What's your profession?

by Irina Bulmaga
2/22/2021 – Irina Bulmaga is a chess professional from Romania but she has sometimes found it difficult to explain to non-chess players what this means. Until recently - when she had an interesting conversation about chess, women's chess, Judit Polgar, Garry Kasparov, and others topics, while waiting for an official document. | Photo: Irina Bulmaga | Photo: David Llada

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Some days ago, I was sitting in a waiting room in an attempt to renew a lost document. There was only one young lady ahead of me, so I hoped to get everything done in an hour or so (hail Romanian bureaucracy!). We were both looking around, then checking our phones, then looking around again…  After about 15 minutes, she introduced herself:

"Hi, I’m Maria! And you?"
"Irina, nice to meet you!"
"An elderly couple is in the office, they told me they needed copies of documents they had lost more than 20 years ago… Might take a while…".
"Oh, I see… Well, I’ve got a lot of time these days…"
"It’s the other way around for me… What do you do? I’m a journalist- very lucky to actually have more work than ever these days!"

I remembered why I’m usually trying to avoid talking to strangers – in taxis, at the hairdresser, on planes or just in a waiting room: eventually all conversations get to the "What do you do for a living?" point. If I say that I’m a professional chess player, usually a sort of a questionnaire "So you play chess?", "You must be very smart, right?", "And can you make money out of it?", "How many moves can you see ahead?", "Do you know Anatoly Karpov?", "Do women also play chess?".

After spending some years trying to explain what a professional chess player is, I concluded that it’s much easier to say "I’m an accountant" or something else – then no one seems to be interested if I know my way around numbers and taxes or if I’m smart or not or if women can count… It’s also not entirely a lie, as I studied Economics at University and took some courses in accounting.

Do you know Anatoly Karpov? | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Let’s get back to Maria and ‘our’ waiting room. I was in a good mood, as it was one of the rare days I could wear something different than my pyjamas. It also seemed to be a good occasion to have a real conversation (not via Skype or phone) and last, but not least, Maria seemed to be an interesting lady – fit, wearing smart clothes, nicely done hair – but that could be easily explained by her being a journalist. Anyhow, I was intrigued… I once also wanted to be a journalist, and she seemed about my age I took a leap of confidence.

"I am a professional chess player."
"A chess player! Are you among the best in Romania?"
"Well, I am actually the highest rated woman in Romania…"
"Cool! A Simona Halep’ of chess!"
"Not really, I’m ranked only 31st in the World among women, and I haven’t won any ‘Grand Slams’ so far, but I hope my best results are still ahead…"
"You keep saying ‘among women’, do you also compete against men?"
"Well, in chess, women are somewhat privileged – we can compete in both men’s and women’s tournaments, but I mostly play in the latest, as the chance to win a prize is higher."
"Does that mean that men are better at chess? Don’t get me wrong – I’m a convinced feminist! I’ve actually interviewed some Romanian chess players, but they always avoid this theme."
"Yes, I get it… Being a woman, I’ve given this theme a lot of thought… From one point of view, there is only one woman among the top 100 but the number of women playing chess is also much lower compared to men – for every woman playing chess there are at least 100 men… I do indeed believe that men are better at chess then women but the causes behind it go much deeper than the stereotype ‘Men are smarter than women’."

The Romanian tennis player Simona Halep | Photo: si.robi (Source: Wikipedia)

At this moment we were interrupted by a man, who entered the room and asked, "Who’s the last in line?". "It’s me", I answered. The man sat down on a next to us and said, "Ok, thank you! I haven’t expected the queue to be so short…".

Then, Maria resumed our conversation.

"So, why, do you think, men play chess better than women?"
"Well, one reason is what I mentioned before, the fact that there are separate tournaments for men and women. Otherwise, women would have to do better, and could not be content with just being the best among themselves… It would also mean that we would play against stronger opponents and like in any other field – the stronger your opponent, the better your own game becomes. You know, I’ve noticed that if I play in strong ‘men’s tournaments’ for a few months, and then I play in a women’s tournament, my result is usually much better in the latter, as I’m used to strong opposition. But if it’s the other way around, my results might be weaker, as I’m used to opponents who make more mistakes, and instead of trying to push hard myself I then tend to be lazy and just wait for these mistakes to happen. Which will cost you against better players."
"Then the solution seems to be very simple – just cancel separate tournaments and let men and women compete in the same tournaments, right?"
"Hm, in the short term that would mean the ‘death’ of women’s chess, but in the long run it might indeed be a solution, though there’s still a problem – you know that chess is a non-Olympic sport, and if it ever wants to become one, it should keep both categories separate, men’s and women’s, otherwise it could be no longer called a sport…".
"Right, but is chess really a sport? I was always thinking of it as a game…".
"I definitely think it’s a sport because it takes a lot of physical strength to be able to focus for five or more hours in a row! The top players are all fit and work a lot on their physical condition! That is actually the second reason why I think that men are better at chess than women – they are physically stronger… You know, some years ago they conducted an experiment during a top tournament, and measured the heartbeat of the players and the calories they burned during a game, and the results were very interesting: on average they burned no less than 500 kilocalories per game, and in some cases this went up to nearly a 1000! So, how can one say that chess is not a sport?"
"Wow, so if you play chess you can eat all you want without having to worry about gaining weight!"
"I usually lose about two to three kilos when I play in an important event…"
"Hm, I’ve never thought that chess involves that much physical effort, I’ve always seen it as a ‘mind game’… But as a woman, I still don’t like this big gap in strength… Though if you’d allow Simona to play in men’s events I doubt that she would do well against Djokovic or Nadal…"
"That’s what I was thinking as well… Of course, chess is not such a physical sport as tennis … In fact, I think that women could find ways to compensate their lack in physical strength – at least in chess, but that would take a big change in everyone’s mentality! Take the example of the Polgar sisters: Susan, the eldest of the three sisters, was Women’s World Champion, while the youngest, Judit, was competing only against men, and I think, that’s why she became the strongest woman in chess history. She won top tournaments and even managed to beat Garry Kasparov, who some consider to be the best player of all time!"
"Yes indeed, if families and coaches would encourage little girls to compete against boys from an early age, things might be different!"
"You’ve just read my mind!".

Judit Polgar | Photo: André Schulz

Suddenly, the door of the office opened and I saw the elderly couple coming out with a smile. "We’ve solved everything, Maria! What a lucky day, we’ll be getting back our birth certificates and we’ll be able to apply for a passport! We’re missing our grandchildren so much! They’re living with their parents in the UK…", the lady said with tears of happiness in her eyes. "The next one, please!", a surprisingly kind voice came from the office.

"Go, Maria, go! Good luck to you! Keep up the good work! I like your interviews and articles so much! You’re an inspiration to all the women! I wish there was someone like you who told me that women can do as well as men when I was your age, maybe I could then be brave enough to become a surgeon, as I dreamed of… Well, at least I’ll do my best to ensure my granddaughters will follow their dreams! Everything is possible these days, I’m learning English, you know…", the elderly lady said enthusiastically.

"Who’s next???", the ‘office voice’ did not sound as kind as before this time… "Good luck to you too, madam, and good health!", Maria said and went into the office.

"Let’s go, Mihai, you still have your doctor’s appointment and I should call Laura – tell them we’re coming to the UK next month, we should buy tickets, I am so excited to fly for the first time!". "You’re crazy, woman!", the man said, taking his wife’s hand gently and giving her the most endearing look…

The day had been full or surprises and positive emotions, and I decided that the next time, when someone asks me what do I do for a living, I will say that I’m a professional chess player and then answer: "Yes, I play chess, and I am smart indeed, and I can make money out of it, and I can see ten moves ahead, and I’ve actually met Anatoly Karpov, and I am a woman indeed, and I could not be more proud of it!"



