Now, chess tourney referee mulls legal action over dress-code row

BY KAMLES KUMAR
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, May 3 — The chief arbiter of the National Scholastic Chess Championships 2017 is considering legal action against the mother and coach of a 12-year-old girl over claims she was forced to withdraw from the tournament over a dress code.

Disputing their version of events leading to the preteen’s withdrawal from the championship,  KK Chan said he did not describe the girl’s dress as “seductive”, a term used in a social media complaint by the coach.

The director of the championship, Sophian A. Yusof, similarly denied having used the word that the girl’s coach had used in the Facebook post on the incident.

“My lawyers are working on this now; they will be hearing from my lawyers. What they claimed is nonsense, it is ridiculous. It is absolutely false,” Chan told Malay Mail Online when contacted last night.

Recounting the episode from the tournament, Chan said the arbiters had “advised” the girl to change her dress following a complaint by a teacher from the hosting school.

He further insisted that this was not under the threat of disqualification. The competition itself did not have a specific dress code, and adopted the World Chess Federation’s Laws of Chess that require participants to portray a “dignified appearance”.

He acknowledged that he had approached the girl during active competition, but said he spent no more than “seconds” to convey the complaint.

Chan maintained he was also entitled to do so by virtue of being the chief arbiter at the tournament.

“I would never disqualify a participant for such reasons. I only advised her to cover up after a complaint.

“Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with her dress, but as the competition was held in a school, we abide by the hosts. One of the teachers, who was also an arbiter, raised the complaint,” Chan added.

He then shed light on what elicited the complaint, and explained that it was not the girl’s knee-length black-and-red striped dress per se, but that it shifted when she was seated.

The arbiters had advised the girl and her parent about the matter, but were ignored.

“The skirt was long, but when she sits it rises. I agree with the complaint that, in that position, it is inappropriate. That’s why we told her to change to a pair of slacks, but the mum didn’t listen,” he explained further.

Chan said he will lodge a complaint with the World Chess Federation (FIDE) on the matter, saying he was “shocked” by the allegations against his conduct.

The mother of the 12-year-old declined to respond to the fresh rebuttals to the allegations she and her daughter’s coach made, save to say that she is also seeking legal advice.

The mother previously alleged that the chief arbiter had interrupted the game to object to the girl’s “inappropriate” dress, despite it not being “revealing”.

She claimed that her daughter was forced to withdraw as they were only informed of the problem late at night, and could not obtain clothing that would meet the competition’s dress code in time for the next round early the next morning.