Which countries are best for creating and encouraging women chess players?

Via David Smerdon, here is the picture:

To oversimplify only a wee bit, it is the countries with less gender equality which have more female chess players, relative to male chess players.  Here is some description:

Denmark is the worst country in our list of participation, with only one female player to roughly 50 males, while the rest of Scandinavia as well as most of western Europe also languish at the bottom.

On the other hand, some of the best countries show evidence of the effect of female role models, and would be no surprise to players familiar with women’s chess history. Georgia (ranked 5th) and China (ranked 4th) both featured multiple women’s World Champions. There are also some high rates from a few unexpected sources: Vietnam (1st), the United Arab Emirates (2nd), Indonesia (8th), and even Kenya (12th) really buck the trend. Interestingly, a lot of the best countries for female chess players are in Asia. Besides Vietnam, there are five other countries in the best ten, and if I am a little more lenient with the chess population cut-offs, Mongolia and Tajikistan would also be in there.

Here is one cited hypothesis:

Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?

I consider that to be possible, but unconfirmed.  In any case, the lesson is that gender imbalance in a particular field can be correlated with greater equality of opportunity overall.


It's boring as sh!t. Almost no one who is neurotypical likes it.

When it comes to, say, US women forsaking STEM, the conclusion of course is that Americans love to oppress their women.

But when there are no Danish female chess players, Tyler is entirely willing to promote the idea that they just don't like it.

That's because Tyler hates America. But no matter, him and his elitist friends are on the way out.


And the weird thing is that the pattern here actually seems quite a bit more likely to be influenced to various cultural factors*, as compared to the STEM gap.

*1) richer, more gender equitable cultures generally have more interesting or hedonically stimulating leisure activities on offer; 2) Communists (and Latin American Socialists) have tended to have an odd, pretentious interest in chess (as memorably mocked by 'Comrade Detective') and sometimes for this as a venue for gender equity

Isn't this just another example of the Gender-equality paradox: as societies become more gender-equal, the genders gravitate towards what they prefer, which means for women, not STEM and not chess.

Everyone do what they like, except... also try to do what I’d like you to like!

got it, how about
how definitivily does douthat define the deep state down here

what we are thinkin is
douthat left out a lotta important stuff

Last week I went to the Ladies PGA golf tournament in Los Angeles at the Wilshire Country Club near Koreatown. It looks like about half the LPGA touring pros these days are Korean or other East Asian.

My impression is the white women looked like they were having more fun playing golf, that they were there because their dads had taught them golf and, unlike most girls, they had really liked golf. In contrast, the Korean women looked like they'd gotten Tiger Parented into being golfers.

Of course, that's just my subjective impression.

The prevalence of the Asian players on the LPGA is hurting the American fan base for the sport in America, even as the game is much better/more competitive as the result of the Asian players. I agree with your observation that the Asian players don't look like they are having much fun playing the game. My impression is that they are under tremendous pressure to perform well. The irony is that the prevalence of the Asian players has also put enormous pressure on the Americans who can compete with the Asians, such as Lexi Thompson. Nobody is having fun!

I found chess too exciting - I was worried I would end up a chess nut if I kept at it. It was too consuming. So age 16 or so I went cold turkey, and apart from a few showoff matches when I was working in some remote places with shift workers, I haven't played since. I don't think I am too odd, but others may disagree!

Doesn't going cold turkey on anything at 16 make you a bit odd?

Nobody with a bit of pride (assumption granted!) likes to lose


I can not wait for the mental gymnastics on this topic.

You didn't have to wait at all.

Chess is for cucks. Real men watch football on TV. Women are thoroughly repulsed by grown men playing board games.

Eh, I'd say the Real Cucks are those who let their behavior be dictated by what women find attractive.

Chesscucks fail to mate.

Who cares? Yes, I "know the 14 words," but still, Mohamed has 9 kids, it doesn't mean his lifestyle is superior.

Mohammed founded the world's soon to be largest religion. His lifestyle is absolutely superior to basement-dwelling geeks hunched over silly board games.

Meanwhile Magnus Carlsen has been kicking ass and being indisputable top 1 for 15 years.
This guy deserves some study.