Irina Bulmaga is a WGM/IM born in Moldova, currently representing Romania. She became the youngest Moldavian Champion among Women at the age of 14 years old. Since 2010, she has been a part of the Romanian Olympic team, successfully representing it at 5 Olympiads, winning an individual bronze medal in 2014.
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adbennet adbennet 2/28/2021 06:15
I'll return to this a penultimate time, because I may have incorrectly accused TheDock of a mistake. When he said "a chess player doesnt sweat" he may have meant a chessplayer doesn't sweat _much_. If that's what he meant, then it wasn't a mistake, it was just a figure of speech that I would have avoided. But anyway, sweating or lack thereof is just further evidence to support my case. Calories burned -.> heat generated -.> sweating -.> evaporative cooling. Since chessplayers sweat less than athletes, they must not be burning as many calories, therefore they are not burning 6,000 kcal/day. QED.

The ultimate time I will return here will of course be if Professor Sopolsky replies to my email.
adbennet adbennet 2/28/2021 05:03
I didn't say anything about your incorrect sweating claim because it's not conclusive for the weight loss. The fact is sweating is one of only three ways the body loses water, and each of those three ways dominates in different circumstances. But I tentatively retract my claim it's mostly water loss. If someone were claiming to lose large amounts of fat in a day then it would almost certainly be water and not fat. But they could theoretically lose weight by burning large amounts of glycogen, which would then be eliminated as CO2 and H2O. The water lost in that scenario is incidental to the quite real weight lost.

Look, I can't convince you for two reasons. First, you are so enamoured of your appeal to authority logical fallacy that no matter what I say you don't care. This despite the fact that I didn't say Sapolsky was wrong. I said the CNBC / ESPN paragraph was wrong. And it is wrong. Second, it would require quite a large body of fact and argument to conclusively prove that it's not possible. There isn't room for that here on ChessBase, so I simply state it's not possible and give general reasons why I think so. But trust me, as a marathoner I have read extensively on exercise physiology and so when I object I am not just making it up. I could of course be proven wrong, the same as you could prove that the man I call my father is not in fact my father. But I'm pretty confident I am right in both instances.

I didn't even mention before, but a further objection is that 6,000 calories exceeds many times over the amount of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles. For the brain to burn that much glycogen would require a pretty lengthy recovery period. The more I think about it, the *more* reasons I think of 6,000 kcal/day is absurd. But I'm very sorry these don't qualify as facts for you.
TheDock TheDock 2/27/2021 11:15
@adbennet Funny that you know better than Robert Sapolsky a Stanford professor of neurology and neurosurgery. I havent seen any facts from you. Your proof its water loss. Which is absolute rubbish. A runner looses water sweating a chess player doesnt sweat. Of course the elite players train durin a tournament. And im also convinced that they eat more. The brain for a ordinary person needs around 400 kcal a day. The body 4-6 times as much. Every highend chess player loses weight during a tournament. Lots of weight. But again Im impressed that you know more than professors and professional players that know facts by themself.
adbennet adbennet 2/27/2021 03:50
I sent Professor Sopolsky a short and polite email about the ESPN article, and received an autoresponse that he is busy writing a book. I assume that means the email will be buried deep in the inbox. But if he does reply I will provide an update here.
adbennet adbennet 2/27/2021 03:00
The invisible gorilla!
Christopher Chabris is/was a chess player! Small world.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/26/2021 11:19
On a side note, on a subject mentioned by some here: anyone noticed that there is a gorilla in the room again? Or better, that no one is allowed to notice, as the comment section on the latest chessbase article is unavailable. Peter Doggers on another platform wrote a balanced article about it, and you would expect some kind of reaction by chessbase. And if the mentioned chessbase article was meant as a reaction, you would expect an open attitude. That other platform also has a history of suppressing discussion when it comes to close to their commercial interests. For me a reason, after too many cases, to leave that platform.
'Join the public discussion', I read, how? Let's see how long this comment will survive.
adbennet adbennet 2/26/2021 10:20
The ESPN article says "players also eat less during tournaments", which seems a very mundane explanation for weight loss.
adbennet adbennet 2/26/2021 10:06
@TheDock - Yes I still argue. The rest of the CNBC article is factual and reasonable, but the very first paragraph: "Over the course of an intense multi-day tournament, a chess grandmaster could burn up to 6,000 calories a day, Robert Sapolsky, Stanford professor of neurology and neurosurgery, told ESPN." is pure BS. Utter shite. As I already explained why. I followed the ESPN link and a similar statement is made. Again, the ESPN article on the whole is quite good, but that particular pseudo-fact needs to be called out. Since the professor is, well, a professor, I will charitably conclude he was misquoted by ESPN, and CNBC repeated the mistake without fact-checking. And let's get to the point. The article mentions Caruana is a runner. It doesn't say whether he maintains this exercise during a tournament, or what adjustments he makes to his diet and fluids during a tournament. It just says he loses weight and to a concerning degree. Fine. But he doesn't do it by burning 6000 kcal per day. Didn't happen.
TheDock TheDock 2/26/2021 09:04
@adbennet A Amazing even though its a proven scientific fact you still argue. Of course its not water loss. Especially since they constantly refuel with water. When you do something hard physical you sweat. Then you loose a lot of water. Chess, you sit still on a chair. B To loose weight you eat less that you burn. Atlethes in cycling and especially body buldning they eat by far more than 4000 calories. The reason that a chessplayer like Caruana can loose 5 kilos on a tournament is that he eats normal but the brain goes on maximum. Furthermore, of course if youre welltrained you perform better in chess. I do think most of the eliteplayers do tought cardio training. Playing chess o highest level for 7 hours is a real challenge for brain and body.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 2/26/2021 01:39
And you can have 'verbal sports', like competitive stand-up, debates in parliament (much the same thing), and the famous Argument sketch, where you can almost imagine a chess board:


