Final plea: sign petition against Islamic oppression of women chess players

U.S. women’s chess champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes has started a petition protesting FIDE’s (the international chess organization) decision to hold its Women’s World Championship in Iran, where all players, Muslim or not, will be required to wear hijabs. On top of that ridiculous religious requirement in a secular venue, I just realized that one’s chess game, which demands terrific concentration, could be thrown off by having to wear a scarf over your head.

Nazí’s original goal was 1000 signatures, and I’m sure she’s terrifically pleased that it stands at a much higher number now—more than 3400. But I’d like it to go higher, as I have a feeling that FIDE may have to respond to the petition. So, if you object to women being made to veil against their wishes, do sign the petition; click on the screenshot below to add your name and perhaps a message.


I should add that Pikidze-Barnes’s husband was the first signer, and added a nice message:


I write here for free, and rarely ask anything of readers; but there are 40,000+ subscribers out there, and if only half of you took the one minute to sign the petition, there would be an astounding 20,000 signatures. Do it for Professor Ceiling Cat, Emeritus.


  1. ethologist
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink


    • Filippo
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:06 pm | Permalink


      Do they ever plan to have the event in Saudi Arabia?

  2. Markham Thomas
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Done. I can has chessburger now?

  3. Brujo Feo
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Done. My comment when signing:

    This isn’t just about chess. This is about the oppression of women, not just in Iran but around the world.

    This is about human dignity.

    Islam is quick to cry “bigotry” when other cultures forbid the hijab. But to require it of those who don’t want it? Perhaps it’s time to require any Iranian national who travels to ANY foreign county to wear a yarmulke…

    • Christopher
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, or any muslim woman who comes to a western country has to dress as immodestly as the rest of the women. turnabout is fair play, I’d say.

      • Graham
        Posted October 6, 2016 at 2:38 am | Permalink

        Immodestly? Seriously?

        • Christopher
          Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          Do you not understand why I purposely chose that word? Seriously?

          Is it not used quite often to describe the way in which women of the “wicked west” dress, or used to describe the women in Islamo-facist nations when they are being blamed for an earthquake or some other natural disaster? Yes, yes it is, and thus I use it, not as an indicator of my opinion of the way women in western nations dress, (quite frankly, I couldn’t give a tinker’s damn as to how any women dress; not my problem) but is use it to mock those muslim men who force women to cover themselves under yards of fabric so as to avoid “inciting lust” in muslim men. Got it?

  4. Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes — this is an important issue not just practically and symbolically, but also because these less extreme cases of abuse (i.e. nobody is dying), are in fact the cutting edge of the encroachment of religious extremism into civilized life.

    • KD33
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Very good insight.

  5. amyt
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Done and shared on fb

  6. Ken
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink


  7. keith cook +/-
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Done and dusted.

  8. ploubere
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Shared on FB, but didn’t garner much interest, unfortunately. Perhaps I need new FB friends.

  9. Anthony Shifflett
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I signed. Damn proud of it too.

  10. YF
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Done, Prof. CCE

  11. Rick Bannister
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Done and I really hope Iran gets the message.

  12. Hayden Scott
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t FIDE have one World Championship for women AND men?

    • ratabago
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      It does. Anyone who qualifies can play in the World Championship.

      It also has a separate Women’s World Championship. Many women players would rather not play against men. FIDE are happy to accommodate them.

  13. Larry Smith
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Here was Nazi Paikidze’s comment today on Twitter. A thoughtful summation of what I think quickly became something much larger than anyone anticipated:

    For the record, here is a post from Susan Polgar’s website today where she tries to defuse some of the anti-Polgar sentiment out there:

  14. DrBrydon
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink


  15. nicky
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Done, a small thing, but an important cause. We should never be complicit in the suppression and humiliation of women, or anybody for what they are, for that matter.

  16. Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink


  17. Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I hate the spam that always seems to follow upon petition signing, but I guess I owe you one PCC(e) for all your defenses of free speech, atheism, and other umbrellas I live under. So, done.

  18. Rich
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I’ll point out the elephant in the room. Why is it divided by gender? NPR offers this:

    ” In the most recent list of the Top 100 chess players, only one was a woman. While the gender divide in sports like hockey makes sense in some ways — men are generally bigger and stronger — chess isn’t a physical game, it’s a game of the mind.” – (2010 article)

    • Rich
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      I’ll also add for completeness from the article “Inspiring girls to play chess in greater numbers could have a direct impact on the performance gap. Research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that when girls aren’t outnumbered, they play just as well as boys.”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      Why is it divided by gender?

      The same question could be asked of any board game that I can think of. There’s probably something deep in there that the head-ologists can chew over, but when I attend the national Go contest, for example, the playing field is typically 80-90% male. Yet when I was running the University club, the novices (including me – learning while being one chapter ahead of the slightly-more-novices) were around 60-70% male. For some reason, the women didn’t join up and don’t stay with the game.
      It might be instructive if anyone knows of a board game where that isn’t the case.

    • VRandom
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      That’s a very confused article. It is pretty clear why there is a performance gap between men and women when it comes to chess and it is very similar to why there is a gender gap in Academia: 1) chess has been male dominated and hostile to women for very long time, women were discouraged or ridiculed for playing chess (e.g., search for Kasparov’s sexist remarks or his anger for having lost to Judith Polgar), 2) performing at the very top level of chess requires very early childhood training: Magnus Carlsen the current champion learned chess at 5 and was a GM at 13 and it is almost unheard of for a top 10 GM to *not* have started learning or playing chess at a very early age but because of cultural reasons fewer parents are teaching their daughters to play chess or encourage them to play chess. In fact in this regard, the Polgar family is an exception: their father taught all their girls chess from an early age and they all became highly ranked (two GMs and IM). 3) Professional chess require 100% dedication and training and it requires that chess play earns money and financially supporter. This also has been a problem since fewer young women make that choice and gamble to dedicate their lives to chess compared to men. In other words, because almost all the top players have been male, it is much easier for a male player to make that decision whereas it is pretty difficult for a woman to make that decision.

  19. Michiel
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve signed!

  20. Graham
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Done. I rarely comment here but do visit daily.

  21. jeremy pereira
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I’ve signed the petition but what if they move the tournament to France?

    • dallos
      Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      Possible Iranian boycott and the oppressed
      Iranian chess players would stay at home.

      Saudi Arabia could laugh again that the bad boys are again the Iranians, though chess is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, less freedom for women, but no petition and nobody talks about them.

  22. Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink


  23. Kevin Colquitt
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Signed. Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention Professor Coyne!

  24. Todd J Morgan
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I was signing nine hundred and fifty something. So I’m cooler than everyone after me. But if you haven’t signed, sign and you’ll be cooler than everyone after you!

  25. Posted October 6, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Signed the other day when I saw it on facebook.

    Curious to see what kind of coverage this might have on the Puffington Host, I did a Googe News search using the words “Nazi Paikidze-Barnes” + “Huffington Post” and surprise, surprise, got this message:

    “Your search – “Nazi Paikidze-Barnes” + “Huffington Post” – did not match any news results.”

  26. Posted October 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink


  27. Posted October 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Salam Boom

  28. amyt
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    When I last saw (yesterday?) from sumofus total was above 14,000.

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