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Record Set For World's Youngest Chess Champion

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the odds-are-one-in-a-billiion dept.

Classic Games (Games) 214

Pickens writes "Hou Yifan, a 16-year-old chess player from China, became the youngest world chess champion on Friday, in the final of the Women's World Chess Championship held in Antakya, Turkey, toppling a record held since 1978. Currently, the top-ranked woman is Judit Polgar of Hungary, who is thought to be the best female player in history but Polgar, once ranked No. 8 in the world among all players, men and women combined, does not compete in women's tournaments and did not play. No one really knows why the best female players are typically not as good at chess as the best men. One theory, common among some top male players, is that men are usually more aggressive by nature than women, and are therefore better suited to a game that simulates warfare. Another, cited in at least one university study, is that the talent pool among women has not been big enough to produce many great players."

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214 comments

The obvious reason: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668398)

Women are inferior to men.

Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (5, Funny)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668426)

...In which case she'd actually be 12.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (2)

wan9xu (1829310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668556)

either way she would not have much of a childhood. most such prodigies in china end up having a very miserable time before they achieve fame, and even worse when they fall from it.

is it better in America? (1)

DavMz (1652411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668826)

Because you think that American or European top gymnasts achieve their feats with no sacrifice? And what happens to those who don't make it to the olympic team? Professional sport is probably the most competitive activity one can imagine, and vae victis.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (2)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669332)

That's repeated often but let's think rationally about that for a moment.

Firstly, these young children that are so good at something particular, it's pretty much not possible that you can become so good at something unless you already enjoy it, and are highly driven. You think the government picks children purely at random and then holds a gun to their head for years until they become good? Even if they did, this wouldn't produce optimal results. No, the government picks children that are already showing themselves from a young age to be amongst the top achievers in things like gymnastics, and then primes those.

Secondly, something tells me that achieving great accomplishments at international events like the Olympics, is probably something these kids rather like. I certainly would. What, you think they go "oh I SO hate that I won a medal at the olympics, instead of being a nobody"? I don't think so.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668574)

Parent is ranked "Funny" ???

Racism is funny ????

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668588)

The word you're looking for is 'sexism'.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668684)

Most cultures like to call it 'honoring their culture'.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668740)

Interesting that without mentioning anything about a culture (China presumably), you immediately picked up the intent and labeled it racist. That's why it's funny.

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (4, Insightful)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668770)

It's a great accomplishment, whether thru Government assistance or otherwise, she still had to play the game on the board herself.

There was a little to be desired in terms of format - whereas the FIDE championship has a series of candidate matches to decide who goes against the challenger, (qualifications of which keep changing) - the Women's championship is a shootout format where last year's champion busted out in round two, more like a poker tournament then the way FIDE handles the regular Championship.

Truth is, there is a lot wrong with FIDE right now and competitive chess, but Hou Yifan's accomplishment is probably the most important accomplishment in the chess world in 2010

Re:Good thing she's not an olympic gymnist.... (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668896)

Well said. http://goo.gl/fuylm [goo.gl] This will probably be marked troll but any news with the word China = I grab my salt shaker and remind myself about a cliche.

Talent pool (5, Informative)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668446)

The same argument is sometimes applied to certain fields like math, etc., where men seem to be more successful than women. On average, men and women perform at the same level; the difference comes in the distribution. Men supposedly tend to cluster at the really high and really low levels, so while 4/5 of the best may be male, 4/5 of the very worst will also be male. It's a thought-provoking theory, and there is actually some evidence for it, but there is also plenty of evidence against it and it isn't one to make lightly. Like many other areas, it is likely really smart women are tragically funneled elsewhere or pushed to do something "more appropriate."

More concretely, the concept that chess simulates war is simply outdated. Civilization, Warcraft III, and half the console games these days simulate war. Chess is an artful mastery of planning, brainpower, and pattern recognition that cannot be matched, but it's NOT warfare, not the way it matters.

Re:Talent pool (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668578)

The underlying concepts of the games you listed, including chess, are pretty much the same. What is your basis for saying chess is not a war simulation? Lack of explosions?

Re:Talent pool (2)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668652)

Chess is a war simulation as much as baseball is.

Re:Talent pool (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668742)

Baseball is an athletic competition, the only thing it has in common with combat is running.

Chess is a tactical competition where two opposing sides must utilize resources with different strengths and weakness, protect multiple fronts, and make strategic sacrifices, including faints and deceptions to attempt to annihilate one another. Just like actual warfare.

