Female chess players to boycott Iran championship over hijab rule


Some of the world’s best female chess players are refusing to attend next year’s championship in Iran over the country’s dress code.

They have denounced a decision made by the World Chess Federation to hold the event in the Islamic country after being told they will have to wear hijabs to compete.

Meanwhile, Canadian Chess Federation executive director Robert Gillanders said no decision has been made as to whether any of our players will be participating.

“It’s a long way off,” he said. “We are debating it.”

Gillanders said he would prefer the tournament be held in a different country.

“The problem is, it’s difficult to find organizers to put on the women’s championship,” he explained.

Russian-born Natalia Khoudgarian is the current top-ranked player in Canada.

Women are required by law to wear a hijab in public in Iran and, if they fail to cover up, they can be arrested.

Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, who represents the U.S. and is the No. 1-ranked player in the world

Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, who represents the U.S. and is the No. 1-ranked player in the world, is boycotting the 64-player tournament.

“I think it’s unacceptable to host a Women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” she said in an Instagram post.

“I am honoured and proud to have qualified to represent the United States in the Women’s World Championship,” she added. “But, if the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.”

The World Chess Federation – known by its French acronym FIDE – called on players to respect “cultural differences” and accept Iran’s hijab law.

FIDE has been embroiled in controversy before. Its president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who was placed on a U.S. sanctions list for allegedly doing business with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.