As one of the most successful women to ever play the male-dominated game of chess, Nazi Paikidze is used to having her moves watched closely.

Her latest has drawn international attention: Paikidze announced last week that she will boycott February’s Women’s World Chess Championship in Iran because the players will have to wear hijabs.

Paikidze’s decision will deprive the tournament of one of the game’s brightest stars and biggest draws — the U.S. champion who once told a magazine she would “do everything I can to help more girls get into chess.”

Islamic coverings for women in public — required in Iran and some other nations such as Saudi Arabia — have increasingly become a target for both protests and struggles over Muslim identity. Some activists in Iran have launched online campaigns against the hijab rules, while other women continually test the boundaries by pushing back headscarves to near gravity-defying levels.

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