Wednesday 28 September 2016

Heads up

No official announcement yet, but here's an interesting addition to the FIDE Calendar 2017.

Also see, FIDE 2016 General Assembly decisions.

Now the thing about Iran is, it does have rules and regulations that apply to women, ones that do not apply in most other countries, and this is, shall we say,  potentially a matter for concern.

Without any official announcement, let alone one touching on the matters this raises, it's hard to say anything definitive, but I sent an email to the FIDE office to see what they could tell me.
27 September 2016 at 12:07


Sorry to bother you. I am a chess writer and a member of the English Chess Federation.

I read on your website that the 2017 Women's World Championship has been awarded to Iran (General Assembly decision GA-2016/31). I am writing to enquire whether women competing, reporting, spectating or attending in any other capacity will be required by their hosts, to wear clothing, for instance the headscarf, that they would not be obliged to wear in their home countries.

Yours sincerely

Justin Horton

Huesca province Spain

They replied, very promptly, as they generally do.

From: FIDE Secretariat
To: Justin Horton
cc: Nigel Freeman
27 September 2016 at 12:14

Dear Justin

From my personal experience, all foreign women are obliged to wear headscarf in all public places in Iran.

best regards

Polina Tsedenova

FIDE Secretariat

You'll perhaps have noticed that while Polina hasn't actually said yes, nor has she said no, and her answer is more along the lines of yes than no. However, I subsequently received an email clarifying that women attending the championship will, indeed, be expected to wear the headscarf whether they like it or not.
From: Nastja Karlovich
To: Justin Horton
cc: Nigel Freeman, FIDE Secretariat
date: 27 September 2016 at 13:53

Dear Mr. Horton!

all competitors will be obliged to respect the laws of the country including the dress requirements.

You can check the UK foreign office for more information:

Best regards, Anastasiya Karlovich

FIDE Press Officer

Now matters relating to the headscarf are sensitive, as are matters relating to Islam, and for this reason commentors are asked to be thoughtful in what they say on the subject*. But it does seem to me that women should not be obliged to wear the headscarf as a condition of competing in, reporting on or simply attending a chess tournament, and if it is a condition of the host country that this occurs, then it probably shouldn't be the host country.

To say so isn't to lecture another country on what laws or customs it should have. It's to say that the laws and customs of the chess world should not be such as to discriminate against women. FIDE shouldn't be doing this: if and when there's a row, they will only have themselves to blame.

[* additionally - anonymous comments will not be permitted, and please do not make this all about a certain English grandmaster.]

[thanks to Chris Rice]
[this piece revised after publication in order to incorporate the final email]


Heath said...

To make the contra-argument, how is it the hijab more than a cultural custom? Various countries have different expectations of modesty. To argue to the absurd, could someone from a nudist country demand to play in the buff (in the UK say), and decry discrimination if disallowed? Would FIDE be at fault if it held said tournament in the UK?

It's to say that the laws and customs of the chess world should not be such as to discriminate against women.

As I hope my above exaggeration showed, ultimately, the buck stops with the FIDE General Assembly as to what is sufficiently outlandish in the chess world (for its tournaments at least). The rest of us are just blog writers and commenters... Also I tend to dislike the word of "discrimination" that you have chosen, as without future codification it seems to be a weaselly-word that it easy to use without much backing (e.g., has Iran been denounced concerning the mandatory hijab to the UN council that handles discrimination against women? if so, then the term would be more objective). Nigel uses the same word, though he tried additionally to link it to FIDE Statutes, which is rather absurd IMO.

Incidentally, as you live in Spain, maybe you know the history of the Guanche people in the Canary Islands, and for one of them (I forgot which) the customary dress was for a woman to be dressed from head to toe (including gloves), showing only her face, which was thought to be the central radiance of her beauty.

Anonymous said...

Apartheid in South Africa was defeated in part by cultural and sporting boycotts. Shouldn't the same principle be applied to countries which apply restrictive laws to women they don't apply to men?


F Larssen said...

@RdC: To the best of my knowledge, men are also expected to attire themselves accordingly when visiting Iran (no shorts, shirts with (longish) sleeves). However, there is more variation allowed depending on context (3/4 pants are OK in the country, not in the city, maybe even shorts are OK on the beach---though likely not!). Wearing ties is actually verboten in some places (I forget why, some historical/political reason). Enforcement is also variable (1997-2005 standards were relaxed under Khatami, then resumed under Ahmadinejad), and often it is more likely female police who will warn female offenders, while male officers are not so strict to their own.

Making the issue to be specifically female dress is not immediately apparent. It just so happens that the public attire you'd expect from male chess players worldwide (at least top professionals) happens to mesh with Iranian customs, while for women it does not. Yet, the male public attire you'd expect in malls in most of the other world, wouldn't be acceptable in Iran either.

Reviewing some pictures of the Candidates in Moscow, for instance Nakamura's short(er) sleeves in the j'adoube game would probably not be allowed, and if I looked more I'd guess I can find other examples when they remove their jackets (most photos are post-game, and I'd have to watch videos).

ejh said...

