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Today in things that make us scream incoherently

Women Told To Cover Their Cleavage During Chess Tournament

The world can be an annoying place for women. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure, but most of us have come to expect crude comments will be made toward us at least one point (if not countless) in our lives but there’s one place I never expected cat-calls would be a problem – a chess match. Turns out, I was very wrong. The European Women’s Championship in Turkey has installed new rules that ban cleavage. Part of the reason? To limit vulgar comments from those watching the matches. I don’t even… 

According to the new rules, women chess players in the tournament may only leave two buttons open on their blouse.

“I heard many comments from spectators and coaches,” Sava Stoisavljevic, the European Chess Union General Secretary, told Chessbase News. “There is dress code in many different sports, and we decided to establish our rules as well.”

Dress codes for sports I can understand, dress codes for women players because spectators are being rude? That I do not understand. How about instead of policing the players for doing nothing wrong, you police the viewers and toss them out of the audience instead?

Short skirts are apparently also an issue but Stoisavljevis isn’t making rules for that yet. “It’s nice to see chess players with short skirts – they are very pretty girls. But I believe there should still be some limit,” she said. Although, “There are several special rules in some companies which put restrictions on the length of skirts and dresses.”

Players who are in violation of the new rules will receive several verbal and written warnings before being forced to leave the competition if they still refuse to comply. Stoisavljevis said they had noticed a lot of improper clothing during tournaments and decided something needed to be done. She reiterated that players certainly looked attractive in the more revealed outfits but that it might be counterintuitive.

“I have to admit that the players I saw here with short skirts looked very nice. So, in a way they are making chess more attractive for spectators,” she said.  ”On the other hand for many years I’ve been in the chess world as a player, an arbiter, etc. Once, when I was working as an arbiter, I warned one player, even though there were no any rules at that time, because she kept coming to the playing hall dressed like someone who was going to the beach. I think it’s good that we have started to do something with dress code, and it’s very important for the image of chess.”

She also mentioned that the new dress code would be more useful during men’s tournaments. “In general, women take care about their looks and what they wear. There is not a lot of trouble with women – and in fact and I’m sure there will be no trouble at all in the future as well. With men the situation is a little bit different.”

Stoisavljevis says that they looked to other organizations when deciding on the new rules, which also include banning of hats except for religious reasons. “This is the first European tournament where we are applying those regulations. I was here during three rounds and I’ve got an impression that we have to work much more on those regulations.”

The interviewer also asked whether or not the closed button rule was to help prevent men from being distracted when playing opposite women. “It’s a funny question and I don’t think it can be taken seriously,” she said. “We didn’t think about that while making the regulations.”

In large part, it seems as if the rules are just to match up the European Chess Union with other competitions but the fact that audience reactions come into play at all is ludicrous. Add in the, somewhat interesting logo for the championship’s website , as well as the secretary’s comments about how womens’ appearance can help chess, and you’ll see their messages aren’t entirely solid.

What do you think? Do you consider chess a sport and if so, should there be dress codes?

(via NY Daily News)


  • Eva Marie Heater

    If they ban men wearing Speedos too, then have at it.

  • Anonymous

    Men don’t wear speedos at chess tournaments, or generally anywhere except the beach and the pool, so what’s your point?

  • Anonymous

    Speaking as someone who used to compete in chess tournaments as a kid, I’d say yes, it’s a sport. As for dress codes, I’d say there’s no need (and no grounds to really enforce any), aside from the usual accepted public dress code. Professional adult tournaments usually require professional dress, but other than that anything goes. To restrict the number of buttons that can be opened, etc, is just nonsense. Gamesmanship exists in both genders, can’t change that.

  • Skemono

    Presumably that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Eva Marie Heater

     No point here except silliness. If I played a chess match against Gary Karparov (NO chance of that happening), I might be distracted some because I think he’s cute, but that’s my problem. No point here at all. Don’t flame me. Please.

  • Anonymous

    Seems unnecessary to manage women’s common sense… let alone gaming-comfort! I dress sort of like a pilgrim-woman, by contemporary standards, and honestly, just two buttons undone can be constrictive… I prefer three, especially when intaking deep, pensive, chess-playing breaths! Seriously, I’m not trolling here!

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they’re hiding extra pawns or something?

  • Anonymous

    Ah, gotcha. No harm no foul, nothing aggressive meant.

