Iran bans teenage chessplayers for "harming national interests"

by ChessBase
2/21/2017 – Dorsa Derakhshani is a talented teenaged chessplayer residing in Spain, originally from Tehran, Iran. She is only the second female in Iran's chess history to have become an international master. Her younger sibling Borna Derakhshani is a talented lad of fifteen and has a good career ahead of him. Imagine their surprise when they were informed by Dorsa's friends that she and her younger brother had been 'banned' by the Iranian Chess Federation!

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Iran has been in the mainstream news of late for numerous reasons. In the chess world, it all began when it became known that the women’s world championship for the year 2017 would be taking place in Iran. The American champion Nazi Paikidze led from the front, converting an idea into a movement that captured the imagination of the world.

However, no movement could stop most of the top female players from making their way to Tehran to play in the knockout tournament, the chess world’s current method to decide on the women’s world champion. An interesting hypothesis to ponder over at this point would be if any movement could possibly persuade a chess player from giving up his/her personal ambitions at all. Because, whatever we the people, including the best among us, would comment about the situation today, when it comes to the ‘real decisions’, we timidly accept whatever is force-fed by the decision maker.

Nevertheless, a remarkable incident occurred at the sidelines of the ongoing Women’s World Championship. Fars News Agency has reported that the Iran Chess Federation has banned two siblings—18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani and 15-year-old Borna Derakhshani—from domestic chess tournaments and the national team for ‘hurting Iran’s national interests.’

Dorsa Derakhshani

Borna Derakhshani [Photo: Al-Ain Youth Chess]

The Agency quotes the Iranian Chess Federation head Mehrdad Pahlevanzadesh saying, “As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran, and, in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team," Pahlevanzadeh told the semiofficial Fars news agency.

When asked for the reasons for enforcing such a harsh ban, Pahlevanzadeh explained that Dorsa had been banned because she did not wear a hijab and Borna is being punished because he decided to play the Israeli grandmaster Alex Huzman in the first round of the recently concluded Gibraltar Masters. "Anyone can participate in it. Unfortunately, what shouldn't have happened has happened. Our national interests have priority over everything," Pahlevanzadeh said. He added that stricter actions are on the horizon for the siblings for going against Iran's principles.

"We're considering measures that will prevent similar incidents from taking place in future tournaments," he told Fars.

Borna Derakhshani lives in Iran. Meanwhile, Dorsa is a student in Spain. While Borna is no doubt a talented young boy, 18-year-old Dorsa is only the second female in Iran chess history to achieve the title of International Master. Here is an exclusive ChessBase interview hosted by our editor Alejandro Ramirez:

Dorsa talks about her chess, her move to Spain and her relationship with the Iranian Chess Federation

Dorsa commented on Facebook: "I'm not resisting Iran, and also I've chosen not to play any FIDE events for Iran for more than a year! Why on earth would I wear a scarf when I don't play for the team? I respect Iran rules and I obeyed them fully as long as I played for the national team. I chose to respect them and not make any trouble for them by not accepting their invitations for any FIDE events including Olympiad."

More reactions to follow...

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register