PETALING JAYA – A 12-year-old girl was forced to withdraw from a chess championship for wearing a dress that was allegedly deemed “seductive” by the organisers of the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017 on April 14 in Putrajaya.
Malaysian chess player and coach Kaushal Shandhar said that the girl, who is his student and a school chess champion of her district in Kuala Lumpur, felt “harassed and humiliated” by the actions of the tournament director and chief arbiter.
“In the middle of Round 2, without stopping the clocks, the chief arbiter informed my student that the dress she wore was improper,” said Kaushal in a Facebook post on Thursday night.
He said that the chief arbiter told the girl and her mother that the tournament director deemed that his student’s dress was “seductive” and a “temptation from a certain angle far, far away.”
Kaushal said the statement by the tournament director was “completely out of line” and “ridiculous”.
He added that the chief arbiter conceded and apologised to the girl after a discussion and assured her that there was nothing wrong with her attire. However, the chief arbiter said that she was not allowed to wear the dress due to the directive from the tournament’s director.
Kaushal said the girl and her mother were given the option to go to a nearby mall to purchase slacks for the next round of the tournament which began at 9am the following day.
However, the shops in the area were closed and would not be open in time for the next round of the tournament.
Kaushal said the girl’s mother called the tournament director regarding the matter before the next round began. The tournament director promised to call her back after a discussion with the chief arbiter, but that this did not happen, he said.
“He would not answer or return any calls of my student’s mother. This situation led to the inevitable decision to withdraw her from the tournament altogether,” said Kaushal.
“This incident has resulted in loss of time and money which was invested before, during and after the tournament on coaching, registration fees, travelling, accommodation and other incurred costs,” he added.
Kaushal said his student “is a bright young girl” who has shown “tremendous potential in chess.” But the incident has left her “extremely disturbed, and embarrassed,” he added.
“I have been playing chess in Malaysia for almost two decades and I have never heard of this type of issue ever in any tournaments in Malaysia,” he said.
Kaushal is asking for a public apology from the tournament director of the championship.
A photo of the girl’s dress that was shared by Kaushal showed the girl wearing a short sleeved black and orange striped dress that stops just above her knees.
Calls to Malaysia Chess Federation for comments have been unanswered.