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Chess diplomacy: instead of machine guns - battles on 64 chessboard squares

President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and vice-president of the Chess Federation of Uzbekistan Husan Turdialiyev made a trip to Afghanistan to give impetus to the development of this sport in the neighboring country.

The correspondent of "Uzbekistan Today" met with H. Turdialiyev and asked him to tell more about this visit.

- During the two-day visit, we were received by the Prime Minister of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah, meetings were held with the heads of the National Olympic Committee and the chess federation of this country. During the visit, we opened a chess school in Kabul, outlined joint activities that will lead the development of this ancient game here to a higher level.
Kirsan Nikolaevich during official meetings constantly stressed that he sincerely wants that instead of Kalashnikov rifles people in this country fought at the chessboard.

- How did it happen that you accompanied the FIDE President on a trip to Afghanistan?
- Ilyumzhinov flew to Tashkent in late November, got acquainted with the development of children's chess in our republic. He then told about the forthcoming visit to the neighboring country and expressed the wish that a representative of the CFU would go with him. Kirsan Nikolaevich proceeded from the fact that Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are linked by long-standing ties of friendship, and our country renders considerable help to its neighbors in implementing various projects.
He also took into account that the authority of Uzbek chess players in the region is very high, and Uzbekistan is one of the few countries that brought up its world champion - Rustam Kasymzhanov.

- How safe were you in Kabul?
- We moved on an armored jeep, lived in the Intercontinental Hotel of the Afghan capital, which is heavily guarded. But during these days the situation in the city seemed to me rather calm.

- What other important decisions in the field of chess were adopted during this trip?
- The most important is the holding of the Central Asian Cup for the prize of the FIDE President in Kabul next spring. This tournament, initiated by
K. Ilyumzhinov, has been going on for the last four years and is very prestigious among chess players. Especially for the cup in the capital of Afghanistan, Kirsan Nikolayevich allocated from his personal funds a large prize fund.
In addition, specific measures are planned to introduce chess into school education, trainings and members of the Afghan national team for this sport, and talented young men and women with the participation of international grandmasters. To this end, from the beginning of next year, the well-known chess players of Uzbekistan will leave for the neighboring country, replacing each other.

- How does Kirsan Ilyumzhinov react to the attempts of some functionaries from FIDE to remove him from the leadership of the federation, not to allow his nomination for a new term?
- This is a very bright person, very sociable and ... completely calm, besides having a great sense of humor. It seems that all this struggle around the post of FIDE President, he does not care at all. Nevertheless, he has already told me at once that he intends to nominate his candidature for a new presidential term. By the way, Afghan officials assured that they will support him in the elections of FIDE President, which will take place in autumn 2018.
- But Uzbekistan will support Ilyumzhinov in this aspiration?
- No any doubt!
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