Missing Queens In Chess

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The Queen is one of the strongest pieces on board. The mobility and agility of the Queen remain unmatched. Worth nine points, the Queen is simply majestic. However, the Chinese player, Hou Yifan is the only woman to feature in the World’s Top 100. Only 11% of players in inter-national mixed-gender tournaments and 2% of grandmasters are women. Welcome to the world of Chess!

Chess has become increasingly popular over time. However, male dominance in the sport has often been a spot to bother. Regressive remarks by the Champion of the Champions add to the problem. In 2015, English grandmaster Nigel Short said that “Girls just don’t have the brains to play chess”. Thank you, Mr Short, we didn’t realize this distinction between a male and a female brain. However, studies reveal that the theory of differences in intellectual abilities has little to do with it.

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A research study found that women have a higher chance of winning when playing against women than men. The theory of Stereotype Threat could be an explanation for the underperformance of women, as suggested by some. Stereotype Threat is a situation where people tend to conform to a stereotype while trying to avoid it or just being aware of it. This happens mainly because of the anxiety experienced by the group against which stereotypes are held. By now, we know that chess is a male-dominated sport. Hence, while trying to avoid stereotypes, women tend to conform to it and thus continues the vicious cycle.

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Another set of studies argue that women play only about one-third of the games as men. Thus, it apparently affects their presence in top positions. But, we need to understand that social factors play a vital role in this as well. Society discourages women from being competitive and bold. As per the sexist norms, women should not out-do men. Moreover, women are not supported to take up a career in sports and thus comes the following and a rather natural outcome.

It is notable that woman vs. woman games and man vs. man games have an identical average quality of play. Thus, it is nowhere established that women are less competent than men. Also, while playing against women, we can observe modifications in the behaviour of men. They tend to resign later in such cases. It clearly indicates the belief of most males in the faulty notion of being superior (to females).

Sports, being an integral part of our society, have a major influence. Cricket and football are clear examples of the same. When international sports like chess become polluted with the negative air of patriarchy and misogyny, it is a bad sign. It indicates our failure as a society to provide safe spaces for women to express, grow, and be. Hence it becomes of utmost importance to fight these sexist notions which are deeply prevalent in all social arenas today.

The mere presence of the Queen on the board is not enough. We need real Queens to rule the world of Chess.

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