Checkmate: Saudi grand mufti makes move against chess

Chess is a form of gambling, according to the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.

Story highlights

  • The top Saudi cleric says chess is "forbidden"
  • It is unclear when the comments were made

(CNN)So does everyone need to roll up their rooks and box up their bishops?

Maybe not, but some people in Saudi Arabia might be wondering.
Saudi's grand mufti, the kingdom's top cleric, was appearing on a religious TV channel, taking questions about faith and sin and that sort of thing.
    And he got one about chess.
    Not one to hesitate, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh said chess and similar games are "forbidden" in Islam because they're a form of gambling.
    He supported his statement with a verse from the Quran: "Indeed wine, gambling, idols and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan's doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous."
    The grand mufti called chess "a waste of time, money and a reason for the enmity between players."
    The clip was posted on YouTube last month. It is unclear when it aired on TV; CNN was trying to reach the channel, Saudi station Al-Majd, for comment.
    A member of the Saudi Chess Association said the group was surprised by the video but had received no formal notification, and the group is hoping for clarification.
    The chess association began a two-day championship in Mecca on Friday. Another two-day tournament, the Riyadh Chess Championship, is scheduled for early June.
    Twitter users reacted to the comments with humor and sarcasm.