What is it that stops young girls from taking up chess in our state and also in the rest of India? Why is it that in an open chess tournament the participation of female players can be counted on our fingers? Why do young, talented girls drop out of chess at a young age and enter into academics? For this we need to understand some facts about chess and the problems faced by women players.
The myth goes that chess is only a mind game. Physical fitness does not count. However, this is far from truth. Yes, chess is a mental gym. One has to use full mental energy to fight out the battle on the chess board. But is mental strength and intellect enough? No. Most of you will be surprised to hear that chess requires complete physical fitness. Physical stamina and strength are essential for proper functioning of the brain during the five to six stressful hours that one has to sit at the chess board. No wonder World Champion Magnus Carlsen plays football or goes to a gym to ‘relax’ on rest days during chess tournaments!
As of today, men play chess better than women. But does that mean they are more intelligent? No. In academics, girls have proved themselves to be as good as or even better than boys. So, what makes chess different? First of all we must agree that nature has made men and women different. Let’s respect each others’ differences. We can see the difference between a girl and a boy from early childhood. When young boys meet, they love to push each other, fight – this is all fun for them. Ever noticed how young girls behave when they meet each other? They make each other comfortable, smile, laugh, talk, but they normally do not indulge in physical fight. So we see that the fighting spirit required in the game of chess comes naturally to men whereas the peaceful women have to go the extra mile to inculcate this fighting spirit in themselves.
There is a theory that women are inborn nurturers. Nature has made women very soft and caring. However, every woman chess player knows that she has to become tough to excel in chess. They say chess is a gentleman’s game. Yes, chess players are very good human beings off the board, but trust me, a very average human being cannot excel at chess. One has to be extra sharp and clever on the board, one has to be a bad guy on the board – completely ruthless. Most male players have two personalities: they are a great human being off the board, complete gentlemen, but on the board they do not spare anyone. Normal women find it difficult to keep double standards. They always have soft corners for people and being ruthless doesn’t come naturally to them. So we see that a girl has to develop instincts which are not natural to her. She has to make extra efforts to develop that killer instinct which a boy has very early on, and he mingles in similar company. Do I mean to say that women cannot develop these qualities to play good chess? Of course they can, but they do so with effort, acting against what nature has made them. These are the characteristic traits which make girls different from boys from an early age.
Read the full article.