The Reason this Chess World Champion Is Stepping Away From Her Titles

Anna Muzychuk is taking a stand for women’s rights at her own expense. The Chess Grandmaster won the 2016 Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship and the Women’s World Blitz Chess Championship. She’s currently ranked the number two woman by Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), which governs international chess competitions. And she’s walking away from this year’s world championships.

She’s not retiring or concerned about her challengers. She’s taking a stand for herself and for women in general by refusing to play in Saudi Arabia. She wrote on 23 December on her Facebook page:

In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles – one by one. Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia. Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature. Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad. I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined. All that is annoying, but the most upsetting thing is that almost nobody really cares. That is a really bitter feeling, still not the one to change my opinion and my principles. The same goes for my sister Mariya – and I am really happy that we share this point of view. And yes, for those few who care – we’ll be back!

Mariya, currently ranked 6th, deserves an equal amount of credit for standing up to a country that only recently agreed to allow women to drive.

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10 thoughts on “The Reason this Chess World Champion Is Stepping Away From Her Titles

  1. Whatever idiot(s) at FIDE agreed to hold these tournaments in Iran and Saudi Arabia needs to be shown the door ASAP.

      1. Just thinking- suppose there are good actors in the Saudi government / society that are trying to make the society more open and tolerant, one step at a time. Getting the competition may be one of their efforts and the haters can easily say “that will fail, sure, go ahead and try.” Supposing that is the case, is the appropriate action to boycott anyway, or should people try to support the event?

        If my wife were looking at going to play in a grand championship in Saudi Arabia, I would be concerned for her safety. So I would probably encourage her to sit it out. But if that concern was addressed, I would really be torn between supporting what Saudi Arabia has been versus those trying to change what it will be.

  2. Likewise those Olympic athletes who will be going to South Korea to compete will be not only doing it for the love of the sport but to show that nothing stands in their pride of performance. In these countries ( Iran and Saudi Arabia) who verbally claim progressive views but allow but allow radicals to preach and effect treatment of women, should be shunned.

    1. It means the title is meaningless. The champion isn’t “the best in the world this year,” they’re “the best who competed, but some of the very best didn’t compete.”

      It really, serious damages the credibility of FIDE, and makes their titles worthless.

    2. Exactly! Just how competitive is the sport if athletes are barred because of their nationality or religion?

    3. Ahhh, I didn’t see that the Qatari and Iranians got visas. The earlier reports said they wouldn’t be allowed.


  3. Anna Muzychuk impresses me greatly. She is sacrificing a lot of money and prestige to do the right thing. Can anyone tell me where to go to add my voice in protest of this?

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