Chess and cleavage – dress code story in the media

3/13/2012 – Periodically one of our reports will be picked up by the general media – we never know which one. This week it was the story of the ECU dress code, which specified how many buttons of a female player's shirt may be open and how many inches above the knee her dress may be. The international media had a field day with this. Meanwhile Anastasiya Karlovich asked the players for their opinion.

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The dress code story

This is the story we published last Wednesday:

ECU Dress Code for chess tournaments
07.03.2012 – The European Women's Championship is the first where the new ECU Dress Code regulations apply. They are quite specific: regarding décolletés (in the US "cleavage"): "the second from the top button may be opened." And skirts may be no shorter than 5-10 cm above the knees. Anastasiya Karlovich quizzed the ECU General Secretary Sava Stoisavljevic on further specifics.

This weekend the international media discovered the story – with a vengeance. Here are a few of the articles we have thus far discovered in the broadsheets and news portals:

  • TIME magazine:
    This isn’t the beer pong world championships – distractions during a championship chess game are surely unwarranted. An opponent across the table sporting a low-cut top could cause even the most expert chessman to focus on checking her out rather than delivering checkmate. So the European Chess Union has decided to lay out a dress code to keep the classiness in the game.

  • New York Times:
    The World Chess Federation does not have a dress code. The one being used in Turkey was created by the European Chess Union. Players who wear dress shirts can only leave the top and second buttons undone. Headgear, except for religious reasons, is not allowed. Players must be “free of body odor.” Clothing should be free of holes and have “a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look.” And only jewelry “coordinated to the outfit may be worn.” Participants who violate the dress code can be barred from playing after two warnings. The men’s championship, which will take place this month in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, will also follow a dress code.

  • New York Daily News:
    Chess tournament bans cleavage; two-button limit due to crude comments from spectators. Women who wear low-cut blouses to compete in chess tournaments are being put in check. New rules dictate that female players in the European Women’s Championship in Turkey cannot reveal “décolletés,” or cleavage.

  • USA Today:
    Women players must button up during chess championships. The European Women's Championship in chess is telling women players to dress for success not for an evening out.

  • Daily Mail:
    Checkmate! 'No cleavage' dress code makes chess tournaments less sexy than ever. Wearing a tight-fitting dress with a plunging neckline is certainly one way to distract your opponent in the ultimate battle of wits. But it is not a tactic which has found favour with European chess officials. They have introduced a dress code to make sure the game maintains its modesty. (With a nice picture of British chess champion Jovanka Houska "showing off her enviable figure").

  • Huffington Post:
    European Chess Tournaments Soon To Be Less Cleavage-y, Thanks To New Rules. Female chess players, put away your two castles: The European Chess Union just released some new dress code rules for chess players, and they include some strict policies on cleavage. ChessBase.com (a great chess website, we're told) has an interview with Sava Stoisavljevic, General Secretary of the ECU, who speaks out on the new rules that the group has adopted, which are already being enforced at the European Women's Individual Chess Championship happening now in Turkey.

  • RT Russian TV:
    Chessed: Players’ dress kept in check. The European Chess Union (ECU) has astonished chess players by introducing a new dress code, including some strict policies on cleavage exposure.

  • The Mary Sue:
    Women told to cover their cleavage during chess tournaments. The world can be an annoying place for women. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure, but most of us have come to expect crude comments will be made toward us at least one point (if not countless) in our lives, but there’s one place I never expected cat-calls would be a problem – a chess match. Turns out, I was very wrong. The European Women’s Championship in Turkey has installed new rules that ban cleavage. Part of the reason? To limit vulgar comments from those watching the matches. (The long and thoughtful report includes a sexy picture of Alexandra Kosteniuk).

There are more – we are told that even in Turkey the story has been in the big newspapers like Vatan, Haber Türk and Sabah. Who knows what is appearing in other countries and languages. It is even finding its way into news programs...

...like ABC's World News Now, which you can watch by clicking on the image above. And for those of you who do not know how to handle cleavage here is are instructions by Jerry Seinfeld.

So what do the players themselves think

Our intrepid reporter, WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, confronted with the international attention garnered by her interview (which, like the reports she sends us, also appeared on the official tournament site), leapt into action and asked a number of participants of the European Women's Championship in Gazaintep for their opinion on the new dress code. Her new report was accompanied by some interesting pictures.


