As The Chess Improver prides itself as being on the side of individual freedom, I though it worth taking a look at where chess and chess players have been banned by various authorities. Bill Wall produced a good list of chess bans here and there’s another good one here.
One of the most disturbing features of both lists is the high number of recent cases. Many of the bans have been religious in origin, others for political reasons. Typically these are examples of authorities dishing out penalties, presumably for some perceived ‘good of the collective’, or perhaps no reason at all. The cynic might think that such actions originate in the drive towards authoritarianism with ever more regulation and ever more punishment.
What neither list covers is the effective ban of strong players from certain tournaments, there is simply no section for them to play in with the ones that are available being rating restricted. I do wonder about the message this sends out, that if someone becomes too good at the game they are simply not welcome. Of course it is unlikely that it was intended this way, many events find that the top sections attract fewer participants and yet higher prizes are expected.
In any case I think it is worth balancing such budgeting concerns against the idea that chess itself is a profound expression of personal responsibility and individual striving. You get what you deserve with chess, it is hard to make excuses and the nobility of the game lies in our efforts to improve and do a bit better next time. Penalizing strong players can be seen as being in direct opposition to these ideals, which creates the possibility that such actions may diminish or even destroy the game itself.