Unlike baseball chess was designed for the express purpose of being a high level warfare simulation.

If you'd said football you could have at least made an argument. You'd be wrong, but at least there'd be an argument there.

Re:Talent pool (3, Interesting)

Klinky (636952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668962)

Baseball & other sports take more mental prowess than you seem to think, at least on the professional level. A lot of a teams success can hang on managements ability to judge the other team, their own personnel & how they use their personnel.

Re:Talent pool (1)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668992)

Christ it's silly to think that the games we play are not war training. Baseball is and yes, when the kitten chases the leaf it's practicing killing. Proof of that, make a fluffy ball act like hurt prey, running from the cat, hiding, it goes wild! Make the same fluff stalk the cat (like a dog would like more back and forth-ish) then the cat will be like "fuck you man I ain't playin this!". The truth is, the less we consider something a sport the less like war it is. See football for squad combat See golf for "That's a sport right... oh yea you HIT something so yea". See polo for literal sword/horse training. Chess is war that's pretty simple to see.

Re:Talent pool (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668656)

The answer may be simpler. Let's say you have population A that has a normal distribution of skill and many members, and you have population B with the same normal distribution of skill but few members, members of A *will* dominate the top places in rank, even though any person from A has has no advantage over a player in B. If you pick any range of skill, A will dominate with the number of players, including the back end (which you don't hear about). So near the very top, B will drop off before A.

In my experience, I saw the same effect with cross country. Some schools have huge (like 60 runners) running teams, some have just enough (7) runners to qualify. And what I saw was that large schools tended to take the top spots and small schools usually got slaughtered even though the average runners performed about the same regardless of school. For those not familiar with how high school cross country is "scored," only the top (~5) runners from each team are compared plus a few tie breakers, which means only the top arrangement counts, so the bulk of the other runners don't matter. ie slow runners don't penalize a team. Hence the much larger teams having an advantage, even they also have the most slow runners too. Although this was only the case when one team was much larger or smaller.

Re:Talent pool (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669062)

Mod parent up! If 80% of the chess players were women we'll have a female world champion and we'd be wondering why men can't play that well.

Re:Talent pool (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669368)

The answer may be simpler. Let's say you have population A that has a normal distribution of skill and many members, and you have population B with the same normal distribution of skill but few members

So you're saying there are far fewer women than men? Last I checked, the ratio was close to 50:50 (according to Wikipedia, the global average is 105:100 males:females: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sex_ratio)

The question is why fewer women would choose to play chess then; you haven't really answered the question, just shifted it slightly.

Personally I think women are just less interested in chess, which is probably genetic.

Re:Talent pool (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669662)

Personally I think women are just less interested in chess, which is probably genetic.

I think it's mostly a cultural thing, chess and other intellectual pursuits just aren't considered to be compatible with being feminine. Also women competing directly with men is still somewhat a taboo which is partly why we have womens' league for just about everything irregardless of whether it's required or not; as a result of playing in a less competitive group you get worse results.

Re:Talent pool (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669678)

What bothers me is that it seems that women are less interested in everything.
This fact alone can explain many things, but I'm wondering whether it's true, and if it is, why.

It is possible that it's not that chess itself is a war game, but that any competitive sport (or any competition in general, including academia and politics) is a war, and women tend to avoid wars (genetically).

Re:Talent pool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668734)

The chess is pure strategy and logic. Any warfare is based on strategy. Are you still think you are right ?
About woman...
Woman has no nuts. This basic thing you should learn at lest from movies.
In case of danger - man will attack, woman will do whatever else to survive. That expands to the males with woman brain also. Of course, any rule has exceptions. But this is thinking by overall categories and marks.

Re:Talent pool (2)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668764)

To expand on my other comment. What do you think matters (with regard to differences in males and females) in warfare that is missing in chess?

From a recent CNN article ( http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-23/opinion/brizendine.male.brain_1_male-brain-mate-early-feminists?_s=PM:OPINION [cnn.com] ):

"The "defend your turf" area -- dorsal premammillary nucleus -- is larger in the male brain and contains special circuits to detect territorial challenges by other males. And his amygdala, the alarm system for threats, fear and danger is also larger in men. These brain differences make men more alert than women to potential turf threats."

