FIDE President: "Kasparov erroneously considers himself a genius of politics"
 
02.06.2016

FIDE President: "Kasparov erroneously considers himself a genius of politics"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, has the popularity of chess decreased in the recent years?

- When I was elected the President for the first time in Paris 1995, the FIDE had about 120 member countries; there were about 200 million chess players on the planet... The annual schedule included three tournaments: men's and women's World Championships and the World Chess Olympiad. What has changed in 20 years? We have 187 member countries. We hold about 10 thousand official and 100 thousand informal tournaments and there are more than 600 million chess players.

Chess was popular in the Soviet Union 20 years ago due to Alekhine, Spassky, Petrosian, Tal, Smyslov and so on. This can also apply to some European countries and the United States due to the genius of Bobby Fischer. Chess was almost never played in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, except for Cuba and Argentina. There was little chess development in China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Today, people are playing chess almost in every African, Asian and Latin American country.
Two years ago, I was in Mexico and proposed the programme «Chess in schools». They introduced chess in a few schools. When I came a year later, both the President and the Minister of Education said, "This is a precious gift of FIDE". The population of Mexico is 120 million. They included chess as a compulsory subject in all 200 thousand schools. "Why", you ask? Because the President said, "Children, who play chess, become more competitive."
- Where else did they do something similar? Could it be Armenia?
- Yes, they did it in Armenia too. We are grateful to the President of the country Serzh Sargsyan who is also the President of Chess Federation of Armenia. As far as Russia is concerned, we are also the great chess power. The President supports chess. Vladimir Putin has given several instructions to the Ministry of Education to this effect. However, it ended with a number of circular letters.
I am grateful to my colleagues, presidents, governors who introduce chess at the local level in Khanty-Mansiysk, Tomsk, Pskov region, Tatarstan, Kalmykia, and the Chechen Republic. I want to congratulate Muscovites: about 100 schools have adopted chess subject on an optional basis. We have recently opened chess class in Butovo.
I have repeatedly appealed to the Chairman of the Government and the President. There even was a meeting with the Minister of Education as instructed by the President of Russia. They said, "Well, do play chess. However, we don’t think it should be obligatory". They just recommended it.
Children, who start to play chess, study more efficiently. We introduced chess into the Kalmyk school curriculum in 1994. After a few years, the progress in studies has increased by 40%, the number of children brought to the juvenile delinquents commission had declined. That’s what you may call the real result.
- Will the current formula of the World Cup change or remain the same?
- In 1995, the chess world was split; Garry Kasparov had created a parallel federation in the US, Anatoly Karpov could not find money to play with Gata Kamsky. Therefore, it was necessary to somehow restore the chess movement. Consequently, in Singapore, 1995 I proposed the knockout system among 100 strongest players fighting for the World Champion title.
Several years ago, the chess world became united: we have one Federation and one Champion now. That is why the current system, supported by almost all the players, is perfect and will remain so. The winners of the World Cup and Grand Prix are fighting in the Candidates tournament. Sergey Karjakin became challenger for the Chess Crown recently in Moscow. Therefore, he will fight with Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen in New York on the 10th of November.
- What are your relationships with Kasparov?
- Very good. I always helped him and we were friends. We even tried to produce chess cartoons for children together in 1990. In 2003, I was the sponsor of the match that Kasparov played against the Israeli computer program "Deep Junior", which ended in a draw; finally, he lost to the IBM program.
Garry Kimovich started to consider himself as something bigger than a chess player; he moved from chess board to the political one by constantly criticizing Russia. However, I think he made the wrong decision and I am periodically offering him to head the International Chess Academy. He's a real chess genius. Still, everyone should mind his own business.
- Do you communicate these days?
- I've got his phone number. Last time we communicated in Norway two years ago, when he lost the FIDE President election to me. I offered him post of Vice-president or work on the programme "Chess in Schools" at that time. However, he had chosen the United States and political activities.
- He attacked journalists in Vilnius.
- Not only journalists but also police officers. He even bit them.
- There are some obvious behavioural changes. How can anyone do business with such man?
- The problem lies in his self-centeredness. He believes that he is a genius not only on the 64 chess cells but also in political showdowns.