Shouldn't the same principle be applied to countries which apply restrictive laws to women they don't apply to men?

It's a view, though I think Iran/South Africa comparisons might fail a sense-of-proportion test.

Name/URL said...

As the discussion seems I've heard so far to be largely from males, who live in the West, and many of whom have never visited Iran (Nigel excepted), I don't know whether a conclusion that this issue is discrimination against women is warranted. At least the opinions of the women who played in the GP event in February under the same restrictions should be considered more. (IIRC, that event had its opening ceremony on the anniversary (Feb 11) of the ayatollahs, though I guess this is sort of a national holiday, and so could be a prospective date for a "cultural" event like a chess tournament to commence. OTOH, if they arrange for it to start on World Hijab Day (Feb 1) this time around, I'll agree that something is amiss...)

At least in Iran itself, I think a general poll of women would support the dress code in principle, and most likely by a 3/4 supermajority or so. Enforcement by a positive law probably doesn't sit well with Western ideals, but then the "decay" (if you want to call it that) of such prior social/modesty standards in the West over the century or so hasn't exactly been halted by mere cultural custom.

The Nanjing 2008 and 2009 events had the participants wearing respectively Mao suits and traditional Chinese dress (and indeed raised some eyebrows), though of course there the event was private. FIDE bases itself on democratic principles, so in the end the majority in the General Assembly decides. Here the choice was seemingly between Iran or not hold the event at all and/or delay it a year or more (recall the history: 2008 in Nalchik with the Georgians not attending due to the war, 2010 in Turkey with the open letter from 10-15 women concerning the abysmal conditions, 2014/5 with the event postponed some months like this time around). From the individual standpoint in comparing a non-existent event to a boycott, the latter will vitiate any qualification rights, but OTOH you could argue that FIDE has at last some onus to hold the event in a timely manner in the first place in re: those same participation rights.

If the boycott reaches 25% or so-- and women's events already have some baseline of around 10% due to life issues-- be it either for the hijab or other issues (such as safety, considering Gunina had a groping incident in a park in February, and US champ Paikidze-Barnes has noted some travel warnings), then I'd say it's reached sufficient prominence that FIDE's choice of holding the event in Iran needs some rethinking, but until then, I think it's largely material for the armchair pundits (and I could reiterate my initial 2 sentences). Some of what's been heard is probably just general anti-FIDE grumping in any case, with Iran having a convenient issue to stir up.

Anonymous said...

Someone might also complain that their typical diet contains foods forbidden in the country.

Laar said...

2010 in Turkey with the open letter from 10-15 women concerning the abysmal conditions
I count 18 (of 64) in the version on Chessdom, but I agree that whether the protest reaches this size is a good barometer of whether the Iranian dress requirements are a real issue or not. I will wait until the chess media response ( already did) hits full force after the official announcement, but my guess is that the event itself is a fait accompli for most at this point. FIDE already has Hou Yifan not participating, so I can't think they care much about any boycott unless it reaches significantly high numbers.

Po said...

"(3/4 pants are OK in the country, not in the city,"

This is strange to me, as in other places (such as Mongolia, where they had a previous FIDE women's event IIRC), the inverse is true, and standards are much looser in the cities than the countryside, largely (or at least initially) because Western tourists are so prevalent there. Of course, the fact that Iran has a state religion is already a taboo to much of Western thought, which probably multiplies the difficulties in this instance.

ejh said...

Commentors are reminded not to post entirely anonymously, thanks. Real names are not required but a consistent handle would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Heath said...

That article has follow-up from Polgar and Paikidze-Barnes. (And commenters also wonder why Short is being noted for his opinion.)

Polgar takes the line that if everyone is treated the same, then it's not discrimination amongst them, and that a complaint to her WOM commission is the right avenue, and she hasn't heard of problems previously. Paikidze-Barnes cites a Iranian malcontent in conjunction with a claim that the hijab functions as a sign of oppression. As I previously said, unless CEDAW or someone has formal complaints on the matter, it's as likely just to be projection of cultural values and expectations as anything. It's quite easy to find women who speak of the hijab as "liberating", and moreover find European cultural standards rather unbecoming---though usually the latter has to do with the irreverent display of female body parts other than the head. cites its own FIDE Women's GP final report, where you find that "chess fans were indignant" about the hijab, presumably (much) moreso than the actual participants.

Heath said...

@ F Larssen
I'm not going to say you are wrong about the dress code for men, but the CB article from the Anzali Stars (where Nigel played) clearly has photos of the many of the Iranians playing with sleeves 6 inches or more shorter than the elbow.

I do realize that the Anzali zone is considered "distinct" in certain ways, and Teheran may differ.

Laar said...

