x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A meeting of minds

What is the endgame in a chess match that has no king?

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is no dummy. Fluent in Russian, English, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian and Korean, he is a multimillionaire tycoon with a private jet and six Rolls-Royces. Until recently he was the president of the Republic of Kalmykia in the Russian Federation and has been president of the World Chess Federation for the past decade.

Still, he has his quirks. In 1997, he claimed that he was abducted from his balcony by aliens in yellow spacesuits who took him on a jaunt to their homeland. He is convinced that it was the same aliens who brought the game of chess to Earth.

Recently, he was televised playing chess in Tripoli with his friend Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, himself no stranger to eccentricity.

The chess czar quoted Col Qaddafi as saying: "I am neither premier nor president nor king. I do not hold any post in Libya and therefore I have no position which I should give up."

Russia's presidential envoy to Libya, Mikhail Margelov, advised Mr Ilyumzhinov on his opening chess moves, and called on him to make clear to Col Qaddafi that his strategy is moving to the endgame.

In that endgame the king is removed from the board.

But, then again, Col Qaddafi says he is no king. Where are those aliens in yellow spacesuits when you need them?