It's not yet time to rest

I was slightly surprised when "Russian Pioneer" editors suggested that I should consider my holidays. I can’t even understand what inactivity is. I even asked my assistant to clarify the meaning of the word "vacation".

It turns out that the period of summer heat in ancient Rome, which coincides with the appearance of Sirius in the morning sky, was called «Canicula» (small dog). It was also called «dies caniculares» – (dog days: from July 22 to August 23). It was considered a temporary summer break, hence the word "Kanikuly" (‘Vacation’ in Russian, Ed.)

I was, however, more interested in Vladimir Dal’s definition in Explanatory Dictionary of Russian language, which says that "vacation is a time to wander about and be lazy." I do not understand this. How anyone can be idle without benefit to spend the most valuable resource given to us by nature – one’s own time?

I am much upset seeing young men and girls sitting in parks and courtyards with their faces buried in smartphones and tablets. What are they looking for? There is another example of a modern fun – spinners. It is said that they help a child to relax and relieve stress. But, excuse me, what kind of stress is there for 10-15 years old?

At such age, it is possible and essential to experience "stress" from new discoveries and mastering reality without fear of getting a psychological trauma. That’s what child psychology is. And we instead provide a child with a silly toy that completely cuts off its consciousness that it should have at all times.

Thus, I decided that I have something to say about this.

I was not a geek immersed in books and chessboards. Moreover, I ran away from kindergarten during a nap time (after which they flatly refused to take me back) to join the street fights. And, of course, I explored all the streets and neighbourhoods of Elista with my friends. Yes, we loved the holidays. But they were not the time of "doing nothing" for us.

On the contrary, we would try to do whatever was possible in summer. And we did try. Suddenly, the whole street turned into a theatre and we ourselves composed plays, built scenery and invented costumes. Then everyone get a big rush for chess and a street championship lasted for a week or two. Emotions were as high as at a match between Fischer and Spassky. And discussions were not carried out using fists but reason with the help of textbooks.

A trip to Artek strongly influenced my attitude to the history of my people. I was sent to the All-Union camp as the best chess player. That’s when I thought: “Well, chess is chess, but I'll have to talk about something with my peers; it would be good to tell them about Kalmykia.” I went to the library and found out with amazement that they could not offer me anything except for a couple of legends and a few thin brochures.

I began to search on my own. Then I learned a lot about the Kalmyk people’s deportation and its victims. I learned about Buddhism and the trials that fell to the lot of his followers. Therefore, when I became President of Kalmykia, I worked with redoubled energy to provide citizens of the republic with all opportunities for development and prosperity.

And the biggest khurul in Europe – Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni – is not a tribute to ambition but an attempt to compensate for decades of persecution and repression of Buddhist teachings followers. Since the Lord has given me some capital, it is clearly not for me to spend time on some leisure island near equator.

Those who remember me in those years know: I only dreamed of getting enough sleep then. The leader of even such a small republic as Kalmykia is not free to dispose of his time.

My Moscow friends, wealthy and well-known people often said when they visited me: "Kirsan, forget about everything. Let’s go skiing, jumping with a parachute or hunt for sharks. You know what kind of fun it is!" I usually answered that I still had enough fun there: lambing or sowing was expected soon.

Currently, I feel less stressed. FIDE is one of the largest international sports organizations, which joins 188 countries, but it is less demanding to manage comparing with a region. Sometimes you are able to find a free day or two. In June, I managed to get to Lake Baikal, visited the island of Olkhon and have seen the All-Blazing Stupa of the Great Enlightenment.

I succeeded, while I was working, to see another miracle of nature: the famous Victoria Falls. This happened thanks to the courtesy of African Chess Confederation and FIDE Continental President Luisa Nkube. However, actually I and he and other members of FIDE as well as politicians and businessmen discussed implementation of «Chess in schools» programme in African schools and Kirsan Fund project. We also opened a zonal tournament in the capital of Zambia – Livingston.

My work requires many meetings and does not let me sit still. I visited San Jose, Tbilisi, London, Astana, Brussels and Johannesburg this summer! But one of the most important meetings took place in Sochi.

At the end of July, I happened to visit the Sirius educational centre, where the most talented children from all over Russia are invited – future scientists, sportsmen and musicians. And all of them study chess.

I was lucky to meet with Vladimir Putin there in Sirius. It happened the day after World Chess Day, and I could not help thanking the President for the fact that on his initiative chess was included in the programme for teaching gifted children.

There was a technical shift in Sirius. The guys showed their projects to the President, and all the projects were impressive. There were mini-laboratory for blood tests and a system for remote charging of UAVs and even automated lunar greenhouse.

Imagine summer, Sochi and sea... What would make boys and girls get stuck in laboratories and immerse themselves in calculations? The answer is that they were given the opportunity to do something worthwhile -- something that, perhaps, will lead to unprecedented breakthroughs in the future.

This is the real value of free time. I would not argue with Vladimir Dal, but I want to believe: vacations and holidays are not the time for "wandering around". It is time to go beyond your possibilities, to rise above yourself and become one step closer to your life goal.

Only cows and sheep live for chewing. It is fun to spin a spinner, chat over internet or share photos in Instagram but it is not the most worthy goal for a self-respecting and intelligent man.

Therefore, I do not have time for vacation yet. FIDE set a clear goal: to have one billion chess players – smart people on our planet by 2020. I need to work. It’s not yet time to rest.