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Remember when the construction of "Chess City" in Kalmykia for the 1998 Elista Olympiad was going to make FIDE president Ilyumzhinov's fiefdom the global capital of chess? Me neither, but that's what he said. Now Ilyumzhinov is saying it again about a different city. On a recent trip to the Arab Emirates city of Dubai, he announced plans for an International Chess City.

"It is Dubai's destiny to become the center of such a magnificent game," His Excellency President Ilyumzhinov added. "Dubai will play host to over 60 million amateur and professional chess followers from around the globe annually. They will have a permanent venue where they can congregate and play 24 hour championships throughout the year, while some other 500 million lovers of the game will have the chance to follow the excitement via interactive electronic screens. Chess lovers from around the world will also have the chance to take part in the first Dubai World Chess Cup."

"All the buildings that will make up the International Chess City," HE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov clarified, "will be shaped like chess pieces and have the traditional black and white colors of the game. The "King" buildings will be the highest," he continued. "Work is now underway to collect all building plans, as well as deciding the location of the project."

This is just another example of how this FIDE administration is making ilfe very difficult for chess humorists everywhere. How can you parody something so goofy? The obvious jokes about inviting Bobby Fischer to take up residence in the rook-shaped house of his teenage dreams have already been made. With so many to choose from I can't decide which of these phrases from the article is the funniest. You decide:

1) "the King and Minister towers will be categorized as seven-star"
2) "some other 500 million lovers of the game will have the chance to follow the excitement via interactive electronic screens"
3) "After much deliberation"


If it was for real, it would give hope that funding for Kas-Kas would be forthcoming, but unfortunately it looks to be a severe case of delusion. The link quotes a price tag of AED 9.6 Bn., which seems credible for the project described. OK, I know Dubai has lots of oil money, but at 240,000 bbl per day it would take the whole value of several months of output to deliver this sum, even at today´s high prices. I don´t think this is going to happen, it will just be the basis for a few "consultancy" contracts.


60 million people per year? Are there actually so many chess players who ever played in a tournament in their life? Or who even ever played a game outside their own home?

And how are these people going to get to Dubai? (About 500 Jumbo Jets full of chess players, every day.) Even if this would be physically possible, I don't think you would even find anything near that number of people willing to enter into such an undertaking -- even if the plane ticket were free!

What day is April Fools in Kalmykia? Or in Dubai?

This is the nuttiest thing I've ever heard of....

They are building "Dubai Land", an entertainment complex scheduled to start on 2006 and which apparently will cost 5 billion USD. So it is conceivable they can muster resources to build such a project as this chess city.

But it is the 60 million visitors per year figure I think there must be something wrong with. It just seems way, I mean way, too optimistic. That in itself would catapult the place as the second most visited country in the world, only bellow France.
But, hey, if they give me a free plane ticket, I would go down there and play in a tournament!


"They will have a permanent venue where they can congregate and play 24 hour championships troughout the year".

Please notify Mr. Ilyumzhinov about the existence of chess web sites.

I live in Dubai, so I'm quite used to regular announcements of sensational mega-projects. But I remember seeing this Chess City and thinking it was somewhat overambitious. So I'm glad to have found this page and got a little bit of enlightenment!

Actually the "chess city" project is quite real, but it has nothing to do with a place to play chess. It's just an architectural theme designed to look like a chessboard from the air. FIDE and Ilyumzhinov have nothing to do with the place.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 8, 2004 10:38 PM.

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