Happy New Year! Iranian Women's Championship at Nowruz

by ChessBase
4/4/2009 – Nowruz means "New Year" and is celebrated by Iranians and related people all over the world, on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, around March 21st. This year it marked the start of the Iranian Women's Championship Final. After seven rounds an 11-year-old was in the lead. We invite you to meet the Iranian chess players in this lovely pictorial report by Reza Mahdipour.

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Iranian Women's Championship at Nowruz

Report on Chess in Iran by Reza Mahdipour

Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran. Preparations for Nowruz begin in the month Esfand (or Espand), the last month of winter in the Persian solar calendar. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox (the start of spring in the northern hemisphere), which usually occurs on March 21. The year changes on the Vernal Equinox or “Saal-Tahveel” which may occur on March 19, 20, 21 or 22. It makes its arrival at the precise moment that the sun crosses the Equator. We have a traditional personality named "Amoo Nowruz" (similar to Santa Claus) who kicks out the winter cold and brings life to nature and warmth to every household.

Happy New Year! Happy Nowruz!

To this day, a few weeks before the new year, Persians thoroughly clean and rearrange their homes. They buy or make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as signs of renewal. The ceremonial cloth known as Haft-Seen is set up in each household.

“Haft Seen” or the seven “S” of Nowruz!

  • Sabzeh (Sprouts, usually lentil or wheat): Representing fertility and rebirth of nature.
  • Seeb (Apple): Represents natural beauty.
  • Samanu (A pudding in which common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as a sweet, creamy pudding): Represents the reward of patience
  • Somaq (Somaq berry used as spice): Represents the color of sunrise; with the appearance of the sun Good conquers Evil.
  • Senjed (The sweet, dry fruit of the Lotus tree): Represents love. It has been said that when the lotus tree is in full bloom, its fragrance and its fruit make people fall in love and become oblivious to everything else.
  • Seer (Garlic): Represents health.
  • Serkeh (Vinegar): Represents age.

Norouz is also spelled Narooz, Nawruz, Newroz, Newruz, Nauruz, Nawroz, Noruz, Novruz, Nauroz, Navroz, Naw-Rúz, Nowroj, Navroj, Nevruz, Neyruz, Navruz, Navrez, Nooruz, Nauryz and Nowrouz. It is observed in Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, as well as Bahá'ís and the Iranian diaspora and other Iranian peoples (including Kurds) everywhere: Albania, Georgia, Bosnia, Caucasus, Crimea, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, India, Iraq, Macedonia, Pakistan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Some Google Persian New Year logos:

This year the Iranian Women's Chess Championship Final is being held at Nowruz. So let us invite you to meet the Iranian chess players, fourteen of them, who are playing in the building of the Iranian Chess Federation.

The playing hall of the Iranian Women's Chess Championship Final

Two woman Grandmasters, one WIM and four WFMs are playing in the round-robin
tournamnet, under the FIDE time controls (90 min + 30 sec increment per move)

After seven rounds, an 11-year-old super-talent is in the lead

Sara Sadat Khademalsharieh is the youngest Iranian WFM and has a gold medal from the Asian Youth Championship. And now she leads the Iranian Women's Championship with 6.5/7 points!

Sarah appears in sneakers and with a backpack for the tournament

Sara's coach IM Mehrdad Ardeshi and her father, hardware engineer Mohammad Khadem. Sara won Gold in the Asian Youth Championship 2008 after training with her main coach, former Iran Champion IM Khosrow Harandi.

In second place is WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan (above right) with 6.0/7 points

Atousa won her WGM title at the Chess Olympiad 2008 in Dresden. She is a student of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at Tehran University, a former World Under Twelve champion and five times Asian Youth Champion!

WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan against WFM Shohreh Bayat – the game ended in a draw

Iranian Women Blitz Champion WFM Shohreh Bayat

Shohreh's father Kiumars Bayat is Vice President of the Gilan Chess Association. Gilan lies in the north-west of Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The coasts of Guilan Province are amongst the most beautiful in the world. They are very suitable for swimming, boating and other water sports. In addition to the tourism attractions, Guilan Province has important historical and religious attractions.

The jungles around Gilan [photo Argooya]

Masooleh Village in Gilan [photo Behrad]

In third place with 5.0/7 is WIM Shayesteh Ghaderpour

Shayesteh is the wife of the first Iranian grandmaster and seven-time champion of Iran Ehsan Ghaem Maghami. She is a student of Hardware Engineering and won the Silver Medal in the previous Iranian Women's Championship 2008.

Shayesteh with her husband GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami at the 2008 Championship

Tehran player and student of Civil Engineering Sareh Tajik, who is also a poet!

Same as last year: Shadi left the tournament. Iran's first ever Woman Grandmaster Shadi Paridar won her first five games (against Nina Hemmatizadeh, WFM Ghazal Hakimifard, WFM Mona Mahini, Tara Rahimi in Rounds 1 to 5), then drew against Sareh Tajik and dropped out of the tournament. According to the rules all her wins were turned into minuses! Shadi abandoned the previous Iranian Women's Championship Final after the first game, in which she lost to the same opponent! Shadi won the Silver Medal at the Asian Indoor Games in the Individual Women's Section in Macau 2007, and was the first woman to win a medal at the Asian Cities (Bronze on board two).

Shadi and former national women's team coach GM Nigel Short

14-year-old WFM Ghazal Hakimifard, who is coached by the the famous FM Hamlet Toomanian

Tara Rahimi of Gorgan City in Golestan Province (northern Iran). Golestan has many famous players such as IM Amir Mallahi and FM Mohsen Sharbaf.

Experienced Karadj player Nina Hemmatizadeh – her mother is an active national Chess Arbiter.

Azin Vakilpour was Vice Champion of the Semifinal round of the Iranian Women's Championship

Iranian U20 Women's Champion Homa Alavi, rated 1904, up from 1410 three years ago

The oldest player of the tournament, WFM Mona Salman Mahini. Mona is a master student of Physical Education at Tehran University and did not start well.

Mehrnoush Zavar Mousavi, who has returned to chess after three years!

Shiva Mahboobi, who lives in Karadj city (inside the Iranian Capital Province)

Round seven: WFM Ghazal Hakimifard vs WFM Mona Salman Mahini – 0-1

Round seven: Azin Vakilpour vs WFM Sara Sadat Khademalsharieh – 0-1

Round seven: Homa Alavi vs Sareh Tajik – 1-0

Reza Mahdipour is the owner of Iran Professional Chess, one of the biggest chess web site in Iran. He was teaching chess at seven and worked as a tournament arbiter at 14 ("In Iran you have to be 18 to get an arbiter certificate, so I was arbitering informally for four years, because of the shortage of chess arbiters in Iran – and because I was very good youth arbiter!"). Reza has arbited at the Asian Youth Championship (four times), Asian Cities 2006 (youngest ever event arbiter), the Iranian Chess Championship (four times), the Men and Women's Super Leagues (sometimes Chief Arbiter), the Iranian Youth Chess Championship (nine times ) and many international tournaments in Iran. Reza is a delegate of the President of the Iranian Chess Federation at tournaments and chief of the Statistics Committee. His rating is 2110, his Playchess account is Zartosht (Iranian: Messenger of God).

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