Ilyumzhinov announces $30 million 'Kirsan Fund' for chess

by Frederic Friedel
4/5/2017 – You know about the power struggle for control of the International Chess Federation FIDE, on which we have reported extensively. On the eve of his 55th birthday the embattled President made an clear attacking move: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced that he has registered a charitable foundation, the "Kirsan Fund", in the United States, and plans to invest 30 million dollars in its activities: Chess in Schools, Chess in villages, Chess in families and Chess for people with disabilities. "We set an ambitious task to bring the number of chess players to one billion."

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Our picture above shows Ilyumzhinov together with the president of the Russian Chess Federation and vice-president of FIDE Andrey Filatov (left), who sent him him 55th birthday congratulations. It is a clear message of support:

Dear Kirsan Nikolaevich,

Accept the most sincere congratulations on the occasion of your birthday!

On behalf of the Russian Chess Federation and on my own behalf, let me thank you for the enormous contribution you have made over the past 20 years to the development of chess all over the world. It can not be overemphasized. Thanks to your tireless work as FIDE President, you have unified the chess federations of almost 200 countries of the world, conducted many tournaments and matches, made chess a popular and prestigious sport.

The Russian Chess Federation is pleased to develop chess in our country together with FIDE and is ready to support you actively in all undertakings. We wish you good luck and success on all fronts. You have always been a winner, and we believe in your victory and now – in the current situation in FIDE.

Yours faithfully,
Andrei Filatov

The "Kirsan Fund" announcement appeared on the home page of the Russian Chess Federation, one day before his birthday on the 5th of April:

Here's the letter Ilyumzhinov distributed:

Text of the letter

Moscow, 04 April 2017

Dear chess friends

We have done a great job together: united the chess world, increased the number of national federations and official tournaments, attracted new technologies and increased interest in the ancient game. We set an ambitious task to bring the number of chess players to one billion.

For its implementation, I intend to lay the foundations of a systematic work that will let me achieve this goal. Even being under sanctions, I registered a charitable foundation "Kirsan Fund" in the United States.
Its activities will cover North and South America. This month, I plan to open the Kirsan Fund in Brussels (it will work in Europe and Africa) and in Seoul (it will cover Asia, Australia and Oceania). I intend to invest 10 million dollars in each of them.

The mission of the foundations will be the introduction of chess into the education system and creation of chess schools. In addition to the "Chess in Schools" programme, we will promote new projects: "Chess in villages", "Chess in families" and "Chess for people with disabilities".

I started helping the chess world even before I was elected President of FIDE. Garry Kasparov addressed me with a request to help hold the Championship of Russia in 1994. Greece refused to host the World Chess Olympiad and Kasparov suggested transferring it to Moscow in the same year. I granted 100,000 dollars for the prize fund of the Championship and more than one million dollars for the holding of the Olympiad. I organized 14 men's and women's championships of Russia using my own money. I granted tens of millions of dollars to chess over the years.

Now in addition to the professional sports, I intend to focus on the development of chess and to make chess a People's Game. Anyone who is truly committed to the spirit of chess and the principles of FIDE can take part in the work of the foundation that I have organized. The experience and authority of all the national chess federations and fans of chess would be very useful for us.

Gens una sumus! We are one family! Let's make chess a People's Game!

President
Signed: K. Ilyumzhinov



Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.