Friday, 2 October 2009


I have just read Chess Bitch by Jennifer Shahade published by Siles press.

This is a story of women in chess from Vera Menchik pre ww2 to the mid 2000's.

This book shows how the barriers are slowly coming down in this male dominanted sport.
Women are trying to gain equal terms,while being side stepped into seperate womens tournaments and championships.

Shahade argues the pros and cons of seperate World championships for men and women by using interviews with top women players.
She investigates the women’s chess dynasties in Georgia and China and interviews the famous Polgar sisters, who refused to play in separate women’s tournaments.(execpt susan who did become women world champion)
Thier is also an interview with transgendered Texan Angela Alston.

While touring around the world playing in tournaments Shahade gives an insight into chess not seen before.
Shahade paints a colorful world that most chess fans never knew existed,showing that girls certainly chess girls do like to have fun.

The book gives both sides of the arguement of how women are seen in chess.
The feminist side who are chess players that happen to be women,and not so feminist the glamorous grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk the current womens world champion.Who openly uses her sexuality to promote her self.
Just look at some pictures on her website.

This book gives the reader much material and many questions to work on,like why are women under represented in big numbers in chess?
Questions like why are womens international and grandmaster titles lower rated and easier to gain than a mans title?

Judit Polgar is the first women to play and beat the top male players at chess on a regular basis. Where are the rest?
Why should men be dominant in chess,where no physical strength or speed are needed,yet men rule in the world of chess.

I enjoyed this book very much,it can also be a good read to non chess playing readers.

For my own 50cents worth i see children feed into chess at a young age,through my school chess club and junior tournaments.For every 3 boys their is 1 girl entering chess,then as they go up through the age tournaments their are less and less girls.

I think it comes down first to a numbers game,like in the old days the more Russian grandmasters in the top 20 the more likly a Russian world champion.
First Susan Polgar then Judit Polgar drew more women into chess through there fame(as Paula Radcliff did in marathon running),and some of them become very strong players,as the next generation of women chess players will also need to draw more women into the sport.So the numbers grow.But this takes time.

Secondly i think girls dont see spending hour upon hour on chess as important.
But good roll models would help to change that.


LinuxGuy said...

I still tend to see things as "Why is this beautiful woman playing chess?" just as fascinating to muse as the game itself.

There are always two points of view "Why are there" and "Why aren't there" more of... I like seeing more women in chess, but that doesn't mean I expect it anymore than I expect more women American Football league's.

PetrS said...

I like the way how Alexandra Kosteniuk promotes women chess. Her blog is great thing and she does a lot for bringing more girls to playing chess.

I am 30 something and in my generation there is 1 women on 50 men on the tournaments here... Women of this age usually take life more seriously than men, because they do the important stuff at home and with children while we play games :)

Tommyg said...

I may have to check this book out! I am in need of some good chess reading aside from instructional material.

CHESSX said...

I must say that since i am recovering from my ankle operation,i have read some chess non technical books like this.
The chess player by William Pearson is a fiction book.

I am just finishing Daniel Johnson White King and Red Queen.
This is all about the cold war fough from the chess board.

These books are good to read as they are chess books,but not books with moves in,just a good chess read.

Next up Bobby Fischer goes to war by David Edmonds and John Eidinow.