Translated from Russian by CN
So, it has finally been decided: the rematch between current world chess champion, Ukrainian Mariya Muzychuk and contender Hou Yifan from China to be held at Mariya's home town of Lviv.
Frankly, this is a kind of political solution. Lviv was opposed by Beijing, whose members not only filed their bid in good time under the rules, but also reinforced it with a bank guarantee for the transfer of part of the prize fund. The Ukrainian side has not complied with all the formalities. And yet, I insisted on making a decision in favor of the city. Why is that?
In short, my visit to the city allowed me to see with my own eyes that this is a magnificent city, calm and friendly. There is a very strong chess tradition and chess school. The Lviv Chess Federation today has 20 grandmasters. It has such masters as Adrian Mikhalchishin, Vasily Ivanchuk and Alexander Belyavsky, and it brought up Mariya Muzychuk. However, the last major competition held in Lviv was in 1984 - it was the USSR Chess Championship.
Since then 31 (!) years have passed. In my opinion, this is too unfair on the city, whose residents so appreciate and love chess.
In addition, I would like to open Lviv to the wider world, not only the chess world. I would like to dispel the myths surrounding it as a bastion of "Westernism", "Bandera-ism" and other abominations.
I sincerely hope that soon we will be able to do the restoration of the building of the Lviv chess club (as we agreed at a meeting with President of Ukraine, Pyotr Poroshenko - this is a joint project of Ukraine and FIDE), and in 2016, most likely in the building of the Lviv Opera House, we will hold the match between Mariya Muzychuk and Hou Yifan.
In recent years, I do not get tired of repeating that chess is outside of politics. And so it is. However, there are no rules without exceptions. And the decision to hold the match in Lviv is just the exception that proves the rule. In this case, we deliberately put chess at the service of politics. But only for a single purpose - for the sake of peace in the Ukrainian land.
They say that in Ukraine there is a war against the Russians. I do not think so. I do not distinguish the Ukrainians and Russians - I believe that they are one people. People with a common history, a common land, side by side, passing through many trials (the same Lviv in different periods of its history belonged to eight different states!). And I was struck by the ease with which people have managed to be brainwashed into believing that they hate each other to the point of being ready to kill.
To return to peace in the Ukrainian land the people need to regain the sense and the ability to compromise. I do not know a better way to do this than with chess.
However, there is one thing, perhaps no less important. In Beijing, we have repeatedly had championships at various levels, and another match would just be drowned in the avalanche of other events. But for Lviv, and not only for it, this match can become a significant, long-remembered holiday.
A holiday especially for children. We have special agreement with the mayor of Lviv, that during the match there will be organized school trips, so that children can feel the spirit of chess. Looking ahead, I will say that when Pyotr Poroshenko learned about this agreement, he immediately instructed the Minister of Education to organize excursions for students not only from the city and the region, but also from other regions of the country.
In general, chess is loved and appreciated in Ukraine. I was told by the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, that he had organized in the capital of Ukraine 10 chess zones in city parks (FIDE provided garden chess sets), and in the new academic year in Kiev five hundred schools will teach chess. We agreed that on 1 September, I will read a lecture at the University of Kiev, and the Pedagogical Institute, and Vladimir Kramnik will give a simul.
I should note that both Vitali Klitschko and Pyotr Poroshenko (who, incidentally, will head the organizing committee to prepare for the match) continue the tradition of Ukrainian leaders always paying attention to chess. The first President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, was concurrently president of the Chess Federation and the country. With Leonid Kuchma, we ran two chess Olympiads in Crimea, in Artek.
Viktor Yanukovich, even when he was the governor of the Donetsk region, came to Moscow to close the World Chess Championship, where two representatives of the Ukraine, Vasily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov, played at the hotel "Metropol". I hope that such a sequence of the Ukrainian leadership in the near future will bear fruit.
As you know, the night is darkest before the dawn. If you look at what is happening around us today, it is impossible not to notice that the darkness has deepened as never before. This is not just because almost half of the world is burning: Syria, Libya, Iraq, or the same Ukraine.
In addition, frequent earthquakes and floods, the usual natural phenomena such as rain and snow are unusually powerful. Disasters such as tornadoes, occur where they never did before or at least for the past several hundred years.
