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Iran Plans Ban

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Iran just banned four of their top players for not agreeing to participate in the Calvia Olympiad.

"The federation will never forget their immoral conduct."

It's tempting to react harshly to this this just because it's Iran, not exactly a hotbed of liberal democracy. But other than the reactionary wording, it's not hard to imagine other federations penalizing players for refusing to play on the national team.

As Alexander Shabalov points out, despite the report's statement that they "avoided attending the world meet in Spain," the banned Iranian players were actually IN Calvia. This must be regarding not playing during the Olympiad or some other "immoral" offense. Mahjoob and Ghorbani were forfeited in the 10th round against Kyrgystan and the other two didn't play that round either.

The USSR teams were highly politicized and Botvinnik's Achieving the Aim goes into detail about the shenanigans around team formation, although I don't recall anything about pressuring someone to play. (Although if they wanted you to and you didn't it's hard to imagine there wouldn't be repercussions.) It was more about maneuvering to get on the team or keeping someone else off. FIDE removed Kasparov and Short from the rating list when they broke away to form the PCA in 1993. Have you heard of any similar penalties, perhaps from countries without authoritarian fame?



You mean besides Anna Hahn?

Are the 4 players pros who make their living from chess? Maybe the pay was not high enough. I seem to recall that USA players sometimes have not played because the pay was not good enougn.

Something is wrong with the report as two of four players mentioned on IranMania.com report played in Calvia.I personally beat Morteza Mahjoob when USA met Iran in some early round.
Amir Mallahi was also there.The key phrase is probably "Their behavior does not conform to the country's chess norm".Drinking?Girls?Who knows...

after double-check....All 4 players mentioned were in Calvia.And two of them have forfeits in match against Kirgyzia.

Hm, so what was the problem?

Mig writes:
"Iran just banned four of their top players for not agreeing to participate in the Calvia Olympiad."

Maybe they areed to participate in the Calvia Olympiad, but didn't show up for some of the macthes?

I was told it had to do with a disagreement. One of the players stated that he wanted to keep pace in his chance for a medal, but the captain wanted to rest him. Two players protested and decided not to play. I really can't remember the exact source and have yet to verify it, but it may have been either Sunil Weeramantry (who played for Sri Lanka) or Derrick Perera (Delegate for Sri Lanka and FIDE official for Asia). We all stayed in the same hotel (with the Iranians).

Shabalov is right... it could have been anything. It really wouldn't take much to cause tensions if some players were not respectful of Ramadan (fasting), the holiest time of the year for Muslims.

The government of Iran has no respect for chess.I really don't know what is going on Iran regarding this particular matter but I do know that a bunch of uneducated clerics in Iran decide about evertything in that damned country. Playing chess is against God!! It is a joke of the century. Thank you.


Certainly you do not know what is going on in Iran about this matter (or even in general), so why do you comment? Nobody said chess was against God. There is nothing in Islam to say chess is "haram," but it is not encouraged if it interferes with prayer and religious obligations. Maybe you're merely spewing stereotypes that you've heard in the western media.

That "damned country"? You state that Iran has no respect for chess and you then say "uneducated clerics" in "that damned country"?

Bother to read the posts above next time you write.


Certainly Mike does not know what's going on in this matter.

But for you to declare "There is nothing in Islam to say chess is 'haram'" is not correct. It seems to be a complex and endlessly discussed issue, it can't be dismissed out of hand as a problem in Islam. In some places and in some times, chess has been proscribed in Islamic teaching and practice.

An easy web search can give examples, e.g.



The statement is indeed correct. Chess, as we play it in 2006, is not haram. In the article you provided proves that there has always been uncertainty, but not outright condemnation. In addition, there is nothing in the Qur'an prohibiting chess although there was a practice of modifying sets to avoid idols. As you are well aware. Qur'an is the prescribed text of Muslims. Such problems also existed in Christianity. Here is a current discussion at the page of a well-known contributor to ChessBase, but it has been going on for centuries


In the source you provide it states,

"most probably the Prophet had never heard of the existence of chess, since the Muhammadan jurists have been unable to settle the question of the legality of chess-playing by any direct decision of Muhammad as recorded in the Qur'an, or in authentic tradition. (HJR Murray 187.)"

In other words there is nothing that clearly prohibits chess (haram); there is nothing that approves of it (halal). In some societies it is considered "mukarrah" or only disapproved of, but practically all Islamic nations play the game and field Olympiad teams... Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Somalia, Palestine, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc.

There is one caveat... and that caveat is to insure that is does not interfere with prayer and religious obligations. There is a famous story about this issue involving a blindfold chess player.


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