‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’: «Chess Becomes a Winter Sport due to Ilyumzhinov»

Earlier this week, the chess world's attention was focused on a meeting in Lausanne, where the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach discussed how chess could be included into the Olympic programme.

Their discussion concentrated on the Winter Olympics-whose scope is significantly superior to that of the summer Games- where there are substantial breaks in the schedule, between the morning and evening events, where chess could be played.

However, the most important argument in favour of winter chess is associated with the huge number of participants in the Olympic Games. If chess were included into the events, it would certainly attract teams from equatorial and subequatorial regions of the planet, whose peoples have never seen snow or ice, skiing or skating, but instead have learned to play chess...
The presence of snow and ice is essential to winter sports.  Two years ago, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov humorously told IOC members how to get around this technical barrier.
Chess could either be played on a black and white board made of ice or water could be poured into the hollows of chess pieces and put into a freezer for a couple of hours...
But joking aside, it is most important to  have the consolidated opinion of the main international sports body. We can state with satisfaction that over the last couple of years there have been significant changes in the IOC's attitude to chess due to its growth in popularity and the increasing number of global FIDE tournaments.   
The registered number of chess tournaments even exceeds those of football. Worldwide, more than 600 million are familiar with the rules of chess.   The combination of these two factors will stand us in good stead for a positive decision in favour of the ancient game.
The President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told me: "We have asked the IOC to amend the Winter Olympics rules that were adopted 25-30 years ago.  Its revised version may be altered thus: ‘The Olympic Winter Games are held for sports engaged in snow or ice, including intellectual sports’.  We were supported by more than a hundred countries, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, that, hindered by their climate, have not yet been able to participate in the Winter Games but nonetheless would like participate, especially in the opening ceremony. The representatives from tropical countries would be able to take part in the Olympics."
Another extremely important question, to be answered in the near future, is what will be the venue for the Women's World Chess Crown. It is worth mentioning that champion, Maria Muzychuk and the former triple Champion and Winner of the FIDE Grand Prix, Hou Yufan will participate.
However, where will this event take place?  China has sent FIDE a proposal to hold the tournament in Beijing.  How about Lviv, the homeland of the female champion?  Kirsan Ilyumzhinov visited the cultural centre of the Western Ukraine especially to investigate this possibility.
"The city is very quiet, friendly and has a great tradition of chess," said Ilyumzhinov. "True, this country hasn't had a single major European level ranking chess event in recent years, Ukrainian chess fans have really missed out. Nevertheless, if Lviv presents a bid, according to FIDE regulations, to be the host of the tournament within the next fortnight, it is a possibility that the title for the Queen of Chess may be held there.  This city is the perfect choice because Ukraine has a great infrastructure for chess and quite literally, everything is ready for the match. I repeat, the people in this city are well versed and extremely fond of chess.
At one of the press conferences, they asked me if I would vote for Beijing or Lviv.  After I had scrutinised the conference hall for any Chinese people, I said that although I was President of FIDE and must always remain impartial, I would be voting for Lviv. Beijing has already held a lot of the highest level chess tournaments, while such events have not been held in Ukraine for many years. FIDE’s task is to encourage the worldwide popularization of chess.  We have already seen a surge in its popularity in the cities and countries that have held major tournaments.  This is very important.  And chess fans in Ukraine definitely deserve this match."

Marina Makaricheva