Dorsa Derakhshani

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival head wants ‘leniency’ after Iran ban player for Israeli match
EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Conquest tells Olive Press ‘unfortunate oversight’ led to pairing
By Joe Duggan (Reporter) – 28 Feb, 2017 @ 15:27

TRADEWISE Gibraltar Chess Festival Stuart Conquest has told the Olive Press he hopes for ‘leniency’ after two young Iranian players were banned.

Conquest spoke out after siblings Dorsa Derakhshani, 18, and Borna, 15, were axed by their national chess federation following January’s tournament on the Rock.

Dorsa was banned for not wearing an appropriate head-scarf, and her brother was banned after playing an Israeli opponent.

Conquest said he had written to the president of the Iranian Chess Federation but had received no response.

“Dorsa, has played other chess events outside Iran without wearing a hijab,” he said.

“In her case it’s certainly not a new situation. (What is new is that her federation now threatens to punish her.)

“Borna, asked our chief arbiter not to be paired against Israeli opponents only after completing his first game.

“It was just an unfortunate oversight – this was a computer pairing, and normally would have been “blocked”, as were all subsequent Iran v Israel matches, but this was the first round, and the arbiters had not realised the error.”

He added: “Of course we hope for the maximum leniency, but we have heard nothing more from official sources.”

Grand master Dorsa played in the La Caleta event without the Islamic head scarf that became compulsory in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Borna lost in the first round to Israeli Alexander Huzman.

Conquest pointed out that Borna had played in a tournament in Graz last week and Dorsa had played without a hijab in events outside Iran.

Iran refuses to recognise Israel and bans its athletes for competing against Israelis.

The Iranian Chess Federation head Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh said: “As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran, and they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team.”

He added ‘our national interests have priority over everything’ saying those who defied Iran’s ‘deals and principles’ would be shown no ‘leniency’.


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