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The European Pairs’ Championship in lightning chess will be one of the accompanying events of the European Games Krakow – Małopolska 2023. It is already known that the main referee of the competition is Iranian Shohreh Bayat, who was recipient of the International Award for Women of Extraordinary Courage.

Two days before the official start of the European Games, a real chess feast awaits us – the European pairs’ championship in lightning chess will be held as a side event. The European Chess Union has just announced that the chief referee for this competition will be Shohreh Bayat, whom the whole world has heard of in 2021.

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Bayat was born in 1987 in Iran. Her grandmother emigrated to this country from Baku during World War II, all the while hiding her Jewish origins.

Shohreh was Iran’s youth chess champion, having also excelled in the sport as a teenager. In 2017, she was appointed Secretary General of the Iranian Chess Federation, thus becoming the first woman in Iran to hold such a senior position in a sports federation.

This was very important for Bayat, as she is constantly fighting for the rights of Iranian women. During one tournament, she appeared in photos without a headscarf, which is a compulsory item of clothing in Iran, which caused a great controversy in her country.

Bayat’s father tried to defend her, but eventually admitted: – I know she did it on purpose. We tried hard to convince her to return to Iran, but she is worried about whether she could continue her career here. I am afraid I will never see her again,” her father told Radio Farda.

“This is a symbolic gesture”

It was for her decisiveness and for ignoring the Iranian government’s threats that Bayat received the International Award for Women of Extraordinary Courage.

It is also for this reason that the talented chess player has decided that she will not return to Iran and has been refereeing chess duels under the English flag since 2020 and will be coming to Poland on the occasion of the European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023. “For the European Chess Union, this is a symbolic gesture,” reads the union’s official website.

The chess tournament will be played on 19 June at the Krakow Opera House. It will feature, among others, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the number 1 chess player on the Polish FIDE ranking list.