, and annoying sighs are often employed to unsettle an opponent. I'm not surprised that that the women have similar tricks.

I am not sure why chess still has to be sexually segregated though; seems like we proved that men and women have equal intelligence potentials. It's probably because deep deep down, mo man wants to be bested by a woman in any sort of contest.
posted by Renoroc at 9:57 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know that a player who plays here likes to wear hats, and during the technical meeting she was looking at me in sorrow. But what can I do?

Sorrow makes for poor playing in my estimation..
posted by Isadorady at 10:02 AM on March 14, 2012


Just had a brief glance and they don't seem all that scandalous...basically it read to me as 'don't look like an utter slob or smell bad'. Given the nature of chess players it's likely that this has been a not-insignificant problem in the past.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:05 AM on March 14, 2012


It's probably because deep deep down, mole man wants to be bested by a woman in any sort of contest.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:08 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not sure why chess still has to be sexually segregated though; seems like we proved that men and women have equal intelligence potentials. It's probably because deep deep down, mo man wants to be bested by a woman in any sort of contest.

Actually, women are allowed in general chess competition with men. There is no "men's" chess championship. Women are free to contest for titles with men, and are ranked alongside men, and have been for decades at least.

My impression is, many women choose women's competition over general competition because the men's game is still much stronger than the women's game, and that top women's competitors often could not cut it in top men's competition. (I'm not a chess player though and I hope someone more knowledgeable can clear this up if I'm wrong!)

If this is right, we have sex-segregated competitions because otherwise women would be unrepresented in the top ranks, which would appear very sexist. (If you believe women underperform because of sexism, then sex-segregation means that we have chosen the institutional arrangement that masks -- but does not correct -- the sexism. Surprise, surprise.)
posted by grobstein at 10:10 AM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am not sure why chess still has to be sexually segregated though; seems like we proved that men and women have equal intelligence potentials.

I am wondering the same thing. Surely metafilter has some chess talent, can anyone comment?
posted by Hoopo at 10:11 AM on March 14, 2012


Judit Polgar, who was among the top ten ranked players in the world in the 1990's, never competed in women's world championship events. I can't think of another strong female player who has done this.

There really aren't a lot of serious women players, and I suspect that the rationale for a separate championship is to try do draw them in. That, and I guess, just the inertia of tradition. I don't really know, however, and I'm certainly not interested in defending this practice.

Anecdata: a friend of mine was once one of the top 50 rated women in the country, with a rating of only about 1800, which is a good amateur rating, but nothing special.
posted by thelonius at 10:22 AM on March 14, 2012


Yeah, there is not really any such thing as a male-only chess tournament.

There are plenty of female-only tournaments, and as you can imagine there is a vigorous debate about whether this is a good thing or not, with arguments on both sides from both men and women.

The only woman player in the top 100 is Judit Polgar at #29 (she's been higher, and has competed for the world championship). The Chinese teenager Hou Yifan is pretty close to cracking the top 100 and has had a lot of good results lately (I predict a FPP about her within a year).

What I find much more demeaning than women-only tournaments are special women titles. The requirements to become a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) are much lower than those to become a Grandmaster (GM), for example. (Of course there's nothing preventing women from becoming "regular" GMs as well.)
posted by dfan at 10:32 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


My impression is, many women choose women's competition over general competition because the men's game is still much stronger than the women's game, and that top women's competitors often could not cut it in top men's competition.

I suspect this is because there are fewer serious women chess players, and thus a much shallower pool from which to draw, and thus a lot fewer statistical outliers who can compete at the same level as the male statistical outliers.

If you seeded a chess tournament with 100 randomly selected male players and 100 randomly selected female players, you'd probably get pretty even results. But when the tournament is made up of self-selected players, then naturally the men will appear to do better simply because the bench is so much deeper (please excuse the mixed metaphor).
posted by jedicus at 10:44 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there are any serious competitive chess players commenting in the thread I'd be interested to know at what point women get filtered out. I mean, do young Russian girls tend to learn chess along side their brothers but then drop it when they hit puberty? Or does the selection happen ever earlier (girls get sent to ballet class, boys to chess class after school?). Is there something about the nature of the competitions themselves that discourages female participants?
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on March 14, 2012


BTW...did anybody notice the logo at the upper left?

(Black rook, fashioned into a tube of lipstick.)

I want to come back to the other side of the looking glass now. Please, may I?
posted by mule98J at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2012


If there are any serious competitive chess players commenting in the thread I'd be interested to know at what point women get filtered out. I mean, do young Russian girls tend to learn chess along side their brothers but then drop it when they hit puberty? Or does the selection happen ever earlier (girls get sent to ballet class, boys to chess class after school?). Is there something about the nature of the competitions themselves that discourages female participants?

There are plenty of girls playing in the tournaments I play in; not as many girls as boys, but the ratio is 2 or 3 to 1, not 20 to 1 like it seems to be with adults.

They mostly stop by the time they become adults, but on the other hand so do the boys (the biggest issue facing the US Chess Federation is how to convert their gigantic scholastic population into adult players). I do get the feeling that the girls drop out earlier, though.
posted by dfan at 11:05 AM on March 14, 2012


If there are any serious competitive chess players commenting in the thread I'd be interested to know at what point women get filtered out. I mean, do young Russian girls tend to learn chess along side their brothers but then drop it when they hit puberty? Or does the selection happen ever earlier (girls get sent to ballet class, boys to chess class after school?). Is there something about the nature of the competitions themselves that discourages female participants?

