An Instagram subscriber’s questions to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Andrey Lavrushkin (indra_lawrence) wrote: “Good afternoon, Kirsan Nikolaevich! I admire your activities on chess promotion! What can be done to develop and popularize the Go Game in our country? I really love this game and manage the only Go Game club in Volgograd. Having read Yasuyuki Miura's book “Go and the Eastern Business Strategy” about how traditional board games fundamentally affect our thinking, I realized how important could be the Go Game for Russians. The current efforts of the Russian Go-community have, to put it mildly, a weak effect. I would be very glad to know your opinion on this issue!”


FIDE sixth President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov answered: “A bit of history for a start. At a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, I was elected president of IMSA, International Mind Sports Association in St. Petersburg in May 2013. The International Olympic Committee promotes physical sports and intellectual ones like chess, checkers, bridge, Go and Chinese chess. 10 years ago, such an association was organized as a part of the IOC with its headquarters in Lausanne.

Since Soviet times, our country has always been strong in at least two intellectual sports - chess and checkers. Many world powers are leaders in intellectual sports. They play the bridge, Go, chess and drafts in India and Europe. Latin America and the Caribbean countries are developing very actively. Almost all of them are now members of the World Chess Federation; many have applied to join the IMSA.
The chess boom and the intellectual sports boom are now observed in Southeast Asia. Probably, in a developing economy, people have a need not only for physical sports, but also for intellectual ones. Traditional chess is popular in some countries while the Go Game is prevalent in others.
In South Korea, for example, four state channels show the Go Game. In Japan, they love sumo, and the Go Game, which involves solving problems and participating in tournaments. In Japan, the Go Game tournaments are as much popular as the national sport, sumo.
Probably, in some respects it depends on the peculiarities of the people’s mentality and their tendency for mental exercises. Probably, it depends on upbringing. In some families, games are a mean of communicating with children and organizing family leisure. The presence or absence of appropriate programmes in national education systems in pre-school, school or higher education institution plays an important role.
And, ultimately, the role of the state in promoting the relevant sports is most important. Chess is traditionally well developed in China and in the former republics of the Soviet Union. But there are countries where they don’t play chess , for example, Singapore. Singapore is a small country, a city without chess, drafts and the Go Game. However, they became a real "Asian tiger" and their economy is developing. In the countries where the economy is developing and the well-being of the people is growing, a craving for intellectual sports is noticeable.
In 1995, when I was first elected President of FIDE, I visited many countries. Singapore had then an observer status in FIDE, but no one played chess there. Just as an experiment, we opened a branch of the International Chess Academy in Singapore and sent them a trainer from Russia.
Only four people signed up for this chess academy, the children of employees of the Russian embassy. I met with the Minister of Sports of Singapore and the President of the Chess Federation and they both asked me: “Mr President, why this sport is not working for us? Although, we have opened a chess academy in the city centre.”
And then something interesting began to happen. A year later, tens of thousands of students are learning how to play chess at academies and schools. Parents demand that chess be included in the school curriculum. Parents saw that a child engaged in chess developed better, it studied well and was more disciplined, more developed than his peers who did not play chess. Singapore is experiencing a chess boom now. As usual, first, the economy develops, and later, intellectual sports appears.
In some European countries (Holland, for example) employers ask job seekers, whether they play chess or not and what intellectual sports they prefer.
Therefore, intellectual games are very important for humanity. But I have no answer how to make “the Go Game boom” happen in Russia. I know one thing: this is a serious and painstaking work. You cannot make it alone. It is necessary to involve authorities and serious executives. There is no other way. And, of course, they must hold tournaments to attract children. And most importantly they must explain why this is so essential. The road is made by walking.”