Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Chess is the Favourite Eastern Art"

On 21st of January the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh suggested that the playing of chess is sinful for a Muslim. The words of the Kingdom’s chief cleric, who has unquestioned authority, should be regarded as a direct edict for his followers.
It is very sad given that the Mufti made his statement on the eve of the chess tournament which has opened in Mecca. Given the level of religious consciousness in the kingdom and the degree of influence of Sheikh Abdulaziz on the minds of his followers, such statements may jeopardize the safety and well-being of participants in the tournament, which in itself is unacceptable.

Chess is one of the oldest games of humanity, its development is largely due to the inhabitants of Asia and the Middle East. Supposedly originating in India, chess quickly spread to nearby countries. The game was praised by the great poets of the East - Omar Khayam, Saadi, Nizami and was patronized by powerful rulers - Haroun al-Rashid, al-Amin, al-Ma’mun and others.
It was precisely in the East where the method for recording chess games was invented. The first book of the history of chess was written by a Byzantine Arab Muslim al-Adli (ar-Rumi), the scholar and healer. Arab Muslims also invented blindfold chess and began holding the first chess tournaments.
Chess was so highly valued in the East that people who did not know how to play did not have the respect and honour of those that did. In the end, it was the Muslim Arabs who introduced this game to the Europeans and then to the whole world.
For many centuries chess in the East enjoyed the interest and respect amongst Muslims. There were, however, periods of prohibition. More recently, in 1979, chess was banned in Iran in the wake of the Islamic revolution; however, Ayatollah Khomeini lifted the ban in 1988. In 2003 chess was also prohibited by the religious leaders of Taliban, a terrorist organisation according to the decision of the UN Security Council.  
I must note that chess is just a tool that allows you to perfect a sharpness of mind and learn how to avoid doing something that could lead to undesirable consequences.
We are aware that any tool can be used both for good and for evil. Meanwhile, FIDE considers the perfect art of chess as a means of achievement in human perfection. Our motto and our goal is ‘One billion chess players - one billion clever people’.
We believe that the more intelligent people there are in the world, the more secure and happy life will become for all the inhabitants of the Earth. At the same time, people will spend less time taking care of their daily bread. There will be less fear in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones and perhaps there will be more time for thinking about God and His service. Therefore, we sincerely hope that Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh will change his mind about this ancient game.