Dušan Veličković, Dragan Radovanović

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Women are underrepresented and underperformanced in chess at the top level. An explanation for the small number of female chess players because chess is an intellectually demanding activity would support the view of biological gender differences in intellectual abilities. However, despite different theories, there is no scientific evidence for sex specific intellectual performance differences. Furthermore, memory is heavily implicated in chess performance and is also often used to explain sex differences. Many novel findings are emerging and complementing cognitively-oriented research on chess. Sex stereotypes can have a greatly debilitating effect on female players leading to a sharp decline in performance when competing with males in chess. Women generally score lower than men both on aggressiveness and dominance and at the same time during a chess game, mental fatigue occurs earlier in women. This is usually explained by the fact that in the female body glycogen content is lower compared to males due to hormonal conditions and therefore unable to meet the demands for fast energy. Women also seem disadvantaged because they approach chess competitions with less confidence and with a more cautious attitude than their male counterparts. A motivational perspective may be better suited for understanding the underperformance of women as chess players. Studies of psychology, physiology and biochemistry of chess players should be used to improve the practice and pedagogy for male and female chess players.


chess, gender, biological differences, intellectual performance

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