Saudi Arabia brushed aside rulings from top clerics and hosted a big-money chess tournament, but the bid to modernise the kingdom has been jolted by a refusal to give Israeli players visas, doubts whether Iranians and Qataris will come, and a no-show over women’s rights
The landmark event and its record $US2 million ($2.58m) prize pot comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks to repackage his oil-rich nation as more welcoming.
The King Salman Rapid and Blitz 2017 tournament opened on Monday, but just a day later Israel’s chess federation said it was seeking compensation from the game’s governing body FIDE over the rejected visas.
Hints of a tentative rapprochement between the ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom and the Jewish state had stirred hope that Israelis might play.
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