Early this morning I broke the story that Israeli participants in the World Youth Chess Championships that are being held this year in the United Arab Emirates have been stripped of their nationality, being listed as from the country “FIDE,” i.e., the World Chess Federation, instead of from Israel. This despite the fact that the World Chess Federation lists Israel as a member, albeit in Europe, while “Palestine” is listed as being in Asia.
The listing of Israeli players this year as being from the Land of Chess (FIDE) is particularly ridiculous considering that just a year ago, in 2012, an Israeli player, Boris Gelfand, qualified to play for the overall World Championship in a one-on-one match against the then-champion. So how can the World Chess Federation account for the fact that the World Championship challenger comes from a country that they are this year pretending does not exist?
The photo above of some of the chess sets being used in this year’s tournament in Al Ain are just the icing on the cake. Traditional chess kings have a cross on the top (a design that has been in use for centuries). But this year in the UAE, they’ve removed the cross and replaced it with an Islamic crescent. A veteran chess player tells me: “In my entire life playing chess I have never seen such a thing.”
Some of the children in this year’s tournament are being forced to use these sets: here are some photos from the actual playing hall with participants using the Islamized sets:
Two Canadian boys being forced to play with an Islamized chess set (see the black king near the middle of the board). And here is a clearer photo:
All three of these photos can be found on the ChessBase news site. As you will see, only some of the sets have this Islamic design — probably because few have been made as yet, and the organizers need thousands of sets for such a huge tournament. So the majority of sets under use are “normal” style. But even so, the Islamic supremacist implications of the new design are self-evident. This is not a big deal, but obviously it was to the Emiratis who went to so much trouble to alter the set. Why not leave it as it was? Was it because of Islam’s abhorrence of the cross?
UPDATE: The Islamized sets are in wide use: