Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Chess will be an Olympic sport"

The phrase in the title was spoken by Kirsan Nikolayevich back in 2011. By that time, due to Ilyumzhinov’s efforts, the IOC recognized the International Chess Federation (FIDE), that is, recognized chess as sport. This happened in 1999.

It was not an easy to accomplish it, but Ilyumzhinov had all the arguments. First, a completely sporting idea - to reveal the world’s strongest chess player - was originally laid in chess. Competition, the definition of the strongest players by some more or less recognized and objective criteria is, as you know, the key feature of sports.


Incidentally, back in 1924, it was already proposed to include chess in the programme of the Olympic Games but it did not work out then. Many people are positive that chess was not included in the programme of “normal” Olympiads in 1924 because of the difficulties in determining the professional status of players.

So how did Ilyumzhinov manage to convince the IOC that chess is a sports game in 1999? As the sixth FIDE President himself explains, this happened because there are all attributes of sport in chess. First, the game is focused on achieving results and self-improvement. Secondly, it is impossible to achieve emotional stability and self-control without training. Thirdly, in order to win we need tactical and strategic plans.
And, of course, in chess, as in any sport, the physical preparation of the player is very important. Often, it is because of poor physical fitness that a chess player who started the tournament with the best results loses by the middle of the match. Another reason for recognizing chess as a sports discipline is that the chess players have equal chances of winning, since they are given exactly the same conditions and time to play the game.
In general, the process has begun in 1999. “Oh Sport, You are Peace!” according to Baron Pierre de Coubertin. In 2011, the Philippine Olympic Committee initiated the inclusion of the ancient game in the programme of the Olympic Games. Then the sports officials turned to the International Olympic Committee with a formal request to include chess in the Olympiad programme.
In 2015, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov repeated the attempt. Then he informed the TASS news agency that FIDE is still counting on the inclusion of rapid chess in the Winter Olympic Games.
“I think we will offer to include rapid chess, where players will be given 25 minutes each,” the agency quotes Ilyumzhinov.  “We still have to talk with Thomas Bach about this. It creates a critical mass that is needed to win. I am sure that we are on the verge of including chess in the Winter Games programme. Even the ancient Greeks said that sport is a combination of strength and mind. There is strength in the Olympics, and FIDE will provide the mind.”
Ilyumzhinov expressed confidence that chess will decorate the programme of the Winter Olympic Games. “At one time, the former IOC president, Jacques Rogge, advised me to collect letters from the national Olympic committees. I collect letters from all two hundred countries. We have already gathered more than a hundred letters. I talked to the leadership of the Association of Winter Sports, and they also support us.”
A well-known Russian TV presenter said: “Time will tell how events will develop further.” But how great it would be if chess finally became an Olympic sport!