Lion of the Blogosphere

Will chess become popular with women?

An article in today’s NY Times says that “‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess.”

The actress Beth Behrs has a new obsession — chess — and the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” is to blame. Her obsession even got her into trouble on the set of the CBS show “The Neighborhood,” where she plays Gemma Johnson.

“They yelled at me at work yesterday because I was hiding my phone under my script,” she said. “I should have been acting and I was playing on Chess.com.”

As typical for this type of “reporting,” the journalist who wrote the article found a few people to prove the articles point of view, and then headily announces that it’s a new trend.

Now fact-based reporting, not found in this article, does tell us that chess as increased in popularity many times normal since the release of the Netflix series, and statistics from websites like Chess.com tell us that a higher percentage of the new signups are women than is typical for the chess site, but still despite the Netflix series being about a female chess player, a very solid majority of the newly-interested chess players are male.

According to an article at Salon.com, chess streamer Antonio Radić says “Normally my viewership is 98% male, 2% female. Right now, as we’re experiencing this boom, it’s now up to 3.6% female, so nearly doubled.”

According to Google Trends, searches for “chess” have approximately tripled since The Queen’s Gambit game out. Google doesn’t break down by men vs women, but it does tell us that chess is most popular in Vermont and least popular in Mississippi.

I do believe that women are heavily influenced by trends, so if it’s perceived that chess is the new trend for women, then more women will try it, at least for a while. But ultimately, I think that despite the new promotion of girl chess players, chess is something that the vast majority of people with two X chromosomes will find BORING.

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Can women even play as well as men? Obviously a top female chess player like Judit Polgar can beat the vast majority of men, but it’s unknown if the average woman lacks raw ability to play the game compared to the average man, or if they just don’t play as well because only men can get so interested in playing and winning at chess that they devote a huge amount of time and mental resources into getting better at it.

* * *

Chess can be profitable for an attractive young women because it’s much more exciting for viewers to watch such an attractive young woman stream chess online than to watch a man with the same playing ability.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 10, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Posted in Nerdy stuff

36 Responses

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  1. There will almost certainly be no increase in the number of elite female chess players because women generally lack the obsessiveness required to become elite. I would think that the increase in women generally being interested in chess will diminish over time. A lot of this interest appears to be motivated by the idea of ‘women being able to do anything men can do’ which does not make for long term interest in something.

    Brett

    December 10, 2020 at 1:39 PM

  2. Whatever you said about women and minorities playing D&D, just apply it to chess. Remember folks: If white men dominate or enjoy something, it’s objectively problematic.

    Brendan

    December 10, 2020 at 2:31 PM

    • D&D inherently has a lot more potential to appeal to women than chess. Women are a LOT more interested in theater/drama than men, especially straight men, and D&D has a theater element. Women also like to cooperate on a team, and D&D is usually that as well.

      What appeals more to men than women about D&D is the power fantasies, the complex rules, the idea of depicting a character with numerical stats, and the grid-based tactics, but a group can easily de-emphasize those things. There’s a lot of freedom in how the game is played.

      Chess however is pure abstract deterministic 1v1 competition played on a grid. There’s not a single thing about chess that has any possibility of appealing more to women than men, except maybe that the inanimate object we refer to as “the Queen” is the most powerful piece. That’s not gonna do it.

      Wency

      December 11, 2020 at 6:04 AM

      • Wency’s comment comparing D&D to chess is great. Great analysis.

        And regarding the queen: I’ve never thought of that chess piece as being female. Even though, theoretically, it’s named after the wife of a king.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 11, 2020 at 10:11 AM

      • I learned how to play chess from the computer game “Battle Chess” on our family’s aging IBM XT, and later our 386, at roughly 6-7 years old. The cover of that game had a rather sexy queen with some cleavage showing. I was too young to be interested in girls, but I suppose I was never too young to take an interest in cleavage. And that game influenced the pieces’ identity in my mind ever after.

        Wency

        December 11, 2020 at 3:37 PM

    • Most of the chess hustlers in NYC are black men.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      December 11, 2020 at 8:35 AM

      • I wish we could give IQ tests to chess hustlers, and find out their typical IQ scores.

        I would guess around 100, which is a standard deviation higher than the average black, but still not especially smart.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 11, 2020 at 10:15 AM

      • Chess is a game of war. Now are battles won at the end due to the higher IQ of your opponent? Given that Whites have been able to subjugate NAMs, yet America lost the Vietnam War. One can make a case that America has won the Iraq War and other conflicts in the Middle East, but they seem like an overreach like Asian conflicts that require extensive bombing and not on the ground combat. FYI, Middle Eastern people aren’t NAMs.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        December 11, 2020 at 11:09 AM

  3. Chess.com has clearly made an effort to be inclusive. Many of the streamers they present are young women. Asian Americans are also force in American chess and Chess.com.

