Saudi-Israeli Chess War Intensifies
The seven Israeli chess players who believed the recent open contacts between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and state of Israel would make it a no-brainer for them to travel to Riyadh to compete in the world speed chess championships being held this week (Dec. 26-30). But despite what some optimistically believed was an unprecedented thaw fell back on precedent when the Saudis refused to issue visas to the Israelis despite World Chess Federation rules that require a host nation to allow all participants to enter its borders. Two other states at odds with the kingdom – Iran and Qatar – saw their players admitted after first being denied and the ICF intervening on their behalf. But not so Israel. On Monday, the Israel Chess Federation announced legal action: seeking compensation for the players and assurances that any future tournaments slated to be held in Saudi Arabia are cancelled immediately.