The question of obtaining a sponsor/organizer in the first place been discussed in a couple of places by Hou Yifan with her attempt to restructure the cycle, most recently in her interview with Jamie Kenmure on Chessdom, but one thing I note is that unlike other FIDE events there is no "organizer wildcard" (just 2 FIDE nominees), whereas the Chess World Cup has 4 (and 5 more from FIDE), and even the Candidates had one. Sure, it's not a huge incentive and I don't expect it would make more palatable organizers suddenly appear, but it seems anomalous.

Dot.Dash- said...

Unsurprisingly on Facebook, Sutovsky/ACP is 100% against Iran (the Israel issue was brought up, though there are no actual entrants from there this time), and again in character, he first announced that ACP would support those who complain (or even boycott) and only THEN asked for comments. :) What if the relevant ACP members didn't actually share his opinion? Shouldn't a leader attend to the concerns of his people, rather than try to scurry them along to follow his own? Just another sign of how full of political kingpins chess has become....

Anyway, I expect the usual hapless protest to be raised by them, and nothing to happen as a result.

Kosteniuk spoke against the requirement as a matter of principle, while Zhukova (who's there this last year) said she didn't mind wearing a scarf and long sleeves for a few days, but at the same time it was inconvenient to play chess in such an outfit.

A. said...

Iran is not a signatory to CEDAW.

Laar said...

Polgar's statement is also in character, making everything about herself... The Telegraph article not unexpectedly plays up the idea of discrimination and oppression (otherwise it wouldn't be news!).

ThanklessTemerity said...

It hasn't been mentioned yet, but one main impediment to making a claim about sex/gender discrimination is that "women's chess" as currently existing in FIDE is already discriminatory in favour of women, so anything they do for it is a gratuity. Let me explain.

In Statute 1.4, FIDE announces that there are no "men's" events per se, but rather open events and women's events. Now the CAS discussed exactly this sort of issue in the Dutee Chand case last year, in making a first determination of whether discrimination had actually occurred, and then secondarily whether it was proportionate to other considerations. Multiple times the CAS decision mentioned that the IAAF only allowed males in men's events, and females in women's events, and particularly there was no "open" class in which Chand (as a female in law) could participate if she was excluded from women's events by the hyperandrogenism regulations (HA). Since the IAAF subscribed to an IOC principle that every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, this made the HA particularly onerous, and heightened the bar in the proportionality test.

The same men's/women's split I think occurs in every Olympic event that isn't open (typically called "mixed"). The idea of open/women's just doesn't exist to the IOC; most notable is shooting where at one time it was mixed, and indeed the last such "open" champion was indeed female, with I guess participation rates (90%/10%) being given as the primary reason to split into men/women at the time. But after the split, the women could not longer compete in the men's division.

Similarly, FIDE's current regime is prima facie discriminatory against males, due to fewer participation opportunities for them under the open/women's split, with no comparable exclusive "men's" event. I'd rather not get into a discussion here if there is a proportionate reason or not. This in turn makes everything that FIDE does for women's chess a voluntary benefit toward women (vis-a-vis men). With additionally the only other option seemingly being to cancel the event, this is even more the case.

Under such circumstances, for FIDE to grant the organizational rights to a country that has strict dressing regulations for women doesn't seem particularly discriminatory against women to me. If you don't like the conditions, then don't play, go ahead and protest if you wish, but claiming that this is against FIDE Statutes is nonsense.

There does seem to be a general unawareness of the Iran bid (it was not mentioned in the agenda), yet I think that under FIDE regulations the PB could have made the decision behind closed doors anyway, so I don't know if it's a real argument that affected women were not "heard" on the matter before the decision was made. No one present at the GA thought the issue was important enough to mention more widely, until Nigel Short "broke" the news (in his own swashbuckling way, of course) when the decisions were published.

Heath said...

I know you don't want the discussion to be about Nigel, but when someone is so pig-headed, he's hard to ignore. Now he claims the FIDE decision is not only against their own Statutes, but also against the IOC code of ethics!

I guess he means
1.4 Respect for international conventions on protecting human rights insofar as
they apply to the Olympic Games’ activities and which ensure in particular... rejection of discrimination of any kind on whatever grounds...

I await Mr. Short informing us which international convention is applicable, and how the World Women's Chess Championship is part of the Olympic Games' activities. I seem to recall he likes using the term "flapdoodle"?

Laar said...

Sutovsky has a second FB post up, this one in English.

He is unimpressed by the Telegraph article claiming grandmasters were "lining up" to boycott the event (a link which curiously went to an article about Hou Yifan's likely nonparticipation for other reasons), and bitterly notes that GMs never really stand together and "line up" on such issues.

Laar said...

Susan has mentioned Nigel in her comments to CNN.
Using the biggest sexist in the world of chess who has nothing to do with this issue to mouth off this sensitive topic on Twitter is not the way to resolve anything. Some are clearly using this to advance their own personal and political agenda.
Do those two deserve each other...?

Houston has a problem said...

