In this article I’m going to explore some of the most common questions about chess.
When I was taking a look at the demographics for my YouTube channel, I assumed that most people who watched my videos were probably teenagers. I was surprised to find that, by a large margin, most people who watched my videos were aged 35-44. Perhaps this is the age that one comes back to board games which they didn’t feel were interesting earlier in their lives!
People have an attraction to chess for a variety of different reasons. Hence, everybody has their own answer to this question. In many cases, I believe the desire to win plays a large part. The feeling of a good win is more satisfying than winning in almost any other primitive battle. It is also a fun pastime, and an enjoyable way to make and spend time with friends.
The game is aesthetically pleasing and is often labelled an art form. Personally, I enjoy a well-played technical game, since it has a certain logical flow to it.
Others play chess for its mental training. Chess is a way to help children develop useful life skills such as concentration, decision making and taking responsibility for one’s actions. It is also well known that playing chess in old age will keep your mind sharp and will keep Alzheimer’s away (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia).
Caroline Bottaro recently directed a chess-related film called Queen to Play (or Joueuse). The film is about a hotel maid, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, who discovers chess and becomes an aficionado. It is an example of how a person can suddenly become addicted to chess.
I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to this question, but the reason generally put forward is social conditioning, as women are less aggressive by nature. Perhaps also, men tend to be more obsessive and women are far too sensible to persist in playing a board game, unless they can reach the world elite.
With the knowledge that less than 5% of chess players are women, I think it is easy to explain why there are so few women in the list of top chess players. As Graham Burgess stated in his award-winning The Mammoth Book of Chess: “Women players are not on average weaker than their male counterparts: they are distributed throughout the rating lists very much as one would expect a small random sample to be.”
A book called Chess Kamasutra is currently being written by husband and wife team Peter Zhdanov and WGM Natalia Pogonina. It is yet to be published, but they have discussed ‘Women and men in chess‘ in a recent ChessBase article.