Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Chess Life June 2008 Edition
This month's edition of Chess Life is wrapped in a ballot for USCF delegates who will represent each state in 2009 and 2010. I don't recognize the names of the four people running for delegates in my state (the 2 top vote getters will become our delegates). Trying to find information on these people is even worse than searching for a needle in a haystack - but then, I do that for a living. There was an interesting "letter to the editor" this month: Women in chess It is with great disdain I read the sidebar, "What is the USCL" (April Chess Life, page 30). I cannot begin to express the insulting, offensive, feelings overwhelming me after reading that if teams have a female member they are granted "extra" points. Regardless of the amount awarded it's not right. If a woman is a good enough player to make the rating to join the team she should be considered for her ability and not her gender. Personally, I am about to embark on entering my first nationals chess tournament this summer. And though I cannot beat every male member of the USCF, I can hold my own over a chesboard. Somewhere in last month's edition, your magazine mentioned trying to invite women to become interested in chess; articles like this are not going to help your cause. - Betty L. Cooper Elma, Washington Here is the response, which Chess Life asked IM Greg Shahade (commissioner of the USCL) and the article's author, to provide: The reason that female players get extra points on teams is to encourage teams to use females on their roster. It's clear that the image of chess gains whenever more women are involved, especially given the 90%+ ratio of men to women. We understand quite clearly that a woman who is rated 2200 is as strong as a man who is rated 2200. The only purpose of this rule is to ensure as much female participation as possible. While these bonus points are a relatively small amount, they definitely encourage teams to go out of their way to put females on their roster. In fact many of the top female players in the national have been involved in the USCL. Because of the flexibility these bonus points give to some teams, it also means they are involved in the matches more than they would be allowed to, if they didn't receive this small bonus. All of this is good for the league, as fans really enjoy watching women play. Despite these bonuses, the league is still overwhelmingly male. Liz Vicary, who has written several pieces for Chess Life and Chess Life Online, was also asked for her thoughts: I always find it hard to explain to people, especially non-chessplayers, why women have separate events or are treated differently in the chess world. Theoretically, it would be fantastic if this wan't necessary. However, the reality is that very few women play and organizers help the game greatly when they encourage underrepresented groups to participate more. To reupdiate a possible solution just because it suggests the problem exists doesn't help anyone. What exactly should be done about the lack of women depends on which specific goals you want ot achieve, but offering teams incentives for fielding women seems like it has been very effective. New York had three women on its team last year Baltimore as [Katerine] Rohonyan, Miami had [Yulia] Cardona, and last year's big winner, Dallas, played Bayaaa Zorigt frequently. I don't think there's any need to be offended by someone who's honestly and effectively trying to be part of the solution. My take: I agree. I agree. I agree.