Women not wired to play chess?

Apr 21, 2015, 12:42 IST

chess woman nigel short


Grandmaster Nigel Short, one of UK’s greatest ever chess players, has claimed that men and women should just accept they are “hard-wired very differently”. In an interview to a magazine discussing the lack of women chess players, Short said: “Why should they [men and women] function in the same way? I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife [Rea] possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do. Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to manoeuvre the car out of our narrow garage.

He also suggested that we should ‘gracefully accept’ that men are more able to play at high competitive level. His statement was seen as sexist and ignorant by women who took to Twitter to express their anger.

Amanda Ross, who runs the Casual Chess club in London took to Twitter to voice her disappointment over the grandmaster’s statement.

In an interview with Daily Telegraph, she further criticised Nigel Short and said, “it is incredibly damaging when someone so respected basically endorses sexism. Judith Polgar, the former women’s world champion, beat Nigel Short eight classical games to three in total with five draws. She must have brought her man brain. Let’s just hope Nigel didn’t crash his car on those days, trying to park it. At least this resolves the age-old debate as to whether there’s a direct link between chess-playing ability and intelligence. Clearly not.”
Soon after, Nigel and Amanda got into a Twitter war or words with Nigel claiming that he has been misunderstood.

But Amanda was not the only one who took on Nigel. Sky News founder member and journalist Kay Burley tweeted on her page, “Years ago on my local paper I was always proud to write 'Wigan born chess champion @nigelshortchess' Not now...”

Here again, Nigel got into a long discussion with Kay, trying to explain his point, calling it ‘logical’ and ‘biological fact’.

Kay took a dig at Nigel when she invited him for a driving challenge. At this point, the focus shifted from lack of women in chess to ‘no women in F1’.

A lot of chess fans, both men and women, joined the conversation and started pointing out names of women drivers and women who own teams.    





Judit Polgar, one of the world’s top chess players, also hit back against Nigel’s claim in her interview to TIME. “It’s not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of being smart,” Judit Polgar said adding, “We are capable of the same fight as any other man, and I think during the decades that I actively played chess I proved it as well.”

Here are a few more tweets from chess fans whom grandmaster Nigel Short disappointed with his sexist statement.