Do women play more beautiful chess?

by Azlan Iqbal
2/26/2016 – Azlan Iqbal, senior lecturer at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional in Malaysia, has been working for years in the field of Artificial Intelligence, trying to program machines to evaluate aesthetics. After making the Chesthetica software that is able to create an unlimited number of problem-like chess constructs he has turned his attention to gender-based playing style. Here are first results.

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Do Women Play More Beautiful Chess?

By Azlan Iqbal, Ph.D.

It has been a few years since I last worked on my computational chess aesthetics model which enables a machine to evaluate aesthetics in the game in a way that correlates positively and well with domain-competent human assessment. The main reason being that the relevant experimental work there had been completed and I had moved on to other things in the field of computational creativity. In any case, even back when I started work on the aesthetics model for my PhD (around 2006), I had sometimes wondered if there was indeed a difference in the aesthetic quality of play between men and women. Based on official ratings, women are generally inferior to men in terms of strength of play but did they perhaps, on average, play more beautiful games or sequences? For the first time, the technology to test this computationally was available and since I had some free time between projects, I decided to do so.

The result was a short academic paper that appears in the proceedings of the 4th International Congress on Interdisciplinary Behavior and Social Science 2015 (ICIBSoS 2015). The full paper and presentation slides are available for reference. Before I summarize the findings here, perhaps we should ask why the question even matters? So what if men are better at chess? So what if women or men play more beautifully? Well, it matters in a variety of fields to aid our understanding of the differences between men and women; for instance, in gender studies, psychology, and even neuroscience. The more we know the more progress can be made socially, mentally and physiologically.

Having covered that, let me explain the experimental setup that was used. I worked with the ChessBase Big Database 2015 (6,251,221 games) as the main resource for games and the aforementioned computational aesthetics model. The first step was to filter all those six million or so games to those that ended with the white pieces checkmating black. The aesthetics model works with three-movers, longer mates and also studies. However, to be consistent in an experiment, we need to minimize the number of variables, and this could most reliably be done using just three-movers where White wins, which is the usual stipulation. So the first step was intended to use only games that ended in mate where the position could be ‘reversed’ three moves and the aesthetics of that final winning sequence analyzed. This left 157,358 games after filtering using the ChessBase 13 software.

The second step was to filter again for mate-in-3 ‘exclusivity’ (using my Chesthetica software). This means ensuring that those last three moves are actually a forced mate-in-3 line in the position, and not something that happened just because the winner got lucky or the opponent played poorly. This took a few days of continuous processing on a single desktop computer. Exclusivity filtering left 34,868 games. The third step was the difficult task of identifying games between men and games between women. Curiously, there is no easy way to do this using any known software. So, using ChessBase 13 we decided to run a search for the terms “(Women)” and “(Men)” in ‘any field’, and this returned the tournaments that were sensible enough to include those terms in their titles. We also got a handful of hits with the term, “girls” but were less fortunate with the term, “boys” as tournaments are less likely to mention that.

This left 1,069 games between females and only 115 games between males. Age or playing strength was irrelevant to the study. We managed to identify enough additional games between males to bring their total to 1,069 as well. We then created a random subset of the 1,069 games between females consisting of just 115 games. Ultimately we had two sets of games between men and between women that had the same sample sizes of 115 and 1,069 games. We analyzed the aesthetics of the smaller set first. It is worth noting that such evaluations by human experts would not be cost-effective or even consistent and reliable.

The experimental results obtained were interesting because given the first set of 115 games between men and 115 games between women we found the difference between their means (1.847 and 1.810, respectively) to be no different statistically. The aesthetics score is typically used for ranking purposes so even a small difference would rank one composition or game ahead of another. The second set of 1,069 games was analyzed and the difference in means (1.769 and 1.720, respectively) this time was statistically significant. So the larger set exposed a difference between the average aesthetic quality of games between females as opposed to between males. The two positions below show examples of the games between men (left) and between women (right) obtained from the sets analyzed. The solutions should be fairly obvious. There are actually many factors involved in the aesthetics analysis and interested readers may obtain more information here.

