The world needs chess not bombs

It seems increasingly clear that one can feel the smell of gunpowder these days. The war rhetoric is being intensified on both sides of the Atlantic, while peace initiatives are wasted. It happens every time when the balance of power is changed, starting from the days of ancient Greece and Rome. The departures of the decrepit world leaders have always been accompanied by a bloodbath.

Two thousand years have passed, and we are all facing the same grim reality. It seems that people have had enough sad experiences; however, it looks like we recognize the military solution to the problems only. The long overdue transition to a multipolar world threatens to burn the humanity in the crucible of nuclear war.

The ancient Greeks, who invented the Olympic Games, characterized the sport as a combination of strength and intelligence and were choosing the Olympic champions by this criterion. With regard to contemporary geopolitics, one can say that we have gathered strength but not the intelligence. Today, that crazy strength can undermine the peace.
I was lucky to attend the spiritual teachings of 12th Dalai Lama in Riga in October. The spiritual teacher said the words that are worth to be put above the desk of every head of state be it a king, president or chancellor: "If the military approach could solve the problems, all of them would have been resolved a long time ago".
As the President of FIDE, I visit more than a hundred countries every year. I meet with the leaders, the heads of the national chess federations and sports officials. I see different people, different political systems starting with such countries as the US, Japan, China and ending with the developing countries. I also happen to visit the countries affected by war such as Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
Both I and my colleagues, who accompany me, see that many of the armed conflicts, that take place on the planet, are caused not by the lack of oil, money or gold but because there are few thinking people among the leaders of the warring countries. There are few people who, like chess players, are able to first think and then make a decision.
Again and again we observe that we have set an ambitious but right goal: ‘one billion players - one billion smart people’. We see how important it is to promote our programme ‘Chess in schools’ today.

Of course, the FIDE is interested in increasing of the number of adherents of this ancient and beautiful game. However, we promote chess not for the sake of chess. The World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik once said that chess is not just sports, but it is also science and culture. By introducing chess in schools and kindergartens, we inculcate in children a taste for sports competition and promote their harmonious development.
The more players are in the world, the higher are the chances that more and more representatives of thinking and intelligent people will become members of parliaments, ministers and leaders of nations. And, eventually, it would cause less wars and armed conflicts in the world.
I view this as a great humanistic mission of the FIDE, carrying out of which I consider to be my duty as the head of the World Chess Federation. I am sure that this was the dream of the founding fathers of the FIDE, who had created our federation and adopted its motto ‘Gens una sumus’ - ‘We are One People’ in Paris in 1924. At that time, there were only 14 countries that had joined the Federation comparing with 187 today. Thus, we are continuing the mission that was pledged a hundred years ago.
Therefore, we cannot pay attention to personal grievances. When it has become known that the US Treasury officials had included me in the sanctions list, many members of the FIDE proposed, as a retaliatory step, to deprive this country of the right to host the World Championship, which had already been planned to take place in New York. I rejected this proposal on the grounds that the Match will be held not in the interests of Ilyumzhinov but in the interests of American chess fans.
Moreover, this year we will hold not only a match for the world chess crown in the US but many other tournaments as well. This is a gift to the American people, who know and love chess. This is a tribute to the memory of the greatest chess player of our time James Bobby Fischer.
Unfortunately, Fisher was an outsider in his own country. The US Government was not able to forgive him for his principles and commitment to the ideals of peace, freedom and democracy. He was fined and nearly sent to prison for his views. And we are grateful to the Government and people of Iceland for the fact that this small country – with the population of 300 thousand only – was not afraid to stand up to the powerful state and provided a shelter to the disgraced chess player…
Fischer left a bright mark in the history of chess. He became an idol and an example for millions of chess fans. If he had disagreements with the officials, that does not constitute a reason to deprive his fans in the United States of a chess festival.
For some reason Washington could not find a single dollar to support the match for the title of the World Champion and our other enterprises. They will be held for the account of the FIDE and sponsors. Do they still bear a grudge against Fischer and transfer their dislike of him on all players? Could it be that America simply does not have enough money?

I doubt it. Recently I read in one of the British newspapers about the following: it turns out that the foreign governments spent more than $ 45 billion on the war in Syria for the last five years. According to the newspaper, 87 countries, using this amount of money, have equipped and sent more than 450 thousand mercenaries to this Arab republic... As they declare, it was done in order to establish the democracy.
However, a democracy could not be established by force of arms. The Dalai Lama is right: look at Libya and at the seized by the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ lands of Syria and Iraq. Do you see a democracy there? One can only ‘fight’ for democracy using chess, intelligence and education.
Therefore, I propose to spend the next $ 45 billion on the development of chess and worldwide implementation of the programme ‘Chess in schools’. And one can start with the world leader, the United States.
Holding a match in New York is our message of good will. We are not trying to achieve our goals by force of arms and we are not looking for confrontation or supporting terrorists. We bring people peace and friendship through chess. We want the chess community to become a truly global peace party. And I see the highest mission of the FIDE and myself in making it happen.