My cellphone can beat him.

And my motorcycle can win the marathon.

Your motorcycle can't play chess as well as his cellphone.

Women in countries with arranged marriages may do well at chess because they've grown up hearing things like, "forced mate in 3."

Sexist, racist and a pathetic attempt at a pun. +1

There is nothing in this study showing whether it is men playing men or men playing women, or women playing women. A convent of chess players would skew everything.

Besides, real men are playing video games.

Chess participation rates may also be dependent on such things as chess clubs, and whether they, as long lasting and old social clubs, admit women, whereas new players in countries which did not have such clubs start off more or less equally in settings like grade and high schools where there is a mix of sexes.

While we're at it: this could do with some quantification of sampling error. Small countries are often outliers on this kind of comparison simply because they are small. Some of these are small, suspicious, or both: the UAE? How many of those chess players are genuinely UAE, rather than imports?

Yes, you are right. IF you look at the author's blogpost you will see that he excluded some countries.

Same happens with any other typically male occupation: IT, maths, physics, ...

When women got the choice (like they do in feminist western countries), they choose to NOT do boring boys' stuff.

Feminists answer by crying CONSPIRACY and try even harder to push women into fields they dont like.

Nothing new about any of this.

> Feminists answer by crying CONSPIRACY and try even harder to push women into fields they dont like.

The fact that there's somebody somewhere who insists that anything less than 50% representation is proof of discrimination should not overshadow that various forms of discrimination (conscious or not) will tend to try and force any ratio lower than perhaps 30% to 0%.

And this applies to any minority that humans can readily recognize. Our brains are evolved to generalize, and then push to eliminate exceptions as obvious errors.

Obviously most decent human beings push back against the natural instinct, but it's there, and it will always end up lowering low ratios even further. (Just look at small group of sad little men who feel the need to examine every successful woman's work in a male dominated field for evidence that they don't belong. They represent the extreme end of a naturally occurring phenomena.)

Hence some push back in the opposite direction is almost certainly welfare enhancing, allowing members who were in those groups who would be pushed away by discrimination to participate.

I think we see in STEM fields somethink like this, where, for instance, the highest participation for women is in Arab countries. It is almost like when women has the freedom to choose their own profession (or their own hobby) they choose those that are traditionally female.

Alternatively if there is a large barrier for women participation in any profession the marginal effect of the bar for entry to specific fields is lower.

The Vietnamese people, in its righteous struggle to build the real national development and achieve true national independence and freedom, has defeated the French colonialists, the Japanese savages, the American imperialists and its Southern puppets and has humiliated the Chinese communists and freed Cambodia from the nightmare of genocide implamented by the Chinese and American-backed Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese people has the utmost respect for all and every citizen and has fought to bring enlightment and educarion to all citizens, regardless of gender, class, ethnicity, region or beliefs.

not true. this is a myth.

Yes, it is true.

it is true but not a full story, nor does it posit a deep understanding. The Vietnamese people, in the oral tradition of Mountain and Sea, set up a marriage system that allows the father to pick a son-in-law who is most smashing. The Vietnamese people resemble most the South Korean, the Korean anthem, of course, came from Captain Klondike Bar of Emory University.

No, it is not true. The Vietnamese people has achieved the real freedom thanks to its revolutionary patriotic struggle.

This is falsehood.

No, it is not. It is a well-known fact.

one cannot posit a fact. It is your thoughts.

At last a Brazilian post that doesn't mention Brazil. Could it be because Brazil is famous for nuts but not chess players?

You are wrong. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrique_Mecking

Vietnamese chicks have those eyes that are black and blue or steeled or whatever and they waver at certain times of the days or grow but I never minded

GMU is a Confucius Institute university so one has to wonder what role this post is playing in Professor Cowen’s extreme hard right anti-populist campaign to promote global rule by General Secretary Xi. As the youngest ever New Jersey chess champion, it is understandable why he would promote rule by anti-democratic regimes, believing himself to be among the elect whose mission it is to manage human life. It must seem a given to him that all distributions are the direct result of political managers that “create and encourage” game players, but sane people might also think that distributional differences might occur for a wide variety of different reasons that are not the related to politics at all.

