Columns | September 25, 2010 4:18

Ilyumzhinov: 'Chess came from outer space'

Ilyumzhinov in The IndependentExactly a week before the FIDE Presidential elections in Khanty-Mansiysk, the incumbent president was interviewed by leading newspaper The Independent. Ilyumzhinov saw no reason to avoid making chess players look like idiots.

With just five days left to the elections, we must say that the website is full of little gems. It now includes a strange article on Bent Larsen, and a very vague example of Kasparov-bashing, copying an article without mentioning its source along the way. Needless to say, we couldn't find anywhere. However, the most important, recent piece related to the Ilyumzhinov side was published somewhere else. Somewhere, well, slightly more significant.

The Independent is a British newspaper which was launched in 1986. Since 2003 it has been published in a tabloid format and it has a daily circulation of over 180,000. Like so many international newspapers this week, they too decided to cover the presidential elections in the chess world, which, admittedly, must be quite fascinating for non-chess lovers too. Especially when the incumbent president keeps on finding ways to draw a funny picture of the chess scene - to put it mildly.

We might have heard too often about Ilyumzhinov's claim to have been conducted by aliens in his sleep in 1997, but the readers of The Independent could now learn about it too:

Then Mr Ilyumzhinov gets into the theme he is infamous for: extraterrestrials. He has claimed on many occasions that in 1997 he was taken by aliens to a spaceship, where he chatted with them before returning to Earth. You do realise, he asks, that chess is a "cosmic game"? Excavations have shown that chess was played with similar rules, in various continents, centuries ago, he says, adding: "There was no internet before, so how did it get across the world? It means that it was brought from somewhere."

He also insists that there is "some kind of code" in chess, evidence for which he finds in the fact that there are 64 squares on the chessboard and 64 codons in human DNA. He then explains why he believes sweetcorn was brought to Earth by a different civilisation. "I'm not ill. I'm psychologically normal," he says. "I didn't hide it [the contact with aliens] even though I knew that people would laugh at me and say I was crazy. Maybe it was a form of self-sacrifice."

We tend to agree with GM Mikhail Golubev, who posted on Facebook today:

"It is very sad that because of Ilyumzhinov chess players are viewed as complete idiots. (Not that we aren't)."

On the 29th, the delegates in Khanty-Mansiysk can decide for themselves whether the part between brackets of Golubev's quote is true or not...

Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


juanefren's picture

José Dianz always associates Kirsan with Alliens in his cartoons, has Kirsan have said before?

Q's picture

Well, Golubev seems to me a complete Russophobe, there an idiocy of his own is hiding.

Septimus's picture

Check out the picture in your citation. Putin seems to be a bit put off, perhaps you should run a caption contest with that picture. In fact, I think you should run one every week. No need for prizes, just bragging rights...:)

Rini Luyks's picture

I vote for Golubev :)

Jarvis's picture

Everything is from space.

john's picture

Kirsan ripped up the plot and ate it a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away) and this just proves it.

Otis's picture

@juanefren. Yes, Kirsan has spoken of aliens in the international press many many times.

Arne Moll's picture

The more I am thinking about it, the less I think Kirsan even knows the rules of chess. What's even worse, he isn't interested in the game at all, or he would have known about our game's true history. Let's hope this will all end once and for all in 5 days.

erral's picture

"This" is the president we deserve.... :(

Frits Fritschy's picture

Off course I also had a laugh when I first heard of Ilyumzhinov's alien stories, but somehow this is going a way I don't like.
Personally, I don't see much difference between people believing in a supreme being, aliens, tarot or chance. Some are just part of a bigger group than others. I don't get what they mean, but if they're happy with it and don't try to force it upon me, they can believe whatever they like. They may even fare better than me because of it and I won't begrudge them. Believers in aliens seem pretty harmless to me, compared to others. And they can be found in many places (the believers, I mean).
When someone gets political opponents murdered, steals from the people he governs, runs an organization by bribery and arbitraryness, you should have enough ammunition to get him down. Stressing one of his harmless pecularities doesn't do justice to what's really wrong with him. I think it's cheap.

Septimus's picture

^ ^

Nothing wrong in believing in what you want, but don't you think it is a bit ridiculous to make claims of having a chat with the aliens? This is not even consistent with claims of UFO abductees. He basically is saying "this is it bitch..believe me or not.."

I think he has lost his mind. The guy is a nut.

Arne Moll's picture

@Frits, there's a difference between believing tarot cards have predicted your future and believing you've personally spoken to aliens. The first case, though irrational, seems pretty harmless indeed, the second seems a case for the asylum.

gg's picture

What an amazing way of honoring the great Bent Larsen by using him in his campaign by repeating quotes critical of Kasparov. That's as much class as that ridiculous article about Karpov being Kasparov's PUPPET (in capital letters).

Peter Doggers's picture

Exactly. This alone was reason enough.

teplitz's picture

We should all feel honoured that space aliens chose to contact our FIDE President, vote for Kristan!

Gilgamesh James's picture

Funny cheat!!
Is this guy really normal? a freak...

Put him outof chess


Septimus's picture

If he wins the election, the press will have a field day with it. I think chess players need to do something about it instead of just moaning and crying. Lot of people like to complain, but it won't get you anywhere unless you act upon this case, vote!

Frank van T's picture

“There was no internet before, so how did it get across the world? It means that it was brought from somewhere.”

Truly Brilliant! Ilyumzhinov has discovered the ancient art of travelling.
I guess America was discovered by aliens as well.

Anastasia's picture

When aliens discovered chess on earth!

Great Gatsby's picture

A small nuance: chess players may indeed be complete idiots, but "the delegates in Khanty-Mansiysk" are actually 'chess functionaries', an entirely different breed!

noone's picture

Hey Kirsan is cool he gave us a few nice presents at the olympics. Yeah bribery works.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Too anyone who missed the point in my comment: we shouldn't focus on Ilyumzhinov's eccentricities (however much he may like us to do), but on his misdemeanors.

Jarvis's picture

@ron: This may be of interest for you:


ron's picture

@ everyone here, why do you assume that Ilyumzhinov is mad? Maybe he DID meet aliens? How do we know with certainty that he didn't? I am not trying to be funny.

Frank van T's picture

Dear Ron,

your attempt at scepticism is not very convincing. If you are interested in Philosophy, stop reading David Hume, read Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' & hopefully that will answer your question.

Suzette's picture

This alien thing is keeping us unfocused on the actual harm this FIDE president has inflicted on local and global chess for YEARS. Let's get him out once and for all. Fritz said it best, "When someone gets political opponents murdered, steals from the people he governs, runs an organization by bribery and arbitraryness, you should have enough ammunition to get him down. Stressing one of his harmless pecularities doesn’t do justice to what’s really wrong with him."

Latest articles