Kirsan Ilyumzhinov about his mobile, the Kalmyk New Year and, of course, about chess

- You have an interesting vintage mobile.

- And I don’t have a computer and I don't even know how to turn it on and off. I have been using this phone for 19 years and the number has been the same since 1996. Muammar Gaddafi, Henry Kissinger, Richard Gere and the Dalai Lama had it. 200 countries!
- Did you ever lose this mobile?
- Once I forgot it on the plane when I flew to New York. It was okay that I myself could not call anyone is okay, someone helped me out. But they tried to call me too! My working day is from 7 am to 3 am, the rest is my personal time. That's how it is since I graduated from the University. I have never been on vacation or taken a day off in my life.
- What was the most unexpected call you have received on this mobile?
- Once I went to see how the Holy Fire descends in Jerusalem. I stood all night, the people had already begun to fall asleep, some fight between the believers began... And at 6 in the morning a call from one president wakes me up: “Christ is risen!” I'm surprised, of course, but I answer: "Thank you." And he laughs: “He has truly risen!” I thought it was a prank. Then he asks again: “Where are you now?” I say: "Why, in Israel." He was stunned!
- Do you have a private plane?

- There was a Falcon 2000, I sold it to build the largest Buddhist temple in Europe as I promised the Dalai Lama. 64 meters, 12.5 meters golden Buddha. At first, I paid 200 million but it was not enough. That’s when I sold it.
 - Kalmyk New Year. What is it and how does it differ from a regular New Year?
- It is tied to the Tibetan New Year. The Dalai Lama has always been the spiritual leader of the Kalmyks. The exact date of the holiday is determined by the lunar calendar, it is different every year.
I remember when we were small, we got up at 6-7 in the morning, put on a coat with more pockets, and went from house to house picking up sweets. In houses - where the Buddha stands - a lamp is usually lit and the dead are remembered. Bortsigs are baked. This is when dough is dipped into hot oil and different figures are made from it.
There must be Kalmyk tea, its brick used to cost twenty roubles. Grandma sent me to buy it from the store. How to make it? A three-litre kettle is taken, water is poured into it - a little less than half. For a three-litre kettle one needs to take a small brick of tea; every Kalmyk family has a small hatchet to chop it up. The tea boils for about 5 minutes, the water turns brown, after which a litre and a half of milk is added there. The fire is turned off, a pinch of salt, a little oil and nutmeg are added to the tea. At the end, the grandmother took a ladle, scooped up water and poured it back. So, you need to do 108 times because, according to Buddhism, a person lives 108 lives. Plus, when you do this, the tea is enriched with oxygen. Drink it in the morning and you can run for half a day.
- You also said that chess pieces should weigh a kilogramme. Why?
- There is such a story: chess is recognized as a sport in 150 countries. And the UK, since the 1930s, adopted an amendment according to which sport is where there is physical effort. I came to London, there were parliamentary hearings. We showed the parliament lead chess and I said: if you need physical effort, let's play such chess.
Before that, we conducted studies proving that during a game chess players lose up to a kilogram of weight, their arm muscles tense up.
A little later, it was decided that FIDE should conclude an agreement with WADA. We have a commission that monitors lists of prohibited drugs from morning to evening and sends them to national federations.
– Have you ever considered how much personal money you have spent during the years of your FIDE presidency?
- About 100 million dollars, more than 90 for sure. For example: in January 2003, New York Mayor Bloomberg promised to give money for Kasparov's match against computer. The budget was one hundred million, 50 to 50. The Israeli government was supposed to finance it, but it refused later and in the end I had to pay extra for the premises’ rent.