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Brave Iranian Women June 22, 2009

Posted by Jennifer in : chess,feminism,politics , trackback
The top two women chessplayers in Iran, Shadi Paridar and Atousa Pourkashiyan

I had a dream last night that I was in Iran and that I left my building without wearing hijab. I felt terrified that I would be caught so I ran around and found a pair of leggings to cover my hair. The dream reminded me  I am lucky to have the right to vote, protest, or to wear whatever sort of nail polish I desire, but as a feminist I am connected to those who don’t have the same privileges.

I am moved by the courage of Iranian women who are protesting at the risk of beatings, and even death.

I wonder about the Iranian women’s chess team and Shadi Paridar, who I profiled in Chess Bitch in the chapter "Checkmate Around the World."  

Chess is one of the few sports in which Iranian women can compete abroad… (because) wearing hijab is not an impediment to play. When I ask Shadi if she likes wearing hijab, she bursts into…laugher and makes faces at me….When she finally calms down she says sarcastically, "Oh I just love it. I feel like such a star in this outfit. People look at me and know I am from Iran." Then she raises her eyebrows and informs me, "I am very bad at wearing hijab."

I also wonder about the members of the Iranian team who we hung out with in China (Shadi was not there). The Iranians were very strong in China- the men beat the American men in the bronze medal playoffs for the rapid teams and Atousa Pourkashiyan, rated just over 2200 at the time, went on a rampage to defeat a number of WGMs and IMs. Iranian arbiter, Mehrad Pahlevanzadeh who now lives in United Arab Emirates, literally gave me the vest off his back when I suggested that my father would probably love it as a souvenir from the Mind Sport Games. Mehrad also wrote a very smart article on chessbase.com about how if we want to make chess more popular, it is important to play till checkmate.

I hope that Shadi, Atousa, Elshan etc. are all safe and that the revolution will end in a way that’s positive for the Iranian people. And who knows, maybe the next time we meet the Iranian women’s chess team, they will be wearing different outfits.

Recently, I reviewed Shadi Paridar’s games while mining for material for an upcoming 9queens workbook filled with combinations of top women players. You can read a little more about the workbook here. Here’s a puzzle from one of Shadi’s games.   I will publish the answer as a comment to this blog post.  


White to Move



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