ChessBase Logo Shop Link
Language :
Search :
OK

Do Women Have a Chance against Men in Chess?

3/8/2012 – As we know all too well: most of the strongest players in the world are male. In the past we have speculated on the reasons for this gender discrepancy, with vigorous reader participation. On International Women's Day Peter Zhdanov, who is married to a very strong female player, provides us with some valuable statistics, comparing men and women on a country-by-country basis. Eye-opening.
 

Do Women Have a Chance against Men in Chess?

By Peter Zhdanov

“I had rather be the first in this village than second in Rome.”
—Attributed to Julius Caesar by Plutarch, Life of Caesar.

Abstract

FIDE publishes chess rating lists every two month. Even a casual observer will notice that most of the strongest players in the world are male. This article dedicated to the International Women’ Day will partially address another important question: how developed is women’s chess in each particular country? How do the strongest female players compare to their most chess-proficient compatriots?

Methodology

Many criteria can be introduced to define the level of development of women’s chess: what percentage of the registered players is female, what the average rating of female players compared to male is, etc. In this article the idea was to use the official FIDE ratings to analyze the places occupied by the #1 female player of each country in the overall national rankings. The basic assumption behind this approach is that if the country’s environment allows at least one player to succeed, then others might have a chance as well.

Here is an example for Hungary:

1 Leko, Peter 2720
2 Almasi, Zoltan 2719
3 Polgar, Judit 2709
4 Berkes, Ferenc 2682
5 Balogh, Csaba 2664
6 Gyimesi, Zoltan 2652
7 Erdos, Viktor 2631
8 Chernin, Alexander 2614
9 Ribli, Zoltan 2588
10 Acs, Peter 2587

As you can see, the highest-rated female player in Hungary, Judit Polgar, is ranked #3 on the overall national rating list. Similar data has been collected for other chess federations.

Data analysis: the findings

Detailed statistics on the ratings of top female chess players in each country as compared to male players is provided below [w-rank = world female rank (active players); n-rank = national rank (all players)]:

No
Country Player
rating
w-rank
n-rank
1
Hungary Judit Polgar
2709
1
3
2
China Hou Yifan
2639
2
6
3
India Koneru Humpy
2589
3
8
4
Slovenia Anna Muzychuk
2583
4
3
5
Georgia Nana Dzagnidze
2559
5
12
6
Ukraine Kateryna Lahno
2546
7
42
7
Russia Nadezhda Kosintseva
2535
9
104
8
Bulgaria Antoaneta Stefanova
2531
10
12
9
France Marie Sebag
2512
12
30
10
USA Anna Zatonskih
2511
13
40
11
Lithuania Viktoria Cmilyte
2497
17
7
12
Poland Monika Socko
2493
18
30
13
Qatar Zhu Chen
2490
19
3
14
Sweden Pia Cramling
2481
24
15
15
Armenia Elina Danielian
2478
25
23
16
Turkey Ekaterina Atalik
24754
26
8
17
Austria Eva Moser
2460
30
7
18
Greece Elena Dembo
2460
31
13
19
Germany Elizabeth Paehtz
2459
32
83
20
Mongolia Batkhuyag Munguntuul
2451
35
3
21
Scotland Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant
2434
47
5
22
Romania Corina-Isabela Peptan
2420
49
42
23
Spain Olga Alexandrova
2419
51
77
24
Singapore Li Ruofan
2419
52
7
25
Slovakia Eva Repkova
2416
55
12
26
Netherlands Peng Zhaoqin
2405
64
60
27
England Jovanka Houska
2396
69
58
28
Serbia Natasa Bojkovic
2395
71
102
29
Peru Deysi Cori T.
2386
76
14
30
Ecuador Martha Fierro
2380
81
7
31
Cuba Oleyni Linares Napoles
2366
95
71
32
Argentina Carolina Lujan
2364
99
89
33
Montenegro Jovana Vojinovic
2356
105
24
34
Vietnam Thi Bao Tram Hoang
2356
107
18
35
Italy Elena Sedina
2353
111
49
36
Indonesia Irine Kharisma Sukandar
2349
117
21
37
Belarus Nastassia Ziazulkina
2343
127
43
38
Iran Atousa Pourkashian
2343
129
23
39
Belgium Anna Zozulia
2342
130
26
40
Luxembourg Elvira Berend
2337
139
5
41
Uzbekistan Nafisa Muminova
2327
151
28
42
Azerbaijan Gulnar Mammadova
2324
154
47
43
Israel Masha Klinova
2321
162
110
44
Latvia Laura Rogule
2317
168
36
45
Czech Republic Kristyna Havlikova
2312
180
141
46
Croatia Valentina Golubenko
2297
206
130
47
Iceland Lenka Ptacnikova
2289
225
40
48
Kazakhstan Guliskhan Nakhbayeva
2276
246
87
49
Australia Arianne Caoili
2269
262
52
50
Norway Ellen Hagesaether
2265
273
77
51
Colombia Aura Cristina
2262
282
58
52
Moldova Svetlana Petrenko
2250
320
44
53
Estonia Valeriya I. Gansvind
2246
331
44
54
Finland Johanna Paasikangas-T.
2230
366
108
55
Brazil Vanessa Feliciano Ebert
2226
377
165
56
Venezuela Sarai Sanchez Castillo
2219
403
40
57
Switzerland Barbara Hund
2209
431
172
58
Denmark Nina Hoiberg
2209
435
206
59
Philippines Chardine Cheradee Camacho
2190
499
156
60
Lebanon Knarik Mouradian
2185
520
13
61
Portugal Catarina Leite
2165
583
63
62
Albania Astrit Zimberi
2161
592
28
63
Bangladesh Akter Liza Shamima
2160
595
38
64
Iraq Iman Hasan M. Al-Rufaye
2159
604
67
65
Canada Natalia Khoudgarian
2158
609
251
66
Myanmar May Hsett Lwin
2152
641
69
67
El Salvador Lorena Zepeda
2130
748
18
68
Egypt Khaled Mona
2125
772
177
69
Bermuda Zuzana Kovacova
2123
787
6
70
Mexico Yadira Hernandez Guerrero
2120
800
227
71
Uruguay Camila Colombo
2102
892
52
72
Macedonia Gabriela Koskoska
2094
950
136
73
Dominican Rep. Eneida Perez
2083
1021
71
74
Bolivia Daniela Cordero
2082
1023
67
75
Wales Jane Richmond
2074
1082
66
76
Chile Emilia  Larrachea Formas
2061
1156
349
77
South Africa Melissa Greeff
2059
1170
55
78
Algeria Amina Mezioud
2053
1209
84
79
Paraguay Gabriela Vargas
2043
1280
44
80
Tajikistan Marvorii Nasriddinzoda
2033
1344
22
81
Malaysia Nur Shazwani Zullkafli
2032
1352
109
82
Turkmenistan Govher  Jorayewa
2029
1368
97
83
New Zealand Sue Maroroa
2026
1389
96
84
Puerto Rico Tammy Segara Choe
2006
1548
50
85
Costa Rica Carolina Munoz
1995
1646
92
86
Jamaica Deborah Richards
1989
1704
29
87
Nicaragua Ana Daniela Madrigal
1974
1814
71
88
Jordan Natalie Fuad
1970
1851
84
89
UAE Nora MohdSaleh
1944
2084
105
90
Sri-Lanka S D Ranasinghe
1914
2321
102
91
Ireland Poornima  Menon Jayadev
1904
2403
171
92
Monaco Julia Label-Arias
1897
2455
24
93
Angola Maria Conceicao Venancio
1867
2756
37
94
Cyprus Christianna Markidou
1846
2935
36
95
Faroe Islands Herborg Hansen
1844
2963
59
96
Thailand Chanida Taweesupmun
1826
3134
78
97
Surinam Ekaterina Naipal
1821
3179
23
98
Japan Emiko Nakagawa
1806
3299
87
99
Panama Yaribeth Gonzalez
1804
3321
44
100
Trinidad & Tobago Aditi Soondarsingh
1772
3617
61
101
Malta Oana Pulpan
1769
3645
45
102
Yemen Mada  Elshereif
1740
3902
69
103
Barbados Corinne Howard
1721
4112
52
104
Macao Xiaoyu Xu
1707
4223
20
105
South Korea Yoomi Lee
1636
4945
48
106
Andorra Diana Da Rocha Soares
1614
5152
41
107
Palau Angie Parrado
1551
5681
18
108
Mozambique Josefa Mendes Lucas
1548
5705
9
109
Aruba Zaily M. Arbona Avila
1545
5722
12
110
Honduras Rosa Daniela Ortiz
1538
5765
40
111
Chinese Taipei Mi Wang
1533
5799
29
112
Libya Inas Emhemed
1523
5870
51
113
Bahrain Ishwaryaa Lakshminaryanan
1509
5976
31

Here are some statistics:

  • Not a single female player is #1 in her country overall. The relative best results belong to: GM Judit Polgar (2709, #3 in Hungary), GM Anna Muzychuk (2583, #3 in Slovenia), GM Zhu Chen (2490, #3 in Qatar), IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul (2451, #3 in Mongolia).

