Chess master Nigel Short thinks we should simply accept that men's brains may be wired better for chess than women's. As he told New in Chess magazine, "Rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact," according to the Telegraph.
Short's thinking is outdated, sexist and just plain wrong. Case in point: A woman had "dominated" the game for "more than 20 years."
That woman is recently retired chess champion Judit Polgar — a prodigy who became the youngest grandmaster ever at age 15, beating Bobby Fisher's record, and who has, in fact, beaten Short himself.
Polgar perfectly responded to his comments Monday in Time: "We are capable of the same fight as any other man, and I think during the decades that I actively played chess I proved it as well."
"It's not a matter of gender, it's a matter of being smart," she added. Checkmate.
Polgar knows what she's talking about. The only woman to ever beat world champion Garry Kasparov, she's regarded as one of the most talented players in the world, and has fought against the game's undeniable gender divide by refusing to compete in women-only chess events.
While women have competed with men at upper level events since the late 1980s, champion titles are still separated by gender. The World Chess Federation's two most difficult titles to earn are "Grandmaster" and "International Master," which are open to anyone, followed by "Woman Grandmaster" and "Woman International Master."
Female players say there's a persistent culture of sexism among competitors at all levels. "Chess definitely has a problem with sexism, I have faced it all my career," Sabrina Chevannes, a British women's international master, told theTelegraph, adding that she's faced plenty of sexist jokes and put-downs during competition.
Polgar's father maintained that because chess is a "purely mental competition," his daughter should be able to compete with men, according to CNN.
"I grew up in what was a male dominated sport, but my parents raised me and my sisters [to believe] that women are able to reach the same result as our male competitors if they get the right and the same possibilities," Polgar told Time on Monday.
Polgar is also actively providing solutions to sexism in the chess world through the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation, which, she told Time, sees an equal number of boys and girls compete in chess at equal levels. "Whenever I speak to parents or to kids, I always encourage them that if they believe, if they do the work, if they are really dedicated, then they can do it," she said. "No matter whether they are a boy or a girl."