Chess in India has risen in popularity over last decade. Primarily due to the display of moves by grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. The winner of World chess championship from 2000-2002 and 2007-2013. Not in best of his forms, currently he is ranked number 11 and has 2759 FIDE rating,
Meanwhile, lately chess is in news for a different reason.
Up for Human rights
Indian chess player, Soumya Swaminathan bowed out from the Asian team Chess championship to be held in Tehran. The reason for this is a peculiar rule. A player taking part in the event is required to wear hijaab. Disinterested in adhering to it , Soumya has withdrawn from the event. Very clear in her mind, she had no two ways about it.
Member of the Indian team for tournament, Soumya wrote a letter to the organizing authorities asking relaxation. Her application was received and the organizers turned it down very politely as she tells. The former Junior world champion was a prominent part of the team. Seven years ago, she had put on the hijaab in an event there which made playing quite uncomfortable. More experienced and independent now, Soumya stood up in what she believes is ‘violation of human rights’.
The tournament which starts on 26th July, is not the first one to witness such stance by a player. Some top players, including reigning champion Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine, had boycotted the Women’s World championship held in Tehran last year. The US champion Nazí Paikidze had even started a petition to relocate the tournament, citing religious and sexual discrimination. The petition was also signed by Swaminathan.
Soumya is glad that her decision has got support. In fact, a single post on Facebook, made her trending. Above all, such kind of encouragement is very crucial as it makes the player aware that he/she has a following. Presumably, support in bits and pieces like this helps in producing performances bit more sound and wise.