I am writing to enquire whether women ... will be required by their hosts, to wear clothing, for instance the headscarf, that they would not be obliged to wear in their home countries.
What's happened to "When in Rome, do as the Romans"?
Your phrasing looks rather careful, so do you honestly think that travellers should be able to carry on as they would at home?!

One might ask the same thing about (say) identity documents. I am not obliged to have them in my home country, so why do I have to carry them around with me at all times when I visit Spain?

The inevitable end of such an idea would be that no country could require anything.

ejh said...

What's happened to "When in Rome, do as the Romans"?

It turned into "don't make people go to Rome if Rome is going to make unreasonable demands of them".

Talking of absurd arguments, any further posts to the effect of "chess discriminates against men so women should think themselves lucky" - see Thankless Temerity above - will be deleted on the grounds that this blog is not an open space for witless meninism.

Not that there's any other kind.

A. said...

At least in Iran itself, I think a general poll of women would support the dress code in principle, and most likely by a 3/4 supermajority or so.

I thought you were just making this up, but then I did some searching and did find a 2013 poll of Islamic countries, where only 14% in Egypt agreed with the statement that "It is up to women to dress as she wishes." (Mathematically, thus at most 28% of women agreed.) Iran was not one of the countries included, but it lends credence to your guess.

Xerxes IV said...

One of the issues that has been discussed is whether the mandatory Iranian dress code is a violation of religious or gender rights, and in particular whether FIDE (as a Swiss association) mandating this as a condition of participation would be legal.

The ECtHR judgment 44774/98 (2004) ŞAHİN v. TURKEY discussed (among other things) the question of whether the hijab should be interpreted as "synonymous with the alienation of women". If so, then clearly FIDE would be doing something wrong in imposing it as a condition. See paragraph 111, where they follow the Dahlab decision in quoting that the headscarf "appeared to be imposed on women by a religious precept that was hard to reconcile with the principle of gender equality." (Dahlab was a teacher, and so her students would be particularly affected by this "powerful external symbol".)

However, the majority (16-1) never really relied upon this limb in the verdict, and in my mind the solitary dissent of Judge Tulkens gets more directly to the matter in her conclusion (paragraph 12), where she points out that if the headscarf really was contrary to the principle of equality between men and women in any event, the State would have a positive obligation to prohibit it in all places, whether public or private. Prior to that, she discusses that there are alternative interpretations of the meaning of the hijab, and proposes (citing a German court) that the majority has been too hasty in their approval of Dahlab in viewing the hijab as incompatible with gender equality.

As the relevant issue was quite different (a student being forbidden to wear the hijab in secular Turkey), the above is a sort of sidebar, but could give some indication on how the legal questions would be adjudicated.

The case also discusses the religious aspects of the hijab (as interpreted by this 2004 Court), but as that seems Nigel's cup of tea while Justin concentrates instead on gender, I won't digress into it.

ejh said...

That's very informative, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think the IOC or any mainstream world sports organisation would award one of its world events to a country where all female competitors regardless of Nationality were not only expected to wear a headscarf, but also dress in trousers and long sleeve shirts?

I believe Saudi Arabia briefly proposed an Olympic bid on the premise that the women's events would be across the border in Bahrain. The IOC told them what they could do with this idea. FIDE should have said the same about bids from Iran, but they had already not held the line by holding the Women's Grand Prix there.


A. said...

@RdC Since 1979, Iran hosted the men's freestyle wrestling championships in 1998 and 2002. This is an Olympic event. The various championships (including the women's that began in 1987) only got merged into one stage in 2005.

FIBA (basketball) had the U-18 Asian event there this last July, again male only (FIBA typically does not combine the male and female competitions). They also hosted FIVB (beach volleyball) events this last February, with some noted protests by female fans excluded from the Kish Island venue. Those are their main sports.

FIDE was going to have a GP event in Teheran in this last cycle, but it got moved to Tbilisi (and so Jobava replaced Maghami).

Steve said...

This seems like a non-issue to me. Where I live, women have to cover their breasts in public, men don't. In Iran they have to cover their hair. The "Islamic hijab" is a red herring. A hoodie will do just as well (maybe a polo neck or neck scarf would be needed). The security concerns at least deserve to be taken seriously. The Republican Guard are basically a criminal gang. I doubt though that security would be worse for an event like this than in many other places.

Name/URL said...

Security issues at FIDE events have historically been ignored. The Georgian women didn't play in Nalchik 2008 because it was basically in a war zone with Russia invading them. Tripoli 2004 was unsafe for many, and every event in Armenia/Azerbaijan can be fraught with difficulties (the West doesn't report on it much, but hostilities tend to wax and wane in their conflict).

I guess the chess world is lucky that there's no go-to place in the Crimea for FIDE to use.

@Po: more European countries have state religions than you might think. For instance, Iceland (site of last Euro Team championship) formally does, as does England for that matter. I think the effective issue is that Iran has a more significant theocratic element. Various women have commented they have not had problems in other Muslim countries (e.g. Qatar, or UAE where there was a Women's GP, both of which have a dress code (knees/shoulders) that I guess is considered more acceptable).

