Chess commentator fired for making sexist remarks at women's tournament
9/29/2022 1:17:40 AM

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) fired a chess commentator for making sexist remarks during a match at a top women's tournament.

FIDE announced on Sept. 28 that Belarusian-born Israeli grandmaster Ilya Smirin will no longer continue as a commentator "with immediate effect" after he admitted that he had said that "chess is maybe not for women."

"Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for. Therefore, we unreservedly apologize to all those who were offended," FIDE said in a statement.

Smirin made the remarks when he was making his debut as an English-language commentator at the FIDE Women's Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan on Sept. 27.

Smirin was initially talking about one of the competitors — Chinese woman grandmaster Zhu Jiner — and whether she would become a grandmaster.

A woman grandmaster is a separate, lower title than that of a grandmaster and is only for women. Meanwhile, grandmaster is the highest title that any chess player — man or woman — can attain.

"She's a woman grandmaster or what?... Why she wants to be like men grandmaster in this case?" Smirin said during the live broadcast.

Smirin went on to admit that he had said "chess is maybe not for women" in a "private conversation."

Fellow commentator and Women's International Master  Fiona Steil-Antoni responded to Smirin by reminding him of an earlier remark in which he had seemingly praised a female player —  Grandmaster Aleksandra Goryachkin — for "playing like a man."

Smirin's comments sparked criticism from several top female players, including former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar who described the remarks as "highly insulting and inappropriate."

Courtesy: Fourth Estate