After the US victory at the Chess Olympiads on September 18th, it seemed that our mandatory chess news for the year were finished.
But after FIDE, the organization that runs most international chess championships, announced that Iran would be hosting the country, controversy erupted.
You see, in Iran, there is a group of police dedicated to making sure Iranian citizens and tourists uphold the ‘proper’ way of dress. They are termed ‘morality police’. And if you are a woman in Iran, you can actually be arrested for not wearing a hijab or for showing too much skin.
So women who wanted to participate in the championship would be forced to wear hijabs when they are walking around Iran, and probably while they were at the tournament as well.
Many female players voiced opposition at this, most notably American Women Grand Masters Jennifer Shahade and Nazi (pronounced Nah-zee, not Not-zee) Paikidze-Barnes.
Paikidze-Barnes announced she was going to boycott the championship, and Shahade expressed approval with Paikidze-Barnes’s decision. The sister of the top-rated chess player in the world (Magnus Carlsen), Ellen Carlsen, also criticized FIDE’s decision to host the championship in Iran.
You can read more about the controversy here.