Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "I like girls who play chess"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, what were the most important events in chess in 2016?

The past year was very rich in chess events. The match for the title of the Women’s World Champion was held in Lviv. Chinese Hou Yifan became a Champion for the fourth time defeating Ukrainian Maria Muzychuk. And Magnus Carlsen reiterated that he is the strongest chess player in the world among men by defeating Russian Sergey Karjakin in New York.

Everybody says that Baku Chess Olympiad was superbly organized. At the end of the year, the World Cup was held among schoolchildren in Sochi. So, chess has made another step towards popularization. The match for the men’s world title was a sensation! It was watched worldwide. It attracted no less attention than the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games.
-It has become a tradition to end a year with the "The Nutcracker" tournament in Russia. This time, you - the President of the World Chess Federation - have honoured this event by your presence.
I think that "The Nutcracker" is a very beneficial event. On the one hand, the lion's share of participants is the promising young players. On the other hand, it gathers such renowned masters as Boris Gelfand and Alisa Galliamova. On the one hand, this is the tournament of generations. On the other hand, it is held at the end of the year and sums up its results. And the main highlight is that young talents compete with the renowned masters and grandmasters.
It is nice that the organizers and sponsors are not satisfied with what has already been achieved, and continue to introduce changes in the tournaments setup. Along with the "kings" and "princes" there appeared "queens" and "princesses." That is, a celebratory chess forum is attended by girls now.
- Did you advise to include women into the event’s participants?
Last year, I spoke with one of the main sponsor of "The Nutcracker", famous chess patron Oleg Skvortsov and made such a proposal. The FIDE develops a gender policy. Boys and girls play together and against each other in some tournaments. I asked Skvortsov: "But where are the girls?" And thus, such tournaments have become, one might say, completed now. The main thing is to keep up this tradition.
- What girls and women do you like?
Clever, intelligent and only those who love chess.
- Should a woman play chess at the masters’ level to attract your attention?
Let's not be too strict and choosy. It would be sufficient if she is able to tell a knight from a bishop and know what kind of move a piece should make. She needs to know that the knight moves in a way resembling Russian letter “G” but not “D” or O”. That is what the chess education of the people means.
- What in your opinion a perfect woman should look like?
I am sure that the woman who distinguishes a knight from a bishop must be pretty.
- The Men’s World Champion was not established in classical but the rapid chess. How do you assess it?
The whole world chess community is grateful to Magnus Carlsen - he showed a high class of play. The entire chess world is grateful to Sergey Karjakin, who turned out to be not a whipping boy but a fighter and he even took the lead, to which Carlsen was not used before. Norwegian has always scored first and confidently outplayed his opponents.
Before the match, bookmakers were betting on Carlsen crushing Karjakin and on all the 12 games, as per regulations, will not be played. The bets were 80 against 20. When Carlsen played with Vishy Anand from India, it ended by the ninth game. However, this time, attention to the match was unabated. And the fight went on to the last game. The whole world was fascinated.
The 12 games did not give advantage to any of the players. Previously there was a rule that a champion retained his title with a draw. The FIDE authorities have decided that it was necessary to change the rules. After all, everybody wants a champion to be the one who wins. It was decided that a champion should win the right to the highest player’s rank in the tiebreaker. Thus, Magnus proved that he is the World Champion.
- Is it correct to establish the "classic" World Champion by playing rapid chess? Let’s draw an analogy with football. The match ends in a draw. And then they decide to play beach football or, for example, in indoor football.
Such a comparison is not very meaningful. The teams play overtime after regular time at the world championships. And at the end of overtime, teams go to a penalty shootout.
- In other words, rapid chess in the match Carlsen vs. Karjakin can be compared with a penalty kick?
I and the participants of the match repeatedly compared the rapid chess with overtime instead of a series penalty in football.
- What is a penalty in chess?
I think this is Armageddon. (A rule when a player playing white has the right to think for 5 minutes, and the one who plays black has 4 minutes only; the winner is the one who played black. The colour of the pieces is determined by lot, -Ed.)
- Bookmakers bet on 80 percent winning chances for Carlsen. What was your estimate?
Most of the members of the FIDE Presidential Board and many organizers were confident that the match will end ahead of schedule, and the closing will take place not on November 30 but much earlier. There have even been suggestions that we must be prepared for the closing ceremony on November 25, 26 or 27. But I opined that the match would continue until the very end. And so it happened. Karjakin could well become a Champion.
- Why were you confident that the match would be so hard-fought?
I assumed it after watching the game at the World Cup in Baku. Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin advanced to finals. Svidler’s score was 2: 0. It seems that he had already won the Cup. Peter had to win only one game. But Sergey did not give in even with the "minus two" score. And he managed to win the World Cup. And then I realized that he is a chess player with the stable psyche. And this is a very big advantage.