#3; position after, 38...Kf8
Karpov vs. Mair, Vienna Lugner City sim,
16 April 2005 Score: 1.756

 

#3; position after, 31. ... Kxg7
Roos vs. Neubacher, Bayern-ch (Women) 67th,
3 August 1996 Score: 1.7

The experimental evidence would therefore suggest that games between men do indeed, on average, rank higher than games between women in terms of beauty. It may be that women have less artistic appreciation of the game or play in a less artistic fashion even though they may generally be good players. This may explain the relative non-existence of master/grandmaster female composers of chess problems, for instance. Naturally, it would also follow that there are likely domains where women fare better aesthetically than men. Understanding these domains and differences better would add to our body of knowledge about the human brain and gender differences and may even help optimize human performance in domains where equal gender distribution is not an issue.

In terms of aesthetics in chess, the difference discovered may or may not extend to games that do not end in mate, but the longer the sequence that needs to be investigated, the less reliable the experiment. There is little reason to believe they do not, however. The availability of data is also a significant issue. We would have been able to analyze games between men and women but these were scarcer still. Similarly, comparing chess problems of the three-mover variety would also be possible but there are simply not enough compositions of that type by female composers and of a similar level to compare against those by men. On the argument that chess has been ‘historically male’ and therefore any aesthetic principles derived from the game are also ‘male’, I believe it first needs to be demonstrated that men and women perceive beauty in the game differently. The default assumption is that they do not.

In general, what we have demonstrated should not be taken too seriously as it only opens a point of inquiry related to the game that may not have been as properly considered before. There is still plenty of room for further work in this area to challenge our preconceptions. On the surface, many people might be inclined to think women, in general, do not even play chess yet even among the most unexpected candidates, we find women who do. For instance, apparently several Playboy USA Playmates, Bunnies and Models, e.g. Miss June 1956 (Gloria Walker), Miss July 1958 (Linnè Nanette Ahlstrand), Miss January 1959 (Virginia Gordon), Miss November 1971 (Daniell de Vabre), Miss March 1975 (Ingeborg Sørensen), Bunny of 1978 (Pamela Bunn), Miss April 1994 (Becky DelosSantos), Model from December 2002 (Sabrina Kassim) and Model from May 2008 (Olga Voch-Mianina). Who would have guessed?

After my presentation of this paper in Jakarta in November 2015, some interesting questions were asked. Among them is whether or not aesthetics of play also relates to cultural differences. In short, do people in say, Germany, play more beautiful chess than people in say, India? I thought it was an interesting question and it is certainly testable using the same methodology described in this paper. However, my response at the time was probably not, as long as the same version of chess was being played by both cultures. It stands to reason that if the rules and objectives of the game are the same, players regardless of their cultural origin would generally come to the same conclusions about good and also aesthetic play. However, the experimental results, whatever they are, would be a better indicator of the truth.

This led to another question. If our objectives in the game tend to be the same, why should men be better at chess than women? My answer was that chess, being a competitive sport and analogous to war and combat, was likely more the forte and even pleasure of men rather than women given the history of most cultures where men fought and died far more than women. It will no doubt take some time for men to mellow and lose that warrior spirit or women to become more combative and when that happens we will probably see less discrepancy in their strength and style of play.

Finally, as an update, Chesthetica (the aesthetics evaluation software used in this research) has her own YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts now. Do subscribe and follow to be informed about the latest free computer-generated chess problems you can access, enjoy and learn from anywhere in the world. Chesthetica has also been composing more sophisticated study constructs for a few months now and there will be an article on that soon right here on ChessBase; so stay tuned.

Previous ChessBase articles by Prof. Azlan Iqbal

  • 2/24/2016 – Azlan Iqbal: Recomposition contest result
    Over Christmas we showed you an interesting problem: say you have found some moves somewhere, in coordinate notation without piece names – is it possible to reconstruct the original supposedly meaningful position to which they apply? The author, who has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence, tried to do it, but with modest success. A reader presented a more plausible solution and won a valuable prize
  • 12/29/2015 – ChessBase Chrismas Puzzles 2015 (5)
    Here's an interesting problem: say you have found some moves somewhere, in coordinate notation without piece names – e.g. 1.h7g5 d8g5 2.b5d5 d1c2 etc. Can one reconstruct the original supposedly meaningful position to which they apply? Azlan Iqbal, who has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence, retraces his thought processes when he tried, in this unique exercise in forensic chess. Help him and you can win a special prize.