Chess includes attack, defense, and territory. Your opponents pieces threaten your own pieces. As a male you sense this threat, fear the danger it represents to your fronts, and the massive flood of testerone in your system flood the aggresive retaliation and attack in turn.

None of that means much to a computer which is simply calculating every possible move but it certainly matters when playing a human. The hands are more complex in Chess than poker but you are still playing against your opponent, not merely his position.

Re:Talent pool (2)

davek (18465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668866)

Chess is an artful mastery of planning, brainpower, and pattern recognition that cannot be matched, but it's NOT warfare, not the way it matters.

O, but it is...

The more you play chess, the more you realize that life in general is chess, and that life does includes warfare. The (grossly understated) realization is this: you must judge your next move in terms of how you're opponent will react to it. A move that makes your position look better means nothing if it is countered with a simple pawn push. Or, more simply said, DON'T MAKE STUPID MOVES. Whereupon, the majority of the game becomes finding the stupid moves and not making them.

This is the (again, grossly simplified) theory of warfare. Don't make stupid, easily countered moves. Don't stand your troops in a line of red coats in a field and expect the other side to "play fair." Don't think your king is strong enough to be attacked on two fronts. Don't attack Russia in the winter. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line... and so on.

Re:Talent pool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34669002)

I think the reason is the sacrifice required. One has to spend absurd amounts of time thinking about chess to get to that level, and other aspects of a person's life will end up neglected. Women seem less willing to make the choice to abandon their other interests to focus their thinking on a mere game.

Just my opinion, I've only got anecdotal evidence.

Gender differences - be happy! (4, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669044)

It isn't PC to discuss differences intelligence, even when there may be some truth to be found there. There is plenty of evidence that the mental abilities for men and women are slightly different - and a slight difference in the average population can turn into a big difference at the extremes. For example, men are, on average, better at manipulating 3D objects in their heads; they are also (again, on average) slightly better at mathematics. It is possible that this (or some other) particular facet of intelligence is applicable to chess.

However, what I really wanted to point out is this: have you ever known really good, young chess players? The ones I have known are, frankly, not "normal". They are almost monomaniacal about chess. To become this obsessed about something may require a certain mental abnormality. Another mental difference: some studies have shown that women tend to be "saner" than men, meaning perhaps that they may be less susceptible to such obsessions.

Last, random thought: why is it so non-PC to discuss differences in mental abilities? No one disputes that there are physical differences. We don't have men and women competing together in sports. Even where both may be equally good, the physical differences lead to completely different styles (think: floor gymnastics). We are built differently - why should it be surprising if our brains are wired differently too? To the contrary: Vive la difference!

Re:Gender differences - be happy! (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669378)

Last, random thought: why is it so non-PC to discuss differences in mental abilities? No one disputes that there are physical differences. We don't have men and women competing together in sports. Even where both may be equally good, the physical differences lead to completely different styles (think: floor gymnastics). We are built differently - why should it be surprising if our brains are wired differently too? To the contrary: Vive la difference!

Because the 'religion of the day' is that the genders are "equal", so it's pure blasphemy to point out the glaring facts.

Re:Gender differences - be happy! (1)

johnhp (1807490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669380)

Similarly, it's not politically correct to talk about how race is a major indicator of intelligence... despite being absolutely proven, with economic and societal levels controlled for.

Re:Gender differences - be happy! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669492)

Similarly, it's not politically correct to talk about how race is a major indicator of intelligence... despite being absolutely proven

Massive citation needed there, unless you're just trolling. The only study I've seen correlating race and intelligence used IQ (which is somewhat ethnocentric) and only showed a deviation of 7 points for the peak of the bell curve between racial groups, which is nowhere near enough to be able to make any general observation about the expected intelligence of two individuals from two distinct racial groups. The study was also not controlled based on poverty or education level. This is the only study that I've ever seen cited by people making this claim, but if you have a better one then please present it.

Don't be willfully ignorant (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669660)

Massive citation required for the correlation of race and IQ? Just enter "racial differences in IQ" into Google, and you will have more citations that you can deal with, on both sides of the equation. Start with the references available in Wikipedia. Follow that up with "The Bell Curve" - this book offends people precisely because it carefully documents the existence of such differences.

The problem is not whether racial IQs are different. The problem is that we are not allowed to scientifically investigate this question. By PC dictate, races must have identical intelligence distributions, and no dissent from this view will be tolerated. Truth be damned, we don't want to offend anyone...

