Chess player banned by Iran for not wearing a hijab switches to US

October, 2017

A leading Iranian chess player, barred from her country’s team after refusing to wear a headscarf, will now compete for the United States. Dorsa Derakhshani, 19, who was born in Tehran, was forbidden from playing by the Iranian chess federation following the Gibraltar chess festival in January, said US Chess, the national governing body for competitions and player rankings. She did not wear a hijab during the event.

Derakhshani has since moved to the United States where she attends St Louis University and plays for the school’s team. She will now compete as an official United States chess player. “It feels good and ... peaceful to play for a federation where I am welcomed and supported,” the website quoted Derakhshani as saying. On a US radio broadcast last week, she said: “I’m looking forward to finally having a stable trainer and a team, and I really wish to become grandmaster.” Derakhshani, who holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster with the World Chess Federation, said she also hoped to become a dentist.

A few weeks after the Gibraltar competition, the Iranian chess federation announced it was banning Derakhshani for not wearing a hijab. It also banned her brother, who had played an Israeli entrant in Gibraltar, US Chess said.