An affaire with Artek

According to the headline, it's time to pack our bags, book flights and hotels: in our minds we are already on sultry beaches blown by a light breeze.

I will not pretend that I do not share the common desire to have a change of scenery, to escape from the annoying everyday life, to get to the life-giving sun rays and breathe in the fresh sea air at least once or twice a year. And, perhaps, reset your emotions by starting an easy, non-binding affaire. Which could also serve as a kind of therapy.
It’s just because of my restless nature, and the requirements of my previous job and current business, that my life is arranged in such a way that I cannot sit in one place: impressions replace each other like in a kaleidoscope. As FIDE President, I visited 100 countries a year. I used to fly from country to country every three days - what kind of resort affaires could I afford?
However, I would be lying if I said that there have never been such affaires in my life. I affirm that I had it and at a fairly young age. At ten or eleven years old, as the best chess player and a worthy Soviet school pioneer, I was awarded a ticket to Artek, the dream camp of every Soviet schoolchild.
This voucher greatly influenced me long before I got to that children’s paradise. For the trip, I decided to learn and remember as much as possible about my native Kalmykia and the history of the Kalmyks, so that there was something to tell in Artek about my native land to children from other regions and republics, and even from abroad. And I realized with horror that I knew practically nothing either about my homeland or about my people. At school we were forced to cram the history of Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire - but what about ourselves? There seems to be no place in history for the Kalmyks. But that’s beside the point.
Upon arrival at Artek, I immediately fell in love with the sea that I saw for the first time. Cruise liners and formidable sea ships the size of a three to four-story building, swaying in the endless expanse of the sea, far exceeded by their steel reality my boyish ideas about schooners and caravels.
After the native steppes, everything seemed not just unusual but downright alien – the rock-cut horizon line, huge Ayu-Dag, crouching to the sea, and the Adalar brothers. But all these impressions were suppressed by something more important and incomprehensible.
Of course, in theory, I knew that the Black Sea is much larger than the Elista’s city pond, but its real scale, blue from horizon to horizon and mighty waves hitting the coast conquered my boy's heart at first sight.


And now, after half a century, I cannot stop loving the sea. That love began with “resort affaire” with Artek. My attitude towards it has not changed even after, as an adult, I realized that sea cruises are not for me: I am a sea sick person.

They say that holiday affaires are fleeting ones and does not leave behind any obligations. Some psychologists teach how to enjoy a short flirtation without risking mental trauma. I don't know, haven't tried it.
Artek became my love, which I carried through my whole life. I still keep in touch with those schoolchildren who were with me on that 1973 summer shift. As an adult, I often returned there without paying any attention to whose flag flies over the peninsula. I tried to help Artek as much as I could, investing in the reconstruction of buildings, which probably remembered the founder of the pioneer camp Zinovy ​​Solovyov and the head of the young Soviet government Vyacheslav Molotov.
In 1999-2000, we held the World Youth Chess Olympiad there. Artek residents love chess and chess players. In recent years, many masters of the ancient game, including the world champion Sergei Karjakin and the legendary Anatoly Karpov, have visited it. I am sure, we will come up further with something else to make Artek even more interesting, so that the schoolchildren would bring home with them not only suntan and wonderful memories, but also the desire for the intellectual development.
This is how my summer affaire with Artek came out. Contrary to all the theories of new-fangled psychologists, old love does not die. The school voucher, as it turned out, gave rise to a romance that stayed with me through my entire life, and entailed new meetings, ideas and deeds.
However, it is not surprising. How is it sung in Oleg Mityaev’s now-forgotten song "Summer is a small life"? However, our life itself, from the point of view of eternity, is nothing more than a fleeting summer affaire.
And, in my opinion, it is extremely important what will you bring to its finale. What will you keep besides the standard souvenirs of seashells, suntan and an occasional adder stone found on a beach?
Occasional flirting is rich in vivid emotions, but the real value is its bottom line.