With a comparatively small population of less than 6.5 million we would not expect many grandmasters in Libya. In fact, FIDE lists no (zero) rated players. The World Chess Federation is headed by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, on the left above, who had previously been the leader of Russia's predominantly Buddhist republic of Kalmykia. Libyan state television showed Moammar Gadhafi (it is claimed that Muhammad Gadhafi, the eldest son, is seated in the background) playing chess Sunday evening. We are not entirely sure what is going on, but the position seems to be a Sicilian defense similar to the game we discussed. Our analysis of the Iranian game was done in March long before Libyan fighting started. Before leaving for Tripoli, Ilyumzhinov contacted Russian presidential envoy Mikhail Margelov, who is trying to mediate in Libya's civil war. Margelov said he advised Ilyumzhinov "to play white e4 and to make it clear to Gadhafi that his strategy goes to the end game," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Ilyumzhinov and Gadhafi have known each other since at least 2004, when the chess federation held its world championship in Tripoli.
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