    I mentioned doing Chess.com puzzles in your previous post. While progress was fast at first, it leveled off quite a bit and now progress is slow. These puzzles do have an “IQ test” feel to them. The rules for moving the pieces are pretty simple, but it takes quite a bit of thought to figure out the right combination of moves. I agree with you that one can do well learning openings, end games and strategies. I suspect though that short game tactics require more reasoning.

    Steverino@steverino.com

    December 10, 2020 at 4:19 PM

  4. “chess streamer Antonio Radić says “Normally my viewership is 98% male, 2% female. Right now, as we’re experiencing this boom, it’s now up to 3.6% female, so nearly doubled.””

    Statistics 101, a very small numerical increase from an extremely small base translates into a large percentage increase. But it’s still a very small numerical increase.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    December 10, 2020 at 4:24 PM

  5. Chess can be profitable for an attractive young women because it’s much more exciting for viewers to watch such an attractive young woman stream chess online than to watch a man with the same playing ability.

    But as with video game streamers, the only thing that’s going to matter is whether she’s attractive, not whether she’s any good at the game. I’ve briefly checked out female twitch streamers before, and it’s nauseating to watch them drone on about nothing, their streams utterly devoid of any interesting content, while their notifications constantly ding with white knights sending them donations.

    Hermes

    December 10, 2020 at 4:34 PM

    • “their notifications constantly ding with white knights sending them donations.”

      Like I said, it’s profitable.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 10, 2020 at 11:03 PM

      • Why do men do it? It seems like a much worse investment even compared to giving more or less random women gifts and money (since you know the streamer is getting money from lots of other men).

        alex2

        December 11, 2020 at 12:18 AM

      • People are stupid. This election cycle just proved that. People are even stupider than I had realized they are.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 11, 2020 at 10:10 AM

      • These men might be stupid, but that is not the main reason. The main reason is that our sick society has deprived many men of the opportunity to form families.

        These goofy men should be using their money, their obsessive behavior, and dog-like faithfulness to serve a worthy master, and to tend to a pious woman and a small brood of children, which is exactly what that master would work to give them.

        Before that can happen again, we first need worthy masters again, which we so clearly do not have. Trump was a first look at what that may look like. He is a flawed Mr. Magoo, but he shows that people put their trust in leaders who show trust themselves. Trust in Christ, and trust in the people, trust enough not to distance oneself from them.

        The total failure of our leaders to demonstrate faithfulness, humility, and commitment to what is right, that is the problem.

        Lowe

        December 11, 2020 at 1:23 PM

      • “Trust in Christ”

        I don’t agree that trusting in a dumb superstition from 2000 years ago is going to make America a better place.

        The highest quality countries, like Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, they don’t believe in that nonsense.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 11, 2020 at 4:08 PM

      • I think many people are dumb, because they are. Lately though I have stopped thinking Christ is dumb, because I think only he has the power to transform people.

        I have wondered about what you believe, about the God of Israel, because you show what I think is filial piety, and reverence to the Jewish religion. You also give freely of yourself to strangers like me, for which I am grateful.

        The people of Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore are caught in a terrible demographic trap, one that is presently destroying their best and brightest. Beyond that there is also little to recommend their insights. They wear Western clothes, live in Western-looking buildings, and use technology originally developed by Westerners.

        I have looked for their greatness, and I have not found it. When I look for the greatness of your ancestors or mine, it is easy to find. Maybe the difference is the God of Israel.

        Lowe

        December 11, 2020 at 4:24 PM

      • Japan built a great military force, they only lost to us because they were outnumbered and we had greater resources.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 11, 2020 at 4:25 PM

      • The Japanese are definitely impressive.
        However, that story also makes them sound foolish, and may be evidence they lack divine providence.

        I don’t want to demean East Asians. I am sure many of your readers are East Asian. I can see they have a special place in God’s heart, which is why he put them so far away from the rest of us, in a place where invasion was not so much a present threat.

        Anyway, the West is afflicted by the same demographic crisis facing the East, and it’s even worse here. I think that perhaps God is acting against us, cutting off every avenue of escape from Him.

        Lowe

        December 11, 2020 at 4:57 PM

    • On a related note, the Normal Nudes subreddit has to be one of the most depressing corners of the Internet. Women of varying degrees of hotness will send in nude photos, generally but not always hiding their faces, and almost without exception will whine about their hideous hip dips/belly pooches/mom boobs/beef curtains. Either they’re trolling or actually do have horrible self images. Whatever the case, there ALWAYS are many comments from white knights saying “You’re so hot!” or words to that effect, whether the woman in question actually is hot or not.