This was blitz - Meister gegen Amateur - the four-and-a-half hour game must be quite exhausting. Who am I to say arguing isn't sport? Which means Abuse probably is, too.

Wasn't poetry an olympic sport a hundred+ years ago?
Keshava Keshava 2/26/2021 12:02
Another way to view the term 'sport' is how an activity is organized. In this sense you can have 'athletic sports', 'e-sports' and 'mind sports'. That being said players like Fischer, Kasparov and Carlsen felt that their athletic condition helped THEIR performance. At their primes I would bet on a corporate team that had them on it as opposed to a team that included the greatest players who didn't strive their best to maintain peak physical condition.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/25/2021 08:44
Well, Ad, I drink to that.
adbennet adbennet 2/25/2021 04:31
@Frits Fritschy - I would never claim marathoning makes me a better chessplayer, quite the opposite in fact. It takes time and energy away from chess, and the additional fitness is appropriate for running but probably not much help for chess. The type of fitness I think of as ideal for chess would be more like the (somewhat arbitrary) 10,000 steps, i.e. walking 4 km per day, or about one hour. Most people in the industrialized world don't get that, and therefore I would classify them as unfit. So I put people in broad categories of unfit (normal people), fit (light exercise), and overfit (athletes). Fit people should play chess better than unfit people, on average. But overfit people probably not better than fit people, possibly worse, again on average.
adbennet adbennet 2/25/2021 04:11
@TheDock - (a) Loss of mass is almost certainly loss of water. This is something athletes check by weighing themselves before and after exercise. Any sports physiologist can tell you exactly how much is due to water loss. (b) Burn fuel without replacing it you get hungry. Burning and eating 6000 kcal are both biologically diffucult, I think you would notice, that was my point. Your basal metabolism is less than 2000 kcal per day, normal people gaining unhealthy weight are at +500 kcal per day, performance athletes are total 3500 to 4000 per day, depends on the sport. Triathletes and ultramarathoners are higher. At 4000 kcal per day you have to eat *all the time* just to be able to do it. And, if you eat a huge meal your brain will shut down, athletes may not care but chessplayers certainly would care.
TheDock TheDock 2/25/2021 10:26
#adbennet I find it intersting that you think it's bullshit. Forget proven science, you know best. It's very easy to check that your totally wrong. Chessplayers loses up to 5 kilos during a tournament. What has eating 6000 kcal to do with burning it?
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 2/25/2021 04:37
I have been thinking for some time about whether it may be a difference in physical ability/endurance, which was speculated in the article and below. But how does it jibe with women being much better at ultra-marathons? Something to do with what adbennet mentioned?
It seems this hypothesis is testable - take a large number of chess-players, subject them to physical tests of strength, endurance, etc, check resting heart rate, and see if there is any relationship between any of these factors and elo rating. Also it would be interesting to see whether there is a relationship between testosterone levels and elo.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 2/25/2021 12:04
How many calories does Fat Fritz burn during a game of chess? Would Fit Fritz beat Fat Fritz in a match?

This is what we need to know, in order to decide whether chess is sport or not. Or so it seems.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/24/2021 10:35
The Dock:
Thank you for your link. It clearly shows that energy consumption by the brain when playing chess has nothing to do with physical exercise. Especially the link to a Time article is enlightening. Your brain already uses a lot of energy by just being there - difficult mental tasks up that energy demand by not much more than a mere 5%. As the Time article puts it: 'In terms of its energy demands, an individual thought is cheap, but the machinery that makes it cheap is very expensive'.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/24/2021 10:15
Well, going to antiquity: Mason, Blackburne; a little later: Aljekhine; just mentioned here on chessbase: Kholmov. Could also mention Timman. And many other amazing examples - also take a look at the literary or art world.
Okay, you run marathons. Keep doing so if you're fine with it; maybe you personally benefit from it playing chess. Or maybe your running benefits from playing chess - keeps your mind occupied. Don't talk for others. Chess players deal with stress by physical exercise (Carlsen), heavy drinking (Tal) or heavy smoking (Donner), or twitter (Giri). It all depends on the person.
As I already wrote (sadly it seemed you had no time for reading any further): all of my examples are just anecdotical. I'm not willing to prove heavy drinking is good for anyone's (or other people's) chess.
But you are bypassing my (clearly stated) main question: 'But is being sporty really adding something to a moderate way of living?'

On the kcal issue, we have to wait for further information by Mrs. Bulmaga. She was the one making an unsubstantiated statement, not me. By the way, the best way to burn calories is the pyre - just by sitting.
adbennet adbennet 2/24/2021 06:13
@Frits Fritschy "With all respect, Ad, I have a lot of issues with your comment. 'Chess performance is greatly constrained by total mental exertion and underlying fitness': do you have a statistical basis for this assumption?"

This is known from antiquity. Healthy mind in a healthy body. If you dispute about that I have no time for you. Yes there are always amazing examples of people performing mental tasks at a high level despite being unfit. The keyword is amazing.
adbennet adbennet 2/24/2021 06:08
@TheDock - "Not many sports burns 6000 calories. ... Chess grandmasters can lose 10 pounds and burn 6,000 calories just by sitting"

I call major BS. When I run a marathon (3.5 hours), I burn *only* 2600 kcal and I am *famished*. When I play a 5-round weekend classical tournament (25 hours at the board), I eat a normal diet supplemented by a few at-the-board snacks, and I'm tired but not hungry at all. And how much food is 6,000 kcal? Seriously you should try to eat that much some day, it will be a day you won't forget. Ironman triathletes have to train to be able to eat that much in a day!
TheDock TheDock 2/24/2021 05:06
Chess is absolutely a sport. Not many sports burns 6000 calories.

Chess grandmasters can lose 10 pounds and burn 6,000 calories just by sitting

Airgun is an olympic sport where you are totally relaxed and move one finger less than one mm.
Shakey Shakey 2/24/2021 09:47
Aighearach - agree there.
'Professional chess player' is a non-anagram of 'unable to get a mortgage'.

