September 17, 2010 1:11

Ilyumzhinov bids for Ground Zero

Ilyumzhinov bids for Ground Zero mosque siteWhile one might think he would have other things on his mind, like a court case in Lausanne or an Olympiad that's plagued with problems, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decided to come up with yet another surprising move. The FIDE President today announced a 10-million-dollar bid to buy the land in New York City known as Ground Zero, which, however, doesn't seem to be for sale at all.

News media all over the world have started reporting about the next controversial action by our beloved FIDE President. Most of the reports refer to this article by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which we give below in English.

FIDE wants to build a chess center on the location of the Twin Towers

MOSCOW, September 16 - RIA Novosti. World Chess Federation (FIDE) has offered a bid of US $10 million for the land in New York where the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001 to build a chess center, said the FIDE President at a press conference for RIA Novosti.

According to Ilyumzhinov, on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board he has signed a letter on Wednesday to the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and the owner of the land "with the offer to buy this land for 10 million dollars."

"The sum of US $10 million is due to the fact that last week the (American) billionaire Donald Trump proposed a (similar) offer of 7.5 million dollars, and we decided to beat him," - said the head of FIDE.

Ilyumzhinov said that on this site FIDE is going to "build an international chess center ("World Chess Center") and an international chess academy.

"We are currently awaiting a response to our letters," - added Ilyumzhinov.

The famous skyscrapers, one of the symbols of New York, were destroyed on September 11, 2001 as a result of a terrorist attack.

Last week the famous business magnate Donald Trump failed to buy out the controlling investor in the controversial Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan that has become commonly known as the Ground Zero Mosque, but is officially called Park51. It is a planned 13-story Islamic community center and mosque to be located about two blocks from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The project is highly controversial due to its proximity to Ground Zero.

Ilyumzhinov, however, seems to have made his US $10 million bid for the actual Ground Zero area, if we may believe in the accuracy of the RIA Novosti report. It may well be the case that he did bid for the Park51 building; otherwise it would be a major and quite comical misunderstanding.

In any case, the bid is the next, highly remarkable action by the FIDE President. According to the RIA Novosti report he is spending this ten million "on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board", but this is hard to believe since FIDE doesn't have this kind of money. And for spending his own money, Ilyumzhinov wouldn't need the Presidential Board's approval.

To be continued, we assume - or not, like with most of Ilyumzhinov's great projects.

Update: now also has the story, confirming that it's not about the Ground Zero area itself:

The President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has offered to buy a controversial plot of land near the WTC site, and to erect a World Chess Center there.

The whole world is witnessing the disagreements over the fate of the land which is located within a short distance of the tragic events of September 11th.

In his letter to Michael Bloomberg, Ilyumzhinov writes:

“This issue has divided society in the United States and across the world, and it’s repercussions are global. I equally respect all faiths and religions and I believe that religious conflicts are extremely dangerous in complex times such as ours.”

In recent comments to the news media, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov commented:

“As President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), and as a person who has always supported inter religious understanding, I propose the construction of an International Chess Center at the site in question. Chess is a unique and intellectual game, it came to the West from the East, unites every country, and it has affinities with every religion equally. My dream as President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) is that chess becomes the only “battlefield” between East and West. Perhaps this is not yet possible, but we will do all we can to ease these tensions. At the International Chess Center, which would be erected in the immediate vicinity of Ground Zero, there would be a free chess school for children, national and international tournaments, and other educational and charitable activities. The Center would also hold annual memorial tournaments to benefit families of victims of the tragedy of September 11, 2001.”

As early as last week, the property developer Trump offered to buy the site two blocks from Ground Zero, but the offer was turned down – according to news sources.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Castro's picture

If there is no money, or no chance, one simply must not worry. Demagogic publicity and delusions are usual from him, but also from his (real and pretended) opponents!
A good laugh. I think that's the only serious thing we should have, for the moment. The difficult thing is to decide which deserves more: His effords, or of those better placed and wishing to bring him down.

Septimus's picture

This may actually be a good idea if it comes to fruition. Of course, I don't really have any faith in the current FIDE clowns managing such a center, but the idea itself is not bad. Perhaps it would ease tensions in the area.

My question is, where is the money going to come from? Does FIDE have such a large amount of cash floating around? Is KI going to dip into his personal coffers? Are the people going to get ripped off? Will NYC foot part of the bill?

Somehow, I seriously doubt KI has a plan beyond grandstanding.

Lothar's picture

Good plan. Maybe Kirsan could build two enormous rook-shaped twin towers there, or turn the location into a UFO runway.

john's picture

just WHY?? lol

Ron's picture

This guy is really crazy. Chess will be boring without him.

RuralRob's picture

Kirsan would be a great villain in a 007 movie.

"Checkmate, Mr. Bond..."

Pal G.'s picture

Trump and Ilyumzhinov did not bid for "Ground Zero". Trump attempted to buy the property the proposed Mosque may be built on..

