Ilyumzhinov: 'Chess came to Earth from outer space'

9/24/2010 – If it wasn't a venerable British newspaper we would think it was a tease. After one short enquiry Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who hopes to be re-elected FIDE President next week, agreed to meet with Shaun Walker of The Independent in Moscow and "put forward his platform for the FIDE elections, and to share his views on life." Some of the latter are a bit startling. Don't miss it.

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Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: 'Chess came to Earth from outer space'

He runs a region of Russia, wants to be king of world chess and he believes in aliens.
Shaun Walker spoke with him.

Forget Miliband vs Miliband. The most hotly contested leadership vote of the season will take place next week in the small Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk. Delegates from more than 100 countries will choose between two Russian candidates after a lengthy campaign filled with acrimony and allegations of corruption.

The prize at stake is the top position in world chess – president of the World Chess Federation (Fide) – and the contest is being fought between former chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, and the current president, the eccentric Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a millionaire and the leader of Kalmykia, an oil-rich Buddhist region on the Caspian coast.

Mr Ilyumzhinov is no normal politician. He counts among his friends the American actor Chuck Norris and the late Saddam Hussein, has made chess lessons mandatory for all schoolchildren during his two decades in power in Kalmykia, and has built the largest Buddhist temple in Europe. Oh, and he also believes that chess was brought to Earth by aliens, and that if not enough people take up the game, the aliens might destroy our planet. Author of an autobiography with chapter headings that include "Without me the people are incomplete" and "It only takes two weeks to have a man killed", Mr Ilyumzhinov has combined his political job with running Fide since 1995.

Mr Ilyumzhinov met with The Independent in Moscow to put forward his platform for the Fide elections, and to share his views on life. First, though, he wanted to talk about his latest grand plan. Perturbed by protests over the "Ground Zero Mosque", he has written to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, offering $10m (£6.5m) to build a World Chess Centre on the site instead. Religion, he says, is supposed to unite people, but of late it has been dividing them.

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  • Also read:
     
    • The Moscow Times – Medvedev Names New Kalmykia Leader
      President Dmitry Medvedev has nominated Kalmykia’s first deputy prime minister, Alexei Orlov, as the new leader of the Buddhist republic, Interfax reported Tuesday. Incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, 48, has governed Kalmykia since 1993 but said Sept. 6 that he would not seek reappointment after his fourth term expires next month.
    • NYT – The World Chess Federation’s Odd Marketing Partner
      In their campaigns for the presidency of the World Chess Federation, the candidates — Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the incumbent, and Anatoly Karpov, the former world champion — have different strategies for promoting the game if each is elected.

All ChessBase report on the FIDE Elections 2010


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