Chess and boxing are governed in an equally incompetent and nutty manner.
Did you know that the head of the world chess federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is the despotic ruler of Russian Federation state Kalmykia (Europe’s only Buddhist state)? And that he claims to have been visited by aliens? And that Larisa Yudina, the most prominent opposition journalist in Kalmykia , was found stabbed to death in 1998?And that despite helping run the game’s popularity into the ground (much as boxing’s popularity is said to be on the wane), Ilyumzhinov keeps his autocratic position in the chess world by virtue of pumping out million-dollar prize funds for destitute grandmasters, and by rather bare-facedly coercing support (via bribes) from third-world countries?
Did you know that, for the past many years, chessplayers have argued endlessly over who is the current world champion, just as various promoters fractured the belt-holding situation in boxing over the years?
Did you know that FIDE is now reviving (sort of) the tradition of “candidates’ matches” to determine the next challenger – and that former Russian prodigy Gata Kamsky, now a US resident with a law degree – is playing against former French prodigy Etienne Bacrot, who has largely abandoned chess because he can make much more money playing poker? And that the candidates’ matches are taking place in the chess palace in Elista, the city where Yudina was murdered?
Did you know that the recently concluded US Championship was nearly canceled after losing a lucrative sponsorship, allegedly in large part due to the presence on the US Chess Federation’s board of a person widely regarded as a nut job? And that of the top ten finishers in the tournament this year, one is from Cuba and the other nine from Russia and other former Soviet states?
And they say chess is boring. Yeesh.