Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: We will build cities from chess pieces

On June 1, the world celebrates Children's Day. We called Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and asked him to share his thoughts about this holiday. This is what he told us: “Children are the most precious thing we have; we live for them. Children are our future".

First President of Kalmykia, sixth FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov wished children and their parents happiness, health and peace. But he noted that love for children as any other love should be manifested not in words, but in actions, in deeds.
We publish an excerpt from the interview that Kirsan Nikolayevich gave in 2007, at the traditional VII international chess tournament in Kazakhstan.
- I am especially pleased to thank those people who work with children. Children do not have to become great champions later, such as Garry Kasparov, Robert Fischer or Nona Gaprindashvili, but practicing this sport helps people to become learned and purposeful.

12 years ago, we introduced chess lessons in schools of our republic. Now one hundred percent of children play it. Some have become masters, grandmasters and champions of Europe and the world. Most importantly, children have become more disciplined and learn better. In schools where chess is taught well, academic performance in all subjects has increased two to three times. Our Kalmyk children have already become winners of many international school Olympiads: in mathematics, biology, physics, literature and other sciences. That is, chess really reveals the intellectual abilities of our children.
In April 1993, one of the first decrees that I signed concerned exactly the support of chess in the republic. Later, at FIDE, we created the Chess in Schools programme.
At the first stage, the task was the most mundane: to teach children to play chess. And it was not a compulsory programme, but an optional one. But when school principals saw that in schools where chess was taught, even if it was optional, academic performance increased sharply and the number of children being brought to the police decreased, they also joined our programme.

Today, optional chess is taught in all schools of our republic; some children take part to all-Russian and international competitions and show decent results. One hundred percent of Kalmyk children play chess today! And ten years ago, there were not only candidates for the master, but also first-class students among our children! Now there are international masters and international grandmasters. At the age of eleven, Sanan Syugirov became the world champion among children under fourteen. Many have decent international ratings and take part in tournaments abroad.
I try to attend major competitions such as World and European Championships, World Cups and World Olympiads. And I believe that in Central Asia and in Kazakhstan, the development of a new centre of the world chess movement is quite possible.