Throughout the history of the game, chess has been dominated by males. More men play the game and more spectators are male. Of course, there are many female chess players in the game today, although they are still greatly outnumbered by men in the fi eld. Female-only tournaments exist and many women have gone on to become grandmasters. However, the best players in the world are still considered to be male. This leads us, then, to ask why there is such a difference between men and women in chess. Is it purely a social one or are women really less capable of playing chess?

It can certainly be considered a psychological issue and, to a certain extent, an anatomical one too. It is a known fact that men’s and women’s brains differ. Psychologically, men and women also show considerable differences, which play an important part in the game of chess. There have been many theories put forward to explain why women are seen as inferior in the world of chess.

The fi rst is social pressure on women. Women undoubtedly have more demands on their attention throughout life, and thus have less time to devote to a single cause. This could be said to be a gross generalisation, especially in the world today, however, the basic principle rings true – women have more responsibility to shoulder. Sex roles for men and women are still vastly different and, until they are equal, the difference between men and women in chess is likely to persist. The rise in women appearing in chess could be attributed to the development of chess programmes in schools. With chess being offered to more young girls at primary and secondary school age, they are starting to become more dominant in the fi eld. This was a similar situation to that of science in schools. Traditionally science was offered mostly to boys, as it was assumed that girls would not be interested in it. However, today, women rival men in the world of science and to restrict female access to a scientifi c education would be considered preposterous. . . .

There are also biological theories for differences. Women typically have less physical strength than men and it is believed that this gives them a lower capacity for maintaining concentration in long matches. The competitive male nature also plays a part in their success at chess. Men as a sex are more competitive than women and it is believed that this drive to succeed is what gives males the upper hand in chess. Although there have been exceptions to the rule (including Judit Polgar and Vera Menchik, two women who have famously challenged and subsequently won against a multitude of male players). Chess is often considered a task that epitomises spatial awareness. Research has shown that women tend to excel in verbal intelligence, whereas men excel in spatial items. This may help to explain why men appear to be better at chess than women. It has even been suggested that these differences also affect whether or not a woman would be attracted to chess in the fi rst place.

However, it is impossible to attribute gender differences in chess to only one factor. It appears to be an interplay of both social, psychological and biological factors. This makes it an extremely diffi cult area to investigate and therefore until women equal men in the game of chess, it will be impossible to attribute the differences to any one factor.

It cannot be gathered from the article that: (c) The standard at all female tournaments is lower than that at comparable male events (e) Physical differences between men and women mean that women will never be as good as men

(c) INCORRECT. By implication, the standard at women’s tournaments must generally be lower if women are accepted not to be currently as strong in the game.
(e) CORRECT. Various reasons are put forward why there may be differences between men and women when it comes to chess. Many of these centre around perception of and access to the game, and the only reference to physical differences is the suggestion that men tend to have better spatial awareness than women. It is, however, only an assertion that spatial awareness is a determinant of ability to succeed at chess, and in any event this certainly does not mean that women are incapable of ever being as good as men.

(c) Why wrong? What does implication mean here? How's it valid, given that the passage says nothing about the standard of women's tournaments? Does (c) exceed and overanalyse the context? Thus, does women are ... in the game fail to imply (c)?

  • 1
    "The best players are considered to be male" - Huh? Either they are male or not. I don't think there is an top chess player where there is any doubt about their gender.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:34
  • If it's any consolation I agree with you; I can think of ways where the best players are (predominantly) men, but that the typical standard of play at women only tournaments is higher than that at mens only (or mixed); esp. since "standard" is not used in the piece.
    – Dave
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:52
  • I really don't like arguments like these because men have larger variances in intelligence (and just about everything else) than women.
    – Joshua
    Dec 1, 2015 at 19:23
  • Another point is prioritizing fields where man (might) have advantage due to natural differences - whether physical or mental. Is winning in an abstract game good for the humankind? Does it show that one is a better father, manager, etc.? (Don't understand me wrong, I adore chess, but I think that making women equal to men by using the male standards of achievement is inherently misguided.)
    – Roger V.
    Apr 6, 2023 at 8:45

3 Answers 3


This question demands analysis at a higher level than simple reading comprehension. In the case of (E) we can see that the author has very deliberately avoided overreaching the evidence to make such a claim. However, in the case of (C), this is a new piece of information we can reasonably infer from the facts presented in the essay, even though it is not explicitly presented itself.

Female-only tournaments exist and many women have gone on to become grandmasters. However, the best players in the world are still considered to be male.

We do have to make some assumptions here. We have to assume that tournament play is what establishes who the "best players" are. Given that assumption however, we can infer that the best players do not play in all-female tournaments, therefore the overall standard of those tournaments is lower (at least if we judge the standard of the tournament by the standard of the best players, rather than by the average level of play, which could conceivably be higher at an all-female tournament, even given what we know).

It's not an airtight case --as you see, it relies on some general knowledge and some assumptions. But it is a reasonable implication. In terms of logical format, the general shape is:

A) No males play at all female tournaments
B) All of the best players are male
Therefore: None of the best players play at all female tournaments.

A) No B are C
B) All A are B
Therefore: No A are C

This is one of the basic syllogism forms (Celarent / EAE-1).

Please note, as always in logic, the structure has nothing to do with the content. We might take issue with (B), the claim that all the best players are male. But if we accept it as presented in the essay, then the conclusion does follow structurally.

  • +1. Thanks. Would you please explain how 'In the case of (E) we can see ... make such a claim.'? I'd argue that (e) is wrong because it's too broad and overreaches the evidence, by neglecting the following bolded clause, in sentence 2, penultimate para above: 'Women typically have ... and it is believed that this gives them a lower capacity for maintaining concentration in long matches.'
    – user8572
    Sep 25, 2014 at 7:49
  • Will you please to respond in your answer, and not as a comment?
    – user8572
    Sep 25, 2014 at 7:53
  • Sorry for bothering you again, but I thought to check if you had received my comments? Thanks.
    – user8572
    Oct 18, 2014 at 7:13
  • BTW, this resembles A is a subset of B, which is NOT a subset of C => A NOT a subset of C.
    – user8572
    Oct 18, 2014 at 11:52

"However, the best players in the world are still considered to be male."

If that statement is accepted as true, then it follows that female players are still considered to be generally weaker players, hence tournaments with ONLY female players would have generally weaker play.

Note that the argument has not been objectively supported in the article by means of statistics or appeals to outside authority, so it is not irrefutable, but the implication of the statement is what is being addressed, not it's objective validity.


Honestly I don't understand your problem. But I might as well contribute what I thought about.

If you have 20 students and you make 2 random groups and the grade average is significantly higher in one group, would you consider them to have a higher standard when it comes to education? Isn't the level of these 'better' students higher?

Now say you don't select the groups randomly but with criteria like gender, the same applies.

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