  • 5/31/2015 – Celebrating 300 machine generated problems
    As we reported before, Chesthetica, a program by Azlan Iqbal, is autonomously generating mate in three problems by the hundreds, and the author is posting his selections in a very pleasing format on YouTube. The technology behind the program’s creativity is a new AI approach and Dr. Iqbal is looking for a substantial research grant for applications in other fields.

  • 4/7/2015 – Switch-Side Chain-Chess Revisited
    The search continues for a chess variant which retains the flavour of the original game but does not succumb to the brute calculating power of modern computers. AI researcher Azlan Iqbal has proposed his own unique variant. Now he provides some test games and shows how Carlsen could have won (instead of lost) WCCh Game 3 against Anand in Sochi had Switch-Side rules applied.
  • 2/6/2015 – Computer generated chess problems for everyone
    Now they are composing problems that fulfil basic aesthetic criteria! Chesthetica, a program written by Azlan Iqbal, is churning out mate in three constructs by the hundreds, and the author is posting them in a very pleasing format on Youtube. How long will Chesthetica theoretically be able to generate new three-movers? Quite possibly for tens of thousands of years.

  • 11/7/2014 – A machine that composes chess problems
    Chess problems are an art – positions and solutions, pleasing to the mind and satisfying high aesthetic standards. Only humans can compose real chess problems; computers will never understand true beauty. Really? Dr Azlan Iqbal, an expert on automatic aesthetic evaluation, imbued his software with enough creativity to generate problems indefinitely. The results are quite startling.

  • 7/26/2014 – Best ‘Chess Constructs’ by ChessBase readers
    Chess constructs are basically an intermediate form of composition or chess problem, lying somewhere between brilliancies from chess history – and artistic chess problems, between real game sequences and traditional award-winning compositions. A month ago Dr Azlan Iqbal explained the concept asked our readers to submit compositions of their own. Here are the winners.

  • 6/29/2014 – Azlan Iqbal: Introducing ‘Chess Constructs’
    People love brilliancies from chess history – and artistic chess problems. But there is a big gap between the two. Positions from games demonstrate the natural beauty of actual play, while chess problems are highly technical, with little practical relevance. The author of this interesting article suggest an intermediate form, one you can try your hand at – and win a prize in the process.

  • 9/2/2009 – Can computers be made to appreciate beauty?
    Or at least to identify and retrieve positions that human beings consider beautiful? While computers may be able to play at top GM level, they are not able to tell a beautiful combination from a bland one. This has left a research gap which Dr Mohammed Azlan Mohamed Iqbal, working at Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia, has tried to close. Here's his delightfully interesting PhD thesis.

  • 12/15/2012 – A computer program to identify beauty in problems and studies
    Computers today can play chess at the grandmaster level, but cannot tell a beautiful combination from a bland one. In this research, which has been on-going for seven years, the authors of this remarkable article show that a computer can indeed be programmed to recognize and evaluate beauty or aesthetics, at least in three-move mate problems and more recently endgame studies. Fascinating.

  • 2/2/2014 – A new, challenging chess variant
    Ever since desktop computers can play at its highest levels and beat practically all humans, the interest of the Artificial Intelligence community in this game has been sagging. That concerns Dr Azlan Iqbal, a senior lecturer with a PhD in AI, who has created a variant of the game that is designed to rekindle the interest of computer scientists – and be enjoyable to humans as well: Switch-Side Chain-Chess.

  • 5/11/2014 – Kasparov in Malaysia
    He was mobbed, but in a good way: a large number of chess fans and autograph hunters sought close contact to the legendary World Champion, who officiated the opening of the PMB National Age Group Championship 2014, and took time to discuss a variety of topics with an expert on aesthetics-recognition technology in chess, our author Dr Azlan Iqbal – who sent us a big pictorial report.


