A chess coach in Malaysia is demanding an apology after his 12-year-old student was forced to withdraw from a chess tournament because officials deemed her dress too “seductive.”
Without revealing the minor’s name, Kaushal Khandhar, the girl’s chess coach, detailed on Facebook the “disturbing incident” that took place in mid-April during the 2017 National Scholastic Chess Championships in Putrajaya, Malaysia. He included a photo of the girl’s dress, which appears to reach near the knee and cover both shoulders.
“One of my student, who is a 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL felt harassed and humiliated by the actions of Tournament Director and Chief Arbiter,” Khandhar, a member of the World Chess Federation, wrote.
After the second round of the chess tournament, Khandhar explained, the event’s chief arbiter told the competitor and her mother that the girl’s dress was too “seductive” for the event and claimed it was a “temptation from a certain angle far, far away.”
According to the Federation Internationale des Eches (FIDE) handbook, which the National Scholastic Chess Championships followed, the chief arbiter is responsible for ensuring the players’ comfort during the tournament.
Khandhar said he’s been competing in Malaysian chess tournaments for nearly two decades and has never seen an issue like this before.
Tournament officials advised the girl’s mother late in the day to buy another outfit at a nearby mall before the start of the next round the following day, according to Khandhar. Since shops were closed that evening and opened too late to purchase something before the matches began again, the girl had to withdraw from the chess tournament, forfeiting the event’s registration fees, coaching costs and travel expenses.
The girl, Khandhar added, was the chess champion of her district in Kuala Lumpur with “tremendous potential.” He said the officials’ comments about the girl’s outfit left her “extremely disturbed and embarrassed.”
“We are absolutely DISGUSTED by the treatment of Tournament Director to a 12-year-old girl and her mother,” Khandhar wrote.
Sophian A. Yusuf, the tournament director, has since denied the claims made against him, according to the New Straits Times. Yusuf claimed he had never met the girl and had not suggested that her outfit was “seductive.” However, he did say he was later briefed on the incident by the chief arbiter but was too busy to get involved.
The girl’s mother, identified as Chin Wai Ling by The Star, told the Malaysian tabloid that her daughter was shocked that the arbiter had interrupted her chess match to comment on her dress.
“From that point onwards, she said all she could think of was whether anyone was peeping [at her] throughout the game,” Ling told The Star.
The FIDE handbook, which sets the standard for chess tournaments worldwide, states that all competitors are required to be “dressed in a suitable manner,” but does not offer a specific dress code. However, Chess Daily News published a FIDE dress code policy proposal that appears to allow dresses and skirts, but forbids “revealing attire” and “clothes that expose areas of the body usually covered in the location where the event is taking place.”
People responding to Khandhar’s Facebook post of the story slammed tournament officials for being perverted and sexualizing the young girl. Others could not figure out how this dress could be considered seductive.
Yusuf, the tournament director, told the New Straits Times that he has received “abusive messages and threats” online over the incident.
“I wish to stress that I have never uttered such words an was not even there when the incident took place,” Yusuf told the local newspaper.
Officials with the National Scholastic Championships and the Malaysian Chess Federation did not return HuffPost’s request for comment.
This article has been updated with comment from Yusuf.