- Some former American leader said about Kasparov, "He decided that he was the champion of the world and not the world chess champion." Don’t you think these are the after-effects of star fever?
- No, he doesn’t have it. I would rather say that he has a strong character...
- They say that Serzh Sargsyan has beaten you in blitz party.
- We played 5 minutes blitz at the opening of the Candidates tournament.  Incidentally, my chess clock flag has fallen because I thought over the next move for longer than 5 minutes. Mr Sargsyan is a good player; possibly, one of the best. He is the captain of the Armenian national team, which won the Champion title three times.
- What can you tell us about doping in chess? They say that cognac is considered to be some kind of a dope...
- You know, Mikhail Tal was very indulged in cognac and Russian vodka. However, back in 1999, when the International Olympic Committee recognized chess as sport and the IOC recognized FIDE as the only international sports federation of chess, we began negotiations with the WADA Committees about what was to be considered as dope. A joint working team worked on this issue for over a year, because there are no pills that could add intelligence and help to get rid of stupidity.
- However, there are stimulants…
- What use are the drugs that strengthen muscles and let one run and jump faster for a chess player? He sits and does not bounce at the chess table. Nevertheless, these are also considered as doping. The doping is 15 cups of coffee drank within 5 minutes. More than half a bottle of cognac or whiskey - some think it helps them to play better – is doping as well. You cannot play drunk. The captain of the French national team - Olympic champion- fell asleep at the chessboard, snoring due to overabundance of doping several years ago. Nonetheless, WADA and the IOC Commission never found doping in chess. Players are regularly tested on all the major chess competitions since 2000.
- In your opinion, who was the world Number One player in the history of chess?
- Bobby James Fischer. He was not just a genius but also a phenomenon. I would put him on par with the greatest minds of humanity, such as Newton, Einstein, and Kurchatov. I was lucky enough to meet him, play four games, and refund him the $ 100 thousand Soviet Union publishing royalties debt for his book "My 60 memorable games", which publishing house "Physical culture and sport" had published but never paid.
He was a chess demigod, who was able to beat Mark Taimanov with 6: 0 score. When I talked to him, he said, "There is nothing more to do for me in chess, chess is dead. Chess in its natural form is to be played by computer. Come play in my chess". He invented Fischer Random chess, when the starting position of the pieces is randomized, and you have to contemplate the first move.
- Since you have started talking about debts, please explain what has happened to the Ukrainian federation? Was it suspended?
- It is all in the past now. They have closed the debt. We held the World Cup with the participation of Chinese Hou Yifan and Maria Muzychuk from Lviv in March. Chinese woman won. They were not able to pay about $ 100 thousand at that time. The Lviv regional administration and the Chess Federation of Ukraine have closed that debt now. Otherwise, the Ukrainian team and the players would not have been able to participate in any of the FIDE tournaments.
- Is there a rising star in the chess sky that can overshadow players of recent years?
- Currently, the only star is Magnus Carlsen, I guess. Thus, let's hope that Sergey Karjakin will be able to win the title of the World Champion.
- What can you tell about the status of the Crimea? There are talented players as well but they are not recognized. Is there way out?
- It is irrelevant if it is recognized or not. Karjakin was born there and became an eminent chess player, when Crimea was part of Ukraine. Now he plays for Russia.
- The fans are worried about the fate of Elista ‘Uralan’. Do you think that we may expect the emergence of ‘Uralan’ in the top echelon of Russian football?
- Yes, I loved and still live football. In addition, I loved ‘Uralan’, which we have brought from the second league to the highest. At that time, Alexey Smertin was playing in it. He became the captain of the Russian national team later and played for Chelsea. One should not forget Leonid Slutsky, who coached the second string team of ‘Uralan’, and is currently the head coach of the Russian national team. The finest hour was in 1997 when we became champions.
It is very difficult to compete with Lukoil and Gazprom. We could not find tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and euros to buy players in small Kalmykia with the population of 300 thousand people and had to close the football club ‘Uralan’. However, we hope that our children will be playing football. The children's team of the village Malye Derbety became the Champion of Russia twice.
- You offered to host a friendly match between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Is it possible to organize a friendly match between Russia and Ukraine?
-I suggested it, when Yanukovych was still the President several years ago. The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at that time sent me the corresponding letter. The programmers have made the program of collective chess games-  country vs country, continent vs continent. It's very interesting when anyone can participate in the match via internet.