All kinds: Polish players Karina Szczepkowska-Horowska,
Jolanta Zawadska and German player Marta Michna


IM Almira Skripchenko, rated 2468, France

Almira Skripchenko: I don’t think it’s very suitable to include dress-code rules in women tournaments. I think everyone is trying to do their best, and women should not be told what to wear. I don’t think it should be a rule and I don’t think anyone should be forced to follow it. Why does everyone want to punish us? I also mean the “zero tolerance” rule. It’s already a hard enough job playing chess (laughing). I believe that chess players should behave like normal human beings, and thus there is no need to make any special regulations for players. I think it’s really normal for every chess player to respect the efforts of the organizers and sponsors and try to look as decent as possible. Everyone should try to do their best. I think the organizers of private events can write down in the contracts whatever they want, even a dress-code rule. But we should not forget that most players paid by themselves to come here and play.


Turkish women's traniner GM Adrian Mikhalchishin

Adrian Mikhalchishin: I believe dress-code has nothing to do with women, because all women always try to do their best. Perhaps only sportive shoes could be forbidden. I think if young girls want to wear something nice (short skirts for example) it cannot be bad, it’s even interesting for spectators. I’m sure this rule was adopted for men. Some of them can easily appear wearing ragged T-shirts and shoes, unclean clothes… it’s really terrible what’s going on there. Even some players from the top ten don’t bother to pay attention to represent chess in a good way. Look, for example, at snooker players – they wear ties or bow-ties and it looks really great. Our trainer commission was trying to adopt the regulations which should be obliged for all players to wear some special uniform during team championships. It could be sportive or casual style, but it should be the same for the players from one team. FIDE has not done a lot in that direction, and I think that it’s a correct initiative of ECU to provide this rule.


German IM Elisabeth Pähtz (pronounced "pay-ts"), rated 2459

Elisabeth Pähtz: It’s a big disaster for me that it’s impossible to wear hats here. I have a few of them which I really like, specially the one I was wearing in Wijk aan Zee. I think the ECU should reconsider the rule. My point is that this rule should first of all not apply for kids. Look at some of the girls who are playing here – they wear jeans and sport shoes –it’s against the rules, but nobody cares. You cannot say to a 12 or even 15-year-old girl: you should not wear sport shoes but high heels (laughing). At the same time everyone would notice hats. So if I now put my hat I’m curious if someone will reprimand me or not.


WGM Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia, rated 2395

Sopico Guramishvili: I think there is some stuff which is a bit exaggerated, specially the rules concerning hats and buttons of the shirts. Otherwise it’s quite okay. I don’t think too much attention should be paid if women wear more classical or more sporting clothes. I don’t think the limits of the length of the skirt should be defined in those rules in the future. Look at the women here – there are no too revealing décolletés and no excessively short skirts – it’s a women only tournament and there are no men here (laughing). I personally like to wear mini-skirts and hats, but it’s okay as there will be other chess events without rules. I think these dress code rules are more for men, because I have to admit they dress quite weirdly.


WGM Betul Cemre Yildiz, rated 2342, from Turkey

Betul Yildiz: While playing chess it’s important for me to feel comfortable, so I think it’s not necessary to take any measures, and I believe everyone can wear everything, especially during Individual Championships. At the same time I think it’s normal to provide this rule for team championships where players can have common uniform. For example during Universiada we wear suites with symbols of our country.


Long enough? WGM Baira Kovanova, Russia, rated 2392

Baira Kovanova: I think it’s a good idea to write in the rules that slippers and sportive cloths should be forbidden, but usually women dress quite well and pay attention to their cloths. There was one situation during the Grand Prix in China when I came to the game in one blouse which organisers considered to be too open. They asked me not to wear such an open décolleté, so I stopped doing it there. Actually it was a women event, so I didn’t know it could be distracting for anyone.


Russian WGM Natalia Pogonina, rated 2449

Natalia Pogonina: Maybe short skirts and open décolletés are acceptable during women events, but probably it’s not really ethical if women wear excessively open cloths during men’s events. Because it can disturb them actually (laughing). In any case I believe that we should respect the traditions of the countries in which we are playing. If the tournament takes place in Muslim countries we have to follow their rules, even it’s not written anywhere.


GM Elina Danielian, rated 2478, from Armenia

Elina Danielian: I believe it is an inappropriate rule for women chess, because no-one comes here wearing shorts or slippers. It can be forbidden to wear too open cloths because of religious traditions in the country, but I don’t think it can problem here in Turkey. I also disagree with the ban on wearing hats.


WGM Nazi (pronounced "naa-zee") Paikidze, 2406, from Georgia

Nazi Paikidze: I think it’s not a good idea to make such rules and it’s stupid to forbid a woman to wear anything she likes.


