Chess Bans Through the Ages
In 1061, Cardinal Petrus Damiani (1007-1072) of Ostin banned the clergy from playing chess. He had labeled chess as a game of chance, like dice, which was banned. When he died, chess was resumed in his domain.
In 1093, the Eastern Orthodox church condemned chess. The Church tried to stamp out chess in Russia as a relic of heathenism.
In 1110, John Zonaras, a monk and Byzantine theologian, excommunicated chess players and banned chess as a kind of debauchery. He wrote a commentary on the rules of Apostolic Canon and laid down excommunication as the penalty for playing chess (Canon 50), even among the laity.
In 1125, Bishop Guy of Paris banned chess and excommunicated a few priests who were caught playing chess. A chess enthusiast priest then devised a secretive folding chess board. Once folded, it looked like two books lying together.
In 1128, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a French abbot, banned the Knights Templar from playing chess. He wrote the military orders for the Knights Templar and told them to foreswear chess and dice.
In the late 12th century, Casmir II (1138-1194), King of Poland, banned chess.
In 1198, chess was banned from the clergy in Paris as ordered by the bishop of Paris, Eudes de Sully (1168-1208). He forbade chess sets and chess boards from even being in homes.
In November 1215, the Fourth Council of the Lateran in Rome forbade priests from playing chess (canon 16).
In July 1240, the Synod of Worcester Synod in England declared that chess was forbidden.
In 1254, King Louis IX (1214-1270) of France banned chess after returning from a Crusade. He called chess a useless and boring game. He had an aversion to all games. Despite hating chess, it is sad that he received a fine chess set as a gift from Aladdin. King Louis IX was the only French king to be made a saint (Saint Louis).
On May 8, 1255, the Provincial Council of Beziers, France, stated that chess was forbidden by the clergy.
In 1274, a decree issued at Abingdon, England, banned chess from its monasteries.
The Russian manuscript Clementine Kormch of 1282 includes a series of directions of priests, which include no chess playing.
In 1291, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Peckham (1230-1292), banned chess in his congregation.
In 1310, the Council of Trier (which dealt with witchcraft) in Germany ruled that chess was forbidden to the clergy in Germany.
In 1322, the Jewish rabbi Kalonymnos Ben Kalonymous condemned chess.
In 1329, chess was banned in Germany after the statutes of the Synod of Wurzburg.
In 1340, chess was banned at Queen’s College, Oxford.
In the 14th century, Charles V (1337-1380) banned chess in France.
In 1380, William of Wickham (1324-1404), the Bishop of Winchester and the Chancellor of England, forbade chess.
In the 15th century, Charles VI (1368-1422) banned chess in France.
In 1551, Tsar Ivan IV (1530-1584) (Ivan the Terrible) of Russia banned chess, but played chess himself. He died while playing chess.
In 1649, Tsar Alexei (1629-1676) banned chess in Russia. The penalty for playing chess was whipping and imprisonment.
In 1848, the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution banned chess clubs in Hungary until 1864.
In the 1920s, public chess playing on Sundays was banned in Massachusetts. A law was passed to make it illegal to play checkers and chess in public on Sunday. In 1922, a cripple was convicted and fined for playing checkers on Sunday in a public park.
In 1930, Soviet authorities banned blindfold chess, believing that mental health could be endangered.
In July 1933, all Jews were banned from the Greater German Chess Association.
In the early 1950s, blacks were banned from chess clubs in Chicago. Blacks were also not allowed to play in chess tournaments run by the Southern Chess Association.
In 1954, blacks were banned from playing in the U.S. Open, held in New Orleans.
In 1955, Norman Whitaker was banned from chess tournaments sponsored by the US Chess Federation, due to his shady past.
In the late 1950s, the Soviets banned chess in Antarctica after a Soviet scientist at a Soviet research station killed his colleague with an axe after he lost a game of chess.
In 1966, chess was banned in China as part of the Cultural Revolution. By 1974, there was an easing of the ban. China began to participate in international events in 1976.
In 1974, FIDE temporarily banned South African and Rhodesia from FIDE events due to their apartheid practices.
In 1977, South Africa was banned from FIDE events because of its apartheid practices. The ban remained in effect until 1992.
In 1979, after the Islamic revolution, chess was banned in Iran on the count of encouraging gambling, warmongering, and inattention to the five ritual prayers every day.. This ban was in effect until 1988, when the Ayatollah Khomeini rehabilitated the game.