And did we mention about CB's misleading advertising of successive Fritz products, the last few all derived from free engines? Sharing nothing with the original Fritz engine. I admit, I was taken in. I feel embarrassed to say that, yes, I was taken for a fool by ChessBase. I didn't know. As a long-term CB customer, I will buy no more engines here, and no more database versions. I now look elsewhere. I am disappointed more than angry. I can speak for myself only, but in online discussions, it seems many long term customers are expressing similar views, often more stridently.
Aighearach Aighearach 2/24/2021 01:26
The usual truth is that professional chess players are private (chess) teachers, or journalists, or authors.

Or so poor that "professional" is a bit of misnomer, like a "starving artist" is generally not considered a "professional artist," because they don't make the wages of a professional.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 2/23/2021 10:00
That’s the beauty of chess. There is no weight class. A well-seasoned master with a lot of self-esteem is getting his arse kicked by a nine-year old girl who would have to stand up to deliver mate on the back rank. Or boy. Reality beats fiction.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/23/2021 09:28
With all respect, Ad, I have a lot of issues with your comment. 'Chess performance is greatly constrained by total mental exertion and underlying fitness': do you have a statistical basis for this assumption? Shakey mentioned a few GM's; I would like to add Korobov. Tal played brilliantly, even three weeks before his death beating Kasparov in blitz - when he was hardly alive. Kramnik drank and smoked. I remember a story about Nepomniachtchi, Kramnik and Gelfand thrown out of a restaurant after celebrating the first's tournament victory. Gelfand: also looking like a real sportsman.
Anecdotical evidence, you could call it, and that they would have done múch múch better if they had lived like a monk. Can you prove that?
Okay, you might perform better when you're not suffering from a massive hangover. Or by having a generally unhealthy life style. But is being sporty really adding something to a moderate way of living?

'If you want to know why a group is disadvantaged then it's better to ask someone from that group': not always a good idea, and certainly not on this subject. IM Bulmaga is about the first woman chess player I see writing openly about the separation trap I mentioned. (Of course Judith Polgar didn't need to speak about it, as she - as an exception - had no need to be in that situation.) A lot of female players seem to like the situation where they can make some money without having to overperform - getting good conditions in women only tournaments.
Also the perception that part of the problem might be their fellow girls, not accepting them playing a boy's game as I mentioned before, is not very welcome, I guess.

On a side note: Max Euwe was two meters long and Karpov just over 1,50 (personal observance; I saw them side by side). Like the majority of Russian GM's (with an exception for Kramnik - that must be the explanation!).
adbennet adbennet 2/23/2021 05:41
I won't get into whether chess is a sport or not, although naturally I have my own ideas on the subject. The comparisons of kcal need to be apples-to-apples, particularly whether basal metabolism is included or excluded (total kcal/hr or additional kcal/hr?). Regardless, chess performance is greatly constrained by total mental exertion and underlying fitness.

I never thought before about this strength issue noticed by the International Master, but once raised it makes total sense. Really it just illustrates again, if you want to know why a group is disadvantaged then it's better to ask someone from that group, simply because they have been thinking about the reasons much more! Besides the possibility that men are generally stronger than women, there is also the generalization that they are *larger* than women. In some sports it's better to be small, e.g. in marathon running a smaller person has greater ratio surface area to volume. In other sports it's better to be large, e.g. in power lifting a larger person has greater ratio body mass to lifted mass. It's plausible that the same energy consumption for a larger body is less taxing proportionally. So one would guess that in chess it's better to be large, provided the individual is also fit. Interesting!
Intercentrino Intercentrino 2/23/2021 11:42
An interesting article. I also like that you get caught red handed for not mentioning that Fat Fritz 2 is based on Stockfish and finally mentioned it after big drama.
Shakey Shakey 2/23/2021 10:26
Sport? Oh, my goodness , no.

Do you have to be 'sporty' to be in the top 50 in your country? To be a GM? Dunno, could ask GMs such as Finegold, Epishin. Nice chaps, no doubt, but not obviously 'sportspeople'.

It's not about just burning energy. Dancing does that. Zumba. Jumping up and down. Having intercourse.

Sport - competitive, physical.

