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Double world chess champion Anna Muzychuk refuses to defend title in Saudi Arabia

516   //    27 Dec 2017, 13:10 IST


Anna Muzychuk is a double World Champion in speed chess

What's the story?

Anna Muzychuk, double World Champion in chess has decided not to defend her title in Saudi Arabia as she refuses to visit the country on the grounds that women are not treated equally there. 

In case you didn't know...

The Ukrainian is the defending world champion in two disciplines of speed chess, rapid chess and the blitz. The blitz is a category in which the player gets only 10 minutes for all the moves while the rapid category allows 15 minutes. 

The heart of the matter

Saudi Arabia is a place where there are restrictions on the liberty of women. Anna and her sister Mariya, who is also a chess player are not content with the fact that women are not treated equally in the Asian country and where the sisters are not allowed to roam freely in the streets unless they are escorted by a man.

She expressed her disappointment that she will be missing out an opportunity to defend her title in the upcoming meet.

"In a few days, I am going to lose two World Champion titles - one by one. Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia," said Anna Muzychuk in a statement. "[I decided] not to play by someone's rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature." 

What's next?

It is not only the women who have a problem with the event in Saudi Arabia, as the sport is already under the scanner. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh, a cleric in Saudi Arabia had earlier announced in 2016 that chess in ‘forbidden’ in the country because it wastes time and may lead to rivalry among top players.

Iranian people have also discarded the board game saying it can lead to gambling, which is banned in Islam.

Author's take

The organisers have to be more careful in choosing the correct venue for such a big ticket tournament like this one to ensure full participation. If the top players do not feature in the championships, the competition will lose its charm and competitiveness. 

A sports lover par excellence. Keeping track of sports-related events around the world is my passion, addiction, and would like to take it up as a profession. India locking horns with Pakistan in front of a packed Eden Gardens is a sight I crave for.
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