APRIL 23 ― I have just returned from helping out at the Bangkok Open where there were some amazing games played. Initially former champion Jan Gustafsson (of chess24.com fame where he works as the lead commentator) looked very much the man to beat and then it was the incredibly talented top seeded Chinese Wang Hao who took over but in the end it was the “old Englishman” Nigel Short who used all his experience to come through a clear winner.
Short is also now in the news for an article published a month ago in New in Chess magazine. Misquotes and completely out of context reports of what he said in the article has led to a number of women players being angry with him, insisting that it is sexist.
An article should always be read in totality but the apparently offending part at the end is as follows:
“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.
“One is not better than the other, we just have different skills. It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”
The chess world is often absolutely ridiculous and sadly full of people with vested interests. It is those who are unhappy with what he wrote earlier in the article and also some others looking for publicity who are shouting the loudest even if their claims are not only selective but hardly stand up to objective reasoning.
I have written no less than three columns which touched upon this issue; where I suggested women players need to decide to either lean in or lean out, where I say women players want it both ways and where I stated what is the real sexism in chess.
Perhaps Helen Milligan, unlike her younger New Zealand country woman who was so quick to jump right in, managed to put a non controversy in the best perspective albeit with reference to an equally measured response on an Australian GM's website:
“Helen Milligan is a female chess player and therefore obliged to comment on Nigel Short's comments. So here goes. (1) Read the damn article before exploding, please. He doesn't say women can't play chess. He points out the gender imbalance, which anyone with a grading list from any country (except, it is alleged, Georgia) can readily see for themselves. (2) He then suggests reasons for this. These are subject to debate. Personally I think it is purely a reflection of participation rates, and in my view the item for discussion should be why girls stop playing. (3) Read this response by David Smerdon!”
Meanwhile, the JAPFA GM Tournament being played in Jakarta will come to an end when this column comes out and the top seed Sergei Tiviakov who is a noted trainer of women players and shares similar opinions with Short about women's chess (as do most of the top players even if they will not admit it publicly) is having a nightmare tournament.
In the following game, he is essentially playing like an idiot against Indonesia's Irene Kharisma Sukandar, a woman grandmaster who was recently awarded the international master title.
Irene is very well known to locals having over the years beaten all our top men national players. The JAPFA GM Tournament has three other women grandmasters cum international masters for company; fellow Indonesian Medina Ward Aulia, Romanian Alina I'Ami and Frenchwoman Sophie Milliet.
Round 4: 2015.04.17
White Sukandar Irene Kharisma
Black Tiviakov Sergei
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nd7 7. Nc4 Qf6
8. d5 Ne5 9. dxc6 bxc6 10. Qe2 Nxc4 11. Qxc4 Qe6+ 12. Qxe6 Bxe6 13. Bf4 g6 14. Ba6 Bc8 15. Be2 Bh6 16. Bf3 Bb7 17. Bxh6 Nxh6 18. O-O-O Nf5 19. Rhe1 Rd8 20. Ne4 O-O 21. Nc5 Ba8 22. g4 Nh4 23. Bh1 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 f5 25. g5 f4 26. Be4 Kf7 27. Rd7 a5
28. Ra7 Nf5 29. Nd7 Rd8 30. Bxf5 gxf5 31. Nb6 Kg6 32. Nxa8 e5 33. Nb6 e4 34. Nc4 Kxg5 35. Rxh7 f3 36. h4+ Kg6 37. Rc7 f4 38. Rxc6+ Kf5 39. Nd6+ Rxd6 40. Rxd6 e3 41. h5
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.