Saudi Arabia is hosting a world chess tournament for the first time, despite religious edicts by conservative clerics who frown upon the board game and an informal snub of Israeli players.
- Israeli Chess Players Denied Visas to Saudi-hosted Tournament
- Israeli Chess Players Clash Over Whether to Compete in Saudi Tournament
- 'Huge Effort' Underway to Include Israelis in Saudi-hosted Chess Tournament
Two years ago, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, said chess is "forbidden" in Islam because it wastes time and can be used for gambling, which is not permissible in Islam. Similarly, top Iranian clerics have also decried the game.
The chess tournament is also engulfed in regional politics. Israelis say Saudi Arabia ignored requests by Israeli players to obtain visas to participate in the tournament that begins on Tuesday. Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations.
Israel's Chess Federation said it was attempting to get compensation from the organizers, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, players from Qatar and Iran, which have strained ties with Saudi Arabia, have been granted visas to participate in the tournament.