  • Adam R. Charpentier


  • Sofia Mendes

    This is just another example of victim blaming. Why the contestants are punished instead of the jerks making the comments and apparently having no self control is mind blowing.

  • Joanna

    It’s just a given that men have no respect for women in a low cut top so why bother trying to change that?  So much for billions of years of evolution.

  • Aleya Vigiogarms

    Who ever thought that logo of the women’s chess tournament should be fired. It is completely cliched and does not give out the “professional” vibe that they are so desperately trying to maintain with their policing of women’s clothing. If anything, that flirty logo encourages and more laid back attitude practically because it says “Look out boys, us ladies are coming through! Look at how wild and quirky we are, writing stuff in lipstick! That is not the proper use of lipstick! Doesn’t it emphasis how wild and quirky we are, going again the lipstick grain and all that! Wooooo loook at us!”

  • Stealth Avenue

    “The interviewer also asked whether or not the closed button rule was to help prevent men from being distracted when playing opposite women. “It’s a funny question and I don’t think it can be taken seriously,” she said. “We didn’t think about that while making the regulations.”

    In other words, “This was the EXACT reason.” Shame on them. If you’re distracted, it’s your problem. Why not just make them wear full-on burkas? I mean seriously…

  • Eva Marie Heater

    Thank you, very well said!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I think there should be a dress  code. But more along in the lines of ‘dress professionally” in order to present the sport respectfully.

    But if someone in the audience is being rude and making rude comments at the players, kick their ass out.

  • Anonymous

    I went on the website to see if they had photos of the matches and to see what “too much cleavage” meant exactly. One page into the articles, and I see this photo: I did a search to find a larger version (seriously, NSFW): Seriously? You’re going to pull the “too much cleavage” card when you post pictures like THAT on a women’s chess website? To add more insult to injury, I did not see any cleavage in any of the photos of the matches–just lots of turtlenecks and sweatshirts.  

  • Eva Marie Heater

     Holy Boatload of Irony, Batman!!! That’s outrageous!!!

  • Anonymous

    Yup. Pretty sure short skirts are okay because (typically) you can’t see your opponent’s legs through the table. 

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    It’s really such a pity to be looking at the board not looking at the…

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Possibly the first Murray Head lyrics on The Mary Sue.

  • Ashe

    Jackasses will shift the blame as creatively as they can in order to keep doing whatever they want.

    “They have breasts and I have the impulse control of a toddler with ADHD! Therefore women must change to suit me, rather than the other way around!”

  • Red Garner

    I guess I’m the only one who feels there should be some sort of dress code… >.> I just feel that there is absolutely NO reason that ANYONE should dress inappropriately in any professional atmosphere. EVERYONE should be acting professionally, whether they play, coach, or watch.

  • super

     take out a map and look at the location it is occurring at.  Turkey is currently backsliding closer to that of the rest of the Muslim world.  Pretty soon women will be wearing a burka there too. 

  • Eric Bazilio

    I find this rule quite idiotic, but I just need to say this about your comment:

    Stating a generalization based on the worst example among us does not make you much different from men making similarly vague and broad claims about women.

  • Adam Whitley


  • Adam Whitley

    There should be a dress code and it should be that people can dress up as either knights or the grim reapers.

  • Anonymous

    The question is defining what is and isn’t “appropriate.”

  • Anonymous

    And people wonder why I’m still ticked off about Power Girl losing the cleavage window: this is exactly why.

  • Pete Laberge

    It depends:  Two ladies playing opposite each other… Very little distraction.  
    BUT:  A lady playing against a man?  She MIGHT be looking for an unfair advantage. (Or, she might not… it depends…)  Sorry ladies, but nature trumps.  And in certain areas, most males have certain easily exploited vulnerabilities.  Not my fault, but that is life. At any rate, I always thought chess was rather formal, and that the people would follow some sort of decorum.  (I thought the men wore formal suits.)  But then, I do not go to chess tournaments.  I have other things to do.As for the disruptive members of the audience, in the 1930′s, live theatre had a method of handling such rubes:  ”Throw the bums out!”  I think this rule need be applied today, whether the competitors are male or female. 

  • Peter Houlihan

     Yes, and that might happen to a man too, they aren’t being asked to wear bourkas. Just to button up their top to a reasonable degree. If men were doing it I would expect a rule against them too. But they’re not.

  • Peter Houlihan

    I’d agree this that actually, I’d agree with it more if it were an arena where men could have their shirts undone (like the beach) but ultimately the cat callers should be the ones who are ejected.

