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Indian Chess Prodigy Divya Deshmukh Exposes Sexism in Chess

The 18-year-old International Master highlights the pervasive issue faced by women in the sport

Indian chess sensation Divya Deshmukh, with a standard rating of 2420, boldly addressed the prevalent issue of sexism in the chess world through a social media post following the conclusion of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee.

Competing in the Challengers section of the prestigious event and securing the 12th position with a score of 4.5 out of 13, Deshmukh found herself compelled to speak out against the unequal treatment of women in chess, even in the face of remarkable performances.

In a candid social media post on Sunday, the 18-year-old revealed her disappointment at the lack of focus on her gameplay by fans and spectators. She expressed her frustration, stating, “I played a few games which I felt were quite good, and I was proud of them. However, the audience seemed more interested in everything else: my clothes, hair, accent, and every other irrelevant thing.”

Deshmukh went on to share her personal experience during the tournament, pointing out how the discussions around her interviews predominantly revolved around superficial aspects, neglecting the essence of her games. She highlighted the disparity between male and female players, emphasizing that women often face undue scrutiny and underappreciation.

“If I go to any guy’s interview, there would be way less judgment on a personal level, actual compliments about the game and the player. I think women face this on a daily basis, and I’m barely 18. I have faced so much judgment, including hatred over the years for things that don’t even matter. I think women should start getting equal respect,” she asserted.

Deshmukh’s courageous stand sheds light on the need for a shift in perception within the chess community, urging for equal acknowledgment of female players’ skills and achievements, rather than focusing on irrelevant aspects. Her call for change resonates with the broader conversation about gender equality in the world of chess.

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