Consider the continuing catastrophe that is Africa. If it should happen that part of the problem is a low average IQ for blacks, one might think it essential to find out why this difference exists. If the factors are primarily environmental, that sets the general approach to dealing with the situation. If the factors are primarily hereditary, then completely different solutions are required.

Sticking our collective heads in the PC-sand, by prohibiting any discussion of the topic, is just stupid.

Re:Gender differences - be happy! (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669510)

It isn't PC to discuss differences intelligence

The best way to handle "non-PC" subjects is to discuss them anyway and ignore what people consider "PC". Fuck 'em. It's "voluntary" censorship on the parts of people who refuse to discuss certain subjects and that's fine, but not when they put you down for discussing someting they don't wish to discuss. Political Correctness is the hallmark of totalitarian governments and sociopaths.

Re:Talent pool (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669078)

The same argument is sometimes applied to certain fields like math, etc., where men seem to be more successful than women. On average, men and women perform at the same level; the difference comes in the distribution. Men supposedly tend to cluster at the really high and really low levels, so while 4/5 of the best may be male, 4/5 of the very worst will also be male. It's a thought-provoking theory, and there is actually some evidence for it, but there is also plenty of evidence against it and it isn't one to make lightly. Like many other areas, it is likely really smart women are tragically funneled elsewhere or pushed to do something "more appropriate."

So why then do women perform better than men on standardized verbal tests? When men perform better (like at math), everyone seems to try to come up with reasons why they're not really better, or how society is holding women back. But when women perform better, people just seem to accept that they're better than men at that activity.

This becomes more relevant when you consider that the male/female ratio of undergraduate students now favors women by a larger amount than their ratio in the population. If anything, it's the men who are falling behind and need help.

Re:Talent pool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34669336)

Women are also capable of handling multiple tasks better, while men have a greater ability to focus. I don't see the undergrad stat as very meaningful. Stereotypically those women are going into healthcare or teaching. Men tend to go into trades like carpentry, plumbing, auto mechanic, etc. which do not require a 4 year degree. It's important to look at what those undergrads are majoring in. Men are still trouncing women in math and hard sciences.

Re:Talent pool (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669478)

Chess is medieval Starcraft.

How many of the world's top competitive Starcraft players are chicks?

Re:Talent pool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34669608)

Simple explanation for this - men have very slightly higher mathematical ability on average, but much larger variance - so much greater numbers at top end of bell curve:

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/math.htm

A soapbox for armchair gender theorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668454)

In what way is a completely unfounded "theory" about fundamental differences between the genders relevant to this story? And no, being "cited in [a] university study" does not validate any theory. Let's get as far as "demonstrated in peer-reviewed scientific research" before flippantly tossing in irrelevant, offensive, uninformed, and dangerous "theories".

Re:A soapbox for armchair gender theorists? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668554)

Men and women are exactly the same and equal in every single way conceivable and the only reason there are more or less women in one field or recreation than another or why there are any perceived differences in aptitude or interest are purely due to evil, vile, horrible, sexist, chauvinist, males. (Oh, don't forget that women make up something like 55% of the population, so they're hardly in a "minority" position on anything).

Re:A soapbox for armchair gender theorists? (2)

MintOreo (1849326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668612)

If I had Mod Points I'd mod you up. Today it's become so taboo to even hint that there are any differences between males and females that doing so social suicide. It's ridiculous. Perhaps we can subvert this by calling men testosterone and women estrogen.

New summary:

No one really knows why the best estrogen players are typically not as good at chess as the testosterone players. One theory, common among some top testosterone players, is that testosterone usually induces more aggressive behavior by nature than estrogen, and is therefore the better suited hormone for a game that simulates warfare. Another, cited in at least one university study, is that the talent pool among estrogen filled players has not been big enough to produce many great players."

Re:A soapbox for armchair gender theorists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668798)

It's hardly believable. Any war history talks opposite. In any war winner makes man as slaves or simply eliminates them. Woman was always preserved, - no matter is it the same race or not. That is in the civil war, not atomic explosions are meant.
So, the question is: why than woman not outperforms man, if woman almost always survive ? That's because of genetically - woman is meant to hold. Man is meant to hunt, throw. It's so simply and so difficult to understand at the same time. This topic gets clear to everybody only after years. For someones there is life needed. Somebody understands it from the birth. So - those ones who understand it from the birth, becomes leaders, kings. For other ones the shame comes really fast, if their mother do not preserves them from jail.

