Congratulations Nathan Mermilliod ’24 for winning 2nd Prize in the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition’s (USPROC) Spring 2022 Introductory Statistics Class Project competition with his project titled “Women’s Chess Titles: The Unanticipated Effects Of Institutional Intervention On Female Participation In Competitive Chess.”

This competition was sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Consortium for Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE).

We asked Merilliod a few questions about his project and experience!

Q & A

Q: Can you give us a quick overview of the project you submitted?

A: My project, “Women’s Chess Titles: The Unanticipated Effects of Institutional Intervention on Female Participation in Competitive Chess,” was a statistical analysis of a study done among female chess players. I examined the age and rating of female players over the last century and compared summary statistics across titled players. In chess, there is a female-only collection of prestige titles identical in name to traditional titles (e.g. Women’s Grandmaster v.s. Grandmaster). My paper showed evidence that, on average, a female player who held a women’s title was not significantly different in skill level to their universal title counterpart. This meant that the separation of women’s titles in chess is unnecessary and only works to further isolate women in a sport with a long history of misogyny.

Q: What was the process like working on this project?

A: This paper was developed from my semester-long project in Dr. Pacioles’s biostatistics class. The format of the final class paper was aligned heavily with the parameters of the USPROC competition, so transitioning my final paper to submission was somewhat easy. Over the first month of last summer, I met regularly with Dr. Pacioles to ensure my statistical analysis was sufficient and accurate.

Q: What does this award mean to you?

A:  This award means so much to me. As the president of the Chapman Chess Club, I am very passionate about chess. As such, it was amazing to win a national award related to chess. However, I couldn’t have done it without Dr. Pacioles. Her guidance was extraordinary, and at every step I could tell she cared deeply about me and the rest of her students. Dr. Pacioles’s kind encouragement motivated me to work harder on the project; I didn’t want to let her down.


Cover hoto by JAKE NEEDHAM, The Panther Staff Photographer