Ukraine's Anna Muzychuk is skipping the ongoing World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Riyadh in protest of the way women are supposedly treated as "secondary creatures" in Saudi Arabia.
Players from Israel have also allegedly been denied visas for the week-long event taking place at the Apex Convention Centre.
Those from Qatar and Iran are also absent despite being granted permission to attend.
Muzychuk, the reigning world champion in both rapid and blitz events, opted not to defend her titles as part of a protest.
“Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world but this time I feel really bad,” she said on Facebook.
“I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined.”
“I am going to lose two world champion titles, one by one.
“Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia.
"Not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature.”
Her stance comes despite modest signs of reform in Saudi Arabia under the new Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. including the allowing of women to drive from next year.
Female competitors have been permitted to compete in high-necked white blouses and blue or black trousers rather than full-body abayas.
A total of 240 players spanning 70 countries are participating.
The Israeli Chess Federation has said that it may seek financial compensation from the International Chess Federation (FIDE) due to its players being denied visas.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no diplomatic ties.
The Qatar Chess Federation said that its players had been granted visa but would not take part after being ordered to not display their national flag during the competition.
Tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have grown in 2017 following accusations that the former is supporting terrorism, accusations which they have denied.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been low for years as the two regional powers remain engulfed in a proxy war in Yemen and elsewhere.
A statement issued by FIDE insisted that visas for players from Qatar and Iran had been granted but made no mention of Israel.
"The fact that players from Iran and Qatar may decide not to participate, after consulting their own authorities, is clearly their own individual decision," it read.
The World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships began on Tuesday (December 26) and is due to continue until Saturday (December 30).