Under fire, chess tourney director says never saw girl or ‘seductive’ dress

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 2 ― The director of the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017 today denied using the word “seductive” to describe the attire of a 12-year-old girl who dropped out of the tournament.

Sophian A. Yusuf insisted he could not have arrived at such a conclusion as he never saw the girl whose coach used Facebook to allege she was forced to withdraw from the competition as she did not have time to find clothing that would meet the purported dress code.

"I am being slandered. At all material times, I have never said the word ‘seductive’ during the whole tournament. I have never seen the player.

"I have no knowledge of how she was dressed during the whole tournament until someone posted it on social media," he said in a press conference today.

Sophian added that the tournament's arbiters had dealt with the girl's case, and he only learned of the matter after the tournament ended on April 16.

He explained that the dress was initially flagged by an arbiter during the first round of the tournament, and the matter was assigned to a female assistant who advised the girl.

Sophian asserted that when the girl and her parents did not respond to the advice, the arbiter issued a warning after Round 2 commenced.

"Since the player has not changed the dress as she has was advised to in Round 1, the arbiter reported the dress to the chief arbiter," Sophian explained.

The tournament did not have a specific dress code, but applied the World Chess Federation's Laws of Chess that require participants to portray a “dignified appearance”.

Sophian today insisted the girl was never "threatened with disqualification" and that she withdrew voluntarily.

The 12-year-old's 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.

The director today also said he has lodged reports with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the matter.