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

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.


TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

Updated 22 September 2020

TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

  • Lira has lost half its value since 2017
  • Poll finds more than 80% would not invest in falling currency

DUBAI: The Turkish lira has plummeted 22 percent this year, but an Arab News Twitter poll found that most people still don’t have the confidence to invest in the tumbling currency.

About 18 percent of the 1,438 respondents said that a weak lira was worth investing in, while nearly 82 percent said the risk was too great.

Traders will buy currency when it is weak, but tend to only do so if there is confidence that it will eventually climb back up in value – thus making a profit.

The lira – already impacted by the coronavirus and President Recep Erdogan’s authoritarian style of leadership – has suffered increased problems as he printed more money to bolster spending, but instead his plan led to a further devaluation.

Turkey and Erdogan are facing widespread condemnation for their foreign policy, which has seen the country intrude into Greek-claimed waters and interference in Libya and Syria.

There is also growing concern of civil unrest inside the country.

On Monday the currency reached record lows, touching 7.6 against the US dollar – it has lost half its value since the end of 2017.