Chess player cites foul over revealing rival

Melbourne Herald Sun
1 April 1998

Robert Cowley claims he would have won a state chess championship - if his opponent's breasts had not got in the way.

Mr. Cowley, 50, claims he was unable to keep his eyes off Ngan Koshnitsky's cleavage.

Part-way through the six-round South Australian state contest he complained to organizers about the 24-year-old reigning Australian women's champion's penchant for revealing tops.

Ngan Phan Koshnitsky
Soft Pawn: Ngan Koshnitsky says her cleavage should not be a problem.

The bare flesh - plus the fact that she played "very well" - had cost him the title and prevented him from concentrating on the game, he claimed yesterday. Miss Koshnitsky beat Mr. Cowley 4-2 in last month's competition.

She said yesterday that unlike most of her chess-playing counterparts she liked wearing sexy clothes, but said "it shouldn't be an issue at all".

His complaint against her manner of dress was nothing more than a stupid excuse for losing. "It makes me angry that he didn't think I was good enough to win," she said. "I believe that most men can't accept losing a game against a woman."

Mr. Cowley, the 1978 and 1992 SA chess champion, said Miss Koshnitsky's clothes were more suited to a disco than a chess game. He had tried to avert his eyes "but it was very hard not to see it (her cleavage)".

I put my hands across my forehead but that didn't work very well, so now I may consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat," he said. The skimpy top was "a real distraction for me," he said, adding chess was "difficult enough as it is without extra problems".

Mr. Cowley, who plays for "mental exercise, social interaction, discipline and prestige", said he liked "to be able to think of the game and not be distracted by other things".

Driven to distraction:
Robert Cowley lost 4-2

But he would not say whether he thought Miss Koshnitsky's mode of dress was a deliberate move.

Under the laws of chess, it is forbidden to distract or annoy one's opponent.

Miss Koshnitsky said she had no intention to make Mr. Cowley uncomfortable. She dressed the way she did "because I'm young, I want to wear nice cloths and be happy - and that's it".

She accused him of making a cheap excuse for losing to a woman.

Miss Koshnitsky, a professional chess player who migrated to Australia four years ago, flies to Malaysia next week to contest the Asian women's championship.

The vice-president of the SA Chess Association, Evelyn Koshnitsky, 82, said her former daughter-in-law won the title of state champion on her own merits.

It was Mr. Cowley's problem and not Miss Koshnitsky's if he was distracted by his opponent's dress.

"She's just a modern girl," she said.

According to Melbourne's Herald Sun of 1 April, a Chess Player claims he lost the State championship because his opponent's breasts got in the way.

Here is the: Melbourne Herald Sun Home Page.

UPDATE: Ngan Phan Koshnitsky to play First Board for Australia in World Chess Olympiad.

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