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Record Set For World's Youngest Chess Champion 214

Pickens writes "Hou Yifan, a 16-year-old chess player from China, became the youngest world chess champion on Friday, in the final of the Women's World Chess Championship held in Antakya, Turkey, toppling a record held since 1978. Currently, the top-ranked woman is Judit Polgar of Hungary, who is thought to be the best female player in history but Polgar, once ranked No. 8 in the world among all players, men and women combined, does not compete in women's tournaments and did not play. No one really knows why the best female players are typically not as good at chess as the best men. One theory, common among some top male players, is that men are usually more aggressive by nature than women, and are therefore better suited to a game that simulates warfare. Another, cited in at least one university study, is that the talent pool among women has not been big enough to produce many great players."
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Record Set For World's Youngest Chess Champion

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  • Talent pool (Score:5, Informative)

    by Amorymeltzer ( 1213818 ) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @11:53PM (#34668446)

    The same argument is sometimes applied to certain fields like math, etc., where men seem to be more successful than women. On average, men and women perform at the same level; the difference comes in the distribution. Men supposedly tend to cluster at the really high and really low levels, so while 4/5 of the best may be male, 4/5 of the very worst will also be male. It's a thought-provoking theory, and there is actually some evidence for it, but there is also plenty of evidence against it and it isn't one to make lightly. Like many other areas, it is likely really smart women are tragically funneled elsewhere or pushed to do something "more appropriate."

    More concretely, the concept that chess simulates war is simply outdated. Civilization, Warcraft III, and half the console games these days simulate war. Chess is an artful mastery of planning, brainpower, and pattern recognition that cannot be matched, but it's NOT warfare, not the way it matters.

  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:25AM (#34668558) Journal

    When I've gone to chess clubs, the ratio of people having sex vs not having sex at the club, is pretty much always 0 to X [X being the number of people at the club].

    But I did not spend a lot of time in the washrooms, so the ratio might be slightly higher than what I observed.

  • by milkasing ( 857326 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:35AM (#34668580)
    Kasparov at 22 became the youngest unified chess champion. But he is not the youngest ever -- Ruslan Ponomariov won the Fide chess championship in 2002 (during the split, in a knockout format).He was 18 at the time.
  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @06:20AM (#34669268)

    Are you forgetting that 2010 was the year Magnus Carlsen became the youngest ever FIDE top-rated chess player in the world? []

    This did happen in January, so you could be forgiven for not remembering so far back. :-)


  • by wan9xu ( 1829310 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#34670324)
    yes, because the american kids often--though not always--have a conscious choice whether to put effort into the competition. and these kids also receive the same education, if they choose to, as every other kid.

    you have to realize that chinese society is highly competitive because of the population. education is a constant battle among peers. talents like the girl in this article was "manufactured" for lack of a better word. they were picked out at an early age and entered into the athlete training system, in which hard training is the routine day in and day out because these kids are also competing within themselves for the top spot in sports. only a few make it--good for them. the rest end up being dropped out.

    problem is that the athlete manufacturing system has a different--reduced--education curriculum. in china standardized exams dictate where students stand in job markets, and a different curriculum spells doom for those not taught as such. this reduced curriculum makes it very hard for the athlete dropouts to merge back into the ordinary crowd to compete. the later the dropout, the worse, since they wasted more time on athletic training.

    any visible international competition has its counterpart training program in china. aside from sports, there's also programs for math olympiad, physics, computer sciente, etc. kids in those programs fare better because those subjects are within the academic curriculum and are valued by the chinese universities.

    i know, because i was one of them.

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