April 22, 2015 / 12:15 PM / 4 years ago

Tempest on a chess board: Hungary's Polgar disputes UK's Short

BUDAPEST, April 22 (Reuters) - British chess master Nigel Short has made a bad opening gambit by saying women are inferior at the game, says former Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar, who has defeated the Briton eight times to three.

Short set off a flurry of controversy this month when he told ‘New in Chess’ magazine that men make better chess players than women because they have “different skills”.

He later told Sky News that women were better at a number of things, including better verbal skills, but that the gap in chess was “quite large and I believe that’s down to sex differences”.

The world’s most successful female player, now retired, Polgar said her career was proof that Short was wrong.

“When we had equal conditions, I could compete with the best male players in the world, as a woman, with the proper amount of work, determination, talent and fire needed for fighting,” Polgar, 39, told Reuters in an e-mailed response to questions.

Polgar has beaten 10 male world chess champions and, according to the chess database chessgames.com, beat Short eight times while losing three games to him, with five draws.

Looking to defend himself from charges of sexism, Short said the facts spoke for themselves.

“Of the top 100 chess players, 98 are men,” he wrote in a tweet on April 20, adding that that number would rise to 99 when Polgar falls off the list in August.

Polgar has quit competitions to focus on a programme that employs chess as an educational tool. She said that in schools using her “Chess Palace” method, “there is no difference at all between girls and boys when they play against each other”.

When she became a grandmaster at age 15, she was the youngest person to attain that distinction, male or female.

“In thinking, men and women are indeed different, but you can achieve the same goal of thinking differently, fighting in a different style, from a different direction,” she said. (Reporting by Sandor Peto; Editing by Michael Roddy and Crispian Balmer)

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