The International Mind Sport Association (IMSA), was created in April 2005 in Berlin – Germany – under the aegis of SportAccord, with four founder members :
The aim of IMSA is to unite these Mind Sports in the organization of the World Mind Sports Games an event which first took place in October 2008 in Beijing –China.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity of representing all the members of IMSA as its President. Working together, I am confident that we can realize the goals and objectives for which the organisation was set up in the first place.
Since my early days as FIDE President back in 1995, it has been my foremost objective to promote chess as a mind sport which helps individuals develop life skills for more responsible behavior as citizens in their respective cultures. The various programs have been highly successful and I strongly support the development of similar programs for the other mind sports which form an essential part of our drive towards our overall objectives.
It is now time to look at strengthening the position of each International Federation in IMSA and also expanding the member base to give us wider representation and participation.
Under my presidency, FIDE has grown from around 130 country members to 178 member federations today; we organise directly around 30 world championships events for men, women, seniors, juniors, team and individual, rapid and blitz; and today we have 2,900 registered arbiters and 1,800 licensed trainers.
FIDE rates around 12,000 chess events a year and has around 300,000 registered players on its rating list. It is estimated that the national Federations have more than 3 million members worldwide. In a commissioned survey by YouGov it was estimated that today there are around 600 million people who know how to play chess around the world.
Whilst these are impressive figures, we cannot stop working on development and new projects present themselves every day. The first project of major importance, through the kind intervention of Mr Harry Otten, President of Draughts, is the IMSA Mind Games projected to be held in Russia, in Bashkortostan, city of Ufa. We will work together to successfully complete the signing of this event. I have already spoken about future events with the Governments of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Mongolia. IMSA presents opportunities for events all around the world.
We will review the relationship with Mr. Don Morris from Mind Sport Partners as this requires a better understanding of the needs of all parties. We are monitoring the developments in the world with so many important elections this year and the impact that this will have on IMSA.
We are also currently evaluating a proposal which will be circulated to all members in due course regarding online mind sports and virtual gaming. I invite you to come on our stand in the Exhibition Hall and meet one of the business partners on this project.
Finally, the success of IMSA will only happen with the effective communication and work of all its members, and your contribution towards its realization is greatly appreciated. I ask all of you and any person who is interested in contributing towards the development of IMSA to send his ideas so that in the next meeting we will develop a formal strategic plan for IMSA.
Mr Kirsan ILYUMZHINOV
Dear friends and colleagues,
It looks as though the time has come for a final report, if not quite a Last Will.
April 2005 we found IMSA in Berlin with:
Bridge: José Damiani and later on Gianarrigo Rona, and now Marc Depauw as Treasurer
Chess: George Makropoulos and David Jarrett and now Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Geoffrey Borg
Draughts: represented by Mr. W. Van Beeck, Vice-President and later on by Harry Otten
GO represented by Mr E. Puyt, Vice-President and Mr. R. Yamamoto, General Manager, and later on Thomas Hsiang and Yuki Shigeno (Mr. Matsuura being President)
Under the auspices of GAISF (previous SportAccord’ name) with their former Director General Jean-Claude Schupp and its President Hein Verbruggen.
For the record, I just want to recall the purpose of this association:
At the end of the nineties, we met together with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and myself with Marc Hodler to try to knock at the door of the Olympic Games for Bridge and Chess with the particular view of getting into the Winter Games.
After several good events for bridge, a favourable attitude of Juan Antonio Samaranch on the occasion of the IOC Grand Prix in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and later an attempt in Salt Lake City in 2002, we had to suffer a refusal based on Article 9 of the Olympic Charter.
Knowing that there was no chance either for the Summer Games, the idea came to my mind to create a special and parallel event for the Mind Sports to be officially recognized by the IOC, as they had done after many, many years for the Paralympics.
Please note that we even thought (Marc Hodler’ idea) to call it Intellympics which the IOC forbids us to use claiming they were the sole owner of the Olympic concept and wording.
However, they liked the idea and the year after we began to think about Beijing 2008.
The 1st World Mind Sport Games benefitted from tremendous support from the Chinese authorities and this event was such a success in China and worldwide that SportAccord picked up the idea and, later on, organized the Combat Games, the Beach Games etc, and proposed to IMSA and the 4 IFs members, plus our observer member Xiang Qi, a smaller event for elite players with a very acceptable budget which benefit to the IFs and their players.
Now here we are at the 3rd edition of the SportAccord World Mind Games which, as you can see, add much more visibility and notoriety to the Mind Sports when they are gathered.
Then the 2nd edition of the World Mind Sports Games was held in Lille last year.
The 2nd edition was consistent with the Olympic concept as the city was a training base for London 2012.
The venue and hotels were very good and the technical organization under the control of each IF was very successful.
Despite all the difficulties we had a very satisfying media coverage.
Meanwhile we were supposed to get a financial support from a company in which we put our confidence. Unfortunately we had to manage without and still getting things done. However the money we got over the three years helped our association to survive and organize the events, maintain a web site, the office and sponsored the three IFs which involved themselves in this deal.
It is my personal view that it is not so difficult to get sponsors, but very hard to keep them.
We have to find the right events, using all the technology, as I started with bridge in 1982, with Chess in 1985 (The 16 candidates Tournament in Montpellier – France), held in an auditorium with commentaries, video, computers… sponsored by a big insurance company.
Nowadays Internet provides more opportunities as we showed with the Online tournament which attracted 330,000 players in 2011, 385,000 in 2012 and about 700,000 this year.
The magic number of 1,000,000 could be reached next year for a new record in the Guinness Book of Records.
We can acknowledge that, today, IMSA does exist, with financial resources to face promotion and development, and at least one more edition of SportAccord World Mind Games, which is already confirmed.
The association is in marching orders with its own logo, flag, anthem, web site, statutes, and registered office in Lausanne.
We have candidates beside our 2 observers Xiang Qi and Duplicate Texas Holdem to join us: Scrabble, Mathematic Games, electronic games and many others who do not fill our criteria.
We have shown that our goals were realistic.
We have a number of National Mind Sports Associations in many countries.
We got the patronage of UNESCO, membership in SportAccord, the informal recognition of the IOC through the President’s messages and the letter of the IOC Director of Sports.
I want to thank all my friends here who have been loyal and helpful. I will remain as close to IMSA as you may wish. Finally, I would like to share also a special thought for the two people: Christine Francin and Jean-Claude Schupp, who worked so hard for IMSA and to whom I express my warm thanks and gratitude.
Now that I am leaving the Chair, I still feel concern for the future of IMSA as I still believe it is the best tool for the Mind Sports to achieve popularity and growth with a clear strategy and agenda.