Re:A soapbox for armchair gender theorists? (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668814)

Every single way conceivable? Just a random thought, but it's sure a lot easier to put somebody into shock by twisting testicles on a male than a female...

Goodbye, karma (3, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669364)

Wow, the feminists you know are surprisingly mild. I'm more used to hearing that women are superior to men in every single way conceivable.

Merry Christmas (3, Insightful)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668456)

Classy Slashdot, real classy. You post a news item about the youngest female chess champion and spend half the summary wondering about why the best female players are not typically as good at chess as the best men. Admittedly, it's only verbatim reposting of part of TFA (thanks NYT for also being classy!). Would another part not have done? Say,

Ms. Hou said that she received training and financial support from the Chinese government. She studies chess four to five hours a day, and also attends high school. She said that she sometimes fell behind in her work, but her teachers understood and tried to help her out.

or if you really wanted to talk about men

The record among men is held by Garry Kasparov, who became world champion in 1985, when he was 22.

Now, I don't have a problem with the facts, if the top women are indeed not as good at chess as the top men. But it seems rather small to spend half the summary pontificating on that rather than telling us a bit more about the champion.

No one really knows why Slashdot posts summaries that are at best disingenuous and at worst deliberately inflammatory. One theory, common among top Slashdotters is that inflammatory stories get more comments than report-the-facts posts.

Rant over, I really need to lighten up. Merry Christmas all!

Re:Merry Christmas (2)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668482)

Agreed. Summaries should summarize the story, and leave pontification, speculation, spin, and opinions for the comments. Putting these into the summary turns it into essentially a blog posting, where a single person shares their opinion on a topic and sets the tone for the discussion. Nothing wrong with blog postings, as long as they're made to a blog.

Re:Merry Christmas (2)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669392)

Newsflash, slashdot is a blog.

And the summaries are always spun to generate lively discussion, funny how it only suddenly makes a whole lot of people uncomfortable when the topic is one of society's great "taboo" subjects - the fact of gender inequality (earth round) in the face of a global cultist belief that genders are equal (world is flat).

Re:Merry Christmas (4, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668490)

Rant over, I really need to lighten up. Merry Christmas all!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good knight.

Re:Merry Christmas (1)

chelsel (1140907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668540)

The computers have us beat anyway last time I checked. And, yes, Merry Christmas.

Re:Merry Christmas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668608)

Actually no, the last tournament had programmers tweaking the machine as it played. That's cheating as far as I'm concerned. The machine did not win on its own.

Re:Merry Christmas (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669040)

If you're referring to Kasparov vs Deep Blue, the software was only known to be tweaked between games. This has been considered fair. The computer did have some minor unfair advantages, though.

Even if you feel Deep Blue cheated though, Kramnik, the world's champion, still lost to Fritz a few years ago. Fritz wasn't even the best program at the time, and the advantages were in Karmnik's favor, too. Nearly all GMs acknowledge that computers are stronger than them today.

Re:Merry Christmas (2)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668544)

You post a news item about the youngest female chess champion and spend half the summary wondering about why the best female players are not typically as good at chess as the best men.

Given that she neither played the world's best male player nor the person believed to be the best female player (but who only plays against men), it is relevant to speculate where this player fits in with the rest of the population.

Re:Merry Christmas (3, Funny)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668564)

No one really knows why Slashdot posts summaries that are at best disingenuous and at worst deliberately inflammatory. One theory, common among top Slashdotters is that inflammatory stories get more comments than report-the-facts posts.

Because the summary is written by a male who is "usually more aggressive by nature".

Re:Merry Christmas (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668704)

or if you really wanted to talk about men

The record among men is held by Garry Kasparov, who became world champion in 1985, when he was 22.

To be honest, that comparison is just stupid.

The article has already established that best female chess player isn't as good as the best male chess player, yet somehow it's supposed to be more impressive winning the "female world championship"?

That's like saying "The new Danish national champion is only 16 years old. The youngest world champion was 22."

I have the same issue with any kind of competition where men and women can compete on equal terms. Scrabble, card games, Trivial Pursuit, Rubik's cube, lottery, bingo etc.

They shouldn't allow this (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668462)

Getting your kid involved in dangerous stunts like these is uncalled for. This kid could've choked on a game piece, or something [independent.co.uk]

Re:They shouldn't allow this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668712)

The consensus from numerous government studies suggest that chess leads to pawnography.

