Ilyumzhinov: 'The chess crown has returned home'

10/24/2006 – "The crown is now on a safe shelf of our safe, and we will never give it away." On a special charter flight from Elista to Moscow after the Elista World Championship match the FIDE President spoke to our correspondent Misha Savinov and gave him noteworthy insights into the next plans of the world chess organisation – which include a $100 million ten-year plan. Ilyuminating.

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On October 15 Elista airport was still officially closed due to license problems, which caused some concern among the journalists present at the match, especially those who arrived on their own and had return tickets. To solve the problem a charter plane was arranged to pick everybody up. Thus the champion and his team as well as the FIDE President joined the crowd on the way back to Moscow. While Vladimir Kramnik enjoyed some well-earned rest in the private atmosphere behind curtains, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was eager to talk with us – a good occasion to ask a few questions about the situation after the match.


The special charter filight from Elista to Moscow

Post-match interview with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

By Misha Savinov

Kirsan Nikolayevich, did the unification of the chess world actually take place?

The chess crown has returned home. Strictly speaking, it has never left FIDE, but still, the world of chess was split since Kasparov broke out 13 years ago, and now it’s over. The crown is on a shelf of our safe, well-locked, and we will never give it away to any person. It is the property of FIDE, a public property.

So, you consider this match as concluding stage of the Prague Agreements?


The FIDE President on the charter flight to Moscow

Yes, the Prague Agreements are fulfilled. We also fulfilled the directive of IOC General Assembly of July 1999, which stated that chess is a sport, and FIDE is the only international federation responsible for chess, organizing chess championships and awarding the championship title.

You had a long meeting with Kramnik on the next day after the match ended. Could you disclose what a subject of discussion was?

We talked about many things. His match against the computer, for instance. I will very likely attend its opening ceremony on November 24. Also, as a world champion, Vladimir became a member of the Presidential Board, and he plans being quite active in this role. Next the Presidential Board meets in Amsterdam in December, and he will receive all the documents – the technical work has started. It is too early to talk about the future: the situation has not settled yet, and Volodya should settle to his new position. There is an international organization behind his shoulders now, and one has to weight one’s actions with the interests of chess.

Can one say that Kramnik will accept an active role within FIDE?

Of course. He will be engaged in chess promotion and PR… We are creating a company, Global Chess Corporation, with authorized capital of $10 million, and will probably register it in Amsterdam. This company should work with our major partners, such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft, etc. A 10-year development plan will be discussed at the Presidential Board. We are expecting receiving about $100 million of investments during that period. This is a major program that will involve everyone.

Have you discussed with Kramnik his claims towards FIDE and possibility of a legal action?

I see no reason for a legal action from both players’ sides. All the decisions taken during the match are legally proper, which is confirmed by the firm of attorneys cooperating with FIDE for more than ten years since I became a president. They are lawyers of International Sports Arbitration Court. This is why FIDE always wins in courts – all our decisions are based on juridical documents, and not emotional statements.

Are you happy with the way the match was played and covered in the media?

Of course I am happy that the match attracted a lot of attention, and everybody realized it was the unification match. Everybody understood it was organized by FIDE, and the crown returned to FIDE. People ask me whom did I support. I supported chess, and one can say the match was won by FIDE. Millions of players being part of FIDE returned the crown.

We looked how many hits there were on the official site of the match – more than 450 million! This is great. More than 200 major periodicals wrote about the match, not mentioning local ones…

Don’t you think that match is the most attractive form for a world championship competition? Apart from other things, it is easier to present and advertise a clash of antagonists…

And chess is also black and white, a struggle of individuals. Brilliant and tense struggle always attracts attention. And attention brings sponsors.

Do you consider the idea to return to a match system? Maybe matches will be alternated with match-tournaments?

We must think this over well. I cannot answer this question right now. The decision has to be taken at the Presidential Board, Executive Committee, and then approved by the General Assembly. Right now there is no need to haste.

But the tournament in Mexico will definitely be played?

Of course! This is not a subject of discussion. And the candidates matches will take place in Elista in April, too. Everything goes as planned.

Will you also discuss the issue regarding present status of Mr. Topalov, or Veselin has no chance to return to the running championship cycle?

What we have is what we have. Sadly, but sport is sport.

Bearing in mind successful unification, do you see a chance of Kasparov returning to chess?

In my opinion, Garry will not return. His age will not permit him returning, chess advanced too far. But, of course, we would all be happy if he returns. Actually, I would be happy if not only Kasparov, but also Spassky and Fischer come back. If they do, I am ready to organize a supermatch of FIDE champions. A good idea, by the way! We’ll invite Vassily Vassilyevich Smyslov, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Khalifman, Kasimdzhanov, Topalov, Anand, Ponomariov… It is going to be a good supertournament!

In Elista?

In Elista. And, probably, it will be 25-minute games, double round-robin. I wonder if Fischer accepts the invitation, what do you think? We will announce the winner a superabsolute champion (laughs)!

One can call it an open championship of Kalmykia…

Are you suggesting inviting the Kalmyk champion of 1978? I think I could play 25-minute games…

The last question – who is in your opinion the most probable successor of the current champion?

Chess gets younger and younger and develops very quickly, so betting on someone is pointless. There are many talents – Carlsen, Mamedyarov, Radjabov. Asia is developing rapidly. Yesterday we talked with Mr. Ncumbe from Zambia, African Vice-President. I think Africa will also start developing chess. There is a real chess boom in Latin America and Mexico. We are moving forward!



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