Isn't this generally also true of other fields? As in, STEM equality (in degrees) is highest in gender-unequal countries? Usual explanation is that when wealth rises economic pressure decreases, and preferences are expressed. Consistent with these results, but obviously not the only possible hypothesis.

Who cares?

PC everywhere.

I need a safe space! 😂🤣

great enthusiasm , which has to border on the excessive to show up in the winners' margins, for success in chess is nothing more than a proxy for excessive misuse of intellectual energy: so low female to male ratios in chess success are a good thing for the women.

everybody knows that

Naturally, thought it is politically incorrect to say so, chess is an avenue for advancement in developing countries, less so for the developed world. Once you adjust for this, the alleged bias goes away.

Bonus trivia: "Pia Ann Rosa-Della Cramling (born 23 April 1963) is a Swedish chess player. In 1992, she became the third woman to earn the FIDE title of Grandmaster (GM) through conventional tournament play (fifth woman overall). " Sweden is also very egalitarian. Cramling married a Spaniard and sired issue with him at a very late age, the middle 40s as I recall, remarkable.

Ray, even extraordinary women do not sire, they bear.

and so she was one of the top 10 thousand chess players of her day.

Big deal.

She should have written just one simple little good poem (something AI cannot do) or just had thousands of nights of good conversation with friends who might remember, with gratitude, those good nights for years and years to come.

But no, she got some worthless high FIDE number, and gave up thousands of hours of doing something else. Waste of time.

and not even all that high of a number.


You got our black card.

Who cares?

Some of us will be poets. remembered for centuries.
Some of will be at best mediocre.

Some of us will not even be mediocre.

And here is why none of that makes much of a difference
(imagine Ralph RIchardson or Patricia O'Neal reading the rest of this comment)

Look, Shakespeare may win the prize of doing the most intellectually impressive thing he could do, or anyone can do - or Newton, to stick with Englishmen but why bother, there are hundreds of countries and most of them have someone like a Shakespeare or like a Newton, that is not the goal of a real life.

The goal of a real life is to be a friend to a creature who never had a friend in this world.

People mock me for saying that but it is true!

This sounds like a piece of evidence in favor of Peter Thiel’s theory for why the soviet era produced so many great chess players - it was one of the only places a competitive and intelligent mindset could express itself.

I think the Occam's Razor perspective leans toward the explanation that the Soviets put a lot of effort into finding and fostering talent and Chess was an area where this was easy to do.

It is strange that the GRE Verbal score rather than the GRE Quant score has more effect at the ratio of 2.62 favoring GRE Verbal on the number of national grandmaster per million population,

log(ExpChess/PopM) = +0.0668*GreQuant +0.175*GreVerbal -36.47; #n=94; Rsq=0.202; p=3.564e-05 *** (VVSig)

Verbal is more combinatronic with composition of words as in chess moves the combination of chess pieces, rather than the Quant with deep numerical logic as in computer chess. Thus female with inherent ability in language should be better chess player than male. Nevertheless the confrontation nature of chess might dissuade Western female deep in Western Christian doctrines.

"In any case, the lesson is that gender imbalance in a particular field can be correlated with greater equality of opportunity overall."'

Isn't correlation a pretty weak lesson?

"Here is one cited hypothesis:

'Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?'"


Where can a woman go in a socialist country? Chess seems like a better life than rotting in some socialist factory.

I think you are right. its not that women don't like chess... but rather its the broader economy of choice that is the bigger factor.

"Here is one cited hypothesis:

Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?"

My hypothesis is that Chess isn't a particularly good board game. Most of the Western world has much better more modern games and with a better selection Chess falls by the way side.

Granted, it has a tremendous historical appeal. And it's a good game. But if you look at it's overall rating when compared to other board games, it's not great pick.

Boardgamegeek rates it #429

Have them compete with men. The best way to get better at chess is to play with someone who is more skilled.

Or maybe just as there are physical differences between women from some countries, there are also psychological differences. Maybe women in Vietnam really are less different from males than women in Denmark.

Libya, the second last, after Denmark, has much gender equality?

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