Chess player Sara talks about the sport which is gaining popularity among youth in Iran

  • Sara Khadem won her first major title aged 12.
  • She took up chess at the age of 8

K. Male' | Aala Ibrahim | 17-January-2017 | Tuesday 18:34 | aalu_aala | Report | 2,374

Sara Khadem -- Photo by: google

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, better known as Sara Khadem, is a 19-year-old chess player from Iran who holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster.

Like most other chess players, Khadem took up chess at an early age. She was eight when she first touched a chess board. Four years later, she was a world champion, winning the under-12 world championships.

Women in Iran are traditionally banned from attending many sporting events. On the streets, women need to cover their heads. On the playing field, it is the same.

Questions were asked when Tehran was named host of the 2017 women's world championships.

Nazí Paikidze, US women's champion, called for a boycott of the games.

But Khadem shares the tale of a sport gaining popularity in Iran, especially among girls and the youth.

When asked Sara how she became a world champion, Sara said I was in the second grade when her friend talked about playing chess. Neither she has seen a chess board before nor anyone from her family played chess. She just took it up randomly and started liking it a lot. That’s why she put in a lot of hard work, lot of effort - training for six to seven hours as a kid and it all paid off four years later when she won her first world championship at the age of just 12.

Sara enlightened that chess helped with concentration and studies. Since she started playing, she was missing out on school and her father was the one who helped her with some of the subjects like physics and maths. He has a maths background. All the other subjects, she had to follow and grasp herself. Though she couldn't get good grades she managed to pass the exams.

Chess became a priority to her ever since she won the world championship aged 12. She was only the third Iranian to have won that title. After that, it became a profession for her.

However, Sara do want to study. She has a plan on taking up graphics designing at university and have already applied for a place though she is not sure what the outcome will be.

Sara’s interest grew in the game as it helps with concentration and imagination which leads to a good life.

Chess is actually developing in Iran and their men's national team has players aged 12, 13, 15 and 16. It has a great future.

According to media reports, chess was the second main sport in Iran after football last year.

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