This week the City of Chicago hosted a globally recognized event – the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. World dignitaries such as past U.S. Presidents Carter and Clinton, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev attended. This event attracted a variety of attendees, one of them Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of the World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE (http://www.fide.com).
During his visit to the Summit, Mr. Ilyumzhinov held numerous meetings with City of Chicago officials to discuss advancing chess in Chicago through specialized programs including Chess in the Schools, Chess for Prisoners, and a Chess Academy. As customary during his visits to international locales, his staff arranged a visit with the North Shore Chess Center located in Skokie, IL.
During his visit to the Chess Center, Mr. Ilyumzhinov participated in a ‘blitz’ tournament that was being held. ‘Blitz’ is when the game is played with generally 3 to 5 minutes of total time for each player to make all of their moves. The FIDE President is well known to be a blitz aficionado, having played thousands of games with strong players around the world, however he has never held a official ‘rating’, a numerical designation of chess skill.
Those that competed against Mr. Ilyumzhinov soon found that the lack of rating did not reflect his true capability, and the seasoned chess players in attendance had to work hard in their games. “His moves were lightening fast”, said Niles North High School student Rafeh Qazi, “and he’s definitely not an unrated player. He’s very strong.”
During his time at the North Shore Chess Center, Mr. Ilyumzhinov spoke to members inquiring on what they believe are areas of potential improvement for advancing chess from casual coffee house levels to professional ones. One chess center member, Joe Delay, spoke praises of the owner of the North Shore Chess Center, Sevan A. Muradian. “Without Sevan, amateur players would not have the opportunity to achieve internationally recognized ratings, we would not be able to interact with widely recognized chess Grandmasters through his ‘March of the Grandmasters’ lectures, nor would our talented youth and adult players have local opportunities to earn their internationally recognized chess titles [such as Grandmaster and International Master]. He has taken chess to a whole new level in Chicago”, Delay said.
At the end of the evening, Mr. Ilyumzhinov shared some departing comments, “I am very happy having participated here with chess loving people in Chicago. I am glad to see chess advancing here thanks to Mr. [Sevan] Muradian’s efforts. I look forward to helping Chicago reach new heights of chess to reflect the truly great and international city that Chicago is, and I am looking forward to my next blitz tournament here in this chess center”.
The North Shore Chess Center is the premier destination for chess in the local Chicago area. Opening its doors in September 2010, the Chess Center has hosted a variety of events including amateur and professional tournaments, lectures from world renowned Grandmasters, and specialized cross-over programs between chess and other like-minded activities. For more information on the North Shore Chess Center visit http://www.nachess.org/nscc