Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cathy Gives Back WIM

When I saw the movie King Kong recently, I was left with one reaction. Once and for all the movie demonstrates the irrationality of the second sex! (But my New Zealand mate, Andrew Stone, had the best to say about it: bestiality is just plain wrong).

I don't want to talk about Kong or movies. But I was reminded of it when I read Cathy Forbes' review of Jennifer Shahade's Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport.

The closing lines read:

In ‘women’s titles’ (WFM, WIM, WGM, Woman Champion) the word ‘woman’ means ‘inferior’. However, in Chapter Six and in correspondence, Shahade obliquely referred to my failure to harmonize practice with preaching – not having formally revoked my own ‘WIM’ title. So, thanks to Jennifer Shahade’s influential book, 15 years late but better late than never, my diploma and badge have been returned to sender. Thank you, Jennifer! Three Cheers! Buy her book! It’s really good.

Let me pose the question to you dear readers, did she do the right thing (giving back the title)?

I think not. Maybe it was a moment of irrationality, or some kind of implosion, or maybe - as seems clear - a sense of guilt, but giving back the title is an unnecessary act. It could be that Cathy is right, of course, (ie. woman = inferior, in the context of women's titles). But why should we take only this view? We could very well consider the range of women's titles as the lower rungs of titles on the path to that most coveted of all, the grandmastership. Most importantly, having women's titles is a recognition of women, thus, a form of encouragement. What's the problem?

Have your say!


Anonymous said...


Sarah said...

Why the segregation?

It's precisely this segregation Women chess will not go anywhere.

A good example is Judit Polgar. It would be a joke if she entered the Women World Championship or any sex segregated event. It would have been damaging to her rise in the chess world if she was just participated in women only tourneys.