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In November 1989 an interview was conducted with the Great Russian grandmaster and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, during that interview, he was asked about his opinion on female chess players, he said and quote

“Well in the past, I have said that there is real chess and women’s chess. Some people don’t like to hear this but chess does not fit women properly. It’s a fight, you know? A big fight. It’s not for women. Sorry, she’s helpless if she has men’s opposition. I think it’s a very simple logic. It’s the logic of a fighter. Women are weaker fighters.

There is also the aspect of creativity in chess. You have to create new ideas .that’s quite difficult, too. Chess is a combination of sport, art, and science in all these fields, you can see men’s superiority .just compare the sexes in literature, music, and art. The result, you know, is obvious. Probably the answer is in the genes”

Honestly, this statement broke my heart. We might be different but I do not support that there is any job or game created for just one sex. I am of the opinion that nature and nurture work hand in hand. Everyone is born with certain talents and they tend to excel without stress in these areas but these talents become irreverent without an effort from the individual and the environment regardless of whatever sex.  A cub has been created with the natural tendency to roar as it grows into becoming a lion but if the cub is placed in the midst of dogs, it will bark. That cub would never realize that it could roar without an environment that gives it that identity. If the cub is left in the midst of dogs, we might end up having a barking lion instead of a roaring lion. Personally, I believe that the game of chess should not have any gender barrier because a man has the natural tendency to play chess better as a result of spatial abilities, if that man is not placed in an environment that enhances that ability, he would never do better than a woman who has been placed in the right environment. Also if both of them are placed in the right environment, they might as well compete for as strong fighters. Here is a story to inspire you.

Judith Polgar, the Hungarian female chess grandmaster proved Garry Kasparov wrong by defeating him in 2002 becoming the queen of chess. Judith Polgar, although retired, has become an inspiration to me. Sometime before the game, Kasparov described Polgar as a “circus puppet”, he also asserted that female chess players should quit chess and stick to having children. I am sure this game was a remarkable one for Polgar as she became the first female player to beat the then no 1 player in a competition. If I were Polgar I’ll make a press statement to Kasparov and make him realize that gender is no barrier.

This feat wouldn’t have been achieved without an environment to support Polgar’s dreams. Polgar was a part of an educational experiment which was to prove the thesis that “geniuses are made, not born” which was carried out by her father Laszlo Polgar. Judith and her sisters were trained with special emphasis on chess. Her sister, Susan went on to achieve grandmaster status while Sofia went on to become an international master. Truly geniuses are made not born.

Judith improved immensely at a very young age, she was able to beat her friend without looking at the board when she was age 5. At age 9 her FIDE rating had exceeded 2000 points, which is a stepping stone for any chess player. At age 10 she defeated an IM and by age 11 she surprisingly beat a grandmaster, Lev Gutman.

Polgar became the youngest to become an IM in 1988 having a title of 2555 points. All this couldn’t have been achieved without the efforts of Polgar herself, like I mentioned earlier, no talent would grow without the efforts of the individual and also a supportive environment. She practiced chess for over 6-7 hours per day and also played numerous matches. Hard work paid off at age 13 when she cracked the top 100 in the world.

Polgar had always advocated for equality in the world of chess. She started playing in male tournaments in 1991, she became a grandmaster at age 15 becoming the youngest ever to achieve such a great feat at that time. After this achievement, she won many games leaving the world stunned which included her victory against Gary Kasparov defeating him in 42 moves. In spite of being called a circus puppet. Kasparov’s comment made her determine to be the best in the world. Sometimes people have to push you to success. Polgar said and I quote

“To be honest as my parents and sisters were always supporting me in the most difficult moments the prejudiced comments were mostly an inspiration to me “

However, women’s chess has failed to move on since her retirement in 2014. There is currently only one grandmaster in the top 100, the Chinese Hou Yifan who sits at number 64. Personally, I believe that women can do much better in the world of chess if they are given the right environment to function, individual effort is also not left out.

In conclusion, you can do anything you put your mind to. This does not apply to chess alone it applies to every area of your life. Your mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa), you can write whatever you deem fit on it defying all odds. Nothing is impossible regardless of your gender. You become what you behold. Today let the criticism and the prejudiced comment of others push you to the top of the ladder and in the end, you would have a story to tell.

As expected, Kasparov rephrased his statement he said and I quote

”Things are changing. It’s happening slower than some people want but I think it’s a natural process and that gradually we will go through this process of women covering more and more territories”




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