Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: «The World's Strongest Chess Players Will Play at the 2018 Winter Olympics»

The President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told the agency, "F-Sport" about the inclusion of chess as an exhibition sport in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang and about the "pros" and cons" of the idea.
-Kirsan Nikolaevich, why the Winter instead of the Summer Olympics was chosen?
“The summer programme of games is oversubscribed while the winter one, in Sochi, was only attended by about 80 countries.  In addition, many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America have expressed their interest and hopes in joining the Winter Games because of chess.
Former IOC president, Jacques Rogge advised us to get the support of as many National Olympic Committees as possible. That is why I have visited more than 108 countries in the last two years. As a result, many National Committees have signed a formal request to the IOC for the inclusion of chess in the Olympic program.

According to the Charter of the International Olympic Committee, the Winter Games should include sports that are connected with snow or ice.  We have contacted the IOC President, Thomas Bach, proposing an amendment to the Charter. The pertinent clause to read: ‘snow, ice and intellectual sport’.
We have agreed to set up a working group with both FIDE and the IOC.  Its first meeting will be held in August or September.  Bach suggested that we should work with the host cities, which have the country's right to include new sports on an exhibition basis.  For several months we negotiated with PyeongChang and only recently the Organizing Committee of the 2018 Olympic Games have approved the inclusion of chess in the programme.
- How many participants and countries will join the chess tournament in PyeongChang?
- We will decide in September at the FIDE Congress in Abu Dhabi.
–Did you set limits?
–Yes, for the number of players.  However, the quota has not yet been determined.  For us, the most important is knowing that we will be there.  Chess will be played and that's the main thing. The number of countries and participants is a secondary issue.
- But still, what is the optimum number for you?
- The more the merrier.
–Will Russian players be represented in PyeongChang.
- Of course.
–Is it important for FIDE that the strongest Grand Masters will attend the exhibition tournament?
- Yes, of course.
- Is there any chance in interesting the world ranking leaders, Hou Yifan from China and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, to come to the tournament?
- We would like to see them in Korea.  In any case, invitations will be sent to them and to the other best chess players.
–Will Judit Polgar be also invited?
- We will try.  She is very active and her presence is important in promoting chess.
–Have you outlined the Olympic tournament in general?
- I think it will be rapid chess and blitz.  Athletes of other sports will come and watch. We must interest all of the Olympic winter sport participants in chess.
–Will the chess tournament venues be separated from other activities?
- I have, in addition, mentioned that there is no need to build a separate palace for chess events.  We shall look for the right place. Our inspectors will travel to PyeongChang soon and assess the situation. It could be a conference room in a hotel or in the lobby of one of the palaces.
- What will happen to the Biennial Chess Olympiad if everything goes well for chess at the Winter Games?  
- It will also be held on schedule, regardless of the Winter Games.  This is a historical event and used to be called the Tournament of Nations.
-Will you grade the Winter Olympics as the number one tournament for chess?
- Interesting question.  The main goal is to join the Winter Games, and then we will see which competitions will be the most prestigious.
– Is there a specific time frame when chess may be included as a major sport in the Olympic Games?
- As soon as possible.
– Are there many opponents to it?
- The IOC does not seek to expand the diversity of sports at the Games, but the Committee understands our position.
- What are the arguments against it?
- The most important argument is that chess does not outwardly show any physical effort.  However, we oppose this view, because the ancient Greeks creating Olympism said that the sport is a combination of strength and intelligence.


Anatoly Samokhvalov