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A chess gender study in the media
New study: Gender, Competition and Performance: Evidence from Chess Players
Backus, P, Cubel, M, Guid, M, Sanchez-Pages, S & Lopez-Manas, E 2022, 'Gender, competition and performance: evidence from chess players', Quantitative Economics.

This paper studies gender differences in performance in a male-dominated compet-
itive environment; chess tournaments. We find that the gender composition of chess
games affects the behaviors of both men and women in ways that worsen the outcomes
for women. Using a unique measure of within-game quality of play, we show that
women make more mistakes when playing against men. Men, however, play equally
well against male and female opponents. We also find that men persist longer before
losing to women. Our results shed some light on the behavioral changes that lead to
differential outcomes when the gender composition of competitions varies.

A Telegraph article yesterday reports on this study. I don't recommend that article; the hyperlinks go to other Telegraph stories that are only tangentially related to the point claimed, if at all. I couldn't find a link to the study in the article, which is par for the course as 'the papers' like to embroil you in their own interpretations.

But the study itself is interesting on a brief skim. When they say "We also find that men persist longer before losing to women" it suggests men playing on resignable positions, as the Telegraph headlines. I do recognize such attitudes, probably more from past times than present - it would be useful to hear the views of female players.
But as regards the study data on this, I couldn't see where the study took any account of the appearance of a resignable position on the board in each game included. I might have missed it among the mathematical detail, but it looked like they may have been using the length of the games as the measure of how long a player 'persisted'. This would be a much weaker starting point than starting from a 'resignable' position. As I say I might be wrong about that, but the difference that emerged in the length of the 'persisting' (between men vs men and men vs women), however persisting is defined, was quite small, and could be explained by matters of playing style in the games, an admittedly subjective variable the authors avoided taking into account. It's an average of course, which might be caused by a small proportion of very unreasonable players!

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