Ilyumzhinov: "The US government will not prevent me from opening the match for the chess crown"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, what outcome do you expect from the upcoming match for the title of the World Chess Champion between Carlsen and Karjakin?

I'll be rooting for both of them. I think the fight will be very interesting. They were born same year, in 1990. Carlsen and Karjakin are both my nominees. Sergey was once nominated for the World Championship by the Ukrainian Chess Federation, and Magnus – by the Norway’s one. There will be a fight between representatives of two different chess schools. We may expect a very exciting confrontation.

- For the first time since Vladimir Kramnik, the representative of Russia will participate in the match for the chess crown. Does it add excitement to the match?
These matches always attract great interest, and when the participants are the players from school as popular as the Russian, an increased excitement is guaranteed. Especially, when the fight takes place on the territory of the United States.
I, as the President of FIDE, chose New York as the venue for this match to pay tribute to Bobby Fischer, although I could reschedule it to another country. Fisher contributed a lot to the development of chess and personally to me as a chess player. His book is my desk companion. Therefore, I decided, on behalf of the FIDE, to perpetuate his memory at his birthplace.
- Karjakin and Carlsen became stars at a very young age as well as Fisher. Do they have much in common with the great American grandmaster?
All three of them are fighters who want to squeeze the water out of clay.
- What amount of income from attracting sponsors is expected by the end of the match?
We are working in this direction. Since 1995, when I started to lead the FIDE, our Federation always received 20 per cent of all sponsorship funds. We always managed to find sponsors, who helped us financially and by means of information. In this respect, the World Championship 1997/98 in Groningen and Lausanne is still unsurpassed. At that time we raised $ 5 million, of which $ 1 million earned the FIDE. The budget of the current match is a few million dollars, but I would not break the above record.
- Will it be hard to attract American audiences, considering that this match will take place immediately after the most controversial US presidential elections over the past decades?
We would certainly not lose our share of the audience. I hope that after the elections people will be interested to relax and watch a more peaceful, although tough opposition. Occasionally, I invited Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to attend the match. So far, none of them did answer, but it’s understood - now they are not up to it. I hope that after the elections they would respond.
- Have Trump ever participated in the sponsorship of the FIDE and the Chess World Championships?
No, I do not remember that. But Mark Blumberg supported us several times. In particular, it happened when we held the match between Kasparov and computer in January 2003.
- Is there any kind of certainty about your visit to New York?
It is difficult to say anything, because I have not been granted the US visa yet. I'm still waiting for it. Otherwise, for the first time in the history, the President of the World Chess Federation will not attend the match for the title of the World Champion. However, I still want to officially open the match, if not in person in New York, then at least on Skype. The US authorities would not be able to prevent me from this.
In addition, I wrote a letter to Barack Obama, in which I detailed the situation. Under the US law, foreign citizens are forbidden to sue the US Government. But I want to prove my case. If, in order to achieve that goal, I would need to get the US citizenship, then I would want to get it. Thus, I asked the President Obama to give me this opportunity. After that, I would be able, within the jurisdiction of the US, to challenge the decision of imposing sanctions on me and uplift them, as well as request an apology and compensation for moral damages.
- Have the US authorities responded to your letter?
Yes, I was invited to the embassy, ​​was fingerprinted and interviewed.
- How likely is the introduction of chess lessons in Russia at the legislative level?

Chess is widespread in many schools in a number of regions even without formal guidelines. It is the merit of the governors, who advocate our sport locally, and of the Ministry of Education, which holds a strong position on the issue of promotion of chess.
It goes without saying how important is the support of the Russian President and the Prime Minister, who attend our events. Vladimir Putin was present at the closing ceremony of the World Championship when we awarded Magnus Carlsen. Dmitry Medvedev attended the Women’s World Championship. The Russian Chess Federation headed by Andrey Filatov is working hard. It holds a lot of tournaments across the country, and a growing interest of children and young people is very noticeable. It is especially obvious in the regions.
I do not exclude that the Russian chess will become a compulsory subject both in Armenia and Azerbaijan. I already spoke to the Duma with this initiative. I hope Duma members will support me. Moreover, this idea is being supported by the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Alexander Zhukov, who is the former head of the Russian Chess Federation.
- When you were the head of Kalmykia, you invited Igor Shalimov to coach the football club ‘Ural’. However, he began his coaching career after leaving the first league. Are you surprised by his recent success as the head of ‘Krasnodar’?
No, I am not surprised at all. He got into good training by coaching of ‘Uralan’. And the one who gets it in ‘Uralan’ has a great future. There were different conditions in Elista at that time. Shalimov became more mature as a coach, that’s why he succeeds with Sergey Galitsky now. Likewise, Leonid Slutsky and Nikolay Pisarev, who also started their career with us, managed to succeed.