Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh, said that playing chess is “forbidden” and “the work of Satan" during a TV show in December 2015 (video below).
“It makes the rich man poor, and makes the poor man rich,” Al-Sheikh said in response to a question about the popular board game, noted The New York Times.
“It causes hostility and wastes time where it should not be spent,” Al-Sheikh added in his fatwa, also known as a religious decree.
However, the game is played throughout Arab countries and has been for a long time.
Musa BinThaily, a chess player, tweeted on Jan. 20: "The Saudi Chess Association has put great efforts in #chess popularity, and will continue holding events everywhere unless forced otherwise."
On Jan. 21, BinThaily tweeted a picture of some chess players with a United Arab Emirates prince, along with the caption: "Prince Khalifah bin Sultan Of UAE with some of the saudi chess association members."
There is a chess tournament scheduled for Jan. 22 in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), which the chess association said would happen, reported The New York Times.
It's not clear if the Saudi Arabian government will enforce the fatwa against the chess players. Fatwas are seen more as religious guidance than actual law.