Homosexual chess players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668474)

While heterosexuals begin with a king and a queen, homosexuals start with two kings or two queens. Unfortunately they have trouble mating, so they never actually win.

Re:Homosexual chess players (5, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668698)

Chess is also racist because white always goes first.

Re:Homosexual chess players (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668762)

Only someone who sees (classifies) people by the color of their skin would make such a statement.

Surely they can't be serious... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668480)

While the sex breakdown of high level chess players is interesting, the idea that the sort of adaptations that suit a primate for small-group physical violence are good for a board game seems risible at best. If anything, I'd ask the question "How is it that some males manage to overcome adaptations suited to physical violence and sit still, for long periods of time, performing abstract mental operations as dispassionately as possible?(and, particularly at the middle and high school levels, many don't, which is why they are out on the playground punching each other and being diagnosed with ADD rather than in class...)"

It is never a good sign for a theory when it can be turned into a persuasive sounding "just-so story" for either possible outcome: Since the leaderboard is full of men, you get "zOMG, chess is a wargame!". Were it full of women, you'd get "zOMG, chess is dispassionate and does not reward aggression!"(or, the other possibility, the evolutionary psychology brigade would march in to inform us that chess' brand of cerebral competition is well matched to women's well-known propensity for sophisticated verbal and interpersonal competition and alliance formation and poorly suited to men's more straightforward brand of violence).

There is obviously something going on; but I'd suspect that it is much more closely connected to whatever it is, social or biological, that drives the sex breakdown of high level mathematics departments; not whatever it is that drives the sex breakdown of combat units.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668504)

The reason why there are so many better male chess players than women chess players is because there are a lot more boys and men playing chess than women.

Go to a major chess club some time and look at the sex ratio.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (5, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668558)

When I've gone to chess clubs, the ratio of people having sex vs not having sex at the club, is pretty much always 0 to X [X being the number of people at the club].

But I did not spend a lot of time in the washrooms, so the ratio might be slightly higher than what I observed.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34669654)

Informative???
Funny, sure. But not particularly informative.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668560)

I think the question would then go into asking why there are more males playing chess than females.

Or, you know. Games in general? I'm generalizing with no evidence backing my claims, but it feels like most games, electronic or otherwise, seem to have a greater amount of males than females.

Come on slashdot! Agree with me so we can armchair analysis something without looking for any factual backing to support our claims, instead relying on anecdotal evidence to further our prejudices!

I can't tell when I stop being serious and start trolling anymore...

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (2)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668670)

The reason why there are so many better male chess players than women chess players is because there are a lot more boys and men playing chess than women.

The reason why there are so many better male swimmer/runner/marathoners than women is because there are a lot more boys and men doing these activities than women.

Or maybe men and women are not equally capable in all endeavors.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34669670)

If I have a daughter, am going to get her into to a sport. Why??? Their are sports where women have more scholarships then eligible applications in which the men fight for a handful of scholarships. Why because the schools have to keep the amount of male to female athletes equal. Not equal spending but number of athletes.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668692)

That is a possible reason though it does not follow that it is necessarily the right or most relevant reason. E.g. if we imagine that people who are good at chess at first go on to play more chess, we suddenly have a completely different perspective on the ratio of men to women. There is no reason to assume that choosing to play chess is independent of one's innate ability to learn chess - in fact I'd say that would be surprising. Your argument does show that there is a possible explanation that does not rely on men being naturally better at chess than women.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668598)

"...as dispassionately as possible?"

Actually most men waste a majority of their time and energy on pissing contests.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668772)

Sexual selection at work, though we've somehow forgotten we're supposed to be impressing the chicks instead of putting them off. I blame civilisation.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668620)

I'm sorry. We're not allowed to talk about the possibility of there being differences between men's and women's capacity for mathematics and intensive abstract logical reasoning. It's taboo, and politically incorrect. In certain quarters, you could probably lose your job for mentioning it.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668664)

I'm fairly sure that we are talking about it. I was expressing my position that, if anything, the capacity of a fairly small slice of the male population for high order logical function(while undeniable) seems unlikely to be linked in any but the most cryptic ways to adaptations useful for physical violence and intra or inter group competitive behavior.

It does appear that there is something going on, and it may not be all social; but appeals to adapted aggression seem more useful in explaining prison sex ratios than chessmaster ones...

