February 23, 2005

Chess in Our Iraqi Democracy

What's the deal with Sistani and chess? As you probably know, the Grand Ayatolla bans chess-playing. I figured it was because of the residual idolatry inherent in playing a game with little men, but now, via Colby Cosh, comes word from Sistani that composing and solving chess problems is OK. So, what's the real reason "playing a chess" is verboten?

UPDATE: One cynical reader reminisces:

Having worked in Saudi for three years starting 19XX as a tech rep for XXX, I think the problem with chess is that it requires thinking. The most comment complaint from my young Saudi Arabian Army students was, "Teacher, don't make me use my think." The last thing a Saudi leader wants is thinking.

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