Chess scandal over dress code in Malaysia

5/4/2017 – By now everyone, even those who are not primarily interested in chess, knows the story: at the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, a 12-year-old girl was warned by the chief arbiter because of the "improper dress" she was wearing, which was deemed to be seductive and "a temptation from a certain angle". The girl, fairly traumatized, withdrew from the tournament and all hell broke out in the press, with many thousands of reports appearing in the international news portals. Peter Long has harsh words for the Malayian Chess Federation.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!


Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!

More...

The Malaysian Chess Federation needs to get ahead of the latest dress fiasco

By Peter Long

At the start of the year — and a little over a month after the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) elections — I offered an analysis together with advice to the incoming leadership in form of a Malay Mail Online article entitled In search of excellence. In my blueprint for the MCF to move forward I noted that challenges faced by the leadership is that of a lack of expertise within the council which is seriously compounded by vested interests. As it stands today, MCF will require a paradigm shift in how it operates.

Given recent developments, they might do well give the article another read! After all, we have in the last week seen chess in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It all started with a Facebook posting followed by the response of the mother of the child, which drew a response from the Chief Arbiter who started it all.

Kaushal Kal writes: "At the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017, in Putrajaya, one of my student, who is a 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL felt harassed and humiliated by the actions of Tournament Director and Chief Arbiter. In the middle of Round 2, (without stopping the clocks) Chief Arbiter informs my student that the dress she wore was improper and have violated the dress code of the tournament. It was later informed (by Chief Arbiter) to my student and her mother, that the Tournament Director deemed my student’s dress to be 'seductive' and a 'temptation from a certain angle far, far away'. We found this statement completely out of line! Please see attached photo of what she was wearing! Completely ridiculous!" The posting gives full details of what transpired.

The girl withdrew from the National Scholastics Championships because she felt traumatised by a comment about her attire. Naturally a social media storm broke over the incident with nothing less than full support for her. By now, everyone, even those who are not interested in chess, knows the story — there are many thousands of reports, world-wide in news portals and the broadsheets.

The Chief Arbiter KK Chan later made a statement saying the organisers disputed the version of events as published in the Facebook post and that there would be an investigation by the Appeals Committee. As for the Tournament Director Sophian A. Yusuf, he has filed a police report and a complaint to the Multimedia Commission about the “inaccurate” Facebook post, while at the same time claiming the girl’s mother had not filed an official complaint. In the meantime, arbiters and other tournament officials are beginning to take sides or been pressured to make statements in support of the organisers.

How could the Malaysian Chess Federation manage to allow the entire situation to reach this stage and what about the misinformation being put out by at least one of those involved? Let me explain.

This was the National Scholastics Championships which was organised by the Malaysian Chess Federation. Sophian A. Yusuf was the organiser, full stop. He also took on the role of the Tournament Director to provide hands-on oversight of the running of the event and also named himself as one of the Arbiters. So there is no separation of roles or oversight. The buck stops with him.

As for the Chief Arbiter, Chan is a self-proclaimed World Ches Federation (FIDE) big shot. From what I understand, Sophian clearly tapped Chan to be Chief Arbiter to provide expertise that he did not have.

As a start, no competent Chief Arbiter would take a request from the Tournament Director to tell a participant she was inappropriately dressed without first agreeing that it was true, and actually it is not even his job to do so and a task usually assigned to a woman arbiter.

The statement by Chan purportedly on behalf of the organisers was beyond his authority which was limited to the conduct of competition proper and should not have been allowed by MCF as it was made in his private capacity.

Chan claimed that the Appeals Committee was investigating the incident but if there indeed had been one formed, then it would have been drawn from participants at the event to the sole purpose of hearing any appeals made against the decision of the Chief Arbiter during the event and so would have been disbanded with the completion of the event.

Wth the increased media coverage, Sophian even organised a private press conference where he claims he knew nothing! Chan also spoke to Malay Mail Online where as usual he says he is looking into legal action, and will complain to FIDE etc.

