Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: This virus is not accidental. It urges us to think it over…


-Kirsan Nikolaevich, since you are a chess player, I suggest we play blitz now. You will have to answer my questions within three minutes. Is life worse or better in the twenty-first century than in the twentieth?
- Better of course. We are developing.
- What is freedom?

 - Freedom is when you are not dependent on anyone. This is the most important thing. Because, I repeat once again, we are socially dependent on others: relatives, loved ones, and the state. And you need to feel free. You will be happy once you are free.

- What is your main flaw?

- I love to sleep. This is my weakness. However, I force myself to work. Wish I did not want to sleep at all!
- You are aware of the story behind the Candidates Tournament. It began in unusual conditions and they could not finish it. What do you think about that?
-It’s a pity that it was stopped, but it was impossible to carry on in a pandemic. The decision of Presidential Council is justified. Once they closed the borders and cancelled flights, then how can players get there? True, the question is was it necessary to start this candidate tournament at all? Probably, at that time FIDE leadership considered that it was possible to play. But, as you see, it didn’t work out. I know that they will start playing again and finally decide on a challenger to fight Magnus Carlsen. I am positive that this will happen.
- But the one who is worried now is Teymur Rajabov. Two or three weeks before the start, he asked FIDE to postpone the tournament. They did not listen to him; the tournament was not postponed. How would you assess this stalemate situation?
- I was FIDE president for 23 years. It was necessary to make decisions and implement them. So, on the one hand, I support FIDE, and on the other hand, I support Teymur Rajabov. He is a very bright, talented chess player; I like him. I remember the beginning of his chess career. This was when I held the first stage of the Grand Prix, which took place in Dubai. We played at the International Centre and Teymur Radjabov then became the winner over Garry Kasparov. He was then about 15 years old. Thus, the fact that Teymur did not play in the candidates tournament is not normal. And like any high-class grandmaster that counts five to ten moves ahead, he correctly assessed the situation with the pandemic .And in such a situation, starting to play this tournament was wrong.
He expressed his opinion not as a chess player, but as a serious person who monitors both the press and the world situation. He was right: there was no need to start the tournament. But FIDE thought differently. Radjabov considered that it was impossible to start a tournament, and FIDE considered that it was necessary. It is a stalemate. On the one hand, Radjabov was right, and he had to play. On the other hand, the Presidential Council decided to start the tournament and then stop it. I do not want to judge or comment on that decision. It’s a pity that the tournament was stopped.
But we are lucky that it wasn’t the coronavirus that put an end the tournament. So we have defeated it. There are many questions and problems related not only to this tournament. Let's all fight the coronavirus together, and then we'll figure out this one and other tournaments.
By the way, I am also preparing to hold a tournament now. I’m doing it unofficially. I help to hold tournaments in some African and Asian countries. A couple of tournaments were also held in Moscow with my assistance.  And now I want to hold an amateur tournament. I must keep the promise that I gave to world champion Bobby James Fisher. I met with him in Budapest in December 1995. Then he asked me: “Kirsan, let’s hold the Fischer World Chess Championship. I will take part myself or I could an arbiter”.
On the other hand, I want to hold an intercontinental tournament over the Internet, which we also once discussed with my late friend Artem Tarasov when he was a head of FIDE Commerce in London. And I wrote to Bill Gates (this was in 2000). Chess is a very interesting sport. I met President Juan Antonio Samaranch at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne in December 1995. He said: “Listen, Kirsan, you are such a lucky president of the Chess Federation!” I asked: “Why lucky?” He replied: “Because one can’t play football, volleyball, boxing, swimming over the Internet. And chess is the only sport that you can play over the Internet.” These prophetic words were said in 1995. Twenty five years ago!
Today, I came upon an interview with one of the Moscow Chess Federation leaders, where he says that the Olympics can be held over the Internet. A couple of years ago I held the African Championship over the Internet. The Tunisian Chess Federation helped me a lot then. And now I want to hold another tournament like that. Now I am negotiating with my sponsor friends. It will be possible to hold such a tournament over the Internet with a good prize pool, for example, a million dollars. Nevertheless, they sit at home, so let them play chess, it will be very interesting. And the stake is very high.
To be continued