Chess to become a game of millions in Uzbekistan

"The World Championship Knockout Tournament, held in Tripoli, Libya ended with great success. The main prize - 100 thousand dollars and the right to meet with the great Garry Kasparov - was won by 24-year-old Uzbek grandmaster Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who was not considered as a potential winner of the tournament ", wrote Kommersant in 2004.
The entire world's media was greatly impressed by this championship. Nobody considered the Uzbek grandmaster as a possible world champion, but he easily won against the famous British chess player Michael Adams in the final match.

However, the match between Kasimdzhanov and Kasparov, scheduled for early 2005, never took place. Kasparov refused to take part in it. The fact is that Kasimdzhanov was a representative of FIDE, and Kasparov, in 1993, severed relations with this organization, disagreeing with its policies, and created a rival body - the Professional Chess Association (PCA).
That’s why he refused to play with Kasimdzhanov. In one of the interviews to Russian journalists, Kasparov, answering the question about the reasons for his refusal to participate in the tournament, said that he likes chess and chess players, but still he distance himself "from the battlefield of chess politics".
However, the might-have-been tournament still did not stop Kasimdzhanov from becoming a real legend in his homeland. He received the highest award of Uzbekistan - the Order of Amir Timur. Young Uzbek chess players began to equal their famous compatriot and chess became extremely popular.
For example, more than 170 hundred people are now members of the Uzbekistan Chess Federation; there are 100 chess clubs in Tashkent only, and there are 10 international grandmasters including two women GMs.
Today, Uzbek chess players successfully perform in major sports tournaments and regularly take prizes. In 2016, 12-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov was very successful at the international tournament in memory of Chigorin in St. Petersburg. He managed to beat the leading players of the world and became the world’s youngest grandmaster, thus repeating the record of Russian Sergey Karyakin.
In February this year, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed introducing mandatory education in all schools.
It is worth mentioning that the most ancient chess pieces in the world were found in Uzbekistan. We have already written that they were found during the excavations of the house of a rich inhabitant of the ancient settlement of Dalverzintepa located in the south of Uzbekistan, which dates back to the 2nd century AD.
These are miniature sculptures of an elephant (2.4 x 2.9 x 1.8 cm) and a zebu bull (1.8 x 2.2 x 1.9 cm), carved from ivory. They belong to one of the varieties of chess - the ancient Chaturanga for four players.
The pieces were made in the Kushan Empire, which at that time spread to encompass the current territories of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Such ancient chess pieces were found in Central Asia for the first time. This is evidence of the early penetration of chess into the territory of Central Asia and the fact that the southern regions of Uzbekistan were, apparently, the birthplace of this game.