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the most powerful man in chess is maybe a lunatic


photo: oleg nikishin/gettythe sports world is replete with notably wacky commissioners and leaders, and for all the wild shit that the sepp blatters and oleg tinkovs of the world get up to, the world chess federation’s president probably has them all beat. kirsan ilyumzhinov has been the top dog at fide since 1995, and for most of that time he was also president of kalmykia, a majority-buddhist, semi-autonomous russian republic in the caucasus mountains near azerbaijan, georgia, and dagestan.advertisementilyumzhinov is also a world-class kook who believes that chess was invented by aliens, and has repeatedly claimed that he was abducted by aliens in 1997 and taken to visit a distant star. the way he sees it, aliens will inevitably come back to earth and “take us away” as punishment for “ba