Which brings me to my questions (appeal) to MCF: Please take charge in a clear and transparent fashion instead of allowing these individuals to continue like this with statement after statement to the press which just fuels controversy. Just apologise to the girl, make it right. It’s okay to make a mistake, to be wrong. But it is not okay to cover up, or worst to shift blame, and collectively pretend it is the solution. Do not victimise the girl, her mother or the whistleblowing coach.

Do I have to remind us all that we are talking here about a 12-year-old girl here? I really want to believe that we understand the welfare of the child is of utmost importance.

Source: Malay Mail Online, reproduced with kind permission of the author. Peter Long heads the Institute of Chess Excellence which is also the Malaysian Chess Federation's National Chess Academy. He is an International Arbiter and Malaysia's first FIDE trainer. He is also a Project Manager at the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific which advocates the use of chess in education and facilitates regional chess development. Recent articles on ChessBase:

4/23/2017 – Kasparov Chess Foundation promotes chess education in Asia
In conjunction with the Kasparov Chess Foundation's 15th Anniversary Celebration, the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific proposed five activities as its contribution and four of them came together with a tour of four countries in Asia with the common theme of Chess in Education.

11/13/2016 – Chess in Myanmar
For a long time the country of Myanmar has been internationally isolated. But after the military junta, which had been reigning the country for decades, was dissolved in 2011 Myanmar gradually opens up. And the chess scene is lively. From 26th October to 5th November the 7th Asian Seniors Chess Championships were played in the city of Mandalay.

10/28/2016 – Hoogeveen controversy on final ratings
The Hoogeveen match between Nigel Short and Hou Yifan ended in a victory for the former World Championship challenger, who decided it after five of six games when he led 3.5-1.5. The sixth game was a contractual obligation, which Short played and lost. The organizers submitted all six games for rating, although the FIDE rules say that the last game should not count. That has led to a furious controversy, very aptly described in Malay Mail by Peter Long.


Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register

drcloak drcloak 5/9/2017 06:07
@A7fecd1676b88 Seriously? Its a board game, not a wedding, not a funeral, and not a church sermon. God, you guys act like you're curing cancer or something...
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 5/9/2017 05:58
AlexYermo -- agreed...Dress classy if you can afford to. Show some culture and sophistication apropos our "game of kings".
drcloak drcloak 5/8/2017 06:45
@Joseph Toh You talk about FIDE they are some kind of big deal. Well, they are not. They are unfair, biased, corrupt, deceptive and old/obsolete organization that operate more like the Mafia than a real institution of integral values. So remind me again why I should care what licensed FIDE officials say or do; let alone what they have written in their little documents? Get a grip.
Joseph Toh Joseph Toh 5/8/2017 10:32
It is quite unfortunate that the general lay people and to some extent a large number from the chess community had missed the forest for the trees. The real issue of the incident was actually THE WAY the arbiters, who are all licensed officers of FIDE, carried out their duties.

In the Prospectus & Regulations for the event (FIDE Standard),

" 8.5 Players are requested to note the requirements of FIDE Regulations C.01 (Article 8.1) in respect of their dignified appearance at all times during the matches. The Organizer may provide a dress code for the event and players and officials shall comply with the dress code. "

which was culled from the regulations of the many FIDE events all around, we can see that there were no specific dress code of any kind implied as long as it meets the FIDE requirements of 'dignified'.

Now, here comes the sucker punch;
Reportedly the arbiters INTERRUPTED the ongoing game in the second round to convey a certain displeasure regarding the attire.

Arbiters' Manual 2016 - FIDE Arbiters' Commission (arbiters.fide.com/images/stories/downloads/2016/Arbiters-Manual-2016.pdf)

Under Article 12: The role of the Arbiter

" 12.2 (d) The arbiter shall ensure that the players are not disturbed. "

" 12.6 The arbiter must not intervene in a game except in cases described by the Laws of Chess. ... "

More are said from page 217 onwards, 'The Role of the Arbiters and their duties'.

