Chess player banned by Iran gets a new start in US

Dorsa Derakhshani (right) competing at an international chess tournament in Oslo. Norway, in 2016. (Courtesy: Tarjei J. Svensen‏ via Twitter)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Chess player banned by Iran gets a new start in US

ST. LOUIS, US: A 19-year-old Iranian woman banned from competing in the name of her county after attending an international competition without an Islamic headscarf has taken her game to St. Louis University.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Dorsa Derakhshani is now at a freshman at the Missouri school, which has a new but highly ranked chess team of top international players. The biology major decided to accept a full scholarship to play for the university this spring, in the wake of the controversy.
Issues arose when Derakhshani wore a simple headband during a February competition in Gibraltar. She was competing under the oversight of the Iranian Chess Federation, an affiliation that allowed her to enter several championship-cycle tournaments. Iranian law requires women to wear head scarves in public, but she didn’t think it would be a problem.
“I don’t know why some people have enough free time to worry about what I wear,” Derakhshani said.
She was 18 when she moved to Barcelona, Spain, and recruited by a chess club. She declined to be on Iran’s national team sponsored by the government because she didn’t want to be controlled by the rules of the team, including wearing a head scarf even while outside Iran.
But days after the Gibraltar tournament, the head of the Iranian Chess Federation said Derakhshani and her 14-year-old brother could no longer play in the country or under Iran’s name. He cited Derakhshani’s refusal to wear a head scarf and said her brother had played against an Israeli player. Iran doesn’t recognize Israel and has a policy of not competing against Israeli athletes.
Derakhshani said her brother was paired by a computer and didn’t know the player’s nationality before the match.
“It was just cruel,” she said. “He was just a kid. He didn’t know what to do.”
Her arrival in St. Louis comes as the city becomes a major player in the chess community. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, founded by Republican millionaire activist Rex Sinquefield, hosts several national competitions.
Derakhshani said she wants to become a grandmaster, the top designation for a chess player.


‘Mini-Me’ actor Verne Troyer dies at 49

Updated 23 April 2018
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‘Mini-Me’ actor Verne Troyer dies at 49

LOS ANGELES: Verne Troyer, best known for his role as Mini-Me in the “Austin Powers” movies, died Saturday. He was 49.

While no cause of death was given, a statement on the actor’s social media accounts said he had gone through a “recent time of adversity” and alluded to suicide and depression as “serious issues.”

“Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much,” it added.

Troyer, who lived in Los Angeles, was taken to hospital early this month for unspecified treatment. The actor spoke about his alcohol addiction during another hospital stay a year ago.

One of the world’s shortest men at just two feet eight inches (81 centimeters) due to achondroplasia dwarfism, according to reports, Troyer was born in 1969 in Sturgis, Michigan.