World Chess Federation Cowtows To Iran


A few weeks ago, I posted about chess players and siblings Dorsa and Borna Darakhshani, who were expelled from the Iranian national team for not covering her hair/playing an Israeli respectively.

18-year-old Dorsa has been interviewed by about it, and her answer to a question regarding her brother Borna playing an Israeli reveals a very problematic attitude on the part of the World Chess Federation.

MK: Your brother was also removed from the national chess federation for playing an Israeli. When he was paired with him, did your brother say anything to the organizers or become worried in any way that playing the Israeli would become an issue?

DD: Firstly my brother is just a kid! Secondly he was playing three tournaments in Gibraltar (both Challengers and Masters tournaments). We were staying in Bristol Hotel which was 40 minutes away from tournament hall and my brother usually would come to Caleta [the host hotel — M.K.] in the morning and play his morning game in Challengers and have his lunch there and check pairings on wall for his Masters tournament.

Round one was same too. He played his second round in Challenger and checked the pairings on wall and he was happy to have white with a 2550, and he went to the game. There was no flag or country name on pairings which were on the wall. Only after the six hour game he realized his opponent was from Israel and he went to arbiters and asked them to not let any other Iranian be paired against Israeli players. The arbiters were also told that their intention was to not let any pairing between Iranians and Israelis take part here but for the first round it slipped. I was actually supposed to be paired against IM Ori Kobo [from Israel — M.K.] in round nine but the arbiters avoided it [This was confirmed to by Chief Arbiter Laurent Freyd — M.K.]. After the president of Iran Chess Federation talked to media about it, my father gave him a letter of what happened there and both Stuart Conquest and Laurent Freyd emailed him days ago but have not received any reply as of yet.

[ confirmed with Conquest that this interaction with Borna took place. Conquest said that Chief Arbiter Laurent Freyd felt bad about accidentally not changing the round one pairing in time, and that Borna had been the one to approach them after the round.]

I have a real problem with this. Politics should not enter sports. Even more so hatred. The World Chess Federation should be making this very clear, laying down the law to Iran: you will play players from any country or do not bother competing. Instead, they are cowtowing to the Iranians, ostensibly to avoid trouble.

And what sort of message does this send kids like Dorsa and Borna? They are already subjected to Iran’s unreasonable, immoral demands. Now they see that making such demands actually gets desirable results.

Come to think of it, that is the same message the world’s cowtowing to the palestinians sends.

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