An arbiter's scope of duties is to focus their attention on happenings in relation to what is on the chessboard and not be distracted by something else. There can only be three possible scenarios that allows an arbiter to intervene into a game;

(1) An infrigement during the play
(2) An extreme case of floating the tournament rules
(3) An emergency

All else can wait and be dealt with when the game terminates.

It is very clear that none of the above applies to warant the arbiter/s to interrupt the play.

Then, we now come to...

Annex 19A
Disciplinary Regulations for Arbiters (fide.com/FIDE/handbook/B06annex5a.pdf)

Under Article 1 (Penalties)

" 3.(i) The verbal or by acts abusive, indecent, inappropriate behavior towards members of the governing bodies of all kinds of chess and arbitration, to the players, coaches, other persons involved in the games and the spectators (disqualification for 3 to 12 months ). "

Sadly, as lincensed officers of FIDE, the arbiter/s involved had breached the ethics and failed to uphold the integrity of the organisation they represent.
drcloak drcloak 5/7/2017 07:56
@offpister I don't think you realize this website (Chessbase) pushes political correctness, gender equality, feminism and a certain religious point of view. Due to this, the majority of their articles are going to be heavily bias/subjective towards pushing these agendas forward. You seem like a Millennial snow flake.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/7/2017 11:17
@offpister:

You don't need to be a genius to see that the reporting of this article (not necessarily on ChessBase but rather where it started originally) is one-sided or biased to be in favor of the "little girl", because as we all know, women and female children are unlikely to be guilty of anything anywhere in the world under any context in any culture, especially if a man is somehow involved.
offpister offpister 5/7/2017 11:05
I was merely commenting on the numberbof responses you have made. As this has become ad hominem, in every way, I am out.

Chessbase: Chess teaches us that at any given moment even someone like benedictralph could be right. Since he is suggesting this incident did not happen as reported--indeed he is suggesting on your website that reporters should be arrested for this article--And since I only know of this through chessbase I trust indeed that the reporting is accurate for the sake of the exposure to this injustice.

Alex Y: I love you but what the hell are you talking about?
benedictralph benedictralph 5/7/2017 10:50
@offpister:

