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Friday, July 20, 2012

One billion chess players by 2018 – World Chess Federation

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July 20 is celebrated as the International Day of Chess. The holiday was initiated by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). On this day, different themed events and competitions are being held under the auspices of FIDE. On this day, multi-board chess matches are held even in places of detention.
Six hundred million people out of seven billion of the planet’s population play chess. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), believes that it is not enough. In an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia, he explained that he was planning to increase the number of chess players in the world to one billion in the next five years. “I have set the task to increase the number of chess players in the world from 600 million to one billion people in the next five-six years. Our motto is ‘one billion clever people’. Why have I declared this? The reason for everything that is going on in the world right now - by that I mean wars, conflicts, financial and political crises - does not lie in the fact that there is not enough money, gold, oil or gas. And certainly not in the fact that people are so angry with each other. The reason is that the states, the systems are ruled by short-sighted people who have come into politics by accident. If we increase the number of chess players to one billion people, the critical mass will increase too. For people belonging to this critical mass, the probability of them becoming members of parliaments, mayors, ministers, presidents, and kings is much higher. And thus the number of future incorrect decisions will decrease.”

Chess is being introduced into the school curriculum. What effect can it produce?

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: In 1993, as the President of Kalmykia, I introduced chess into schools on an optional basis. After a year it was noticed that, in those schools where children were taught to play chess, discipline and school results improved. I was five years old when I learned to play chess. Chess trains our brain and develops both the left and right hemispheres. It is no coincidence that Mikhail Botvinnik, the world chess champion, used to say that chess was a synthesis of science, culture and sport.

What is happening to chess in Russia?

KI: Chess is popular in Russia now, especially with children. When I introduced chess in the schools of Kalmykia, many of my colleagues - governors and presidents of republics - supported this idea. In Moscow, chess is developing well. Recently, I was invited to one of Moscow’s kindergartens, where three-year-old children are learning to play chess. Children become more attentive. There is a principle in chess: think first, and then make your move.

Do you know of such cases in history when politicians invited chess players to make some political decisions?

KI: I was 15 years old when I became the champion of Kalmykia in chess among adults. And I became a member of the Young Communist League City Committee. When in the army, I was the champion of the North Caucasus district, and our Party Committee used to invite me to participate in solving political issues. Janos Kadar, the head of Hungary, was a chess player. He was making decisions at the country level. 

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, while viewing somebody for a job in the government, was in the habit of asking “Do you play chess or not?” He knew that a chess player can calculate several moves ahead. Before signing a decree or adopting a law, every politician must calculate how it is going to work, and how people are going to react to it. Therefore, it is desirable for politicians to train their brains, and play chess.

In the past, chess players could only rely on their own brains while preparing for competitions, and now they can’t do without computers. Is there a threat that technology is going to replace human brains?

KI: Scientists and science fiction writers have already written that one fine day a computer brain would seize power over mankind. We have already reached the level where a program begins to make original moves. Why was man able to beat a computer at chess? Because he used to make an unconventional move, and the computer was taken aback. Now, computers begin to think unconventionally, and this is progress. But when a man is playing with a man, he is not using a computer. In this case human brains are competing. But a person needs to develop, and his brains should develop too.

Today a chess boom can be observed in many countries of the world. And programs of developing and disseminating this ancient game are accepted at the state levels. Even in Mongolia, where chess has never been too popular, two international tournaments have already been held. Chess is taught in schools in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Latin American countries. At the beginning of every academic year, the President of Uruguay presents every first former with a mini-computer containing a chess program. In China, children are taught to play chess in kindergartens from the age of five.

Source : The voice of Russia