Get the tape measure: WIM Nastassia Ziaziulkina, rated 2343


WIM Ljilja Drljevic, rated 2278, from Serbia


We remember her! 13-year-old Yesim Patel, rated 1839, Turkey


No hats? Well, define "hat"! Sopiko Guramishvili of Georgia


Maximum two buttons? No problem, gentlemen


Anastasiya Karlovich, who did all the research for these articles

WGM Anastasiya (Nastja) Karlovich was Ukrainian champion and vice-champion among girls under 16, 18 and 20. She was European Champion with the Ukrainian team in the Youth Team Championships. She is also a Teacher of Constitutional Law of Foreign Countries, International Law and European Union Law in the National Law Academy of Ukraine; a member of the chess club “Law Academy”; a member of the German club Grosslehna; one of the organisers of WGM and GM closed tournaments “Cup of Rector”; Press-officer of such international events: FIDE Women’s Grand Prix Series (Qatar 2011, Russia 2011, China 2011), FIDE Women World Championship Match (Albania, Tirana, 2011), European Women Championship (Gazientep, 2012), Official Photographer from FIDE and CNC during the match Anand - Topalov (Sofia, Bulgaria, 2010) and the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, 2010). Freelance journalist (reporter and photographer) for the events organized by Turkish Chess Federation (2010 – present).

Top standings in the European Women's Championship after ten rounds

#
Sd
Ti.
Name
Rtng
FED
Pts
Perf
BH.
BH.
wins
1
1
GM
Muzychuk Anna
2583
SLO
2707
56½
61½
7
2
8
IM
Gunina Valentina
2511
RUS
2628
57½
62
5
3
6
GM
Kosintseva Tatiana
2513
RUS
2619
56½
61
6
4
7
GM
Sebag Marie
2512
FRA
7
2582
58
63
6
5
9
GM
Cmilyte Viktorija
2497
LTU
7
2563
55
60
7
6
21
GM
Hoang Thanh Trang
2438
HUN
7
2548
56
61
6
7
3
GM
Lahno Kateryna
2546
UKR
7
2530
54
59
4
8
12
GM
Danielian Elina
2478
ARM
7
2518
49½
53
5
9
10
IM
Khotenashvili Bela
2490
GEO
7
2501
49
52½
6
10
2
GM
Dzagnidze Nana
2559
GEO
7
2500
51½
54½
6
11
31
IM
Foisor Cristina-Adela
2398
ROU
2556
61
61½
5
12
5
GM
Stefanova Antoaneta
2531
BUL
2521
56½
61
5
13
17
WGM
Pogonina Natalija
2449
RUS
2473
49½
54
4
14
25
IM
Gaponenko Inna
2416
UKR
2465
49½
53½
5
15
19
IM
Javakhishvili Lela
2448
GEO
2439
48½
53
4
16
18
GM
Kosteniuk Alexandra
2448
RUS
2404
46
50
5
17
4
GM
Kosintseva Nadezhda
2535
RUS
2399
48½
52½
5
18
27
IM
Bodnaruk Anastasia
2412
RUS
2375
46½
50½
5
  • Full results with all 103 players here

    Breaking news: Just after publishing this article we saw that Valentina Gunina beat Anna Muzychuk in the final round to become the new European Women's Champion. A full report will follow shortly.

Remaining schedule

Tuesday March 13
11:00, 19:00  
11th Round, Closing Ceremony
Wednesday   March 14
Departure-Arrival Day
Thursday March 15
Rapid
Friday March 16
Rapid
Saturday March 17
Blitz
Sunday March 18
Blitz
Monday March 19
Departure Day

All photos by WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, with kind permission of the TCF


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BearJr BearJr 11/3/2016 02:48
This smells like raghead`s sharia law trying to infiltrate. What next? Woman chess players need to wear a burka? I suffered once in a official chess tourney because my opponent smelled very bad. I complained to the referee but that player was an old-timer at that club and I was from other city, so I withdrew from the tourney. In my way out the doorman said that that player always had complaints for that reason, but the club always stood besides him. In another tourney, in the 90`s, American GM John Fedorowicz was the only one wearing a stupid jumpsuit and dirty sneakers and no one complained, after all, who cares? He`s a man! Now, if Sopiko Guramishvili (dressed as seen in foto above) was in that tourney (at that time she was not born yet), she would certainly be in the best outfit among all of the participants, yet she could be expelled now from a tourney because she was wearing a hat. That`s so lame!!!! So, does anyone think that I`m wrong making a paralel between this stupid subject and the muslim invasion of Eurabia? Oh... sorry, Europe didn`t changed its name YET.
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