"Please let this letter serve to represent my offer to purchase your site located at 45 Park Place, New York, NY 10007, for what you paid plus 25%," Trump said in his letter. "I am making this offer as a resident of New York and a citizen of the United States, not because the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse."

Peter Doggers's picture

Trump and Ilyumzhinov did not bid for “Ground Zero” - Trump clearly not, and I tried to point out that according to the RIA Novosti report, Ilyumzhinov did, but that it's unlikely.

chessrobot's picture

He claims to have the funds to bid US$10M, but there is physical and logistical evidence that he can't even prepare for the upcoming Chess Olympiad properly.

Does it need to be even more vivid on who must NOT be elected as the President of FIDE?

test's picture

If I were a citizen of Kalmykia I would make sure to clean out my bank accounts before Ilyumzhonov runs off with all the money now that his presidency is over. Not that I really believe this 10 million offer is serious. Maybe he is hoping everybody else keeps believing he still has unlimited funds to throw around? One thing is clear though: this guy is not living in the same reality that we are.

Gilgamesh James's picture

Hha ha ha ha...!?!?!?!?!

This guy is realy a beast...your time is down Mr. Kirsan. Just stop doing this. Please be defeated like a gentleman, don´t crush your litle image.


Vhomas Topalov's picture

I think that Kirsan with his quixotic and irrealistic statements may have
some chances in running for prime minister in Italy.

Ben's picture

So it's shorter name will be "WC Center"?

Now I see the point. He resigned the presidency of that unimportant state so he could move his office to NY. I think he is dreaming about world power, leading the world from the WC Center with the help of all the Aliens of course.

Seth's picture

I'm scratching my head out of sheer amazement.

calvin amari's picture

Surely THIS should be the final nail in the coffin of that ---deleted--- who is a never ending embarrassment to chess, Ilyumzhinov. This plainly shows why he should be kicked out for good. Somehow he probably believes that this asinine grandstand stunt, in all its resplendent stupidity, is actually good for chess. To say that this is a man of abbreviated mental faculties is an understatement. His grasp of reality is so slight and so arbitrary and so grotesque, an inadvertent surrealism becomes his guiding philosophy. The Kremlin apparently reached the sound conclusion that Ilyumzhinov is a nutjob that is beyond any control. How could any chess federation in the world think otherwise? Keeping him any longer at FIDE would be a valediction to all good sense.

noone's picture

So will Kirsan get the place? I would like to see a chess center there.

Alexander's picture

A veritable grotesque. With moves like this, FIDE makes me ashamed I am obsessed with chess... But on the other hand, thank god we have players like Anand, Carlsen, Shirov, Kramnik, Aronian, Ivanchuk and Gelfand for making us proud of our love of the game.

Castro's picture

I say this has just snached the "Chess Event of the Year" award.
Poor Raw and Karpov atempts!! :-)
To be coherent, 90% of the people writing here in CV should aclaim this efusively!
Stand by the man! He is putting chess on the map! At least by being widely spoken, and by showing off.
Now seriously, I prefer this coloured-type but inocuous or funny news, rather than pseudo-classic-pseudo-chess events (Bilbaos, Sofias, Londons,...). I used to consult chessliveratings almost every day, but I can't even go there, these days, knowing that they (and FIDE!) are rating those chess variants! It makes me sick.
I say this "ground zero" news must be loved, not hated, not even moked, by those of you who have been swalowing all that anti-chess crap in late times!

lefty's picture

simply incredible. What's next? I suppose he's afraid that his time in the spotlight might be running out if he loses to karpov so he has to do as many stupid things as he can think of as quickly as possible.

Clifford's picture

Everyone is assuming that this story is legitimate, based on one source, Novosti, and endlessly repeated by the chess media. If someone in Russia was trying to undermine Iljumzhinov and make him a figure of ridicule, this Novoti story would be a good way to start.
Of course the story could also be true...

Paul's picture

What an idiot. Again making chess look foolish.

LuxusOhr's picture

nice move

Castro's picture

9/11 was made by aliens in ufos, in order to promote chess this way. Otherwise it would be minor news, as chess uses to be. The man is enormous!

Castro's picture

Well... What if it happened realy? A big chess mecca in Manhatan...?
We love a good laugh, but what if it becomes real? Interesting! :-)

lefty's picture

i'm for it Castro. A big chess mecca in manhattan- i would actually be thrilled if I thought for a second it were possible. I live in NYC and I wish there were more of a chess culture here than there is. I dream of one day being able to visit the southern russian towns where nearly every single chess event that matters is held. Why can't we get any good events in NYC? The RAW thing was the best we got- and I called the hotel to ask if there would be any tickets available for the public- the answer I got was that the only people allowed to attend were the guests of the company-
Lame- if I were an elite celebrity like Liv Tyler I would just fly to beautiful Kazan or Sofia for my chess thrills- unfortunately I live in New York City- which is basically non-existent on the chess map for some reason.