    I think the ruling comes from the perspective that they are bringing an undesireable element to the game. If I went to a snooker tournement with my shirt undone, would I be allowed play? How about a poker tournement? Or a chess tournement for that matter? I’d be asked to button up, this dress code requirement is actually egalitarian, holding women to the same standard men are held to.

    Then there is the argument that it distracts the player. Think about it, chess is played staring at an angle that coincides with the opposite player’s chest. Its not unreasonable to ask them to cover up, its not a pick up bar.

  • Peter Houlihan

  • Peter Houlihan

    Why do plunging necklines exist for women, but not for men? They exist to advertise sexuality. Would you respect a man who walked into a business meeting dressed like he was picking up girls in a bar? Probably not. Why would you expect respect for women who dress informally and sexually for formal and non-sexual events?

    I don’t agree that they deserve to be catcalled, and anyone doing soe
     should be kicked out. But I don’t think its unreasonable to be asked to button up out of respect for their opponent.

  • Peter Houlihan

     I dunno, a friend of mine was creating posters for a women’s rugby club. He had all kinds of ideas lined up, most of them centered around pictures he’d taken of the team in action, but the one they picked was a throwaway idea he’d had of a stiletto clad foot on a rugby ball. They loved it: it was funny and uncompromisingly feminine while still emphasising the sport. In the end that was the one they went with. How do you know the women’s chess federation (or whatever they call themselves in Turkey) didn’t vote for and expressedly choose that image.

  • Peter Houlihan

    Seriously, what kind of person goes to a chess tournement to wolf whistle women?

  • Peter Houlihan

    Hahaha :D. I’m guessing you can’t actually turn up to games like that though. That said, I’d love to see someone try, just for the looks on their faces.

  • Peter Houlihan

    If you look like you’re going to a bar, then you’re probably not dressed professionally.

  • Peter Houlihan

    But not sexy knights!

  • Peter Houlihan

     Seriously? Do you think someone who plays chess would actually show skin in order to get ahead? It doesn’t really have that kind of culture, poker maybe, not really chess.

    I can see how someone might reasonably claim to be distracted though.

  • Lalit

    Violation of fundamental right to loose via fatal distraction?

  • Carrie Duncan Newman

    Ugh. Men are going to have to make up their minds LOL! Cleavage or no cleavage!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never really understood why chess tournaments are sex-segregated anyway. I mean, it makes sense for sports based on physical strength or stamina, because men and women have different bodies. But chess is an entirely mental sport, sex shouldn’t come into it. Why not just have one competition for men and women?

  • Roberto Roig

    You ask if chess is a sport. Of course it is. There are tournaments and world champions since the 1850s, long before most modern sports were even invented. The top player are world class competitors.and have to train several hours a day. And on and on  

  • Saronai Aldarion

     Actually, I know of two examples already.  Not all or even most female players stoop to it, but a few have.  I’ve seen one in action.  The other my husband told me about.  Both made it quite clear they were using their gender and good looks against the males who very rarely had a female member on the team/in the club otherwise.  In both cases it worked very well for the women doing it.  Everybody but my husband lost to her and he admitted he had to keep his eyes glued to the board and concentrate to keep his head in the game.  Likewise, with the one I saw in action, normally good (male) chess players would lose their nerve or make distracted blunders very unlike them.

    I think it would be fair, all around, to simply impose a formal dress code for all, period.

    I do think it’s a little bogus that it’s members of the audience that caused this rule.  Makes me wonder if perhaps they wanted to help the more exploitative female players save face by not highlighting them as the reason.

  • Saronai Aldarion

     Replying to myself, if my last ponderance is the case, then I approve.  It always irked me when I saw a fellow female chess player do this.  We can beat the guys without doing that to ourselves thank you very much.  Plus, it doesn’t exactly make you a better player against straight women and gay guys.

  • Anonymous

    Live to serve.

  • Peter Houlihan

     Yes, all of this. Its weird that the official didn’t think distraction was the main issue and it would have cost them nothing to make the rule gender neutral.

  • Peter Houlihan

    I agree, how unreasonable of us not to make up our collective hive mind about these issues ;)

  • Saronai Aldarion

     My thoughts exactly.

  • Anonymous

    I think if I were playing a female unbuttoned at a chess tournament, I would stare at her cleavage the whole game. There is a better chance it would bother her more than me, and I seriously doubt I would be distracted by anything else in the tournament room.