jump to navigation

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



1. chuck - June 26, 2009

A very poignant, obviously heartfelt, beautifully written and linked piece. I’m so glad that you’ve so articulately shared both in your book “Chess Bitch” and now in your blogs some what you’ve seen and experienced in your travels. Your perspective on how women are treated around the world is a first person narrative that I’d like to see shared more broadly. Thank you for your feminist and human rights advocacy. I can only hope chess will continue to be an avenue for peoples around the world to communicate and get along.

2. Thomas - July 14, 2009

Hey Jen great piece… I have been following the Iranian peoples struggle since the election and had wondered about the chess players living there. Here is a vid. I made re: this struggle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9cX590YRwk

3. peru ana ana peru - September 26, 2009

Knight to e8?

4. Noel - October 5, 2009


5. Chris - November 28, 2009

could it possibly be Qf6+ followed by Ne8+ with two rooks hanging after the recapture? So then the Q can’t be taken so Kh6 and then Nc7+ and if Kh5 then Rf3 is curtains? I’m not 100pct on the second variation but is that it?

Post A Comment

  • Name:
  • Email Address:
    (required, will not be published)
  • Website:
  • Message: