Jen on Brave Iranian Moves Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
June 23, 2009
The top two boards of the Iranian Women's Team, Shadi Paridar and Atousa Pourkashiyan Photo 2002 Jennifer Shahade
I originally posted a version of this on my personal blog but then decided it might interest CLO readers as well.

 I had a dream last night that I was in Iran and that I left my building without wearing hijab. I felt terrified that I would be caught so I ran around and found a pair of leggings to cover my hair. The dream reminded me  I am lucky to have the right to vote, protest, or to wear whatever sort of nail polish I desire, but as a feminist I am connected to those who don’t have the same privileges.

I am moved by the courage of Iranian women who are protesting at the risk of beatings, and even death.

I wonder how the Iranian women’s chess team is doing during this tumultuous time, and Shadi Paridar, Iran's first WGM, who I profiled in Chess Bitch in the chapter "Checkmate Around the World."  

Shadi Paridar, Photo courtesy
Chess is one of the few sports in which Iranian women can compete abroad… (because) wearing hijab is not an impediment to play. When I ask Shadi if she likes wearing hijab, she bursts into…laughter and makes faces at me….When she finally calms down she says sarcastically, "Oh I just love it. I feel like such a star in this outfit. People look at me and know I am from Iran." Then she raises her eyebrows and informs me, "I am very bad at wearing hijab."

 I also hung out with some other members of the Iranian team in China (Shadi was not there). The Iranians were very strong in China- the men narrowly defeated the American men in the bronze medal playoffs for the rapid teams, which I bemoaned in a blog post. Atousa Pourkashiyan, rated just over 2200 at the time (her rating is now set to go over 2300 and she has also since earned the WGM title), went on a rampage to defeat a number of WGMs and IMs. I had a soft spot for the Iranian team due to very friendly arbiter, Mehrad Pahlevanzadeh (who now lives in United Arab Emirates),who literally gave me the vest off his back when I suggested that my father would probably love it as a souvenir from the Mind Sport Games. Mehrad also wrote a smart article on about how if we want to make chess more popular, it is important to play till checkmate.

I hope that Shadi, Atousa, Elshan, Ehsan, etc. are all safe and that all will end in a positive way for the Iranian people. And who knows, maybe the next time we meet the Iranian women’s chess team, they will be wearing different outfits.

Recently, I reviewed Shadi Paridar’s games while mining for material for an upcoming 9queens workbook filled with combinations of top women players. You can read a little more about the workbook here. Here are a few puzzles from Shadi and Atousa's games.

White to Move, Paridar- Babaeva, 1996

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White to Move, Paridar-Khachatorian, 2001

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White to Move, Pourkashiyan-Marshall, China, 2008

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White to Move Pourkashiyan-Berezina, Mind Sport Games, 2008

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Note to readers: I am considering changing from the blue and black Chessbase diagrams to the orange and white ones in this blog, which is also more similar to the current Chess Life Magazine style. If you have a strong preference, please email me at [email protected]