UK chess grandmaster Nigel Short has defended his comments in New in Chess Magazine where he claimed women lack the brain power to succeed at the top chess levels.
The female chess community were outraged when Short asserted that the way in which women’s brains were ‘hardwired’ limited their capacity for success in chess.
The comments have since appeared on Sky News where Mr Short has appeared to defend them.
“One is not better than the other,” he said in the magazine, “We just have different skills. It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”
Short’s comments echo those of legendary grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who defeated Short for the world title in 1993: “Women, by their nature, are not exceptional chess players,” he said at the time. “They are not great fighters.”
In his interview with Sky News Short claimed his comments were ‘quite uncontroversial’. The physiological reality behind his comments, he claimed, is beyond dispute: Men’s brains are ’10 per cent larger’ than women’s.
“Women have better verbal skills, women have all sorts of skills that are better than men. But the gap (in chess ability) is quite large and I believe that’s down to sex differences.
“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” said Short in the magazine. “Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to manoeuvre the car out of our narrow garage.”
Short has received a barrage of scathing assaults for his comments. He told Sky News that ‘an amazing number of people have (since) criticised’ him.
Head of the London Casual Chess Club, Amanda Ross, was one of the first, saying in The Telegraph, it was ‘incredibly damaging when someone so respected basically endorses sexism.’
Short responded on Twitter: “You seem to suffer from incomprehension. Men and women do have different brains. This is a biological fact.
“Furthermore, I never said women have inferior brains. That is your crude and false attempt to caricature me.”
Judit Polgar, world women’s chess champion, youngest grandmaster in history, and victor in the one game she had against Short then waded into the debate: “’Different but equal,’ she posted on Twitter, “but not equal to chess is inferior in chess terms. Pls explain.”
Short answered: “Indeed, I have a poor score against the best female chess player in history. And what does that prove exactly?”
He then drove the point home with: “Men and women having very different brains (and therefore skills) is not a sex issue? How so?
There has been no further response.
One has to wonder why there are women’s and men’s divisions at all – if there are no differences between gender abilities.