Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s chess kingdom


- One must have information to attract the media attention. Do you have it now?
Yes. My goal is for a billion people to play chess. I have completely switched to international activities now. I do not know a single politician who visited 70 countries as I did recently. From the beginning of January, I visited 30 countries. I simply stay on board of an airplane. Yesterday, I spoke with the President of Mongolia during a flight from Africa to the Emirates.

-What did you do in Africa?
The day before yesterday, I was in Nigeria at the inauguration of the President with the remarkable name of Jonathan Goodluck. In the past, he was a teacher, vice-governor and governor. His name is justified by his life. He is always lucky. Mr. Goodluck is a sincere, resolute and charismatic person. He decided to change the image of the Nigerians. The economy is to be raised, and Nigeria’s voice must be heard by the entire African continent. So, I went there to discuss chess. Next, I am going to United Arab Emirates to open the FIDE Presidential Board. I have just received the President of Mongolia in Elista. Later, I plan to visit India, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. My goal is for a billion people to play chess.
-Why did you choose exactly a billion?
There is a theory of the "golden billion". At the beginning of the last century, one billion people lived on Earth. Now there are 6 billion people. And Western scientists have long argued that the planet cannot feed more than a billion people. Although Tsiolkovsky proved that, with the right approach, our planet can feed much more people. Society always wanted to justify wars and epidemics by "the importance of keeping the golden billion", and everyone will live happily under communism or capitalism. I came up with the idea of ​​an "alternative billion" when I started to practice professionally in politics and chess. My task is to change that old concept of the "golden billion" to a new one. And to increase the number of smart people to one billion regardless of how many people - 7 or 8 billion - will live on Earth in the near future.
-What is the key criterion of smartness?
Chess is the litmus paper of intelligence. When Churchill invited someone to work in his government, he always asked the applicant if he could play chess. Leo Tolstoy, the outstanding philosopher, wrote that chess was "gymnastics for the mind". You can test humanity by chess. In the beginning, chess is knowledge, it becomes art in the middle, and it is pure mathematics in the end. Outstanding chess games resemble music. A chess player considers his moves as a mathematician. And at the same time he fantasizes as an artist, drawing pictures of the game development in various colours. Thus, both hemispheres of the brain are involved. On the one hand, a chess player is a poet and a tough analyst on the other hand.
- What do you do to achieve your goal of a billion chess players?
The President of Mongolia, who was staying with me, has also studied with me at MGIMO. He issued a decree to introduce chess as a school discipline by the arrival of Ilyumzhinov. That's what I do. I introduce chess on a par with general education subjects around the world. Turkey introduced chess as a new subject. Five and a half million children study chess in 64,000 schools there. The state gives them a scholarship. The girl of 14 years became the Vice Champion of Europe and receives 800 euros. In Kalmykia, 100% of schoolchildren play chess, and Kalmyk schoolchildren’s performance is among the best in Russia.
That’s why I need to make my international chess tours. I go and meet with presidents and prime ministers and ministers of education. I made sure that they adopt the introduction of chess programme in Thailand schools. Chess is being taught in kindergartens in China. Moldova and Armenia made chess a part of compulsory secondary education. President of Azerbaijan Aliyev introduced the state programme for supporting chess. The President of Armenia is also the President of the local Chess Federation.
I have been doing all this since 1995. I promote chess in the world. Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela introduced chess to the schools. Same thing happens all over the world. The President of Vietnam was in Kalmykia and has learned from our experience.

Summer of 2011