-Was it worth, in your opinion, to risk the next game when Karjakin’s score was 1: 0 after the eighth game?
- Carlsen was shattered after the ninth game. After the eight game, he had not even attended the press conference and ran away, for which he was fined, if I am not mistaken, with 35 thousand euros. Carlsen was really stunned. He'd lost with whites. And for the first time in the history of Carlsen a contender led scoring.
Yes, Karjakin could win in the ninth game. He had two moments when he could bring the game to a winning endgame. He should have to finish off Carlsen and win the tenth game. Karjakin could not see a draw in the game. He could have easily made a perpetual check. Sergey, of course, was in the better mental and physical shape than Carlsen. But he missed the opportunity.
- Why did not Sergey risked?
Karjakin probably thought about draws only...  And that he would keep on keeping on till the winning of the match. It seems to me that he did not believe himself that he had won. And he decided not to take the risk when he led the score.
- Speaking the football language Karjakin played for time.
-Exactly. At that moment he did not believe that it was possible to finish the match with 2:0 score. In that case the match would have really ended. "Plus two" in such competition is a very big advantage.
- Has Carlsen regained composure after the ninth game?
- No. This happened after the tenth game when he almost missed a perpetual check. If that happened there would be a draw and the score would remain in favour of Karjakin. After the tenth game, when Carlsen won, he calmed down. It was obvious that he wanted to end with a tie-break.
- Was the twelfth game a tactical trick?
Carlsen wanted to give himself another free day to prepare for the tie-break. He knew in advance that he will go for a draw. He made some tricks during the game and a few quick exchanges. Thus, he got an extra day. And, therefore, he was fully prepared for a tie-break.
- From the point of view of the audience, it was not very nice.
From the point of view of the audience, draws are not interesting in general. Audience loves when there are fights to the last move till the bitter end. But there were no ending draws in the match. There was a stretched struggle. Parties fought and did not yield to each other.
- Apart from the final game?
- Yes. But this game was very interesting from a psychological point of view. I think that the final game was exciting for audiences and fans of chess.
-Is Carlsen stronger than Karjakin in rapid chess? Or could it be that Karjakin did not have the stamina and speed of thinking?
Carlsen is more experienced and he has played more rapid chess matches. He was better prepared for fight. He played easily and freely and by his moves it was obvious that the World Champion plays.
- But as the curtain fell in the end of the year, the Carlsen lost the World Blitz Championship. And Karjakin won it.
I agree that Karjakin took partial revenge. But you should remember that Carlsen won a prestigious title in classical chess.
- Are your problems with the US visa being solved? You are not allowed to enter the territory of America.
I will win the claim, which I filed on protection of my honour and dignity. If I were involved in some crimes, the Americans could have let me in and judge me by their own laws. If I violated those, let them put me in prison. If I would not be found guilty, they should compensate the damages. It's all only fair. I am ready to come out in the open to prove that I am right. The sanctions policy is ineffective. It is not accidentally that those across the ocean are unwilling to begin the court because they are afraid to lose.
- It is known that a very prestigious tournament will be held in Russia in the spring.
A series of FIDE Grand-Prix. This is one of a series of the FIDE Grand-Prix 2017. It will be held in Moscow from 11th to 21st of May. One of the series will be held in Sharjah (UAE) on February 17-28. After Moscow, Geneva will take the baton from 5th to 16th of July and Palma de Mallorca from 15th to 26th of November. The series will gather 24 grandmasters. The players, who win first and second places in the series, will take part in the Candidates Tournament; the only known participant of which is Sergey Karjakin. The prize money for single stage is 130 thousand euros…
- Will you open the Moscow tournament?
I open nearly all of the most prestigious international tournaments. The only exception is New York, where I did not open or close the match for the world title...
- Currently there is a lot of doping scandals in the sports. Most people think that politics is involved there. What is your opinion on this matter?
Politics should not interfere in sport. Here is an example. The Women’s World Championship will be held in Tehran in February. Some chess players, mainly from the United States, refused to go to Iran. I said that chess is out of the politics. Iran, like the United States, is a member of the FIDE. We hold tournaments in the country that won the bid. The FIDE Congress delegates voted to hold the tournament in Iran. And no one was interested and still is not interested in politics.
- And what about the mandatory wearing of hijab?
We recommended putting on some headscarf. That's all. A woman should enter the Orthodox Church wearing the headscarf, isn’t it so? Why there cannot be a scarf or other headgear in Tehran? You just need to respect the local traditions and there would be no problem.