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What’s Next: Check Fe-Mate?

October 14, 2009 | NeW Staff

Barbara Jepson penned an interesting piece arguing for women’s chess titles to be abolished. Her reasoning: women’s titles are not equal in difficulty to men’s. Featured in the WSJ, the article highlights the tension between male and female competitors and whether the ultimate title—Grand Master and Women’s Grand Master—is actually equal.

But according to David Jarrett, executive director of the World Chess Federation, women make up about 10 percent of the organization’s estimated one million members.

While women make up a small portion of players overall, their journey to victory is actually not as hard to attain as their male counterparts. Jepson explains:

“To qualify as a grandmaster (GM) today, men and women must earn two or more “norms” at a performance rating of 2600 and achieve a published overall rating of 2500. But female players attain the woman grandmaster (WGM) designation by earning two or more norms at a performance rating of 2400 and achieving published ratings of 2300.”


Now, I don’t actually understand what she just said. But what I can gather, despite my little following of the perspicacious game, is that it is easier to attain the WGM title than to receive the GM title. Should this surprise us? Women rarely seem as fanatical about the sport, given they only represent 10 percent of total players, and women consistently score lower on tests that measure spatial relations. Measurements of difficulty should be gauged upon possible achievement
not a top-down approach that ignores the realities of the players’ abilities.

But still, the feminist’s agenda to produce equal outcomes will reign in chess and support mixed gender tournaments. This destroys the differences between men and women. Gender differences should be celebrated by titles that honor women for being the best woman and not the best man. 

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