As a Buddhist, I believe that all of this is the sign of an approaching change of epochs. The era of Buddha Sakyamuni, the Buddha's Awakening is replaced by the era of the Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha of Compassion. And how smoothly the change of eras will take place largely depends on the people, on their behavior.
The sooner people realize that they are only part, albeit an important part, of a unified system, the better it will be for humanity and for the earth as a whole. No wonder I once insisted on the inclusion in the Steppe Code (Basic Law) of Kalmykia an item on the personal responsibility of each citizen of the Republic for everything that happens in the world.
Unfortunately, adults' thinking is so dominated by a consumer attitude to life, the pursuit of cheap entertainment, littered with political, ideological and religious prejudices that there is not much hope for them anymore. Our only hope is the children. And it is our duty not only to the future of human civilization, but also the future of the planet, or if you want, the whole universe, to instil in children the habit of continuous thinking.
Introducing the Steppe Code point about personal responsibility for everything that happens in the world, I did not count on adults. My goal was to instil global thinking from school. I would like the horizon of thinking not to be limited to Kalmykia, Russia and even Europe, and that they compare their actions with the question: "What is the impact in other parts of our planet and the universe?".
We must teach our children to think and make the right decisions with full awareness of their responsibility. Again, I repeat: I do not know a better way to do that than chess. Chess, in the words of Einstein, "is the only way to exercise the muscles of the head", i.e. the brain.
Therefore, I strive to ensure that all of our games are attended by as many children as possible. According to the experience of the matches in Elista, and the example of my son, I know how susceptible children are to the game of chess as it captures them. All kids want to grow up, not only strong, but also smart. Inviting them to our events, not only do we show them the way to it. We reach two goals: advocating chess and stimulating their mental activity, motivating them to good learning.
A good tool for this activity could be television, which is now largely abused (we have to admit - not without reason) for the mass duping of people. This is not so new - in the 1970s, Vladimir Vysotsky gave this instrument the nickname "the stupid idiot box."
Meanwhile, in the same 1970-80s Central Television put out the super-popular "Chess School". I myself used to look forward to Thursdays, when Yuri Averbakh and others shared the magical world of the ancient game. Such transmission is removed now, but can still be found, so to speak, on the margins of television - on cable or UHF channels.
I spoke to the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, the 1st Vice-Speaker of the State Duma Alexander Zhukov, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Chess Federation, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, head of the board of trustees of the RCF, a spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov. In the end, I wrote to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - with a proposal to revive the "Chess School" on federal television channels. After all, if you can watch spare hours of expensive airtime for stuff like the show "Dom- 2", why not find 20 minutes for chess? Moreover, I am ready to come to this "Dom-2" and lead chess lessons there, why not?
And you know what? All support the idea - everythone from the State Duma deputies to the president. But when it comes to television executives, I an told: "Excuse me, Kirsan Nikolayevich, but for us it's not a sensible format, the advertiser will not buy it."
Well, then, we will look for another way to promote the idea of «One billion chess players - one billion clever people» - «One billion players - one billion smart people."
I know one thing - progress does not stop. Every year in the world there are more people being born, who from birth are open to change. Children receive information directly from the change of epochs of the universe, or, if you like, from the Creator. And this information changes them, making them smarter, giving them a broader view of things and makes them better prepared for future changes.
Moreover, it often happens in unexpected places. For example, in Togo, in Africa, I support a small orphanage. They have 150 children whose parents were killed during the civil war, which has gone on so long the country. Recently I gave a simul and marveled at how clever these boys and girls are! They can multiply in their heads a a six-figure number, and calculate moves far ahead. Let me remind you: this is Africa, the jungle, the civil war - where does this all come from?
The surprising appearance of these wunderkinds is like the Little Buddha of the chess world. His appearance, like the appearance of children like him, is quite predictable. I think that when we accumulate enough "critical mass" of such children, among them will appear the one who is destined to improve on our world. We just need not to miss a single one of these children, in time to help and support each of them.
We stand on the threshold of a new era, an era of mercy. But as soon as it comes - it depends on us. On the other hand, as my grandfather said, "No matter how dirty gold is, it will still shine." I believe that true talent is impossible to break.