Stop insulting chess players and enthusiasts here by acting like such a pathetic specimen of a man (assuming you are one). The constant need for you to white knight in defense of a female makes me want to puke. Like is often assumed about 99% of chess players, you probably can't get laid even if you tried so you feel the need to defend females even where no defending is required (or requested). A publicity stunt hoping to shame an entire nation's men is pathetic and should not be entertained. I hope the reporters of this article do indeed get a knock on the door by the Malaysian police, especially if any facts were indeed misrepresented just to garner sympathy for this "little girl" (and the rights of women worldwide, apparently).
offpister offpister 5/7/2017 10:20
Reading these comments is like watching a car accident. This is such a painful incident to read about. The idea that an arbiter would approach a 12 year old child and say such a thing is uttery reprehensible. Deliver your backward views to the parents but to direct them to a 12 year old, directy? He should be jailed. But most painful is knowing that FIDE could care less about such an incident and will do nothing about it. These countries are the very ones that FIDE leadership cow-tows to to maintain its power. This has nothing to do with culture, or dress codes, or having to play bare-chested men if there are no "rules". This is pure and simple the subjugation of women to men in certain societies and the perogative that men fee in such societies to arbitrate over the lives of women. This also has nothing to do with Islam just as burning witches at the stake has nothing to do with Christianity. Sometimes I wish Chessbase would just do away with the comments section just so I can preserve the illusion that chessplayers have more common sense than others. Of course we all know this is nonesense. Please please @benedictralph do the world a favor and try not to express your views again. If I have to pound my head into the wall one more time I'll drop dead.
turok turok 5/7/2017 04:15
@ AlexYermo now please tell me where dressing in flip flops is not good chess attire? You have your thinking and they have theirs. if you had played Fischer in flip flops do you think he would have fared worse or even cared for your opinion-no-he would just whoop you. I understand if in top professional events there are dress codes but in a normal tourney dress how you want female or male. If a female dresses provocative and it distracts you then you are weakminded. Same if you are distacted by flipflops. It means you will let other things get in the way. So IMo this dress code is ridiculous and if in other countries you learned to play in a suit and tie then so be it.
AlexYermo AlexYermo 5/6/2017 08:38
I don't care much for what happens in Muslim countries, but no amount of whining will change their ways. Banning them from FIDE is counterproductive.
Here in the U.S. we have a lot of people who don't know how to dress for chess tournaments. Beach/gym wear does not belong in a tournament hall, and neither do cocktail dresses. When I see my opponent wearing gym shorts and flip-flops I have no respect for him whatsoever. I will win the game and there will be no post-mortem.
The used to say you graduate from high school and you have two choices: either you put on a suit and wear it to work every day for 40 years or you choose to be a bum and you can dress any way you want. Your call.
drcloak drcloak 5/6/2017 07:21
Women/Females need to be put in their place from time to time. The feminization of the West has gotten out of hand.
calvinamari calvinamari 5/6/2017 04:51
Sounds like Chief Arbiter Chan is revealing himself as a pervert.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/6/2017 12:47
Even the argument about having a dress code is kind of missing the point. Depending on where you are and societal norms, it has a lot to do with common sense. Not everything can (or should) be spelled out in advance. If a man attended a chess tournament in some part of Europe with a shirt that said "Long Live Hitler!" or something like that, he might very well be told to leave. It has nothing to do with dress codes or chess or the FIDE or what is inherently right or wrong. He would be considered "a distraction" to the other players. Some things are just unacceptable in certain societies. Too many people here are turning a reminder to this girl about societal norms into the arbiter being some kind of pedophile or "sexualizing" the kid. Indeed a male pedophile is often considered worse than Hitler in most Western societies but the point is the same.
lagerstein lagerstein 5/6/2017 12:04
As with most issues that stem out of a religious perspective so many people blame the religion rather than those who take it on themselves to interpret it.
I agree with “Kernard”. I think having a dress code is fine and it should be made abundantly clear to all players before a tournament. It does NOT matter if said dress code is based upon Islamic philosophies (where females should & must practice modesty), it is irrelevant. If you do not like the dress code. Do NOT play.
However there was a time and place for things to be handled correctly and discreetly so the modesty (and dignity) of the young girl could have been preserved as per the aforementioned Islamic tenants.
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 5/5/2017 11:58
Well put adp.
adp adp 5/5/2017 11:15
I have been playing competitively against women and girls for 50 years. Most of these arguments regarding "distractions" or immodesty are merely excuses for a backward culture. Countries, venues, federations, and organizers indeed have the right to dictate any code of behavior they wish as long as it conforms to local law. That is not the point here. The point is that FIDE, being an international organization supposedly representing the world's chess players, is under no obligation to conform to these bizarre requests. Yes indeed, if you don't like Indonesia, the Gulf States, Iran or Libya, to name the four worst offenders in memory -- does anyone notice what these countries have in common? -- you shouldn't go. Embarrass FIDE's spineless leaders and the venues. Stay away. That's the only thing these quislings will understand.
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 5/5/2017 04:54
@benedictralph, once again you prove to have some screws loose. You are the one sexualizing a 12 year old kid.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 04:42
@Augusta2022:

"As I said, in this case you have no choice. You must defend the kid."

