Chess with 'ice pieces' on board for Winter Olympics
The eccentric head of world chess believes the game could be played with pieces made of ice if it is welcomed into the Winter Olympics.
World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who famously claims he was abducted by aliens, told Chinese media on Wednesday that chess would "fit quite well" at the Winter games.
China's official news agency Xinhua said: "As for how chess is connected to the Winter Games, Ilyumzhinov suggested players use chess pieces made by ice."
The report did not address the possibility of a set being reduced to a damp board in a puddle of water by the end of an hours-long contest.
World Chess Federation, also know as Fide, is the international organisation that connects the various national chess federations around the world. It is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Xinhua said it first applied 20 years ago for chess to become part of the Summer Games schedule.
The long wait for it to be included led Ilyumzhinov to believe "joining the Winter Games might be a better idea", Xinhua quoted him as saying on the sidelines of World Women Team Championship in the south-western city of Chengdu.
Beijing is favourite to host the 2022 Winter Games, with only the Kazakh city of Almaty standing between it and the award in July.
The Chess Olympiad is the most prestigious competition in the game, held every two years, most recently in Norway in 2014.
"It is difficult for chess to be added to the Summer Games schedule," Chinese women's coach Yu Shaoteng told Xinhua.
"Perhaps there is a chance for us in the Winter Games," added Yu, whose team came third in the tournament behind Russia and champions Georgia.
But Fide vice president Boris Kutin was less optimistic - or more realistic."It's not easy," he said.
Ilyumzhinov is a former president of Kalmykia, an internal Russian republic, and ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He won re-election as Fide president last year after defeating chess legend Garry Kasparov in an election widely described as a sham.
In 2010 Ilyumzhinov claimed on Russian state TV he had met aliens on the balcony of his Moscow apartment and was taken to their spaceship for several hours.
During his reign in Kalmykia, Ilyumzhinov made the game compulsory in school, and plunged millions into Chess City, a theme-park-cum-chess academy, on the southern Russian steppe.