  • 27/141 (19.1%) chess federations don’t have any female FIDE-rated players.

  • 15/141 (10.6%) federations have a female player who belongs to the top-10 of all players in the country. In other words, only in 10.6% of the chess federations a woman has a tangible chance to play for the main national team. Of course, this is a very optimistic estimate, because only 5 players actually make it to representing the country. 

  • 47/141(33.3%) federations have a female player rated from #11 to #50 in the country.

  • 32/141(22.7%) federations have a female player rated from #51 to #100 in the country.

  • 19/141 (13.5%) federations have a female player rated from #101 to #349 (Chile) in the country.

  • 1/141 (0.7%): at the time of this writing (March 9th, 2012) no data was available on the ratings of Botswana’s players.

Date source: http://ratings.fide.com/

It is worth noting that this data offers an interesting insight on how successful women’s chess is in each particular country relatively (compared to men’s chess), not absolutely (compared to women from other countries). For example, Russia is usually rated #1 on both the overall top countries list and on the top countries (women) list. In March 2012 China has overtaken the #1 spot on the women’s rankings. More importantly, the highest-rated Russian female chess player, Nadezhda Kosintseva, is ranked only #104 on the national rating list, while Hou Yifan is rated #6 in China. This demonstrates that, while being among the strongest on the world female rankings, Russian women are relatively weak chess-wise in comparison with their male compatriots.

Conclusion

The study proves once again that women are strongly underrepresented in chess at the top levels. 19.1% of the chess federations (nearly every fifth) do not have any FIDE-rated female players. In 70.2% of the federations women are rated #11-#349 in the country, thus basically having no chance to compete for the supreme national title, or even play for the national team. Only 10.6% of the countries have a truly powerful female player ranked #3-#10 on the overall rating list.

About the author

Peter Zhdanov is an IT project manager, debate expert and author of two books on parliamentary debate, BSc in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and final year PhD student in Sociology.

In chess Peter is a Russian candidate master, author, husband and manager of grandmaster Natalia Pogonina.

 

Copyright Zhdanov/ChessBase


Previous articles on the subject

Do men and women have different brains?
30.06.2009 – In a recent thought-provoking article WGM Natalia Pogonina and Peter Zhdanov presented their views on the topic of why women are worse at chess than men. A number of our readers were unconviced: they think that efforts at "explaining" differences between the sexes only from environmental factors are doomed at the outset. Recent studies seem to support this. Feedback and articles.

Women and men in chess – smashing the stereotypes
20.06.2009 – On June 5, 2009 WGM Natalia Pogonina and Peter Zhdanov got married – she a Women's Grandmaster, he a successful IT-specialist and debate expert. Peter is also Natalia’s manager, together they are writing a book called "Chess Kamasutra". Today they share with us their views on the perennial topic why women are worse at chess than men, and take a look at the future of women’s chess.

Congratulations to Natalia and Peter, the new chess couple
10.06.2009 – He had read about her in chess magazines and websites. In August 2008 they met at the Tal Memorial. Peter Zhdanov and Natalia Pogonina played some blitz, and a new friendship was born, which eventually blossomed into love and led to a marriage between the two young Russian chess players. They are currently working on an extraordinary book, one you are not going to want to miss.

Gender differences in chess – feedback and a new theory
30.01.2012 – We recently told you about a report on the gender differences in chess – why it is that there is just one woman in the top 100 players in the world, and just 2.2 percent in the top 1000, according to the FIDE rating list. Naturally we received a large number of more or less adamant opinions from our readers, which we now share with you, together with a pet idea of our own.

Gender differences in chess
09.01.2012 – A new and very commendable women's live rating list of top players is being maintained by the Russian chess news portal ChessPro. Fired by this list we did a little additional research to find out how many female players there are in the top 100 and top 1000. What would you estimate? And what are the possible reasons for the superiority of males in certain intellectual activities? Latest research.
Feedback and mail to our news service Please use this account if you want to contribute to or comment on our news page service

See also

Rules for reader comments
    Not registered yet? Register