ThanklessTemerity said...

Perhaps I didn't make it clear that I was making a legal analysis, not a social analysis, and in part answering an above comment concerning Sutovsky who had (more cautiously than Short albeit) wondered aloud whether FIDE's action was statutory.
Meninist or not, I think it's fairly clear under Swiss law that by Statute 1.4 FIDE discriminates in favor of women in their events. Moreover, (if FIDE chose to argue it) this would form a type of estoppel against any legal claims on the specific matter of gender discrimination regarding the proposed women's tournament in Iran.

If you don't like it: Dura lex, sed lex.

I'm completely in agreement with you about FIDE awarding the event to Iran, and really I thought the issue was so obvious from a social point of view (FIDE is lame, what's new?) that the legal matters were more pressing.

Xerxes IV said...


There have been more recent ECtHR decisions about the hijab, but I think those first two spell out more of the motivation, and the later ones tend to be argued along lines more of procedure and legal formalism (for instance, as to how the ECtHR oversees national court decisions).

On the other hand, both the Dahlab and Şahin analyses have come under significant criticism from all sides, for instance for using a rather simplistic idea of Muslim women being overdetermined by their culture (an unsatisfactory account of their agency), false dichotomy of culture and gender (particularly for Turkey), moralising by the judges, too much deference on the judges to local custom (technically termed "margin of appreciation"), ... Over a decade later, and on a rather different issue, I don't think one can predict the outcome at all. As others have noted, there's no "test case", since other sports simply don't hold women's events in Iran. Undoubtedly there's been cases of female academics (say) not attending a conference due to the locale, but I don't think this is the same in the extent of "invitation" that a FIDE event entails.

Xerxes IV said...

Thankless Temerity,

I think much of Justin's ire is that your argument is essentially what Nigel Short has been arguing for the last couple of decades and indeed in his own Nigel-ly way (no other adjective quite captures it); though lacking any legal background, he's left to make social bluster. :)

Anyway, he keeps on repeating the "IOC Code of Ethics" on Twitter (Heath already indicated why this is "flapdoodle", though Telegraph outrageously tells us the the IOC is "investigating"), and as you point out, the IOC doesn't allow open/female in Olympic events, so it really wouldn't surprise me if he is trying to use this issue to orchestrate some sort of underlying change in FIDE.

Laar said...

Just a note, in the most recent Telegraph article, the IOC "Code of Ethics" (which entails various implementing documents too) was changed to be Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. I agree that it is rather presumptuous to think the IOC cares much about the situation, but possibly relevant would be 33.3 of the IOC Charter.

If all Short can do is jump up and down about how FIDE might not be accepted as a Olympic participation sport ("it is huge for them", he breathlessly tells us -- but it also has about 0% chance of happening anyway!), I think he's largely just fighting with Polgar to see who gets the most media attention. I also doubt whether he cares if IOC decides to remove FIDE's current "international sports association" recognition over the matter (which is the extent of what could happen for violating the IOC Charter).

IANAL said...

Re: Nigel's latest: It is highly unlikely that IOC would conclude that FIDE acted in a discriminatory manner unless a Swiss/European court previously made a similar ruling, particularly as FIDE could always appeal an IOC-only determination to a court anyway. As such, if FIDE is trouble with IOC, it is in much deeper trouble on the discrimination issue with civil authorities. Short probably only worries how the money flows (thus IOC-centric), but IMO he's interested in the wrong point of the power hierarchy. Or he's just yakking it up for the media.

Laar said...

One of my posts got eaten (listed at 05:23), maybe for length, or too many links? I will split it up the first two parts (the third was a tangential issue about Azmai complaining that the Georgian women failed to show enough emotion and were too busy with Facebook socializing in Baku), as I think it covered important things.

Polgar (as WOM chess co-chair) tweeted an official interpretation from FIDE that the Iran law was not that a "hijab" must be worn, but that the hair must be covered (among other body parts, I might add). On her webpage, she gave an Official Statement from FIDE, indicating similarly, though it also notes (a new fact to me) that Tehran has twice (2007/2011) held the Asian Women's Continental Chess Championships (and of course "no complaints" were made). FIDE also notes there were no objections from any delegates (though of course as Thankless Temerity pointed out, the Iran bid for the WWC wasn't mentioned on a publicly available agenda ahead of time, so federations could hardly have heard from their members on the matter).

Laar said...

Sutovsky's blog, at least the English discussion, is largely spammed by "Colm Chess", but Anna Muzychuk commented in Russian. She said that there's always problems of FIDE finding a host, but as a personal position she agrees with Kosteniuk and Zhukova that it will be "uncomfortable"... She also thinks there will be practical difficulties in getting (say) half of the participants to sign a letter (let alone a boycott), and even then, would it move FIDE on the matter?

