Appeals panel to probe chess girl’s pullout, tournament organiser says

BY A. RUBAN AND IDA LIM
The dress of a 12-year-old girl was allegedly deemed to be ‘seductive’ that resulted in her withdrawal from a chess tournament. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Kaushal Kal


KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — The controversial withdrawal of a promising chess player midway through her game in Putrajaya two weeks ago will be investigated by an Appeals Committee, the organisers of the National Scholastic Chess Championships 2017 said today.

Its chief arbiter KK Chan said the organisers disputed the claim that the girl’s “inappropriate” attire was the reason for her premature withdrawal, allegedly made under duress.

“The organisers do not admit to the complainant’s version of events, nevertheless the organizers will refrain from making a statement, as they wish to allow the appeals committee all opportunities to make an impartial and fair decision,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail Online, referring to the participant’s mother whom he did not name.

“The utmost and foremost aim should be for the improvement and betterment of the game for the chess players and the community,” Chan added, and concluded by thanking everyone for their patience in the matter.

A 12-year-old participant in the chess tournament held in Putrajaya from April 14 to 16 allegedly dropped out of the game after its second round, purportedly after her knee-length black-and-red striped dress was deemed “seductive”.

The girl’s mother Chin Wai Ling claimed the chief arbiter had interrupted the game to object to the “inappropriate” dress, despite it not being “revealing”.

Chin further claimed that she was told “the school will not allow the children to use the hall if we were to turn up in a dress”, even though the World Chess Federation Laws of Chess only required participants to portray a “dignified appearance” without spelling out what can and cannot be worn.

Chin related that she called up the tournament director as her daughter only had dresses for the meet and the game was stopped late at night, giving her no chance to shop for a suitable alternative for the next day’s match that was scheduled to start at 9am.

She is seeking a public apology from the tournament director.

Tournament director Sophian A Yusof, who yesterday said he would lodge a police report, declined comment when contacted again today.

“No comment on anything right now. Perhaps after everything is in place, maybe we’ll make a statement, not for now,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) information chief Amirul Mohamad confirmed to Malay Mail Online today that a police report had been lodged by Sophian at the Gombak police station yesterday, but did not have further information at hand.

Amirul also said he was informed that Sophian had replied to the participant’s mother via email on April 22 or within a week of the Putrajaya incident.

In the written reply sighted by Malay Mail Online, Sophian said he found out on April 15 that the girl had written and signed off on a withdrawal letter after her second round match.

The director in the reply stated that Chin’s daughter did not file any official protest at that time and noted that the tournament regulations required participants to have a “dignified appearance” throughout matches.

“The Organiser (tournament official and the School) has advised your daughter to dress accordingly for the following days since the Tournament was being played inside a school compound under the Ministry of Education.

“Despite all the advice and opportunities given to your daughter to comply with the dress code, she officially decided to withdraw from the Tournament.

“At no time was she threatened with disciplinary action. Dress Code violations rarely leads to disqualification as it is a simple matter to cover up or to dress accordingly,” the reply said, with a conclusion by Sophian that he found “no case for further action” following consultation with the tournament arbiters, including their chief.

The tournament director has yet to respond to a request for details on the police report or to verify the contents of the reply.