      Peter

      ironrailsironweights

      December 11, 2020 at 1:11 AM

      • All that “white knighting” on the internet amazes me. If I was there, in person, with people I know, then sure I’d be polite and say something nice. But on the internet, why can’t people admit the truth? And anyone who does say the truth gets shouted down or downvoted or blocked or whatever, unless it’s on a very niche site like this one. It made me realize that “the emperor’s new clothes” could easily be a true story.

        ack-acking

        December 11, 2020 at 2:24 PM

    • Any game can be profitable for an attractive young woman. She could stream herself playing Hungry Hungry Hippos if there’s enough thirsty simps willing to drop $10 for access to her.

      njguy73

      December 12, 2020 at 2:28 AM

      • I don’t know about that. Attractive girls are a dime a dozen (although still vastly outnumbered by beta males).

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 12, 2020 at 3:02 PM

  6. No. Not manly enough.

    Dept of Pandemania

    December 10, 2020 at 4:46 PM

    • If the main character of that show was nerdier and less than a 7, we wouldn’t be hearing all the grrrl power nonsense.

      Dept of Pandemania

      December 10, 2020 at 4:49 PM

  7. Women will not move into Chess since it is really a guy thing, it is hard to get good at it, and there is no reward for being good.

    superdestroyer

    December 10, 2020 at 7:08 PM

  8. I do believe women are more elicited by aesthetics/looks than facts.

    After showing a few ladies pictures of the Hudson Valley City of Peekskill, they were like ok, it looks ok.

    Then showing them images of the fancy Main St in the City of Beacon just 30 minutes further up north of the river and it’s like Mr. Handsome or Sexy for them.

    So women are more impressed by smoke and mirrors than substance.

    Smart men understand the power of the media and never underestimate it.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    December 10, 2020 at 7:09 PM

  9. a big part of why women avoid nerdy hobbies is to avoid the betas who participate in them, and women who do participate in them are often disturbed in some way

    gm

    December 10, 2020 at 7:46 PM

    • A lot of black guys play chess in NYC so it’s not really beta thing. Women similar to blacks are more motivated via something like Pavlov’s theory where classical conditioning of a stimuli is associated with a reward/elicits pleasure. Women haven’t been conditioned to associate chess as a game that provides them with a reward or provides them with aesthetic pleasure. Now the question remain, why do a lot of blacks from the hood enjoy a game of chess?

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      December 11, 2020 at 8:30 AM

      • Because black men, and low class people in general, love to gamble.

        Lowe

        December 11, 2020 at 1:13 PM

  10. I, a woman, have a theory. Now I don’t think is the whole answer but it is worth thinking about.

    Games can be classified as competitive aggressive (like Checkers, you succeed by taking the other player’s game pieces away) or competitive passive (like Chinese Checkers, you don’t interact that way).

    I never like checkers. I didn’t like taking the other person’s pieces away. Chinese Checkers was fine.

    I realize there’s far more to chess that either of these two games. But I wouldn’t even try it for this reason.

    Frau Katze

    December 11, 2020 at 3:53 AM

    • What about female soccer? Or better, women’s volleyball?

      There are more female soccer players than chess players.

      I guess it’s all about reward. If chess playing was a career that pays a good salary, then women may take it up.

      So why do black men become chess hustlers who make a small pittance playing a game that requires them to think deeper? They could just dance and rap in the public and earn money that way.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      December 11, 2020 at 11:18 AM

  11. There is no “female chess player like Judit Polgar” — there is only Judit, she is quite unique. Even her sisters didn’t play at that level.

    On the other hand, in 2020 chess is an esport and many of the top players stream on twitch or youtube. Female players are well-represented if not equally prominent: Anna Rudolf, Alexandra Botez, Anna Cramling and others have large followings.

    Even if larger male variability and male obsessiveness are the major components of male dominance of top-level chess, if social/casual chess picks up it’s quite plausible that it could be more balanced at the lower levels.

    Compare to equestrianism, which at grass-roots is 90% female but at top competitive level is about 40% female (though chess pieces are unlikely to ever appeal to women like ponies do)

    anomalygb

    December 11, 2020 at 10:56 AM

  12. Like the rootless cosmopolitan Bolshevik that he is, Lion condescendingly pisses on Christianity. However, he fails to acknowledge the fruit of his God-hating, secular view: broken families, mass murder of unborn children, and the inability to distinguish between biological sex. There is a lot more rotten fruit. These are just three examples

    Prole in Idaho

    December 13, 2020 at 11:03 AM

  13. “… he fails to acknowledge the fruit of his God-hating, secular view: broken families, mass murder of unborn children, and the inability to distinguish between biological sex. ”

    Nah. Those are more the results of inept and –historically– Christian-based tax-rate policy.

    Robert the Libertarian

    December 14, 2020 at 6:14 AM


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