Mating : the overtones as most important pieces on the chess board

The chess world is a fairly conservative culture;  open to women competing with men, yet strangely patriarchal in terms of history.   It is not gaming pe se, but rather considers itself a sport, or more precisely bigger than any description could contain. And they are probably right. The relation between sexuality and chess has always been a minefield; T.S. Eliot wrote a section of the Wasteland devoted to it, about the black and white separation where the eroticism is either untouchable or coarse and vulgar. No middle ground.

"Rootless and troubled times that have been with us since 1462, or thereabouts, when there was the first recorded incident of board rage..."

The more you play, the more that becomes apparent, like Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception”. It might sound strange but chess games can be beautiful,stylish, aggressive,even violent, humorous, chaotic and sometimes even lyrical: but always emotionally charged. Its said the game was imported form the east, so its Babylonian roots, though not manifest, may be present.The chess board-like type of magic square design isis said to be not unknown in Kabalistic and occult circles. In addition chess is the favorite game of the mythical goddess Isis or Ishtar, and a variation of the game was played by Aleister Crowley….

"When Crown invites Vicki to his mansion, she eyes his highly stylized chess set. Crown asks her, "Do you play?" and she responds "Try me." By the 12th move they reach a postion that occurred in the game Zeissl-Walthoffen, Vienna 1898 (Ruy Lopez, Schliemann variation). The game played is very seductive (perhaps the sexiest chess scene ever recorded in the movies and lasted over 7 minutes), and just before she is about to mate (she announces "check"), Crown circles the chess board and says, "Let's play somethng else" and sweeps her off her feet, embracing and kissing. A different mating game is then played, and I am sure he wins this one. The music score for this scene (besides "The Windmills of Your Mind") is called "The Chess Game," composed and conducted by Michel Legrand. The chess scene was spoofed in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me---

…While many get upset about any mention of sex in chess, implied sexuality is tolerated. Who can forget one of the most sexually charged chess scenes in film history, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968), where Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway stare longingly at each other while fingering the chess pieces? Yet, chess fans were so happy to see chess on the big screen that the implication was “forgiven” in light of the notoriety that our game/sport/art garnered….

---The lecture was interesting. Jennifer read from a portion of her book where she discussed Reuben Fine's provocative theories of gender in chess from his book The Psychology of the Chess Player. "The profuse phallic symbolism of chess provides some fantasy gratification of the homosexual wish, particularly the desire for mutual masturbation. This is, of course, completely repressed." Um yeah. Completely repressed. Thanks Reuben. Pretty racy stuff for 1956 though. Fine had reduced the game of chess to an oedipal struggle between a boy and his father. The psycho-sexual symbolism of "mating" the king, the most impotent (yet important) piece on the board was not lost on him. Fine even ventured to suggest that even the rule about not touching your piece until you're ready to move was a veiled warning against *ahem* self-abuse. Or maybe he just had a dirty mind. Listening to Jennifer expound on this topic fraught with sexual overtones and double entendres was made only the more fascinating by the presence of about half a dozen pre-teen children in the audience. I was sitting next to eight-year-old Odette Moolten (and before you ask: yes I've played her before and yes she has beaten me) and I don't know what was more priceless - the confused glances she shot her father or the squirming he did in his chair.---

…I’ve long held that chess would gain in popularity if it had more colorful (dare I say it: sexually charged) players who could grab the attention of the man/woman off the street. Once people see that chess is not just for nerds, but also for real people who love all that life has to offer, more people might give it a serious try.( Jeremy Silman )Read More: a

Kristen Schall


“In chess the debate is different: whether there should exist female-only tournaments at all.

There are two relevant distinctions between tennis and chess. The first is that in our culture discussion about cognitive skills is far more sensitive and value-loaded than that about

ical prowess. The second is that in tennis women are excluded from men’s tennis and vice versa. But in chess, while men are excluded from women’s tournaments, no woman is ever excluded from a chess tournament simply on the basis of her sex. The best female chess player in history, the Hungarian Judit Polgar – who at one stage reached the world’s top ten – has eschewed female-only tournaments.

Francesco Beda. The Chess Game. "In his subtle composition Signor Beda shows that things are not as they appear on the serene surface, and that there are the tensions lurking behind the mask of domestic bonhommie, from which chess provides merciful relief. The warm glow from the hearth raises the temperature in the melodrama coming to a boil after several days a-stewing in the emotional pressure cooker of typical family Christmas (though refreshingly free, as it is, from the trappings of rampant commercialism of our modern times). There's trouble a-brewing as the two fellows compete for the attentions of the fair lady. Let's hope that she manages to avert fisticuffs (poor lass, but 'tis the season for parrying winter duel). Beyond, somewhat inappropriate fire-side canoodling leaves the coast clear for a posse of little darlings to squabble over their presents, and feed dolly to the dog. Wise old Father Christmas has legged it, and the chess players can hardly be blamed for making themselves scarce by the window. When the lid comes off they'll be hoping the mess doesn't dump on their board."

Why men beat women at chess is a contentious question. Some answer nurture, others nature, still others, a combination of the two. But the science has to be worth undertaking: any rationale for all-female tournaments ought to be responsive to its findings. If ‘nurture’ is the main explanation, then the justification for all female chess tournaments will be similar to the justification for sex separation in tennis. But if the main explanation is nurture, and we can look forward to a possible world in which there is no significant gap between the chess accomplishments of men and women, then the issue becomes how best to reach this world….


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---f someone someday stages a contest “Miss Chess World”, WGM Maria Manakova from Moscow will win it many points ahead of the others. Maria was on the top women chess players’ lists for many years – and now she is in TV journalism. Her favorite theme – “Chess and Sex”. Maria, in chess you are women’s grandmaster. What about sex? People started to think about me as a specialist in sex because I once said that a woman should be woman all the time – at home, at work and at the chess board. Very often women chess players devote their entire lives to chess. They have no age, no sex. Maybe that’s why my words attracted attention. What changes if those clever women also become sexual? If women chess players become more attractive, more sexual, many things will change. Spectators and journalists will pay more attention at them, chess will become more popular. It would be great if in chess we will have someone as popular as Anna Kournikova is in tennis.---


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