Peter Doggers's picture now also has the story, confirming that it's not about the Ground Zero area itself.

john's picture

The idea of having a world chess center with an international chess academy is very good for chess, but not necessarily on Ground Zero in New York. It should be established somewhere in Asia or Europe where chess is more popular.

Bert de Bruut's picture

"FIDE doesn't have this kind of money" - yet. And now that our president has just been deprived of his major source of revenues, my guess is that those countries that don't vote for him in the coming elections will have to foot the bill!

Stephen's picture

I think a chess centre in NYC is a very good idea, however unlikely it would be to materialise. I think that the publicity is also good for chess. (all publicity is good publicity).

However, I am a bit suspicious of the business skills of the president, which supposedly is one of his assets.

Trump offered 7.5 million, which is 25% above the market valuation. That would make the valuation 6 million USD for the property. Kirsan has offered 10 million which is 75% over the market price. Does anybody think that this is good business ?

Mikhail Golubev's picture

On Sep 16 Aslan Usoyan aka. Ded Khasan, known as Russia's number 1 criminal authority was shot in Moscow, but survived the attack. In the blog of the Echo journalist Varfolomeev, a TVCenter ( journalist Olga Bakushinskaya claims that she on the previous day saw Khasan, entering to the restaurant on Tverskoy B-rd together with Ilyumzhinov.

a bit more detailed:

Yetispotter's picture

My favourite respond:

test's picture

A chess center might be a good thing, sure, the more chess centers the better.
But what would it do? Offer chess lessons? A place to play chess? As if there are no chess clubs in NY already.

Seriously, that 10 million, if it exists at all, would be much better spent on other things.

And if those 10 million exist (very big if), where is it coming from? Kalmykian tax money? The mafia? Remember the article Not everyone likes the two Ks posted only a few days ago on this site?

Apart from the fact that FIDE should stay out of the the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

I wonder what all the team captains and players that are complaining about mounting costs to reach the Olympiad in a few days are thinking about this.

Castro's picture

Wau! So much stress!

Arne Moll's picture

It's also on the official FIDE site now. Perhaps Mr. Freeman cares to explain where the $ 10,000,000 come from, since he's so good at explaining things mere mortals are too stupid to comprehend. They certainly aren't on the Current Assets of the 2008 FIDE balance sheet. Of course, we're still waiting for the 2009 balance sheet even though according to law that should have been available months ago. But then FIDE has a reputation of not caring for annoying stuff like laws and that sort of nonsense.

calvin amari's picture

Anybody who thinks for a second that this offer should be seriously entertained doesn't understand the facts:

-- This is only a sick publicity stunt. FIDE doesn't have $10. This offer was made “on behalf of the FIDE Presidential Board.” While Ilyumzhinov himself may or may not have looted that kind of money from the treasury of impoverished Kalmykia, he would not need the Presidential Board's approval to spend his own money. There is simply no money to make this acquisition or to build or maintain any chess center. Period.

-- Ilyumzhinov said that if this outlandish bid were accepted, FIDE "will be built in the form of a chess figure, the king, of glass and concrete, which will decorate the city of New York." To the chess world, unfortunately well acquainted with Ilyumzhinov's delusions, this is reminiscent of prior fanciful claims. Ilyumzhinov previously promised financial support for chess through the establishment of 150 FIDE-owned hotels around the world built in the shape of chess pieces. Not one scintilla of that hallucination ever materialized, never will, and never could.

-- Even if FIDE had this type of wherewithal, which it manifestly does not, this offer would be a gross misjudgment. The mosque issue does not concern FIDE and offering a super-premium price for real estate in Manhattan and committing to a huge project at the spur of the moment would be a terrible abuse.

In short, this offer from a man who insists he was abducted by aliens should not be taken not be discussed seriously other than to condemn the grotesque publicity stunt that it is.

Guillaume's picture

"If this offer is accepted, the world chess center will be built in the form of a chess figure, the king, of glass and concrete, which will decorate the city of New York"

Ridiculous. I suppose this is what he has in mind:

If it was not ridiculous enough, just try to picture this small round tower wedged between the buildings there:

ChessGirl's picture

LOL. Anyone who has read The Twelve Chairs by Ilf&Petrov can understand how much Ilyumzhinov reminds me of Ostap Bender and the Interplanetary Chess Congress of Vasiuki:

Arne Moll's picture

Hahaha, you may be closer than the truth than you think, ChessGirl. Ilyumzhinov himself is on record stating Ostap Bender is his role model :-)

ChessGirl's picture

Whoa! That says a lot of his reliability. World Chess Centre, here we come!

R.Mutt's picture
ChessGirl's picture

Cool! There are even tables ready for him to come and give some simuls! Funny how a guy who heartily laughs at chess and ridicules its players is the role model of Ilumzhinov... not surprising though.

Castro's picture

What if he were fan of Arsene Lupin, or Corto Maltese, or...? :-)

Mike's picture

I think Ilumzhinov should turn to acting...

He would make an excellent Inspector Closeau! And he really doesn´t have to act that much to fit the role ;-)

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