In 1986, Nick Down was banned from British correspondence tournaments after entering the 1985-86 British Ladies Correspondence Chess Championship as a woman and winning the event.
In 1986, FIDE banned Grandmaster Quinteros of Argentina from playing chess in international events for three years because he violated a sanction and played chess in South Africa.
In 1987, International Master Ricardo Calvo of Spain was banned for 5 years by FIDE for insulting South American chess players in his journalism.
In 1993, chess was banned from American River College in California because of disruptive behavior on people playing in the cafeteria and library. Campus police ordered some chess players to stop playing chess. The players refused and the campus police confiscated the chess board and pieces.
In 1994, chess was banned in Afghanistan by Taliban edicts. Anyone caught playing chess were beaten or imprisoned. Chess was banned from 1994 through 2001.
In 1996, some high schools in Salt Lake City, Utah banned chess along with other non-academic clubs to prevent a club for gay high school students from organizing.
In 2001, Bobby Fischer was banned from the USCF after his comments about the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
In 2002, chess players were banned from malls in Hyde Park in Chicago.
In 2003, former world chess champion Ruslan Ponomariov was banned from a the European Team Championship when his cell phone rang during the course of the event. He was the first person banned under the new FIDE law banning players from receiving cell phone calls.
In 2004, Libya banned the Israeli chess team from playing in the world chess championships in Tripoli.
In 2005, Grandmaster Mato Damjanovic was banned from tournament play for one year for pretending to play in a chess tournament (Kali Cup) which did not exist.
In 2005, Fair Haven Union High School banned chess after the school banned all games. The administration said that they did not want to have students play cards in school, so they banned all games, including the chess club. Despite that, the school tied for 1st place in the Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championship in 2006.
In 2006, a player from India was banned for 10 years after being caught using a Bluetooth device stitched into his cap receiving computer chess assistance.
In 2007, a team of home-schooled students who won the 2006 Arizona Scholastic Championship was banned from the 2007 championship. Rules were changed to not allow home-schooled students from participating. Only public and private schools were allowed to participate in the event.
In 2007, a Dutch player was banned from playing in the Dutch League and Cup matches for three years after being caught using a PDA with Pocket Fritz outside the playing hall. The arbiter caught him using the device while stepping outside to get some fresh air.
In 2008, Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk almost became the first grandmaster to be banned for two years from World Chess Federation (FIDE) tournaments when he refused to take a drug test after the last round at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden. He declined to provide a urine sample after losing the last round to GM Gata Kamsky, saying it was an insult to his intelligence and honor.
In 2009, fundamentalist Muslim religious schools in Britain banned chess
In 2009, Indian Grandmaster G.N. Gopal was banned for one year in all India events for failing to appear in the National Championship. The ban was later revoked.
In 2009, the Australian Chess Federation banned a player for 2 years after being caught with a hand-held chess computer in the 2009 Australian Open.
In 2009, Grandmaster Susan Polgar and her husband were banned from the USCF after being accused of posting nasty remarks on the Internet in the name of another chess player.
In January 2010, FIDE banned the Peruvian National Chess Team from all international competition because of a debt of 7,800 euros owed to FIDE as membership dues.
In 2010, San Francisco banned chess from being played on Market Street.
In 2010, New York City banned chess from adults at Emerson Playground. In October 2010, seven chess players were issued summonses by the New York Police Department for playing chess there.
In 2011, three French chess players, GM Sebastien Feller, GM Arnaud Hauchard, and IM Cyril Marzolo, were banned for up to 5 years for cheating in the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. They were using text messages to transmit moves to each other.
In 2011, Rybka, the strongest computer engine in the world, and it creator, Vasik Rajlich, were banned from all future World Computer Chess championship tournaments until the program no longer contained derivatives of other chess engine programs. Rajlich was given a lifetime ban by the International Computer Games Association (ICGA).
In 2012, a national master from Pakistan was banned for 10 years for fixing chess matches and bribing chess players.
In 2013, Loris Cereda, a former mayor of a town in Italy, was banned from all chess tournaments sponsored by the Italian Chess Federation for cheating. He was accused of using a tiny camera in his glasses and using an earpiece while playing his chess games. He was alleged to have been receiving advice from someone with access to a computer.