Interview with the FIDE President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
By WGM Alina l'Ami
It is hardly a secret that the name of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov defines an entire chess era. Since his election as a FIDE President in 1995, the chess World has gone through radical and sometimes even revolutionary changes. Dynamism, democratic character and financial viability are the main traits induced to the World championship cycle over the past 18 years.
The system involving the 2012/2013 Grand Prix edition is the result of many years of refining. Choosing Paris for hosting the final tournament has certain symbolic meaning. You may find more about it in the interview with the man who is in the best position to explain it: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself!
What do you think about the Paris FIDE Grand Prix tournament so far?
The 2012/2013 FIDE Grand Prix series started in another important European capital, London; Paris is a fortunate last stop of the cycle, the location is very beautiful, historical, the official hotel is great, as all the players confirmed when I talked to them, so everything is going fine. From a chess point of view, I believe the games will be very interesting, since there is a possibility that one of these 12 grandmasters will take part in the Candidates tournament.
For me, for FIDE and for the whole chess World, Paris is a very special place.
This wonderful city is the motherland of FIDE, which was founded in Paris in 1924. Next year, on July 20th, we will celebrate our 90th anniversary, and I think this sixth FIDE Grand Prix will be only the start of a long series of strong tournaments to be held here.
I was elected as a FIDE President right here, in the French capital, on 24th of November 1995, and now, after 18 years as FIDE President, I am glad to be back in my beloved town.
Last but not least, the French Chess Federation is currently one of the most active federations in the World.
Together with Diego Salazar, the FFE President, and Svetlana Titova, the Deputy Director General
on Economy and Finance of the Titan GP, (tournament sponsor)
The system of the World Cycle has been changed and adjusted a lot over the past two decades in a permanent quest for perfection. The actual formula is complex, balanced and well received by the public and media; some would add it is quite democratic, too. Will it remain this way or rather suffer further changes in order to keep up with modern times?
It will remain as it is; I find the format very good, involving the Grand Prix circuit, the Candidates' matches, the World Cup and culminating with the final match for the World title. More players than ever are offered the chance to enter the elite and I believe it is a fair deal for everybody.
After so many years of experience, which tournament, event or decision are you most proud of?
Maybe... the reunification tournament of the FIDE/PCA stands out; I also have good memories of the first World Knock out championship ever, held in Groningen, in 1997, followed by the Lausanne match between Anand and Karpov. And then many Olympiads, matches and strong tournaments organized together with my colleagues, which were important for the general development of chess.
Looking back with mature eyes, would you have any particular advice for the younger Kirsan who took up the presidency in 1995?
To always let himself be guided by his love for chess…
Is there a new tendency or are there any new rules you would like to introduce in the chess World?
I think it is almost perfect now, but everything is moving fast, because of the internet, because of the fast times we are living in. I would like to develop the system of tournaments with shortened time control for the sake of the popularization of chess. I do not refer to the official championships, but to the mass chess events, which should be involved as well in our general strategy, with rapid and blitz tournaments, which are very interesting for the spectators. I would like to organize more of such events: blitz and rapid tournaments.
I am also glad that we could help women chess as well; some days ago I opened the Tashkent Women GP, for example. I trust that the public and the media will follow women chess with rising interest now.
So what is the next stop?
Tallinn, for the 84th FIDE Congress, Tashkent and after that…many many stops, every week two three cities at least.
Could you give us a prognostic for this GP, Paris 2013?
I cannot be very specific, but I believe the strongest chess player will win.
Is your son David playing chess as well?
Back in the school years, he was the school champion. He graduated the American University this year; he likes chess, he even loves it actually, but he is not a professional, we just play now and then against each other and… I am still winning!
How do you keep your enthusiasm alive, after so many years of Presidency in the chess World?
Chess is a great game and deserves our passion and love. This should be enough to keep enthusiasm alive.