Sutovsky says they should be more brave (recalling the 2010 open letter and its aftermath, with I guess some pushback from FIDE), says the ACP will support, and mentions (importantly) that Borg (FIDE CEO) will be in Teheran next week to sign an agreement (Sutovsky has sent an "official letter" to FIDE, asking them to "resolve" the matter, and I don't claim my translation and contextual interpretation skills can exactly determine what that means).

Elisabeth Paehtz spoke in the English section, but largely about the side issue of men/women entering each other's hotel rooms (male coaches), though her only source for this rule is Tiviakov (invoking surveillance cameras on all floors). On the other side (and temporarily prior), Kiril Kuznetsov (a coach who has worked there?) said that he's never seen a problem with that, and moreover downplayed safety issues (Gunina probably won't agree).

Perhaps the most important point Paehtz makes (responding to Sutovsky about federations, not individuals, being FIDE members) is "my federation just wrote their to fide about discriminantion, etc. however they [German fed] didnt dare to ask my opinion, and i am the only participant [from Germany]." She manages to be diplomatic about it, and says on the hand maybe it was to be "protected" (her scare quotes), but on the other hand she would have preferred to have been talked to first by them (someone previously noted Sutovsky sort of acted the same way, stating the ACP position before asking around).

Later she points out that in given the "Iran versus no event" choice, most would honestly choose the former (she concurs with Sutovsky that players are selfish on the matter, not considering higher objectives). She continues the diplomatic rout and goes on some about federation vs country (not wanting to harm the former), and Sutovsky a bit mockingly says it's funny (or not so) to see the DDR mentality after 27 years later.

A. said...

Another point is that one of the main English writers (other than the impossible ColmChess) at Sutovsky blog is not a WWC participant (though previously Pan-American women's champ some years back). The official FIDE statement phrased it as no "eligible" player had officially complained (to date), yet as Sutovsky/Paehtz/Paikidze have discussed, it's not clear whether individuals should be addressing FIDE directly, through their federations, by carrier pigeon...

ThanklessTemerity said...

To Laar (05:10),
The Telegraph article might do better to invoke Principle 4 of the Olympic Charter than Principle 6. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. (The Dutee Chand CAS decision §513 quite famously truncated the second sentence after "kind", but IMO you need to read the principle as a whole, particularly here.) FIDE itself is bound to the Olympic Charter even in its internal matters by its Statute 1.3, but any recompense for failure to do so (under a principle of autonomy) shouldn't amount to more than as you say, the IOC terminating FIDE's status. A court would have to make its own finding of discrimination for FIDE to be liable beyond that.

Re: the Olympics and FIDE.

I forget how many years ago it was, and whether it was in the GA or the Disabled commission (maybe even WCOC), but there was an explicit discussion relaying that the IOC had noted that FIDE includes non-national teams as Olympiad participants (the blind, deaf, and disabled federations), and had told them succinctly that this was not compatible with IOC rules.

Whoever was the head of the meeting declared that they would just ignore this, and next time around try to impress the IOC that chess was a sport where the disabled could jointly participate with everyone else. Yes indeed (other sports have this too to varying degrees), but why does FIDE include special teams for them? So good luck with that.... My conclusion: FIDE isn't "serious" about being in the Olympics other than Kirsan talking it up in the press occasionally, and meeting with sportsworld bigwigs (which admittedly would end if the IOC censured FIDE). All talk, minimal action. Comparatively, the recent tug-of-war federation General Assembly had a serious presentation about how/why their bid with IOC failed, what the successful sports did, how they should change things, etc. While Kirsan talks about chess pieces made of ice.

On a different "boycotting" note: are there any women in FIDE positions who are talking about resigning if this comes to fruition?

ThanklessTemerity said...

It's not clear whether individuals should be addressing FIDE directly, through their federations, by carrier pigeon...
I suspect Mr. Horton does not want to turn this into a legal blog, but a proper construal of FIDE Statute 13.1 (either in previous or recently amended form) would likely be that tournament participants are not "parties directly affected/aggrieved" until an official announcement of the WWC is made and/or contracts are issued therein. Only federations can make a (legal) complaint against GA/2016-31, and as was mentioned, none raised any objections at the actual vote (thus limiting their rights, perhaps severely).

So I'm not sure what Ms. Karlovich means by "an official complaint" from any eligible individuals, but probably it's just that Nigel Freeman and FIDE Secretariat haven't received anything (other than a deluge of press inquiries, I presume). While we're at it, I also don't think her position as Press Officer allows her to make "official" statements from FIDE (as Polgar terms it), except on behalf of higher authority. Possibly FIDE Executive gave her general directions on the matter, and then leeway to respond as she sees fit, but this might be clarified.

A. said...

At least in Iran itself, I think a general poll of women would support the dress code in principle, and most likely by a 3/4 supermajority or so.

The "Hijab by country" page at Wikipedia has an interesting piece about Iran (though there are many citations, I don't know how much to trust the point of view), but most relevantly has the results of a 2010 poll that 77% of 531 Iranian women aged 15-29 preferred "strict" covering.

Xerxes IV said...

