The first event of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2022/2023 series takes place from 17-30 September 2022 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. A very strong line-up is headlined by World No. 2 Aleksandra Goryachkina and includes Katerina Lagno, Tan Zhongyi, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Polina Shuvalova, Alina Kashlinskaya, Zhansaya Abdumalik, Elisabeth Paehtz, Zhu Jiner, Bibisara Assaubayeva, Dinara Wagner and Vaishali R (All information / Final list of participants and players allocation)
Katerina Lagno with 7,0/9 and Alexandra Goryachkina with 6,5/9 are in a hot pursuit for the first position in an event where exciting chess has been the dominant theme. Yet, all the efforts on the board are about to be overshadowed by an unacceptable statement by GM Ilya Smirin. During the official broadcast, where Smirin is FIDE’s appointed commentator together with Fiona Steil-Antoni, he admitted to have said that “Chess is not for women”. Moreover, he continued with disgraceful comments towards women chess skills, like “Why women can play against men and men cannot play against women” and “why a woman would want to get a men’s GM title”
Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova commented, “Isn’t it a pure form of discrimination? How can such a man work in the official FIDE broadcast of such an important women’s event? 2022 was announced [by FIDE] the Year of Women in Chess”
This is not the first time to hear such comments from a renowned grandmaster. Nigel Short showed to have similar point of view back in 2015, when claiming men are “hardwired” to be better at the game than women. Three years later, Short was appointed as Vice President of FIDE. In the case of Smirin, FIDE also does not seem keen to act, and Smirin will be on air again tomorrow.
This video started a huge wave of reactions in the chess community. IM Irina Bulmaga said, “Despite my previous sympathy towards GM Smirin as an interesting player & person, I do find his remarks highly disturbing. Very disappointed… Unfortunately this attitude is something very common in the chess world.” Other members of the chess community were sharper in their comments.