Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Response to a Question - see below

Hola!  Well, I never did get out back to start the clean-up.  I've been furiously working away on Family Tree stuff, and then I happened to check my email and saw this inquiry:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "2011 European Team Chess Championships - Women":

Just curious as to why the interest in those particular players?

Posted by Anonymous to Chess, Goddess and Everything at November 6, 2011 11:48 AM

I wrote the below in a post response, but because I exceed the maximum number of "characters" (guess so!), I couldn't publish the post under the topic where it was, so I'm posting it here in its entirety:

Hi Anonymous at 11:48 a.m.:
To answer your question, I follow L'Ami and Salome because they are two WGMs Goddesschess provided funding for to bring them over to Montreal to play in the City of Montreal Championnat (in 2009 and 2011), and although I did not meet either of them in person, I know from reports of people who did meet them that they are wonderful women.  I have also, on occasion, personally corresponded since the 2009 Championnat with WGM Melia Salome, and have found her to be a sweet, kind-hearted soul.  She is now recently married and very happy.

I follow Narmin Kazimova since I first became aware of her playing during the 2008 European Women's Individual Chess Championship, when she had an outstanding series of wins against much higher-rated players, and she was only 16.  I keep waiting for her to "break out" but she lives in a poor country and, frankly, doesn't get much opportunity to play against tougher competition.  I do not know what her coaching situation is, but I feel that with proper training and financial backing, she could do much better.

I follow GM Alexandra Kosteniuk ever since I first became aware of her, at least 10 years ago.  I bought her first book, "How I Became A Grandmaster at Age 14" and was enchanted with her engaging personality and her willingness to share her innermost thoughts (through her poetry then) with strangers.  She has a vunerability and openness that is just so disarming.  I have corresponded a little with GM Kosteniuk over the past few years, and this year I finally had a chance to meet her in person when she was playing in St. Louis Kings v. Queens Tournament and I was there for the Chess Collectors International meeting.  She is much more beautiful in person than her photographs even show, and there are many great photographs of her on the internet!  In person, she is shy, but once she relaxed she was very open with me and we had a very interesting discussion over lunch.  I admire her enormously.  She has a genuinely kind heart and is an open, generous person.  So rare to meet people like her in this crazy world we live in today.
I have followed GM Kateryna Lahno for many years now, because I like how she plays.  She is an uncompromising player.  Although I did not have the opportunity to be introduced to her while in St. Louis in September (she was also playing in the Kings v. Queens Tournament there), I saw her at the ceremony to open the new Chess Hall of Fame and Museum and she is so beautiful!  The photographs I've seen of her do not capture her spirit.  She is very "alive."  I do not know how else to explain it.  Some people have this special sparkle about them, I think she does.

I admire beautiful women - for their beauty.  Just so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm not gay and I am not attracted to women in "that way", but I do admire handsome men and beautiful women, particularly when they are chessplayers.  It just proves over and over again because there are so many beautiful people playing in the sport that it is not a game for "geeks" - you know, the stereotype of a chessplayer, a 40 year old virgin guy with stubble, a big beer belly hanging out over his pants, mis-matched clothes in ugly colors (like something from a 1970's rag bag), dirty greasy hair, thick glasses, and acne.  

When we were looking for a WGM in 2009 to play in the Montreal Championnat, Lahno's name came up and I pressed to bring her over from Europe to play - I even offered some personal funding to supplement what Goddesschess was offering for sponsorship, but the organizers had already committed to bring over WGM Salome.  At the time, Lahno was not yet a GM.  Now we would not be able to afford her appearance with our limited budget!

Dana Reizniece (hope I spelled her name right, I'm working from memory now and don't have the correct spellings or the names of all the players in front of me), I have been following ever since I first started reporting specially on female chessplayers.  That was back in 2001, and with some hiatus in between times here and there, I've continued ever since.  I used to see her name a lot more showing up in tournament results, so it was good to see her playing in the European Team Championships.  I initially started following her because I thought she was a beautiful woman, and then as I learned the little bit I know about the game, I see that she plays some beautiful chess, too.

I have great admiration for Yelena Dembo.  She has great fighting spirit and is not afraid to show her anger when she loses games -in a purely ladylike way, of course.  I started following her when I was writing a chess column for once a month during 2008.  I would like to play chess like Yelena Dembo.

I likewise first came across WGM Anna Rudolf when I was writing that column for Chessville.  There was an ugly incident where she was accused by three male players of cheating, somehow using her lipstick - yes, her lipstick - to communicate secretly, or some such nonsense!  That she has been steadily progressing since then and earned the WGM title shows that those cheating accusations were sheer nonsense, leveled by a few poor male losers who couldn't handle that a woman chessplayer whomped their butts!  She has stunningly beautiful titian-colored hair and is a very pretty young lady.  I call her "Little Red Rudolf" after the old fairy tale, you know, where the Big Bad Wolf is chasing after Little Red Riding Hood.

I have followed Monica Calzetta for years, since our former Mentor, Dr. Ricardo Calvo, who was an IM level player before he retired, pointed her out to me as a promising player.  Dear Ricardo passed away in 2002 but I have faithfully followed Monica Calzetta, now married, ever since.  She is one of the best female players of Spain, but I feel she has never reached her full potential.  Now that she is married and perhaps has a family (I don't know this, I'm just making an assumption that after marriage sooner or later babies do come along) it's just harder and harder to try and maintain a top level of play, especially with eager younger players coming up behind you.

Jovanka Houska has been the British Women's Chess Champion for years.  She has such grace and dignity, and a killer instinct.  I love that!

So, you see, I admire each of these ladies for different reasons, and not all of it has to do purely with their level of chess play, although I believe all of them would likely defeat any of the top players who play in a local Milwaukee event Goddesschess supports - the Hales Corners Chess Challenges.
Most of all, these women defy the stereotypes of female chessplayers - and of chessplayers in general.  They are attractive, some are stunningly beautiful, in fact; many of them are married and mothers of young children, that just makes it much harder to compete on a top level, because we all know that in general, caring for children still falls to wives and mothers and NOT to the chessplaying daddies.  Certainly I have nothing against motherhood and do not mean to denigrate the institution of marriage, but it just isn't fair that male chessplayers who are fathers are able to pursue their chess careers and all too often, female chessplayers who are wives and mothers are not; or if they do, it isn't to the same degree.  One has only to look at GM Judit Polgar to see this is very true.  She's still the top female player in the world, but she's no longer in the top 10, where she was before she got married and had two children.  Sad, but true.  While she took time away from the game to get married and have those children, she got left behind.  I'm sure she would be the first to say it was entirely worth it, but as a woman looking in from the outside - I wonder - really?  Why do WE have to pay such a higher price to have a spouse and a family?

Okay, end of rant. I hope this answers your question.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. :-)

My personal favorite chess queen (other than the mighty Judit) is Elina Danielian - she seems to have a uneven sort of chess genius, ala Ivanchuk or Morozevich, capable of extended streaks of amazing play.

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