Wearing a tight-fitting dress with a plunging neckline is certainly one way to distract your opponent in the ultimate battle of wits. But it is not a tactic which has found favour with European chess officials. They have introduced a dress code to make sure the game maintains its modesty. Female players must wear skirts that are no shorter than 4in above the knee.
And only the first and second buttons on a blouse may be opened, to hide cleavage. The rules, which also include stipulations for men and spectators, came into effect in time for the European Women’s Championships taking place in Gaziantep, Turkey. The European Chess Union acted after some women turned up dressed ‘like someone going to the beach’, provoking comments among the men. England’s Javonka Houska, 31, is one player who has helped make the game’s image sexier.
The International Master – who is ranked 58th in the world – has been happily pictured showing off her enviable figure. And Russian Grandmaster Maria Manakova, 38, has posed naked for glossy magazines to try to boost the popularity of chess. The union's general secretary, Woman Grandmaster Sava Stoisavljevic, brushed off suggestions that the new dress code might stop women distracting male opponents. the wide-ranging rules were brought in to restore a sense of decorum to the game after tournament bosses noticed many of the players were not wearing 'proper clothes'.
'I was here during three rounds and I've got an impression that we have to work much more on those regulations,' Mrs Stoisavljevic told German website ChessBase. She added: 'Once, when I was working as an arbiter, I warned one player, even though there were no any rules at that time, because she kept coming to the playing hall dressed like someone who was going to the beach.' And on players who like to show a little leg, she said: 'It's nice to see chess players with short skirts – they are very pretty girls. But I believe there should still be some limit.' The European code makes no such demands, but others dictate that skirts should be no shorter than 5-10cm above the knee.
- 'In respect to shirts, the second from the top button may also be opened in addition to the very top button'
- Clothes 'should be crisp and show no excessive wear, no holes and shall be free of body odor'
- High heels are in, flip-flops are out
- The rules demand 'a pulled-together, harmonious, complete look with colors, fabrics, shoes and accessories, for both men and women'
- After two warnings, verbal and then written, 'If a player is then still in breach of the Dress Code he/she can be send back to dress appropriately'
- 'Spectators not properly attired will have to leave the playing area'