Chess - a board game.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/23/2021 10:14
And genem,
The European court case shows that arguing about chess being a sport is not so childish. There is a lot of money involved; not just tax exemption, also subsidies.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/23/2021 10:09
It was Irina Bulmaga who made the connection between physical exercise and chess, and I tried to make clear that her argument was false.
About definitions: the European Court ruled that for tax exemption purposes, games without a clear physical component can't be seen as sports. The ruling pertained to bridge, but the reasoning applies seamlessly to games like chess.

You are right about girls stopping to play chess when entering pubity. I think peer pressure plays a big role here. Female not-chess playing friends (including my partner) see chess as a typical boy thing. Playing chess instead of doing sport already is a bit weird, but that is easier accepted in a boys environment. Not all girls are like Beth Harmon, giving the school girl 'bullies' the shoulder (one of the great scenes in the movie).
karban karban 2/23/2021 09:04
The best woman chess player of a not-so-small country has a problem with revealing what she does to a stranger. That's a bit weird from her side.

The argument that chess is a physical struggle as well as a mental one and thus men has an advantage is a nice point. However, if this is the case, then we should observe less disparity at shorter time controls as blitz game should require less energy input. We don't see it, blitz ranking are similar to classical. There are women in blitz championship but their rests are in line with their ranking. So, it' not a valid argument.

And kids are playing each other, in fact girls do very well against boys in kids tournament, better than in senior sections. Just at some point around 13-15 they start to lose interest in chess more than boys and this hole cannot be filled later. That's the whole story
genem genem 2/23/2021 06:37
Asking whether "chess is a sport" is a childish dictionary question. You tell me your definition of 'sport' and then I can answer whether you consider chess to be a 'sport' (versus a 'game' or whatever word).

More empirically, chess is a 'Digital' sport, whereas golf and bowling are 'Analog' sports. Digital sports benefit enormously from the rise of the Internet. We can play real chess over the web, but we cannot play real golf over the web. Both forms of sport have their advantages.

@fgkdjlkag I agree that a "move" is one turn by one player. The openings are repetitious for twice as many moves as chess discourse usually states. It is no coincidence that chess notation should have used Odd numbers for all White move, and Even numbers for all Black moves.
Logos Logos 2/22/2021 10:36
This was a lovely article - thank you :-)

@Frits Fritschy

I guess the starting point would be the definition of sport; here is one from the Cambridge online dictionary:

"a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job."


Based on the above and my own experience, I consider chess to be a sport. Regardless of how many calories burned, anyone who has played in tournaments knows that they are often energy-draining (both mentally and physically); even a single round could absorb much energy, and physical conditioning makes a big difference.
e-mars e-mars 2/22/2021 09:12
@chessgod0 It's not going to happen any time soon
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/22/2021 09:12
It seems Bulmaga just proves chess is NOT a sport (of course it isn't). 500 kcal in a 4-hour game amounts to about 2 kcal per minute. See for instance this website: www [dot] sharecare [dot] com/health/exercise-weight-loss/how-many-calories-burn-exercising. Home duties cost two times as much energy.
About the separate female chess tournaments trap, they found the solution in Gibraltar: a mixed tournament with high EXTRA prizes for female competitors. I don't know about any other tournaments following this line, could be a nice task for FIDE to promote this (unless they think women are 'badly wired'...?).
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 2/22/2021 07:22
Non-chess players do not consider a move to be a move-pair, so you should double it and say you can see twenty moves ahead!
chessgod0 chessgod0 2/22/2021 06:41
The only way to even remotely have a shot at female world champion is to eliminate sex-segregated titles/prizes/tournaments. Women are going to have to make up their minds about what they want more---the short-term benefits of sex-segregated chess with it's lower risks and lower ceiling...or actual equality with all it's attendant sacrifices and uncertain rewards. Trying to have your cake and eat it too doesn't often work out---you have to made tradeoffs in life.

Until women decide what they want to do, I'm going to ignore sex-based complaining and whining and just enjoy chess for the sake of chess. The way I always have.