Dr. Azlan Iqbal has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from the University of Malaya and is a senior lecturer at Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia, where he has worked since 2002. His research interests include computational aesthetics and computational creativity in games. He is a regular contributor at ChessBase News.
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azlan azlan 6/6/2016 12:53
A video version of the original article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCElBB6zvZs
diegoami diegoami 3/19/2016 04:40
Some gems from the new paper :

In the original study, games between men and women were scarcer still and virtually impossible to obtain automatically and randomly.

There is also no evidence that a large Elo gap necessarily permits the stronger player to play more beautiful chess.

Finally, the conclusions of the original study are actually supported by the fact that in the world of chess problem composition the best compositions (if not just about all of them) are by men.
jackie jackie 3/19/2016 12:10
Not one for kicking puppies at all, but this really does need following up. Mentioned in your 'research' follow-up, so it's fair game on that count, and one cannot help but be curious.
Q. How do you characterise 'know' for females? Colleagues? Classmates? Good pals? Do you record this in a notebook? Do you record degrees of 'knowingness', on a scale for example? Just nationality? Or other details too? Place of birth? Hair colour? Height? Favourite poet?
Never come across this before, and it's fascinating.
Yours with curiosity,
j

azlan azlan 3/19/2016 10:28
It's all there, jackie, which tells me you probably didn't read it all.
jackie jackie 3/19/2016 10:06
In the response:

"I have known plenty of women in my time. At last count, 52 from 23 different countries, as a matter of fact; and most of them would only have nice things to say about me, I am fairly confident."

I am baffled that you count how many people you know, Azlan. How many men do you know?
Baffled whimsy aside, you'd do better to address Mr Smerdon's points on the questionable methodology one by one.
azlan azlan 3/19/2016 05:31
My response:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298819908_Do_Women_Play_More_Beautiful_Chess_A_Response_to_Critics
BKnight2003 BKnight2003 3/1/2016 06:57
I got here a little late, but can't refrain from writing how useless this "research" is. A total waste of time, as demonstrated by the others before me.

All the negative feedback is not related to sexism (except for Jackie, maybe), it is because of, again and again, the low quality of the ideas presented by Dr. Iqbal. We are just full of his crap.

To ChessBase: perhaps you think that there's no such thing as bad publicity. I join the others and ask you not to publish this guy anymore.
scoobeedo scoobeedo 3/1/2016 03:21
What made me very suspicious about Mr. Azlan is that he refused to answer which chess level he have. He just ignored the question about his Elo rating-

A scientist which ignores legitimate is very strange and not to trust ...
jackie jackie 3/1/2016 03:08
Firstly, it’s worth noting that the growth of AI is a fascinating area. Chess and go are good areas to investigate in this regard. Former chess player, all round nice guy and polymath Demis Hassabis is particularly notable for his work in this area at Google Deepmind. Mind-blowing stuff. Secondly, your Chesthetica software shows some promise. But you may like to get some well-trained researchers, able statisticians and decent chess players on board to assist you, who are able to conduct research more robustly and save you from further car crashes.

*Chessbase*
Chessbase may do well to retract and apologise. Publishing such drivel may be considered to reflect badly on their product, and on chess as a whole, as this is the leading chess portal. I appreciate that they may wish to drive people to their site, and increase hits. But the content is offensive. And the ‘research’ published is at best fundamentally flawed, and at worst deliberately misleading and fraudulent in promoting an agenda. ‘Accepted this in good faith’ - fair enough, but an editor would ideally have removed the gratuitous sexist content, while not necessarily realising that the research was askew. I would hope that Chessbase would become a little more careful of how they approach gender issues moving forward from this.

*Azlan*
You would do well to advise Chessbase to retract and apologise to them for your errors.
Both ChessBase and you are lucky that this has so far not been picked up by media and gone ’So hapless and so offensive, so badly written, it’s actually somewhat funny’ viral. The misogynistic content is not so amusing though. Don’t forget - women are people too. You may know one or two. Your mother was probably a woman.

