Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "The most important thing is not the position you occupy but what is inside you"

- On 24 November, 2015, you were elected President of FIDE as suggested by former President Florencio Campomanes. What has changed during this time?
Now I am the head the largest chess federation in the world. And 20 years ago it was a small organization. Karpov and Kasparov left it in 1995. The chess world was in the deepest financial crisis when I was elected president. The prestige of FIDE was extremely low; we were short of money. In addition, the Federation had big debts.

Imagine, FIDE held only four official events per year. Now it is the largest sports federation in the world. To date, it holds 12,000 official events and 100,000 unofficial ones. That is, 600 million people are involved in chess. Now my goal is one billion people playing chess. This is the way to change the world through intellectual development. And chess, from my point of view, is precisely the fulcrum that Archimedes claimed could be used to “move the earth from its orbit”.
When I fought for the post of FIDE president against both Kasparov and Karpov at FIDE Congress in 2010; I thought that I probably did everything right in my post, if the legendary champions, who had always criticized FIDE, wanted to lead this organization.
- Owing to you, chess is an obligatory subject of the school curriculum. Why is this game so important?
I visit one hundred different counties per year. Starting with the industrial-developed and ending with Trinidad or Congo.
I am convinced that all the current problems – financial, political and religious – arose not because the world lacks oil or money but because it lacks intelligent people. The world needs people who think first and then make decisions. And chess is the only sport that educates the mind. You need to think before making a move when playing chess. This is how it should be in politics. In 1994, I introduced chess as a compulsory subject in general education schools. After a year, the student's performance increased by 40%.
- You were elected president four times. What was the most important one?
It's like the facets of a diamond:  whichever angle you look at it, it sparkles. I was the President of Kalmykia and the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs, now I am the President of FIDE and IAIS (International Association of Intellectual Sport), and I like it all.
Since I graduated in 1989, I have never been on vacation. No sick days and no days off. On 1 January I'm at work by 9 am. And it is not because I am a workaholic, but because work is my hobby. My working day begins at eight in the morning and ends at one in the morning. I have free time for one or three hours. I sleep from three to seven in the morning.
- That is, you work for 20 hours?
Yes. Regardless of what I am engaged in, be it chess, Kalmykia or investments. The most important thing is the realization of oneself. They say the office makes the man. It’s wrong. The most important thing is how you feel. And you do not need to be a president. For example, I like playing badminton, reading books and going to the cinema.
I never look at myself in the mirror in the morning and think I'm a great president. The most important thing is not the position you occupy, but what is inside you.
- What is most important thing for you if it’s not a career?
The most important thing for me is inner harmony and realization of myself. Our life is short. We were born to die. No one lives forever. You die and go to another life. We were given time to realize ourselves. Besides, realization does not mean work. It can be, for example, meditation. It does not matter where you are or what you do. The most important thing is how you feel.