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Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "A Grand Prix tournament is a beautiful diamond necklace in Monaco"
Interview with President of the International Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the Monte Carlo Casino, the first stage of Women's Grand Prix.


Let me congratulate you on organizing such a wonderful tournament in the Monte Carlo Casino. What are your future plans for women's chess?

First of all, I would like to thank His Excellency Prince Albert II, and the Chess Federation of Monaco and directly its president Jean-Michel Rapaire for their work in organizing this tournament. The idea to organize it, was born one year ago, when Jean-Michel invited us to dinner at the Monte Carlo Casino.  I asked him, why not hold in this Casino some beautiful tournament?
He replied that this was impossible, as you need permission of Prince Albert II, the last chess tournament held in this Casino in 1904, more than 100 years ago. Since then, we have repeatedly made this request, but to no avail. I decided to try again and wrote an official letter to the Prince, in which I explained about FIDE and the opportunities that chess can give the city and the Casino. After all, both chess and Casino have an element of chance.

If you look at a casino game, it does not only present the excitement, but also a strategy, such as how to play each card. Usually the player thinks, analyzes, and tries to read the minds of their opponents. In chess, there is also an element of chance and gambling. If you look at blitz or rapid chess, the degree of emotional excitement is sometimes no less.

In general, there are many similarities among chess players and casino players. All this prompted me to turn to the Prince's request. Moreover, we already had the experience of tournaments in the casino, enough to remember World Chess Championship knockout system in 1999 in Las Vegas, with winner Alexander Khalifman. Visitors who came to the Casino, showed interest in the chess event.

Of course, the Casino of Monte Carlo has a special place in the world, and a rich history. When a year ago, I wrote to Prince Albert II, it was still unclear whether it would be a male or female tournament, but then I thought that beauty and intelligence should complement the interior of this beautiful building. When all the formalities were settled, it was finally decided that it would be the top women's tournament in history, which will bring together the current World Champion and three ex-champions.

The Grand Prix event is like a diamond necklace for beautiful Monaco and I hope very much so that the ladies’ chess play will justify the interior. At the opening ceremony I spoke with the General Secretary of Monaco Olympic Committee Mrs. Yvette Lambin-Berti. She commented that she really liked the idea of the chess tournament, because it can be compared with the famous Formula 1 racing, chess would be more relaxing, as opposed to roaring machines, which are seen for half a second at a time. Here, you can still watch the beauty of the chess game. Therefore, this idea would be to make a traditional chess tournaments every year, and to hold the match for the title of Women World Championship in 2017.

Most recently, the media reported that you were nominated for the presidency of FIFA. If you take this post, how will your experience with chess help with football?

This suggestion was made on 8th of September at FIDE Congress, which was held in Abu Dhabi, by the Vice President of FIDE and President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov. It was supported by many delegates from different countries. In his speech he said that FIDE is to use a number of international events, for example, to support the refugees. Then we have a social program that we support «Chess in Villages», «Chess in School" and others.

Many in the media, we can say, focused on the situation of corruption scandals in FIFA, saying that it needs to be purified. We need to use the attention of the world press, and from this point of view, Filatov suggested me to participate as FIDE President in this election. What is it for? Firstly, for the development and popularization of chess, if the news that the President of FIDE claims or running for president of FIFA will appear on the front pages of the media. Secondly, many will be interested, and what FIDE will look for information. If 10 percent of a billion people will be interested, then it is 100 million. Begin to ask, what is the FIDE chess and why claim to the post.

I recently met with Pele in London. He also said that football and chess are similar. The winner in football, only the team, and only one football scores, which thinks the opponent moves where the ball will fly, etc. Football is a mind sport. The head controls the legs.

You can say that your nomination is a subtle move to popularize chess?

No, no. This is for the promotion and development of chess. Why have I still have not agreed to this? I have to count combinations. For me it is not participation for its own sake. I'm in this ‘political’ life since 1989, participating in 15 election campaigns, andin 1990 became the youngest deputy of the Russian parliament; At 28, I became a member of parliament of the Soviet Union, and at 30 became the president of the Republic of Kalmykia. 4 times I won the Kalmykia elections, six times I won the elections FIDE President, once - in the Federation Council, became president of the World Association of mind sports, a member of a sports convention SportAccord, that is 15 out of 15, I won the elections. This may be my 16th.

So, maybe you will become the president of FIFA?

If I go to the polls, my only thought is about winning, but if I win, then combining chess and football would be great, it's popularization and development. For example, I was recently in Nicaragua and I was invited by the president of the Football Federation of the country. We arrived at the stadium, there is a special room, and there was chess, every day, in your spare time playing chess players, it helps them to be better on the football field.

Back to Monaco, what would you like to add?

Once again I would like to thank Prince Albert II, the leadership and the Government of the Principality of Monaco, the Chess Federation and its president, Jean-Michel Rapaire, as well as the active participation of GPB Global Resources and Societe Bains et Mer. Still, the tournament of such rank and level for the first time here, all has been organised at the appropriate level!

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