Next, it is better to avoid throwing around terms like ‘racism’. Frankly, it is disgusting for you to resort to that, and to use that term - you managed to descend even lower than prior in doing so. Be ashamed. Read back, there is nothing of that. Each time such a term is used falsely, it detracts from genuine cases. Don’t hide behind an -ism. You are being attacked for three reasons as gmwdim intimated: (1) because of the flawed research you present; (2) because of offensive content; (3) and because you present yourself in an unpleasantly arrogant way to those querying the methodology and content. Even at this stage you cannot help yourself: “I will then try to answer those questions in a manner that should be comprehensible to most readers.” You believe yourself to be impressive and seek to talk down, despite loading up your CV with self-published papers and Chessbase articles(!), having a low impact factor, being an incompetent researcher, and being so grottily misogynistic. In your professional interests, it is time to show some humility, admit errors, apologise, and then you may gain some respect. Not much, but perhaps a little. Much can be forgiven of youth.

By the way, do you play chess at all? The peculiar notation error on the slide would suggest you don’t. It is a very odd error to make. Me? You queried your interlocutors. Unlike the erudite Mr Smerdon, I am not so strong at all, only a weak FM. Just about good enough to realise how weak I am :) All too aware of my own weaknesses - perhaps it may be contagious….

Oh, questions? Just respond to Mr Smerdon's points. Thoughtfully, and with humility. But it's best for all if there were no follow-up, merely a retraction.
azlan azlan 2/29/2016 04:19
In the interest of science, I am willing to answer any and all questions with regard to this research work to the best of my ability in a follow-up article if ChessBase News is agreeable to it. I will let them compile the best questions and forward them to me. I will then try to answer those questions in a manner that should be comprehensible to most readers. With due respect to ChessBase, if they feel this is unnecessary for any reason, I will respect that as well.
thlai80 thlai80 2/29/2016 10:59
This is becoming biggest joke of Chessbase even before April 1st. As most of us chess fans/players know, this Azlan PhD wannabe thinks too highly of himself, using biased perception to framed his original ideas and measurement, and went on to do a waste of experiment. He doesn't even understand chess program evaluations are a calculation of position based on different parameters set, thus yielding different evaluations as users set different parameters. No one above ELO 2000 would normally play up to mate in 3, even far before that, there are resignations. That itself reduce the sample of games to utter crap quality. Then, he isn't even well verse in using chess database, and my god ... using "men", "women" to find games, and couldn't find quality games?? This is an amateur mistakes. Even programs in year 2000 allows finding a lot of powerful games based on time, location, opponent names, ELO etc ... all kinds of search can be done.

To be standing on high grounds and brush off all negative comments as "you do not understand my thesis and not at my intellectual level" speaks very highly of a self absorbed nutjob. Serve him right then that his intention of publishing as a means of thesis publication to prove his work as quality ends in utter failures.

It is not a problem to be a failure if you keep learning, but rejecting the knowledge and keep smoking on wrong science hypothesis as the truth is akin to blasphemy in religion. Stupidity is a choice, and it is overly surprising that a PhD holder still choose the wrong choice!
jackie jackie 2/29/2016 07:51
Interestingly, Azlan appears to be publishing himself quite a lot, which may explain a few things, per gmwdim:
http://ejcsit.uniten.edu.my/index.php/ejcsit/issue/archive

Reminds me of this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQkpes3dgzg
The_Tenant The_Tenant 2/29/2016 05:36
As to the beauty aspect of it, i think this can be determined by brain/neuroimaging.. since subjectivity can be correlated to brain patterns.
The_Tenant The_Tenant 2/29/2016 05:33
"If our objectives in the game tend to be the same, why should men be better at chess than women?"

Men are not better imo.. we just have less psychological inhibitors than women due to the nature of conditioning, social engineering, etc. Through history, women have tended to be suppressed by men, for men, etc, to be more submissive, less proactive, less assertive... But as this changes (and it is), we will observe a significant change in performance.
gmwdim gmwdim 2/29/2016 02:07
Check out Azlan's ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Azlan_Iqbal

76 publications totaling just 6.81 impact points. Heck, a single paper in a high-impact journal should get you more than 6.81 points. This means that the vast majority of Azlan's articles are not peer-reviewed, and what little is peer reviewed is done so in low-impact journals that may well have low standards for rigor. It turns out that the evidence for this research being "positively received" is much weaker than the author would like us to think.
gmwdim gmwdim 2/29/2016 01:52
If the science is so sound, why not just explain it better in this article and in the comments? News flash: nobody reads PhD theses. I doubt ANYONE has read more than maybe 1-2 pages of mine, outside of myself and my thesis committee, in the years since it was published. A good researcher should be able to summarize findings in a concise and clear fashion, so that others can understand them. That you continually refuse to answer questions suggests that you're either intentionally hiding something, or that you're not very good at explaining your own research. Neither option makes you look very good.

Get off your high horse. I work at a university with far greater academic reputation than yours, and I guarantee that I have published more papers of higher impact, and in more prestigious journals, than you have. Hiding behind your degree and your publications makes you look insecure and cowardly.

You're not being criticized because of some big feminist conspiracy which you seem to be alluding to. You're being criticized because your conclusions are based on a faulty research methodology, and because of your caustic comments here.
gmwdim gmwdim 2/29/2016 01:38
Racism and racial intimidation? jackie didn't mention ANYTHING about race, you just randomly pulled that out of your posterior. Do you always respond to criticism with angry personal attacks? jackie is right, you do sound more like a YouTube troll than an intellectual.
azlan azlan 2/29/2016 01:18
jackie, you should be careful with your threats. If I were in the West, what you are doing might be construed as racism or racial intimidation.
jackie jackie 2/29/2016 01:14
Where am I coming from? From a position of intellectual rigour. From a place where research methodology matters. From a place of equal rights for all irrespective of gender, creed or orientation. You may consider females to be second class citizens, but this is not a view that is shared.
Give it up. You're a fraud, and you have been thoroughly busted.
Seriously - take a step back, you are not doing yourself any favours professionally. Perhaps you are young, starting out and have a few things to learn. But prospective employers will research you online, find that your research does not stand up to even passing scrutiny, and will be unimpressed. This is harming you professionally. The more you defend the indefensible, the worse you look.
It's up to you though.
azlan azlan 2/29/2016 12:41
ivan3ivanovich, you have no idea how silly your questions are. You know why? Because you haven't read my PhD thesis and the expanded work in the 2012 IEEE paper. Even if you have read them, I doubt you would be able to understand them and get a grasp about how the aesthetics model functions and what the basis of aesthetics in chess used is. Don't expect me to rewrite those two documents here or give you a two-paragraph version you can criticize. If you are too lazy to do your homework, I'm not going to do it for you. You think your objections are valid? Write an academic paper on it and I will take the time (in another paper) to tear it apart. On the other hand, if you have developed your own experimentally-validated aesthetics model and got some of your own results to challenge mine, that would be impressive and if they are valid, I will acknowledge it.

And jackie, we know where you're coming from, so please stop embarrassing yourself. You give feminism a bad name.
jackie jackie 2/29/2016 12:37
As per the posting on Reddit, it would be fun to dismiss this in the "so bad it's kind of good" genre, and it would be tempting to, indeed. Particularly noting the comments of Azlan in response which are at the rhetorical level of the average YouTube troll.
Laughably bad, but also distressingly bad noting the angle taken. As it appears that this writer is misogynistic and presents 'research' (loosely termed) to support a lack of respect for females.
Many can see through the bluster, and the universal disregard for the piece herein is encouraging, but some may not see through it. Some reading may be the intellectual level of Azlan, or even lower, and perhaps even less critical. Some may just read the headline, and not see that this is unsupported.
Questions:
1. Did you have the conclusion first ('women are not so good at brain stuff, and I am surprised that some pretty women can do brain stuff'), then invent some pseudo-research to try to support this? In other words - is this deliberately contrived to deceive?
or
2. Did this just accidentally occur through the multitude of methodological errors and findings which do not follow from the data? Meaning, are you just so serially inept that it happened this way?
(I generously suspect the latter, but I may be wrong - mainly because Azlan here doesn't seem the sharpest knife in the drawer).
3. Is your 'Ph.D' conducted with the same methodical (lack of) rigour? Perhaps you may care to share it, via a link?
4. There are research ethics governing our fields at institutional, national and international level. Are you not concerned that you may be exposed? Certainly, my university would be upset if they saw me publishing such as this. Is your university not the same? I really suggest you be careful and withdraw this and any similar 'research' papers you have before you do get found out and busted.

Concluding, I suggest that like your near namesake Aslan in the Narnia Chronicles, you may metaphorically perish and be reborn. But, may I suggest, not in academia.
Start again elsewhere, it would be better.
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/29/2016 12:23
@azlan

What is the average rating difference between the winner and the loser in the group "men" and what is the average rating difference between the winner and the loser in the group "women"?

What are the standard deviation of those figures?

How have any corrected for any difference in those figures between the selection groups?

Answer those three questions if you want to have any respect at all as a scientist.

Have you even bothered to test for that type of bias?

Why did you use different selection criteria for the two test groups?

Why did you present two games in this article where the one played by men has a rating difference between the players of more than 1400 Elo points and the one played between women only has a difference of less than 200 Elo points? The winning player in the game between men is stronger than his opponent by a factor of seven more than the winner is in the game between women. Are you saying that these two games are equal and that the rating difference has no effect?

I do not have to publish work in academic papers to recognize bullshit when I see it. All it takes is intelligence and knowledge of the subject matter both of which you lack.
azlan azlan 2/29/2016 12:14
ivan3ivanovich, the scope and limitations of the research were clearly specified in the paper. This is how science is done. Further work is always welcome. Like I said, if you know better, do your own research and get it published in a real academic platform in this area (I doubt you will be able to, though). If you are objecting to the validity of the aesthetics model itself, you should have done so back in 2009 when it came out. Back then people seemed to have largely only positive things to say about it. However, apply it in gender studies and all hell breaks loose.
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/28/2016 11:59
@azlan

You're really clutching at straws, aren't you?

I don't give one iota for what results your "research" gives because:

1. The way you have selected the test groups is based on nonsense.
2. It is not checked for bias, not checked for comparability.
3. The method chosen to determine the outcome cannot reproduce the same result with the same input.
4. This is ignored willfully and willfully obfuscated.
5. You have NO knowledge of the subject matter and NO qualifications and when pressed on this you refuse to answer.

That is only the first things that comes to mind.

This has absolutely nothing to do with whatever conclusion that you claim to have found for the simple fact that your method is incapable of finding any conclusion based on objective criteria with the test subjects you have chosen.

If women play better or worse, uglier or prettier is irrelevant to any critique you have received here by anyone.

This is a case of fraudulent "research" masqueraded as science. There is no science involved in your work!

The failure on your part to recognize the shortcomings in your own work is staggering and the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you are a charlatan.
azlan azlan 2/28/2016 11:35
The research is sound but the conclusions are controversial. I think we all know what's really going on here. If it turned out women did, indeed, play more beautiful chess, I doubt there would be this many objections. Have your fun, guys.
lmader lmader 2/28/2016 10:35
I'm rendered speechless. This has to be the worst piece I have ever seen masquerading as an academic paper.
diegoami diegoami 2/28/2016 09:37
This article is a perfect candidate for the "nottheonion" subreddit. In fact, I just submitted it there.

https://www.reddit.com/r/nottheonion/comments/484lxo/do_women_play_more_beautiful_chess/
Exabachay Exabachay 2/28/2016 08:28
"The aesthetics model works with three-movers, longer mates and also studies. However, to be consistent in an experiment, we need to minimize the number of variables, and this could most reliably be done using just three-movers where White wins, which is the usual stipulation."

lol lol and one more fucking lol
gmwdim gmwdim 2/28/2016 07:00
And "I published in a journal, you didn't" is also not a valid argument. I have a PhD in fluid dynamics, does that mean that I can say anything I want about fluid dynamics, and you wouldn't be allowed to criticize me? No, that would be preposterous.
gmwdim gmwdim 2/28/2016 06:55
Give it up, Azlan. Stop thinking you're smarter than everyone else. You're not the only person with a PhD. Various users have pointed out the problems with your "research article" and all you do is retort that they don't know anything. "Read the link" is not a legitimate defense of poor research.
azlan azlan 2/28/2016 02:37
Mr Smerdon is not up-to-date with regard to the literature on the subject, I'm afraid.
jackie jackie 2/28/2016 02:35
I repeat: address the points made by Mr Smerdon regarding the many methodological flaws.
Point by point would be effective.



azlan azlan 2/28/2016 02:24
ivan3ivanovich & jackie, it is pointless to argue these matters with people like you over a forum such as this. Since you both claim to know so much more about computational aesthetics and chess than my team and I, why not argue your points in actual scientific journals or conference papers? Cite my papers where you think there are huge flaws and publish those fantastic rebuttals the reviewers of my papers missed the first time. How about that?
jackie jackie 2/28/2016 02:18
Azlan,
No more ad hominems.
It's a little bit grand to note that 'science isn't someone's forte', when you produced such an abysmal piece of research. The response is wholesale criticism, and it's for a good reason. It's certainly not because everyone dislikes you. I suspect no one here has met you. It's just because what you offered herein is wholesale nonsense, and because you are further seeking to demean females with your claptrap.
Perhaps you disagree, but within the solitude of your understanding, "No one else believes - I am the only one!", lies screaming at the moon, insanity, and a future padded white cell.
Better to address the points Mr Smerdon raised with regards to the multitude of methodological flaws. I rather suspect that you cannot. Two cups of coffee from a passing reader and you are busted.
But do try.
Better still to avoid publishing until you have read some research methodology books and are willing to try a bit harder. Please do not darken the chess world further with any more of this half-baked tosh. It's not just insulting to female chess players. It's insulting to all chess players. It's insulting to academia.
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/28/2016 02:16
@azlan

Going by the quality of what you have presented here I would claim that my grasp of science is a damned lot better than yours. I also have the ability to and the dignity of recognizing my own shortcomings, something that you maybe should start thinking about.

I will not engage further with you as you are incapable of intelligent reasoning. I do very much hope that Chessbase will revoke this article as it is unworthy of their patronage.
azlan azlan 2/28/2016 01:49
ivan3ivanovich, science really isn't your forte. Also, if you haven't got the message by now and I have to spell it out for you, my official chess rating (which I have never bothered to obtain), is irrelevant to my research work because I work with people who do have the necessary expertise. In fact, they are probably better and more experienced at chess than you.
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/28/2016 01:44
@azlan

You are STILL not answering my question.

What are your chess qualifications?

Are you afraid or revealing your incompetence?
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/28/2016 01:42
@azlan

"It really doesn't matter what the strength or age of the players are when evaluating aesthetics of play as long as there is no intended bias in either sample (i.e. men or women), which was the case in this research. The average score is used, after all. Same with using the last three moves as the scope."

Are you really incapable of seeing the flaw in this reasoning?

What matters are if you are comparing like with like and having NO control over who is playing who and NOT knowing or correcting for any present biases between the two groups means that your result is meaningless.

You haven't even bothered to find out IF there are differences in the rating difference between white and black and IF that difference is the same for the two groups (women and men). You simply DO NOT KNOW if the difference in playing strength between winner and loser is equal in the two groups that you are comparing.

You have as a selection criteria tournaments for women and tournaments for men (something that do not exist) but you include games where a world champion plays a simultan against an amateur but only proper tournament for women (because that is all you find with the label women). Do you not realize that you are introducing a bias here?

Your claim that 3 move mates are a valid criteria for deciding levels of beatifulness is plain nonsense! There is NO basis in reality for this claim!
azlan azlan 2/28/2016 01:32
Not every chess player, ivan3ivanovich. I worked with quite a few in developing the model. You sound agitated. Perhaps you need a nap.
ivan3ivanovich ivan3ivanovich 2/28/2016 01:27
@azlan

I asked what YOUR qualifications where regarding chess and how it is played. Would you care to answer that question?

Your entire research is based on assumptions that have no basis in reality and every chess player can spot the flaws and several have pointed them out to you here and in other places. Disregarding all critique from people with knowledge of the subject matter and resorting to ad hominem attacks to try and deflect their criticism is not a way usually considered very effective in defending a point.

You sir, are a fool and you deserve to be told so to your face!