Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: The pandemic shows that self-isolation and modern technologies may help chess to rise to a new level

One of the biggest victims of the raging COVID-19 pandemic was the sport of excellence. The Champions League and European Football League cup competitions, NHL and KHL hockey tournaments, and the World Figure Skating Championships have been postponed to later dates. The fire of the 2020 Summer Olympics brought from Athens to Fukushima burns lonely at a local football centre in anticipation of better times when it will finally be solemnly delivered to Tokyo.
The World Chess Olympiad was postponed to a later date. I agree that to hold competitions of the sharpest minds of humankind in the old fashioned way, tête-à-tête, in large halls with a crowd of spectators, as we did before, is now unacceptable. But even if our game is one of the oldest in history, we still live in the third millennium!


Our fathers and grandfathers competed in mastery with the help of the regular postal service invented by the Assyrians, but the previously unimaginable means of communication are available to us now.

The world, as a rule, changes daily but slowly and imperceptibly. But in times of global crises, it often happens that these changes break out, and people, recovering from shock, suddenly realize that they are no longer living as before. What seemed a matter of the distant future yesterday becomes mundane today.
From the very beginning of my presidency in FIDE, when my priority tasks were to restore the financial well-being of the federation and bring back the popularity of chess, I was inspired by the idea of ​​organizing a global online tournament in which everyone could defend the honour of their country, or even the continent. We would find out who plays chess better: Asia or Europe, America or Africa.
The idea was simple and obvious. The global tournament is held not in the usual halls, but on a virtual platform. The players participating in the competitions are not people, but countries. Moves are made according to votes of the inhabitants of these countries sent to special, well-protected email addresses of respective national federations.
Alas, as experts then explained to me, at that time all the power of Microsoft would not be enough to implement this plan.
But today, holding an all-planet online chess tournament is not particularly difficult. I know that chess enthusiasts have been actively using the opportunities provided by modern technology for a long time.
I think the popularity of online competitions is explained by the fact that the world has long been ready for them. Our like-minded chess lovers have long been following chess events via the Internet.
Today, millions, entire countries and continents can play chess at the same time. This is collective chess, Mass Chess. For the sake of strengthening peace, for the sake of establishing interaction and mutual understanding between states and peoples.

There is no need to argue.  Let's fight with America in a duel over a chessboard, and an impartial computer will give the only true answer to the question of who is smarter, who is more capable of strategy and tactics. There is a fair amount of joke in this proposal, but hardly anyone will argue with the obvious: the competition at the chessboard will enrich the world with new ideas and projects. Whereas a military confrontation can destroy our world.
The universe itself gives us a chance to promote chess as the best way to spend leisure time and sharpen our minds. Now, when billions of people are forced to isolate themselves, the usual sports competitions have been cancelled, when modern technologies allow people who are thousands of kilometres apart to get together, the global chess Olympiad could not only be of interest to the whole world, but also for the first time attract the attention of hundreds of thousands of people to chess board.
And my cherished dream “One billion chess players - one billion smart people” would become much closer to reality.