Chess is compulsory at schools in Kalmykia, the Russian Federation's only Buddhist republic. The republic's millionaire chess fanatic president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (pictured here in 2006 with World Juniors Champion Zaven Andriasian), is also president of the the World Chess Federation, the most prestigious organization of its kind.
But maybe not for much longer: chess great Anatoly Karpov wants Ilyumzhinov's position when the latter's mandate expires in September. According to Stuart Williams writing for AFP, both are now engaged in "a struggle which has become a bitter test of guile and stamina reminiscent of famous battles on the board."
But the charismatic Ilyumzhinov may be able to call on extraterrestrial support: