In case you’re not able to find the playing all, but you know you must be close: follow a group of old men who wear sandals with socks and an unwashed T-shirt saying ”Hoogovens 1985” or ”Mine is 30 centimetres” accompanied by the image of a king. Others sit behind the board with a unbuttoned shirt and bare stomach, so you can see the sweat running down their chest hair.

Fortunately, most grandmasters are better dressed, as they should be. Magnus even started a modelling career at G-Star. An exception, however, was a conflict that occurred at the World Cup in Tbilisi in 2017, short-pants gate. The main organizer Zurab Azmaiparashvili demanded that the Canadian grandmaster Anton Kovalyov change his short pants for a long one. Overexaggerated or justified? After all, appearances also count and you are partially responsible for how chess is represented.

Kovalyov wasn’t called to account about his clothing until the 3rd round. Moreover, he wore the same shorts at the previous World Cup. The bizarre thing is that the main organizer was also a member of the same tournament’s appeals committee. So it’s not a matter of sloppiness, but it’s about (not) properly applying the rules. It might as well have happened in The Netherlands.

Another example of clothing in chess is the Women’s World Championship in 2017, which took place in Tehran. Since the 1979 revolution, wearing the hijab has been compulsory for women, although this item of clothing has shifted further and further back on the head. Nowadays it’s mostly being worn as a fashion accessory rather than a symbol of piety.

Various female world class players, however, indicated in advance that they would not participate because of this dress code. Former American female chess champion Nazí Paikidze even called for a boycott of this tournament, to which (mainly Iranian) top chess players responded that a such measures would only do harm in the long run. After all, a major event like a world championship could mean a huge boost to the status of chess.

Luckily we can wear whatever we want in western countries, although a dress code would do some good. A prize for the best dressed participant (or for this tournament: the best Christmas sweater) would not be a bad idea for the horny as hell image of chess. Or, the hijabs could be used to cover some men’s bare bellies or wrong clothing. Problem solved. The only drawback is that you’ll have to find other ways to get to the playing hall.

Zyon Kollen

FM Zyon Kollen studies Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Leiden. He won the Amsterdam Science Park Tournament in 2018 and he hunts for a norm at the Chess Festival. The 24-year old Kollen speaks six languages fluently, e.g. Finnish, Swedish and Portuguese. He is also a chess trainer, chess set collector and builder, and he writes reviews on chess books. His columns will be published every day on the website around 12 o’clock.