The Strange Sex Appeal of Chess

Chess has become sexy? Truly? In what has to be one of the oddest sports rulings I’ve ever heard, the European Chess Union has decided to implement a dress code during chess tournaments.

ECU general secretary Sava Stoisavljevic said that “many of the players were not wearing proper clothes” during games, and lack of said clothing could be giving them an unfair advantage by distracting their opponents. From now on, the females who play will have to be more conservative when picking from their closets before a tournament.

The ECU has put restrictions on the amount of cleavage a player can display. Stoisavljevic says they considered just how many buttons could be undone on a woman’s shirt. The regulations now state that in respect to shirts, the second from the top button may also be opened, in addition to the very top button. Short skirts might be next to go, though there are currently no restrictions.

According to Stoisavljevic, the new dress code was a response to frequent comments made by spectators and coaches and was drafted just in time for the European Women’s Championships in Gaziantep, Turkey. She considers the penalty for non-adherence to the code to be rather harsh: players who don’t abide by the dress standards could be banned from awards ceremonies.

That actually doesn’t seem so harsh to me. In other words, women can still dress like they’re going to the beach rather than playing chess, and win by doing so, but they may have to pick up their winnings privately. The rule seems to imply that they may be banned from the ceremonies, but they may not be.

I would say that if they break the rules, they should be eliminated from the competition altogether. And what’s up with counting the buttons? Anyone who has ever taught middle school or high school knows that allowing the top two buttons to remain unbuttoned will never work. Women who want to break that rule will have shirts made with only two buttons. They can then leave their shirts totally unbuttoned and still be within the rule. The only way to control it is to issue T-shirts or standard tops at the tournament and require everyone, male and female, to wear them.

While searching for a picture for this article I actually came across a photo of a grinning nude man, hand strategically placed, who had lost a game of strip chess. Does the overwhelming emphasis on being sexy have to invade every aspect of our lives? Is the entire globe obsessed with innovative ways to display our body parts? Lewis Carroll would be shocked. Where’s the Queen of Hearts when we need her? She knew how to run a chess game. Off with their heads!

This entry was posted in Quirky news items, Robin Helm on by .

About Robin Helm

Robin Helm's latest work is Understanding Elizabeth, a stand-alone Regency Romance. She joined three other JAFF authors for a best selling Christmas anthology - A Very Austen Christmas. After publishing all three volumes of The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy, she published the Yours by Design Series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours. She and her husband have two adult daughters, two sons-in-law, two granddaughters, a grandson, and a Yorkie Poo named Toby.

17 thoughts on “The Strange Sex Appeal of Chess

  1. Susan Kaye

    Sex invading every aspect of our lives is the ONLY question any more. when you look at most advertising, it’s about sexy women and fumbling men.

    Your point about the two-button shirts is spot on, Robin. Mankind has an extraordinary talent for manipulation. *sigh*


  2. Robin Helm

    Enforcing the dress code was one of my least favorite aspects of teaching. I hated being the shorts police and the shirt inspector. Didn’t their parents know what they were wearing when they left the house? Why do they buy such sexy, revealing clothing for their children?

    And, yes, Susan, people are very good at twisting the rules to suit themselves.


  3. Laura Hile

    It’s the women who are doing the unbuttoning? Figures. We want to be respected for our minds — chess is an intellectual game, after all — but at the same time we want to be admired as attractive. Furthermore, we aren’t above using sexual appeal to our advantage.

    In other words, we don’t fight fair. And we don’t care.

    The objective is to win the chess game, after all. What better way to distract a male opponent than with a little skin? A shameless tactic, but typical.

    Remember Jael in the Bible? The Israelite lady who discovered than an enemy commander had fled to her husband’s encampment? What did she do? Ha. She invited him into the tent, covered him with blankets, and gave him warm goat’s milk to drink. And then, as he was falling asleep, thinking he was safe, she hunted up a tent spike and the equivalent of a sledgehammer. She nailed his head to the floor!

    That’s how women fight.


  4. Robin Helm

    But but doing so, Jael saved her people. That, at least, is a worthy goal. Winning a chess tournament by showing your, uh, “assets” is not.

    It’s the same way in the work place. Women aren’t above using “casting couches” to get a part in a movie or a promotion at their job.

    And then they wonder why we get no respect.


  5. Laura Hile

    Women aren’t above using sex as a power tool, either. I saw this in the law office I worked in.

    A certain secretary, of questionable morals, was a shocking demonstration to my young eyes. (I was just out of college, newly married, and inexperienced in what goes on in a large office.) She would do the “come-on” walk along the expanse of glass-fronted offices. Her weapons? A tight dress, cleavage, and a coy Mona Lisa smile. And that questionable reputation.

    When the right attorney responded — one of the handsome, buff fellows — the two would have an affair. When the wrong ones did — the unattractive “Mr Collins” types — she would cry sexual harassment.


  6. Susan Kaye

    There are times I am ashamed of my sex. Caroline Bingley would say I’m hard on my sex, but there are times I read things and I want nothing more than to turn in my uterus and leave the club.

    I’ve always admire Jael for her cunning. Always know the weakness of your opponent, and when it really counts, use it!


  7. Robin Helm

    Laura, as that woman is older now, I’m doubting that her little ploy is still working. The lawyers can get much younger women who want to sleep their way up the ladder.

    I agree, Susan, though I wouldn’t want to be a man, either. Ha! What does that leave? A dog?


  8. LucyParker

    Who knew chess was sexy? I’m always the one in granny panties, never the one in . . . what? a thong? Checkers and granny panties, that’s me.


  9. Robin Helm Post author

    Sounds like me, too, Terry. I don’t know how my daughters stand to wear thongs. It would feel like a perpetual wedgie to me.



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