What Ilyumzhinov should have asked

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
What Ilyumzhinov should have askedWe received a few complaints at ChessVibes headquarters for reporting in a biased way about the upcoming FIDE presidential elections. We were accused of favouring Anatoly Karpov and ridiculing Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. A news item that appeared yesterday on the BCC website shows we should have taken our current president more seriously indeed.

Okay, we admit it: we went too far. While shamelessly promoting Karpov's campaign, we entirely neglected to report on Karpov's own dubious role during the 1984/1985 World Championship match and his recent curious statement about FIDE knock-out tournaments, in which Karpov said he was never a supporter of this particular formula, while profiting from it himself to beat Anand back in 1998.

What's worse, although we didn't write about Ilyumzhinov's friendship with the late dictator Saddam Hussein and about his remarkable encounter with aliens as reported in various interviews (among others on Dutch television), we did have a good laugh at Mig Greengard's suggestion that "we'd do well to go for just about anyone with a pulse and no personal stories of alien abduction at this point." We secretly cracked jokes about Stephen Hawking's warning that any contact with extraterrestial aliens might result in total collapse for mankind - and how Ilyumzhinov managed to avoid this - even though Hawking's statement was received critically in the scientific world.

We were wrong, so wrong. We should have given our President - and he is our President, let's not forget - more credit, just like the Russian parliament. According to the BBC, "a Russian MP has asked President Dmitry Medvedev to investigate claims by a regional president that he has met aliens on board a spaceship."

MP Andre Lebedev is not just asking whether Mr Ilyumzhinov is fit to govern. He is also concerned that, if he was abducted, he may have revealed details about his job and state secrets. The MP has written a letter to Mr Medvedev raising a list of his concerns. In his letter he says that - assuming the whole thing was not just a bad joke - it was an historic event and should have been reported to the Kremlin. He also asks if there are official guidelines for what government officials should do if contacted by aliens, especially if those officials have access to state secrets.

The Moscow Times has more details:

Ilyumzhinov told television host Vladimir Pozner on Channel One on April 26 that he had spent several hours in the company of aliens after they visited his apartment in downtown Moscow on Sept. 18, 1997.

He said he was falling asleep when he heard someone calling him from the balcony. When he went there, Ilyumzhinov said, he saw a "semi-transparent half tube" that he entered to meet human-like creatures in yellow spacesuits.

"I am often asked which language I used to talk to them. Perhaps, it was on a level of the exchange of the ideas," Ilyumzhinov said, speaking solemnly.

He said the aliens gave him a tour of their spaceship. When he asked them why they had not gone on television to reveal themselves to humans, they replied that they are not yet ready, Ilyumzhinov said.

He said the aliens returned him to his home in the morning — just as his driver and two associates were about to initiate a citywide search for him after not finding him in the locked apartment.

We stand corrected. Such a uniquely detailed account and its follow-up in the Russian Duma proves there's more to this than just a good laugh. It's all very serious, which is also indicated by the fact Ilyumzhinov states all this again just after having been nominated by the Russian Chess Federation as the candidate for the elections in Khanty Mansiysk: in other words, the story is a conscious part of his campaign to win votes in September and to attract positive media attention to promote chess. Apparently, the President didn't trust Vishy Anand and Veselin Topalov to do it the way only he can.

We think deputy Lebedev raises important questions, but in our opinion he doesn't go quite far enough. The real question, of course, is why Ilyumzhinov, when he was shown this super-advanced alien technology, didn't ask the yellow men which is the best opening move, 1.e4 or 1.d4? Which variation is better: the Najdorf or the Sveshnikov? Why did Ilyumzhinov just 'exchange ideas' instead of asking what is the ultimate result of chess as we know it - a draw, or perhaps a win for Black? And who really was the best player of all time? Not only the Russian parliament but the entire chess community of planet earth eagerly awaits these answers!

Surely Mr. President, as head of all chess lovers in the world, a bit more chess curiosity wouldn't have been too much to ask for?
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