The fact that IOC has censured neither FIBA nor FIVB over hosting (male) events in Iran indicates, to some limited degree, that they don't find Iran's hijab requirement toward its own citizens to be sufficiently discriminatory to make the whole country be verboten for hosting purposes (parallel to the analysis of Judge Tulkens: if the hijab is really that bad, then Europe, and so FIBA/IOC/FIVB as Swiss associations, should have nothing to do with it at all). Extending this to similarly conclude that a hijab requirement for visiting participants is also "not discrimination" is not the most gigantic of leaps, but on the other hand would require (much) more argument than I've seen to date.

But I agree that the IOC should really not be at issue in any of this (ultimately the ECtHR would decide any substantive issues). Who contacted them in the first place regarding FIDE's decision, maybe Nigel's press friends?

Po said...

Just looking at the list of names, from my limited view I don't think a boycott will amount to more than 10 (and the baseline, as was mentioned previously, is likely 5 absentees for whatever reasons).

Almost all the Europeans are not the most Western, with maybe Cramling, or possibly either Foisor or Socko about the only ones I'd expect to make a principled stand. Paehtz has already said she's (grudgingly) OK with it, Gunina might have bad memories of the groping incident this last year (and Cramling was with her), Kosteniuk has made a bit of noise but I expect her to fall in line, as with all the others. Atalik's husband is noted for his belligerences toward chess officialdom, so again a male might find reason to offer "protection" on the matter.

Asia is similar. The question of being asked to wear a head covering (and construing an imputation of a religious/oppressive meaning to such) just isn't a huge cultural deal for most. Humpy and Harika gave comments to ChessBase India saying essentially this. Only maybe Emma Guo, and half the argument there is that the travel cost from Australia is high anyway (not sure the association/zone pays part or all of it?), and this may tip the balance (also, Ian Rogers might get involved).

Americas is the biggie. Would not be surprised if half of the 8 end up opting out, though Latin America can definitely have two types of extremes on such questions, and I don't know which class the specific women fall closer to. Cost is again a consideration for individuals too.

Adding in a few more for "standard" reasons, 10 would be about my prediction. Nalchik in 2008 was I think a similar number, with the war situation preventing the Georgians (5), and deterring a few others if memory serves.

An open letter would probably only include an accounting slightly larger, even if the ACP bolsters it. The 2010 one fell on deaf ears, and putting your name on it might not be cost-free (as least in perception) for some.

ejh said...

One of my posts got eaten (listed at 05:23), maybe for length, or too many links?

Sorry, I missed this - I just found it in spam! I can reinstate it if you like, or we can just leave it.

Doubling down said...

Asian Amateur Chess Championships 2016

The Iranian Chess Federation (IRCF) in cooperation with Isfahan Chess Association on behalf of the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) invite chess players from all Asian countries which are members of FIDE to participate in the Asian Amateur Chess Championships held from 11th to 19th November 2016, Isfahan, Iran.

9. Contacts
Mrs. Sahar Noori
International Relations Officer
Mobile: +98 912 5452826

A. said...

FIDE Calendar shows about 5 Asian events in Iran over last 5 years (Schools, Seniors, Nations Cup, Youth), also one in Saudi Arabia (Senior/Amateur 2013). Sudan has hosted African events too.

If one imagines the IOC to care about FIDE by subsidiarity, then shouldn't FIDE similarly care about the continental associations?

La La said...

In response to Po, money is unlikely to be a factor for the Australian player Guo dropping out of the Women's World Championship, since losing in the first round would more than cover the airfare. (Also rather sexist to assume that she is not independent enough to make up her own mind without a man's (Rogers') influence.)

Laar said...

On the FIDE webpage for the last February event, it says: As a sign of respect to the country's culture, rituals and beliefs, the participants will follow the guidelines of the Iranian women attire, emphasizing once again that chess reunites people in a tournament which will not be only different and special but also irreplaceable!

And also (near page bottom) an pre-event advertisement in Arabic with them not wearing hijabs (the photos being from other events I presume).

Po said...

Rogers was her coach at one point, no? He has been outspoken on similar issues before. I didn't say that he'd make up her mind, only that he might get involved (particularly with a boycott). And if he is still coaching her, as Paehtz pointed out, the consideration of entering hotel rooms in Iran is not easy. Rogers was attending World Cup (Baku) with Illingworth if memory is correct, though likely partially as reporter, and moreover he often covers Women's events that other media don't cover so much. She is just 20, and I'd guess she'd like useful advice, even from a man... (particularly, as I say, to support her in a boycott, either politically (he has many contacts) or administratively).

Cost of Australia to Iran isn't by itself making the trip a loss, but it's relatively more than other participants will pay. Maybe it depends on whether she wants essentially a free vacation to Iran (in cold February) or not, with a little extra spending money. Or if she is already in Eurasia for other tournaments that time of year (which now thinking, is rather likely). As I said, there are multiple factors in play, and they could add up to breaking the camel's back. Being the lowest rated (or abouts) in the field is never easy, especially in a KO. The excuse is there, if she wants it. What I really meant, is just that she's the most likely one (by far) on the Asia list not to attend. The rest was sort of a garbled justification.

