On Putin, Elista, clairvoyants and sorcerers

by ChessBase
8/25/2006 – On September 23, at 15.00h Moscow time, the first move of the reunification world championship match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik will be made in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia. The president of that Russian republic and of the world chess federation FIDE has provided new details in a must-read interview in Chess Express.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has given Yuri Vassiliev of the Russian news service "Sport Express" an interview in which he reveals further details of the upcoming world championship reunification match between the reigning FIDE champion Veselin Topalov and the classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik. Topalov won his title in an eight-player round robin in San Luis, Argentina, in 2005; Kramnik earned his title by beating Garry Kasparov in a 16-game match in October 2000, and defended his title against Peter Leko in a 14-game match in 2004.

Here is a summary of the interview from August 21, 2006. At the bottom of this page you will find links to the original Russian language interview in Sport Express and a full English translation.

On his recent meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr. Putin congratulated Ilyumzhinov on his reelection as FIDE President, and expressed his interest to the preparation to the World Chess Championship match in Elista. On hearing that Kramnik had just won the Dortmund tournament Putin asked Ilyumzhinov for Kramnik's phone number in order to congratulate him. Ilyumzhinov gave him the mobile number and Putin's secretary tried to get in touch with Kramnik. Unfortunately, his mobile was switched to the answering machine. The Russian President requested Ilyumzhinov to convey his congratulations and wishes of the successful preparation for the match for the chess crown to Kramnik.

Vladimir Putin discussing chess with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

On equal conditions for Kramnik and Topalov:
Kirsan says that he has special connections to Bulgaria, since for instance the famous Bulgarian clairvoyant Vanga had given him a sort of guarantee for the position of the FIDE President. On the other hand, as a citizen of Russia, he liked the Russian Grandmaster Kramnik. But as President of Kalmykia and the host of the match in Elista he guaranteed absolutely equal conditions to both participants of the match. "This is a matter of our honour and duty of hospitality."

On the living quarters for the players:
On seeing the living quarters Kramnik's manager joked that the cottage in the Chess City in Kalmykia could accommodate three teams. Indeed the cottage has 20 rooms, with a sauna and a swimming-pool. A private tennis court will also be completed by the start of the match. There will be special stables, with well-behaved horses in case the players would like to go riding, which is an excellent way to relax after a strained intellectual combat. "The dialogue with a clever and noble animal influences in the best way the nervous system of the person."

The Chess City in Elista

Beautiful new facility houses

The venue of the match:
The world championship will take place in the fullly reconstructed Government House conference hall. New furniture will be installed, all equipment, including electronics, will be new, there will be free wireless Internet channels for everyone.

The central building where chess events are staged

The central building at night

The players' schedules:
Both teams agreed to come to Elista on the same flight from Moscow September 16th. The opening ceremony and drawing of lots is on September 21. The first game is on the September 23, the first move will be made at 15.00h Moscow time. All 12 games of the match will start at the same time. The match will last until 10th of October, the closing ceremony is on the 13th.

On the prevention of illegal computer assistance:
Besides traditional metal detectors and the ban of mobile phones, there will be special equipment to create an "electronic vacuum" around the playing hall. Such measures will be undertaken to prevent anyone from communicating with the players during the games.

Press, spectators and guests:
More than one hundred journalists have been accredited. In addition there will be experts in extrasensory perception. Ilyumzhinov: "My informers did not tell which exactly team will be using them, but they assure that such experts will be present in the audience. There is an opinion that such persons – sorcerers as I call them – can influence the opponent and to prevent him from thinking, in some way. I do not particularly believe such fairy tales, as during the elections of 2002 (in Kalmykia) my opponent was assisted by some of that kind, without any success. But each participant of the match can bring with him up to ten persons. If this includes the sorcerers, they will be accredited."

The houses in which chess players, visitors and journalists can live

On his relationship with former opponents:
Ilyumzhinov says he does not bear grudges and is trying to incorporate all positive aspects of his opponents. Some of the most active supporters of Bessel Kok's programme have become part of the new FIDE leadership, and he has invited Kok to come to Elista to discuss the proposals he made before leaving Turin. Also his relationship to the Turkish Chess Federation and its president Ali Nihat Yazici has normalised, and he was learning from the Yazici's "Chess in Schools" programme. In Turkey sixty thousand schools have included chess in their curriculum, and thirty thousand trainers have been trained and licensed to teach in these schools (in autumn, twenty five thousand will follow).

Ilyumzhinov with former opponent Ali Nihat Yazici

On the Candidates Matches:
The President of the Turkish Chess Federation has informed FIDE that there is a very serious sponsor who may organise the Candidates Matches. The USCF representatives in Turin expressed their interest in the Candidates, but FIDE had not heard much from them since. The issue will be finalized during the Presidential Board meeting in Elista, during the Topalov-Kramnik match.

Chess at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing:
There is a real chess boom now in China, and the Chinese Olympic organisers support FIDE 100%. If the leadership of the IOC, in its turn, will support the initiative of the Chinese, then there will most likely be a rapid chess knockout tournament during the 2008 Olympics.

Chess and football:
A Russian adage says that there are quite a few common things between football and chess: everyone can play chess, but only few individuals can be considered experts; in football everyone is an expert, but no one can play it. Chess and football are the most popular games in the world, all continents and all countries love these two sports. Football is very popular, mainly thanks to television. It is extremely useful for FIDE to study FIFA's experience in this direction. "At the same time, I am confident that the image of chess as the most intellectual game will not harm the sport which is played with the help of feet, but where in order to win one has to use his head."


Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register