I played high school chess in Illinois, but was never particularly good. (I was certainly never a 'serious' player.) This may not apply to such a great degree elsewhere. Scholastic tournaments (K-8) are structured in such a way that having a large team is desirable--your top four scores count for the team, no matter how many people played. In high school, teams play teams, with the top board worth more points than the bottom boards and you have eight boards, so you only need eight people. I can think of only one school (ETHS) that fielded two teams. My school couldn't always field one team. (My senior year was the first year in a while that we went to the state tournament with eight boards--we usually forfeited the eighth board. We played league matches with only four players at least once, which was the fewest it was possible to win a match with.)

The girls are pretty much gone by high school, but then they tend to really disappear. If girls are badly underrepresented in the first place and a school has a good team, the likelihood that one of the girls is in the top eight isn't that high. There were definitely more girls playing for less good teams, particularly in school districts where there wasn't much K-8 chess. But chess teams skewed heavily male from the beginning. Certainly mine did in elementary school. It was maybe a bit less lopsided in the K-3 section, but I don't remember.
posted by hoyland at 11:08 AM on March 14, 2012


If this is right, we have sex-segregated competitions because otherwise women would be unrepresented in the top ranks, which would appear very sexist

I think it's simpler in that "women" is a specific group of people that make up a subset of the player base, and it makes sense to hold competitions that are restricted to a specific subset. There's not really that big of a difference between a European Championship, an Over 60 Championship, and a Women's Championship, those are all just subsets of the overall player base that will obviously have a lower average skill level than the player base as a whole.

If there are any serious competitive chess players commenting in the thread I'd be interested to know at what point women get filtered out.

One theory I've heard is that women have less variance in terms of cognitive ability than men. So if you looked at the whole spectrum of possible chess players, men would dominate both the best chess players list and the worst chess players list. So there may simply be 100 times less women born with the particular rare outlier cognitive abilities to perform at chess at the highest level than there are men, just like there are significantly less women who have autism than men. It could be heavily influenced by other factors like social pressures though.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:08 AM on March 14, 2012


If I was to shamelessly speculate about why the girls disappear, I'd suspect that it has to do with girls maturing faster than boys (assuming that's true). Of course, chess is going to select for kids who can sit still and concentrate, but I can imagine it being very frustrating if your peers are randomly jabbing each other in the side (something that the chess team was still doing in high school) and you want them to behave. If you're a girl and you're a brilliant player, then you stick around. But if you're not particularly good, why bother hanging around with them when you could go do something else?

But why are there fewer girls in the first place? Sexism. Their parents aren't suggesting they play chess. Competitive chess is obscure enough that they may not realise people play chess unless an older sibling or neighbour does it, so they're not going to suggest it to their parents. The gender ratio seems less lopsided in teams that come out of school programs or schools with well-established chess clubs, because they're teaching kids to play en masse and then saying 'Hey, want to go to a tournament?'. That's different than figuring out tournaments exist because your friend's brother plays chess and your friend is going to start going to the club (which is how I started).
posted by hoyland at 11:18 AM on March 14, 2012


"a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look"
I hope that the USCF doesn't adopt this. I'm headed for a tournament next month and I'm not sure I've ever had a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look.

I see sunglasses are allowed. In case Tal comes back to life.
posted by MtDewd at 11:28 AM on March 14, 2012


As an intelligent woman who shows her cleavage in most outfits, I think this blouse would be my choice to stay within the guidelines without being flirty in undoing the second button.
posted by saucysault at 11:38 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, as an arbiter, I had many situations when I had to check if players had something under their hats. I can say that one of the reasons for implementing this rule was to avoid cheating.

I have never competed so forgive my ignorance, what would someone hide under their hat? How would they retrieve it without a judge or opponent noticing?
posted by saucysault at 11:45 AM on March 14, 2012


As an intelligent woman who shows her cleavage in most outfits, I think this blouse would be my choice to stay within the guidelines without being flirty in undoing the second button.

I read your name as "saucysuit" and thought, on looking at the pic, "well, that explains that."
posted by yoink at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2012


I have never competed so forgive my ignorance, what would someone hide under their hat?

If it covers your ears, it could hide an earpiece that transmits moves supplied by a confederate who is entering the moves of your game into a computer.
posted by dfan at 11:52 AM on March 14, 2012


Ahh, thanks dfan, that makes sense. Hmm, interesting that they haven't specified hiding ears behind hair as well.
posted by saucysault at 12:25 PM on March 14, 2012


Cleavage during chess playing and dress code violations immediately made me think of strip chess and then of course Rule 34 for chess.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2012


I am not sure why chess still has to be sexually segregated

As noted above, this is generally not the case. But should it be? Recent research indicates that The Mere Anticipation of an Interaction with a Woman Can Impair Men's Cognitive Performance
posted by fredludd at 5:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, chess is not for weak people. I don't have any sympathy for people who can't deal with playing or losing to a woman.
posted by thelonius at 5:57 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somebody's gotta say it, so here goes;

"I'd castle that!"
Err...
"I'd promote that!"
Not very specific, hrmmmm
Uhh, "I'd en passant that?"

Well, you get the idea, I hope.

Fiery Latina grandmasters, call me, ok? Just call me!
posted by newdaddy at 10:10 PM on March 14, 2012


Maybe so few grand masters are women because not many women like chess and most would rather have a conversation across a table than move wooden pieces in conflict with someone across a table? Does everything have to be a conspiracy by insecure white males?
posted by Gomoryhu at 4:19 AM on March 15, 2012


"I'd castle that!"
Err...
"I'd promote that!"
Not very specific, hrmmmm
Uhh, "I'd en passant that?"

Well, you get the idea, I hope.


I think the word you're looking for is "mate".
posted by dfan at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2012


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