18 January 2022

FIDE Rating List - Women

A day after my recent post on ratings, FIDE Rating List - January 2022 (January 2022), FIDE published Manifesto: The Year of the Woman in Chess (fide.com). What do the FIDE rating lists (FRLs) tell us about women in chess?

First, they tell us which FIDE registered players are women. In fact, they tell us twice. There is one field in the lists called 'Sex', which is set to 'M' or 'F'. There is another field called 'Flag', which includes 'w' if the player is female. I checked the content of the two fields and they match. Where 'Sex = F', 'Flag = *w*', and vice versa. There are undoubtedly legacy reasons for maintaining two fields, but I imagine it's a headache for FRL administration.

Second, the rating lists tell us which women have titles. There are two relevant fields in the list, 'Titl' and 'Wtitl', the first for all players, the second for women only. The following table shows the distribution of the two titles over all players, both men and women.

The first two columns in the table show various combinations of the two fields; the rest of the columns give a count. For example, the first row counts the number of players who have no title.

The second row counts the number of players who have a 'CM' title (Candidate Master) and no women's title; this includes 11 women. The third row counts players who have both a 'CM' title and a 'WFM' (Women's FIDE Master), and so on.

The pecking order of the titles is 'GM', 'IM', 'FM', 'CM'. The same is true for women's titles.

The titles are (largely) internally consistent. Two players marked 'M' have 'WCM' titles and one player has a 'WH' title, but these are the only inconsistencies I can see.

It would probably be revealing to see the rating ranges -- maximum rating, minimum rating -- for all titles. I recall having done that in the past, so I would first have to locate that post.

Lurking on the horizon is another angle to this discussion. Wikipedia defines Non-binary gender as:-

An umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female -- identities that are outside the gender binary.

I wonder if FIDE has discussed this issue internally. I also wonder what other international sports organizations -- the IOC or FIFA -- are doing about it. It's certain to arise in the not-too-distant future.

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