I read the Oceania Chess documents, and they don't suggest they will pay much to the trip (more is expended on getting players to the Zonal in the first place). This is unlike other places such as Canada 2.2, or Bangladesh Zone 3.2, so the marginal costs differ.

Po said...

I find that Arabic poster for Feb 2016 Women's GP in Iran rather interesting, as of course no media showed it in contrast to the opening ceremony pic with hijabs for all. Maybe they only wanted to report on the event as-is, but at least to get the broad view you have to know of its existence.

Bad Options said...

According to Sutovsky blog, Minsk (Belarus) and Astana (Kazakhstan) were kind of sort of interested in hosting WWC at one point. David Llada actually said the latter would be "just perfect", which I guess wouldn't go great with human rights activists. Baku was also brought up by Aagaard in this sense (human rights, "repressive dictatorship"), as to where exactly one draws the lines with being principled (both personally, and universally as with a call for a boycott).

Po said...

It depends on whether FIDE takes its 20% tax or not (my guess is "yes", given their financial situation), but the $3750 for losing is really only 3000 then. Paikidze-Barnes won 25000 for the US champ this last year, but here would only get 24000 for runner-up (even before expenses). The other person who has been most critical is Kosteniuk, who I'd also guess is wealthier than the almost all the field.

Name/URL said...

Saw that Qatar has opened registration for FIDE World Blitz & Rapid Championships (open and women).

I guess their dress code is considered acceptable?

(I could mention other problematic laws from the Western standpoint, but this is more relevant to OP)

A. said...

Here's how FIVB is currently shaking out:

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has claimed they have been greatly encouraged by the "small positive steps" taken in recent months to allow women to attend volleyball events in Iran.

The sport’s governing body reiterated that their position had not changed regarding awarding events to the Islamic country, despite Human Rights Watch (HRW) issuing a fresh call to bar the nation from staging competitions until a ban on women attending matches is lifted.

Of course, Iran doesn't host women's volleyball events...

La La said...

Po's information about Guo is seriously out of date. Her boyfriend and trainer for the past five years has been Armenian GM Hrant Melkumyan and she lives some of the time in Yerevan. They most recently competed together at the Isle of Man Open, which from Australia would be much more expensive to reach than Iran.
Of course it's impossible to know if they would be willing to marry in order to train together in Tehran:)

Laar said...

Sorry if this is late, but it seems relevant.

Indian shooter withdraws from Asian Airgun Championship in Tehran after refusing to wear hijab

India's Heena Sidhu has withdrawn from the Asian Airgun Championship in Tehran in protest at organisers making it compulsory for all female competitors to have to wear a hijab.

The 27-year-old from Punjab had written to the National Rifle Association of India earlier this month to inform them of her decision and has now made her decision public.

The dress code on the official website of the tournament, due to take place between December 3 and 12, reads: "Women's clothing in the shooting range and public places is required to conform to the rules and regulations of I. R. Iran."

This has angered Sidhu, the first Indian female pistol shooter to be ranked as the world number one in an event by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).

"Forcing tourists or foreign guests to wear a hijab is not a sporting thing," she told the Times of India.

"I don't like it, so I pulled out.

"You are practicing your religion, let me practice mine.

"If you are forcing your religious beliefs on me, then I don't want to compete."

ejh said...

That's very interesting, thanks.

Po said...

The original India Times article has slightly different wording in some quotations (which may be translations anyway).

And they give the last two Tweets in her chain, saying that she's just made a personal decision, and doesn't want this politicized or to overshadow the event.

Laar said...

I don't want to get too political about it all, but Paikidze is back in the press (sort of) over her Trump support. For some reason this is seen as odd enough to report (, and of course Susan Polgar linked to it), though people's personal politics never work as nicely as cookie-cutter templates want (she is termed a "liberal darling"), and anyway, given that Trump is seen as anti-Muslim and Hillary is pro-Saudi (I think), it's not at all far-fetched that someone stating an ostensibly feminist position over the hijab might also favor Trump.

Her exact Tweet was (in response to a WashPost article from someone with the same 3 attributes and voting): Thanks for sharing @AsraNomani: I'm a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump.

She has since Tweeted a letter she sent to declaring how she stopped giving interviews weeks ago, she had common and differing grounds with both candidates but now has post-election been more vocal for Trump to try to calm the hysterical waters, and would prefer not to be their click-bait.

ejh said...

Interesting, though, since it's hardly likely to help the boycott much if its principal progenitor is a supporter of the world's most famous Islamophobe.

Anonymous said...

In other Iranian WWC news, Sokolov was appointed the team coach, and it seems both FIDE nominee spots will go to Iran (Khademalsharieh who was in the GP, and Pourkashiyan who's a many-time national champ).