Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taking Risks Against Pretty Players

Here's one for male readers.

Ever wondered what you'd play against an attractive female chess player if you had the chance? Maybe a Spanish against Arianne Caoili? How about the safe Berlin against Anna Muzychuk? Perhaps a Queen's Gambit when sitting across Tatiana Kosintseva?

Well, you would all be too safe and boring.

According to a recent study, men adopt riskier strategies when playing against a gorgeous female opponent.

In this study we explore to what extent performance and risk taking are affected by the attractiveness of the opponent in chess games. We find that men, but not women, take more risk in chess against more attractive opponents of the opposite gender. Moreover, this elevated risk taking is not beneficial for performance: if anything it is instead costly since the coefficient is rather stable and mostly negative.

I'm partial to Elisabeth Paehtz myself. Given the chance I know exactly what I'd play against her.

The study, "Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess", can be downloaded from here.

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