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668788)

(and, particularly at the middle and high school levels, many don't, which is why they are out on the playground punching each other and being diagnosed with ADD rather than in class...)"

Where exactly are you talking about? They've cut recess down at lower levels, and out of middle school+

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669238)

Have a look at the prize money offered to men vs. the prize money offered to women.

Re:Surely they can't be serious... (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669396)

If anything, I'd ask the question "How is it that some males manage to overcome adaptations suited to physical violence and sit still, for long periods of time, performing abstract mental operations as dispassionately as possible?

Why are you conflating physical violence with mental strategizing capabilities? Both are complementary adaptations critical to winning wars.

Misleading title is misleading (2, Insightful)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668494)

Not the world's chess champion, but the women's chess champion, which is altogether a lesser prize because the level of competition is so much lower.

Women (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668528)

As a male, the only thing that ultimately matters to me is that women are the chest champions.

Summary is sexist, story is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668534)

"Women's world champion" is meaningless. Not only is the level of competition WAY lower (something like 200 ELO, which is massive), the article (correctly) points out that there's only one "best woman chess player" and it's not the current champion. Polgar is in a class by herself, and doesn't play in women's events because she'd obliterate the competition. So...someone set a new record for beating everyone...except men...or that one really good woman. In other news, I am the world's strongest man...if you exclude men...and women who are strong...and that one chick who isn't really that strong but is stronger than me anyway.

Re:Summary is sexist, story is stupid (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668752)

I am told that one gets better at chess by playing better chess players. If this is so, then two groups with different chess skills would stay that way. Call it history and positive feedback.

Re:Summary is sexist, story is stupid (2)

Hikaru79 (832891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668836)

In chess there are no such thing as men's tournaments -- women can join any tournament. It is just men who cannot play in women's tournaments. So the argument that women simply are barred the opportunity to play against stronger competition doesn't hold water. In fact, Hou Yifan herself has played in many large tournaments with mixed genders, but has never done as well as she does in women's only events.

Re:Summary is sexist, story is stupid (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669410)

I am told there is a thing called "chess software" that allows even a child in a remote part of Rwanda to not only play well above his skill level but to progressively select a skill level just above his own as he improves. I am also told there is a thing called "the Internet" that allows players to play against any other player in the entire world at any time, regardless of location, provided they have "Internet access".

On Women (2, Interesting)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668576)

May I suggest politely, that women, in the main, have /two/ paths to success, (or evolutionary strategies) whilst men may have merely one.
That is that Women can, by merely looking fabulous, simply attach themselves to the success of a /competent/ male, while few males have managed a similar trick in reverse, and that these two strategies compete with each other in a way that dilutes the pressure to be competent. Fabulous women out-compete women who are merely competent in propagating their genes. I would wonder whether, in any species, both genders can adopt the same evolutionary strategy, this is likely not the case, as sexual reproduction leads to mutual exploitation by definition (as each gender conspires to make the other partner more responsible for the child rearing)

Youngest male champion? (3, Informative)

milkasing (857326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668580)

Kasparov at 22 became the youngest unified chess champion. But he is not the youngest ever -- Ruslan Ponomariov won the Fide chess championship in 2002 (during the split, in a knockout format).He was 18 at the time.

China keeps coming (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668594)

I'm afraid we'll have to get used to "world records" from China.

Re:China keeps coming (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668610)

and India too. Since 2.5 billion people live in the two countries, I would only expect that as time goes on most things of note done by humans would likely be done in one place or the other.

Not a random sample of the population (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668618)

There's a trend in hunter-gatherer societies that males tend to be the hunters, while females are the gatherers. It turns out, each sex has advantages in these areas. Males tend to be much better at navigating while blindfolded, and females are much better at remembering which objects were in a room. Whether this is an adaptation to or a cause of the hunter-gatherer trend is debated.

Back in college my evolution teacher said he used to try to illustrate these differences during lecture, but his students never showed any difference. For a while this puzzled him until he realized that upper level biology majors are not representative of the population at large. To get to that level of education you generally have to be adept at both skills.

I would postulate that a similar situation is happening in chess. Women may be less aggressive as a whole, but I doubt you can say that specifically about women who excel at chess.

