Ilyumzhinov: Chuck Norris owes me a bottle of whisky

By mishanp on July 11, 2010

While perhaps no surprise to the jaded observer, interviews with the President of the Internation Chess Federation are often extraordinary. Where else, in the middle of a heated election campaign, can you find a candidate talking openly about aliens, astrology, clairvoyants and meetings with such assorted characters as Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi, Bobby Fischer and Chuck Norris.

This interview, with Alexander Levit of the Ukrainian “FAKTY”, was published last week but must have been conducted over a month ago when Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was in Odessa for the end of the ACP rapid tournament. It does, of course, touch on the campaign for FIDE President – e.g. Ilyumzhinov claims to have put $50 million of his personal funds into FIDE – but it’s more remarkable when it moves on to other topics:

Did you meet Fischer?

When Russia recognised the debts of the former USSR, Bobby Fischer wrote to the Kremlin with a request to return him the royalty payments for his book, “My Sixty Memorable Games,” that was published in a print run of 100,000 copies in the former USSR. Many well-known chess players studied it. It was also, by the way, a book that I’d enjoyed reading. However, Moscow rejected Fischer’s request. He was angry and declared that he wouldn’t have anything more to do with the Russians. Then I wrote him a letter indicating that I was personally prepared to pay the Soviet Union’s debt. I flew to Budapest and Fischer met me at the airport. We went to his flat and made lunch: I’d brought caviar and vodka. I remember we also cooked pelmeni. I gave Bobby 100,000 dollars and he wept: “For the first time in my life I haven’t been deceived, I’ve been paid for my efforts”.

Here is the full article.

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