Kenyan player expelled after pretending to be a woman to win lucrative prize
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- Male Kenyan Chess Player Dresses Up To Play In Women's Section
- Peter Doggers (PeterDoggers)
- Apr 13 2023
- Word count
- 403 words
What are the reasons for gender segregated leagues in chess?
Having seen all the discourse around trans athletes in sports, I've come to the opinion that instead of gender segregation we should split leagues by ability instead. This mirrors and extends what we already do with disability sports and weight classes.
I understand one argument for women's leagues is they provide opportunities for women to win and achieve highly. But I also think it creates competition between men and women as classes and can divert funding and attention away from women in sport, since men's sport is the 'default'. So I think we should instead explain the variance in ability by other factors, and define leagues by those, instead of by gender. Gender can be a useful proxy for many of those factors but there's no reason I see why they can't be explicitly unbundled and defined.
I don't know anything about chess, so my follow up question would be, are there gender differences in the brain which make women less competitive than men? Or could open chess be a fair playing field? A quick glance at ratings for me makes it look like they could all compete fairly, but perhaps I do not know enough here.
The most accepted reasons are around societal norms. There's a lot of things people can do in their free time, so if one is dominated by a particular gender then it can drive people away. Inevitably when you have a smaller player pool, there's a also a similarly smaller talent pool.
That being said, Chess is different from physical sports in that it truly is "Open" and "Women's", in that women do enter "open" chess tournaments, and quite frequently. They definitely play on the same online chess ladders. That women only tournaments exist at every level of play is more of a bonus thing.
In practice, it doesn't really play out like that. Title IX had a tremendous effect on women's athletics in the US. The US has the world's best women's soccer team for a reason, and that's Title IX.
I think it's important to note that the reason it had an effect on women's athletics in the US is that it explicitly carved money out for the promotion of women's athletics. Without it, people keep betting on the same race horse that keeps winning - like Hollywood being unwilling to take a chance, it's easier to invest in men's athletics because it has a history of attracting money, spectators, etc.
What it all comes down to in the end is just capitalism. A system which is incentivized to identify talent at a younger age, direct the best trainers towards them, and provide funding for the curriculum needed to ensure optimal success is how you get the best performers. This is true not just for sports, but also for education. It's why when money is carved out for women's education, for example, that overall women's participation in the workforce increases. This also isn't just restricted to gender, setting aside money specific to minorities such as black education has the same effect. It's about offsetting the privilege afforded to some by explicitly creating systems to give resources to those who do not have said privilege.
We already do that. Every sport has a minor league, a feeder series, regional championships, and so on and so forth.
The best women in the world, playing at the absolute pinnacle of their sport shouldn't have to play against and with mediocre men. It would be really insulting to their competence, and frankly it would be worse as a spectator also.
Women that play professional sports have trained literally their entire lives for the opportunity. They've pushed their bodies to the absolute limit of performance. Over the course of their lives, they've spent more time playing the sport, training for it, studying it, and thinking about it than most people spend sleeping. On top of that all, they also possess natural raw talent that's extremely rare.
The men they'd be competing against are... not that. A good highschool soccer team could probably beat most professional women's teams. The advantage of size, strength, speed, weight, height, are just too great to overcome with any sort of talent or training, and it would be literally impossible for any woman, anywhere to play at the pinnacle of the sport. That's not only blatantly unfair, sexist, and mean spirited, it's boring. Soccer isn't even the most blatant example. If you made boxing or MMA mixed gender, no woman would ever win anything or even compete in any weight class, ever. Powerlifting? I bench more than the female world record holder at my weight class, and I'm just a random guy that goes to the gym a few times a week, I've never even considered competing. You'd just be completely erasing women from those sports.
Women's and men's sports are also extremely different. Women's hockey is played in an entirely different way from men's, women's gymnastics are a different sport entirely than men's gymnastics. The games have different considerations due to women's different bodies which affects strategy, gameplay, the types of conflict and so on. Merging them with a minor men's league would just turn them into "Men's sports, but not as good". Why would anyone ever bother watching that?
Obviously, most of this doesn't apply to chess, but some of it does. There are a lot of legitimate reasons why women don't play at the same level as men in chess though, and most of them are cultural/societal.
Given their historic underrepresentation, the participation of women in competitive chess requires a concerted effort of promotion. Women-specific titles and events highlight the best female players with the goal of encouraging their participation in the game, with no prejudice or technical impediment to their ability to participate in traditionally male events. They also allow more women to earn their livelihood from chess.
That said, not everyone agrees that women-specific titles and events are beneficial to women in the sport. A strong argument is that without competing in the larger pool, women are disincentivized to achieve their true potential. The story of Judith Polgar (and sisters...) is informative in that regard. She competed with men her whole life and was once top 8 in the world (all genders).
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not things must change should come from female competitors themselves.
Oh, great. This impostor has reinforced two bigoted stereotypes, and made things that much harder for two groups of people.
First, there's the bigotry from people like my parents against Muslims. My mother has Iiterally said that you can't trust Muslims, particularly women, because "you never know who's in those outfits. It could be a man with a bomb." So, this impostor has just reinforced that stereotype.
Second, there's the bigotry from people against transgender people, particularly women, in sport. A common argument is that a transgender woman is just a man pretending to be a woman, to gain an advantage when competing in sport. So, this impostor has just reinforced that stereotype.
Thanks for that, you selfish idiot!