King talks with Kirsan

by Albert Silver
8/11/2014 – Just one day before the FIDE presidential elections, Daniel King caught up with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for an interview. In it, the FIDE President explains the status of the 2014 World Championship, his plans for office if re-elected, and the zero tolerance rule for all events. We also discover that among those lobbying for Kirsan votes are Russian embassies all over the world.

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Daniel King - Could you tell us about this agreement you just signed?

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov - This is a good proposal by the president of the Russian Chess Federation, Andrei Filatov, to revive the traditions of the national school championships. You know, 50 or 60 years ago, they started school championships between regions. At that time I was a school boy, and when I was seven I was city champion as well as champion of the Kalmyk Republic, and in 1994-95 I took part in the children's championship. In this same event, Andrei Filatov and the current president of the Turkmenistan Chess Federation participated.

And this kind of schools program, is that part of your vision for FIDE worldwide?

You know, 12 years ago in Dresden after the General Assembly, I announced the Chess in Schools program and my vision for FIDE and how to develop chess around the world. We asked a company to survey how many people can play chess or know about the game, and the answer was that 600 million people can play chess or know about chess. Thus my aim was to take that number to a full billion: one billion chess players, one billion clever people.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov welcomed the opportunity to answer some questions

Moving on to more FIDE news, you've arranged the World Championship match for November, but apparently the players have not seen the contracts yet. So is everything in place for Sochi?

A month ago, FIDE announced our plan for the World Championship match to start on November 7-28, and we will sign the agreement with the Russian Chess Federation, and the governor of the Krasnodar region, and with Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand. In two or three weeks we will meet with the delegates of Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand to sit, see, and choose the hotel they wish to stay in, and we will discuss and sign the contract between FIDE and the players.

You have the vote for the presidential election tomorrow. Supposing you win, how many more years would you wish to remain FIDE president? How do you envision the future for yourself?

You see, it depends on the willingness and vision of the delegates of the national federations. I am young, and I spend my time, my health, my money for FIDE. This is not only my job. Chess is my life, chess is my hobby. I spend all my time, my health and my money on it because I love chess. It isn't important where I work, whether as FIDE president, as a member of FIDE. I began helping chess before I was FIDE president. I remember in 1993, when I was first elected president of the Kalmyk Republic, the first decree I signed was the Chess in Schools program, and today 100% of Kalmyk children can play chess. Among them are winners of the World Youth Championship, the European Youth Championship, the Russian Youth Championships, and this is the result. The result is that the children do not just perform well in chess, but also in mathematics and everything.

Coming back to the question. As long as the delegates like you, would you keep going as president? Is that your wish?

Yes, if they like it and elect me, I will continue to work for FIDE and for the chess world.

There is one FIDE rule that many many chess players are unhappy with, which is the zero tolerance rule. For example, there was a young girl here, a ten-year-old girl here, who unfortunately came two minutes late to the game and she lost. It seems very harsh. Would you consider reviewing this rule?

We have a technical commission consisting of chess players and arbiters and I remember in Dresden in 2008 at the General Assembly, we decided that everyone should be on time. You remember the football match between Brazil and Germany? Can you imagine if both teams arrived five minutes late?

The FIDE President explains his view on the zero tolerance rule

Of course, but chess isn't football. This girl was young and innocent and was very very upset. There are many other incidents where a player has arrived a little late just by accident and this seems very harsh.

Ok, write your proposal and we will discuss it at the presidential meeting. However, the Chief Arbiter (of the Olympiad) came to me five minutes ago and said, "Mr. President, it's very good, no one is late. At 2 PM they start." For me it's not a problem because this was decided by the majority. I remember in 1998, when I organized the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the presence of the president of the Olympic Committee, in the Olympic Museum, with dozens of cameras, many journalists, the mayor of Lausanne, some high officials of the Swiss government, hundreds of spectators. At 3 PM, Vishy Anand was there sitting, but not Anatoly Karpov. We waited 10-15 minutes, and the president of the Olympic Committee turned to me and asked how I could expect to join the Olympic games in such circumstances.

I understand completely for professional chess, but it seems to me there is a big difference between professional chess and amateur chess.

There is no professional chess and non-professional chess, there is only chess. And we will have discipline.

The media has taken a renewed interest as Russian embassies
throughout the world have contacted national chess federations
to drum up support for Kasparov’s opponent in the race, incumbent
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Link to full story.

The full interview

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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