That's right. Apparently, the World Chess Federation (or FIDE) president has some pretty interesting ideas about chess, aliens, and our role in the universe in relation to the extraterrestrial world.
Deadspin brought President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to our attention in an article discussing Ilyumzhinov's supposed resignation, which he later denied over grounds that his English was misinterpreted. The controversy is currently kicking up quite a storm, especially because FIDE and Ilyumzhinov can't quite reach an agreement over whether he did (or did not) misspeak.
But of course, Deadspin also dug up some absolutely interesting facts about President Ilyumzhinov. Here's some worth knowing:
Ilyumzhinov Thinks Aliens Invented Chess
Yep, Ilyumzhinov really believes aliens gave the world chess. So much so, he's gone on record with the New York Times that aliens aren't just real, but they bestowed one of the oldest games in history to humanity. According to him, the problem stems from the fact that so many civilizations invented chess, and since "the rules of chess were almost identical everywhere," there's only one explanation: aliens created chess and gave it to humans.
"I do, indeed, consider chess a gift from extraterrestrial civilizations. Chess is one of the world’s oldest games," he told the Times. "It is hard to imagine that people in different parts of the world many thousands of years ago simultaneously thought up an identical game with the same rules just by chance."
So, one of the biggest authorities in chess in the world thinks chess was created by aliens. Got it. He also planned to write a book about aliens inventing chess in the past.
He Also Claims He Had an Extraterrestrial Experience
Why does Ilyumzhinov think aliens invented chess? Or, for that matter, why does he believe aliens are real? Well, that's because Ilyumzhinov alleges he was abducted by aliens.
According to a Huffington Post article on the story, Illyumzhinov claims that, one night in September 1997, ETs abducted him from his home in Moscow and brought him into their spaceship. They took him to a star, and then took him back home.
"They are like people, like us. They have the same mind and the same vision. I talked with them and I understand that we are not alone in this whole world — we are not unique," Ilyumzhinov said, according to the Post.
Could it be true? Well, it comes down to whether you believe in aliens or not.
Garry Kasparov Thinks Ilyumzhinov is Ruining Chess
Garry Kasparov serves as a watchdog against authoritarianism these days. As both a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin, as well as a critical voice against the US's new president, Donald Trump, Kasparov has been speaking up for years about Ilyumzhinov's relationship with FIDE. And he believes Ilyumzhinov is bad for the game.
According to an article from the Telegraph, Kasparov believes Ilyumzhinov is an agent of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, who is a friend of Ilyumzhinov's. Particularly, according to a Facebook post from the chess grandmaster, Kasparov argues that Ilyumzhinov is responsible for "helping the terrorist army of ISIS sell oil to murderous Syrian dictator and long-time Ilyumzhinov friend Bashar al-Assad."
"Ilyumzhinov has lied consistently, constantly, since taking over FIDE 20 years ago and doesn’t see any reason to stop now since it has served him well. Nothing in FIDE will change until Ilyumzhinov and his entire lot are thrown out."
- Garry Kasparov
Pretty intense. But Kasparov has a good eye for political crisis, and chess is his trade. Sadly, Ilyumzhinov sounds like he's doing the chess world no favors through his political behavior.
Do you believe chess was actually given to the world through aliens? Share your thoughts in the comments below.