The country no longer has the same standing in the world of chess as it did during the time of the USSR, where the Soviet chess school was the global leader. This situation should be corrected and chess should become one of the subjects taught in Russian schools, believes Alexander Zhukov, as it would allow the younger generation to develop a skill to calculate their lives several moves ahead. The vice speaker of the Russian State Duma and Master of Sports (a degree in the Russian sporting awards scale) in Chess gave an exclusive interview to the Voice of Russia project “Grand game: Chess and Politics”:
The skill to play chess helps a person to think logically. I have always been an advocate of having chess taught at schools. By the way, at schools which have chess as one of the subjects, students demonstrate much faster development and a better ability to think logically. That is why it goes without saying that chess helps to make various decisions.
How often do you have to calculate your actions using chess theory?
Well, it is quiet hard to use pure chess theory. But there are general approaches when you make a decision. Especially when you work for the government or when you write laws you have to calculate the consequences at least several moves ahead. In this sense, chess practice helps a lot. In life as in chess games, you have to foresee a counter move and to think what you will do next after this move is made. Life is like a game: if you take an action you should always think what your opponent will do, and what your next move will be.
In what sphere of life do you think the chess theory and tactics would be the most efficient?
It is though that chess is a certain prototype of military operations. At least in the past they say that a good commander should be able to play a good game of chess. Naturally, this approach is a bit outdated, but I think that chess is very useful from this point of view. I would use chess in economics. Calculating certain steps in economics you need to try and get a more or less clear idea about the result. This is more complicated than while playing chess. A computer nowadays can calculate 20 chess moves ahead. It is impossible in life. But nevertheless I believe that it might be possible to formalize certain things and to try and calculate your solutions several moves ahead.
Now, for example, while planning the budget or working on project financing, the so-called “project approach” is used. It focuses on the result. In other words, you spend money on a solution of a certain problem which is to be solved in five years. And you have a clear understanding what the “road map” of achieving the result should be: at the end of each year we should get a certain result so that we could accomplish the ultimate goal. In my opinion, this is sort of an analogue of a chess combination which you calculate while playing. It is the same as when you calculate a combination, for example to announce a mate or to win a queen.
Could you give us examples where chess helped you in your life or career?
When I was a deputy in the second and the third Duma we used to have a chess mini-club. Representatives of practically all factions of the State Duma were members of that club. For example, Sergey Ivanenko from Yabloko, as well as Reshulsky, a deputy from the Communist party, loved chess a lot. And so did a number of other very influential Duma deputies. And we solved many tasks while playing chess, on the chess board.
What topic – domestic or international – is at the top of your agenda now? What would you like to comment on from the point of view of a chess player?
Today everyone is looking at the development of the economic crisis in Europe. It is such a complex position on the board with so many pieces in this game. What will happen to Greece, Spain, and Portugal? What will happen to the euro? This is a complex chess game and the outcome is not clear. The lives of lots of people depend on it. And naturally it would be very interesting to analyze this situation from the point of view of a professional chess player.