Nope. I don't "must" do anything. I don't care how much Western society today worships women and children (compared to men). I'm more interested in the facts and the context before passing judgement.
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 5/5/2017 04:38
As I said, in this case you have no choice. You must defend the kid.
Tell me, all wars in the world, all rapes, most crime, not the effect of mens wrong doing?
I'm not saying the arbeiter is guilty but in this case if you have any moral what so ever you must take the kids side until proven otherwise. There is no more room for discussion. PERIOD.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 04:37
@Augusta2022:

"In my opinion, men are usually the wrong-doers."

So much for a man being innocent until proven guilty. I'm no fan of Islam myself but I'm well-traveled enough to know that in many parts of the world, women aren't allowed to dress "as they please" in the presence of other male children and men. You might be surprised to learn, as the real story unfolds, that it may actually have been other *women* and *girls* who complained to the arbiter about the girl in this article.
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 5/5/2017 04:30
@benedictralph, in my oppinion, men are usually the wrong-doers. Also in this case you have no choice. You either defend a grumpy religiously biased arbeiter who intervenes in the middle of a round and complains about a dress must or you defend a 12 year old kid.
Taking the arbeiters side is clearly not a very clever choice.
I'd love to hear what the arbeiters says, but I don't think he will respond and his answer will just confirm the root cause of these evil accusations.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 04:26
@Augusta2022: It's truly fascinating how many white knights post here (pun intended). I'm sorry I don't immediately take the side of the female child or the woman in such cases without knowing all the facts. Heaven forbid I should even *suggest* a female anywhere might have done something wrong (in any culture).
Augusta2022 Augusta2022 5/5/2017 04:19
@benedictralph, you're a sick man, putting the blame on a 12 year old girl because of your own nasty fantasies. No it wasn't her fault, she's a kid and the dress was very appropriate.
Clearly this was the work of islams sick views of both women and kids.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 02:35
@KevinC: Take it easy, Kevin. Heaven forbid a female should ever be accused of any wrongdoing anywhere in the world under any circumstances. If a man is involved, it has to be his fault, right?
KevinC KevinC 5/5/2017 02:08
@benedictralph, your assumption about the girl inadvertently opening her legs is a HUGE assumption, and frankly, not very bright. You really play chess?? Might I recommend checkers?
Rambus Rambus 5/5/2017 08:59
What a ******* horny perverted pedophile of an arbiter! A 12-year old's dress, as portrayed in the photo above, seductive?? The arbiter should be tied to a stake & given 50-lashes!
uggebai uggebai 5/5/2017 08:11
Does anyone dare to mention the word "Islam"?
albitex albitex 5/5/2017 07:31
The sense of shame is not the same in the whole world. Eastern countries have a different mentality from ours (different from occidental). Of course a 12-year-old girl is curious ... But chess judges should do courses on human sensibility, and not just chess rules!
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 05:25
@Paulstronghold: I'm just guessing here but presumably when this girl sat down, her skirt often went up to an extent. Perhaps she was also the kind of young woman who didn't consciously keep her legs closed all the time and her panties could be seen "from certain angles" by some of the boys her age and the men there (maybe by some of the girls and women there too). I believe in that part of the world, it is very uncommon and socially unacceptable for a girl over 10 years old to dress or act that way (it doesn't really matter where or why). She would have been considered "a distraction", if only to some of the other players.
Paulstronghold Paulstronghold 5/5/2017 05:14
What is appropriate/inappropriate mode of dressing does this Malaysian Federation had in mind? If they cannot live up to the present fashion trend where only conservative Muslims do not adhere to, then stop such foolish tournament and instead concentrate on homegrown chess players of their own where they can dictate the manner they're supposed to dress up during the tournament. In the same manner, their players should also refrain joining outside competition sponsored by liberal and permisssive chess Federation outside of their juristidiction. So pathetic
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 04:27
@Rama: I understand and totally agree with you. However, in many cultures and societies (typically non-Western), the "sport" is not the most important thing. Religion, culture, tradition etc. all trump that. An analogy in the West might be an otherwise skillful and intelligent man (in any domain) who happens to say something unacceptable about women or children, for instance, and that could spell the end of his career. All his contributions suddenly are meaningless. Likewise, in this case, the "seriousness of the sport" was virtually a non-issue with regard to what was considered inappropriate behavior by a female child in a public place.
Rama Rama 5/5/2017 03:27
@benedictralph
I think that all organizers have the right to determine dress code. However interrupting a game already in progress - especially a game involving a child - and claiming the violation of a dress code which was not clearly delineated before the game began would not be accepted in ANY serious sport and so all people who want to see chess taken seriously have the right to speak out.