Re:Not a random sample of the population (3)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668672)

That is a very good point. In order to understand this sort of thing, you need to take a look at the very real differences between men and women. We do not fully understand what these differences are, but we know some of them. For example, when exposed to cold temperatures, men will die of hypothermia more rapidly than women, while women will get frostbite more rapidly than men. This results from the fact that women reduce the blood flow to the extremities more rapidly when exposed to the cold more rapidly than men do. This results in women maintaining their core body temperature longer.

Re:Not a random sample of the population (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669340)

We do not fully understand what these differences are, but we know some of them.

Men have a penis and women have a vagina, I remember reading that somewhere.

idiotic male-female comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668624)

At the minimum you need to discount for the unequal population of male female 'serious' players (I'm assuming many more males play chess than females).
Also maybe females just don't like chess as much (equally idiotic asking why more homosexuals males are better at fashion design than heterosexual males? straight guys generally don't get all excited by haute couture).

Not surprising (5, Interesting)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668654)

Chess requires high IQ, the variance (not average) of IQ (and lots of things) is higher among men than women so you get more male idiots and geniuses. In other words, more men are further away from the average than women - be that better or worse. Hence better top performers in many areas of human activity. Also, more male bottom performers. It's not exactly surprising that women have less variance since they have two different X chromosomes, so the effect of every gene on the X chromosome is the average of two genes from the gene pool, while in men the effect of every gene on the X or Y chromosome is just the effect of 1 gene. So a good X or Y gene gets full effect in a man and a bad X or Y gene gets full effect in a man. In a woman the X genes have two copies so both bad and good genes are likely to be counteracted by the second copy of that gene on the other chromosome. Women don't have a Y chromosome which also means they can't differ in their Y chromosome, again reducing variance.

Re:Not surprising (1)

anilg (961244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669102)

Interesting theory if you buy the premise that random X and Y chromosomes are on average more different than two random X chromosomes, and thus lead to a larger degree of mutations.

Can someone with some knowledge in genetics/related fields comment.

Re:Not surprising (2)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669688)

There aren't very many genes on the Y chromosome, so that part of your theory is not correct.

View it from another perspective : evolutionary psychology. Generation after generation, in the natural environment, 80% of women succeed in reproducing but only 40% of men. Thus, men have to take risks for a greater chance at being among the 40%. (the giant difference is due to men dying before reproducing doing risky activities, and from competition from other men. Genetic evidence is that polygamy (a few dominant men taking all the women in a tribe) is the natural state of affairs)

The actual way this risk taking is implemented in the genetic code is more complex : hormones and protein factors from the Y chromosome are obviously activating genetic code stored on the other chromosomes resulting in both risk taking by the nervous system and riskier choices by the body.

And the youngest woman slashdotter is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34668694)

Wait, are there girls here?

What other studies show (3, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34668882)

No one really knows why the best female players are typically not as good at chess as the best men.

Past studies have shown that the range of men's brains is wider. Thus both the smartest and dumbest people alive tend to be men. Men are not only wired to take more risks, but their physiology also seems to toss the dice further when putting their genes together.

In mammalian groups, typically the reproductive quantity difference between the top male and bottom male is larger than that of females.

This is because the top male can mate many times with multiple females, while the top female can only crank out and raise slightly more than her typical competition. Thus, the reproductive rewards and penalties are more extreme for males.

This results in males being risk takers by personality and by construction. Recombinant DNA appears set up to take bigger gambles on male design; and this means that for any skill test, the more extremes of the spectrum will tend to be male.

Segregation (1)

LainTouko (926420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669310)

My theory would be segregation. The vast majority of chess-players are male, generally. But despite the lack of any obvious reason why men and women shouldn't compete on equal terms, any female chess players who come along get shoved into girl's and then women's tournaments, which means that they don't get to play so much against the vast majority of chess talent, and they're not encouraged to aspire to be better than the world's best players. And strong competition and high aspirations are two important factors in sporting success.

A small talent pool in which to find champions can go quite far in explaining the lack of successful chess-playing women. Having to find rivals in that same small talent pool seems enough to explain the rest. Maybe, instead of generating "women's world chess champions" of no real credibility, the female chess world should ditch its attitude of inferiority, and look to its best player for inspiration.

Judit Polgar would have beaten Yifan... (1)

Luxemburg (890431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34669366)

...when Judit was 12, with just Judit with a blindfold, 10-0 in a 10 game match.

Judit Polgar is the best femal chess player in history, by a long margin. Let's stop the propagation of this nonsensical news.

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