In Spain, all chess championships are mixed, unlike what happens in almost the entire world. Then, an absolute classification and another female classification are established. The International Federation (FIDE) seems interested in following that path, as its president has acknowledged to EL MUNDO, Arkady Dvorkovich, but he goes through it with caution. A good example is the Veterans World Championships being held these days in Italy, where men and women compete separately. It may be a coincidence, but the Spanish route, imperfect and criticized, has led to the first surprises.
Last weekend the Spanish Championship ended in Marbella in which Sara Khadem, famous because she fled Iran after refusing to wear the veil, fought almost the entire tournament in the early tables. She finished in tenth place, tied on points with the sixth-place finisher, with only one defeat in nine games. With the same score and eleventh he finished Martha Garciachampion in 2022. No less notable was the performance of Sabrina Vegawho only made half a point less and defeated the grandmaster Daniil Yuffa. She was twentieth of 96 participants.
All three (and some more, like Eihartze Buiza) played without complexes against many of the best chess players in Spain, who no longer see it as a bargain to have to face a woman. It is also not the first time that a player shines in the tournament. Olga Alexandrova she was third a few years ago – she did not win due to excessive honesty – and the young María Eizaguerri He has triumphed in several Spanish championships in lower categories, not only in children’s. In 2021 she won the national mixed under 18 team.
There are more and more recent examples: a few weeks ago, Tatiana Grabuzova won the women’s gold and finished fourth in the absolute classification, tied on points with Jose Candela (bronze). The Moscow-born player believes that one of the most determining differences between men and women is energy and physique, something that attenuates after the age of fifty, which is why in veteran tournaments she does not feel at a disadvantage.
Not even that factor is universally accepted, like the sociological and cultural aspects. The international teacher and coach David Martinez, who has been working with Sara Khadem since April, assures that he does not see any disadvantage in the physique. He says it knowingly, because he is now the coach of the Spanish men’s team, but he has been the coach of the women’s team for years. “The women I have worked with have plenty of strength and are very prepared to endure a four-hour game,” he says. “Aside from that, if that were a reason, they would play quick games much better and that doesn’t happen.”