re: "...In the middle of Round 2, (without stopping the clocks) Chief Arbiter informs my student that the dress she wore was improper and have violated the dress code of the tournament..."
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 02:58
@k2a2: It was probably inappropriate by today's Western standards but there are cultures where it is perfectly acceptable for men to advise women on what the society and religion, in general, considers "inappropriate" behavior. Even more so if the women are actually children. In fact, in some places, it is expected because children don't know any better and often their parents don't either. Perhaps the United States or Europe should start a war there over this incident to straighten those people on the right and wrong ways to speak to women and children.
k2a2 k2a2 5/5/2017 01:50
Agree with Kenard.

If the arbiter had pointed out that there is a violation of dress code, it would have been a totally separate issue where the policies of Chess federations could be discussed. However, by labeling the dress as 'seductive', the arbiter has completely made it his own issue and a problem that goes beyond chess. If the arbiter thinks he is seduced by a 12 yr old's appearance, he needs to re-evaluate himself not the dress.
TMMM TMMM 5/5/2017 01:23
"By now everyone, even those who are not primarily interested in chess, knows the story" - Don't exaggerate. Most people interested in chess and not living in Malaysia probably didn't read about this before it appeared here.

As for the topic: does anyone know how other sports commonly deal with political/religious issues like this? What happens when professional female tennis players play in Iran; do they wear whatever they want? And I even recall the Dutch queen visiting a moslim country and wearing something like a nijab, so please let's not pretend that only FIDE chooses to avoid confrontation by enforcing national rules in the country of play.
benedictralph benedictralph 5/5/2017 01:18
I've been to Malaysia. The locals have a kind of saying. Basically, "if you don't like the way things are here, you can leave".
RayLopez RayLopez 5/5/2017 01:17
The dress was deemed: "'seductive' and a 'temptation from a certain angle far, far away'" but reasonable people will agree the only 'angle' this dress would be a seductive temptation would be a 'prone angle' where the viewer would be violating the law, that is, to make it clear to non-English speakers, the viewer was on the ground trying to look up the girl's dress.

Keep in mind the Malaysia, following the UK tradition, they use defamation lawsuits to crack down on people, so Peter Long is taking a risk by even reporting on this issue, so kudos to him.
kenard kenard 5/4/2017 10:34
Having a dress code is fine. Enforcing a dress code is fine. Telling a 12 year old she is dress too "seductively" while in the middle of a game, UNEXCEPTABLE!!! A dress code needs to describe what is expected and what will be ruled as unacceptable attire. A dress code should never be the personal opinion of the arbitrator. What was the dress code? Was their even a dress code made available to the participant's? If the dress code was broken, the participant should have been informed before the game, or after the game, never in the middle of a game.
geok1ng geok1ng 5/4/2017 09:25
This will not end until we decide to put an end once and for all. The only "dress code" a chess tournament needs is "players should be dressed as they wish to". Chessbase is finally atoning from the hijabgate, when Chessbase made a beautiful set of photos showing how successfully Iran forced female players to wear what they wanted. Next FIDE congress should change the rules as follow:
1-No Player of any sex will ever be punished based on dress codes.
2- Every country that applies for hosting a FIDE event must guarantee that no local laws or rules will ever limit the dress freedom of chess players.
3- Chess players are free to use any outfit they want, including those linked to the players culture, religion and personal beliefs.