The Winter Olympics, with its spectacular ski jumpers, daring speed skaters and athletic snowboarders, should welcome chess into its schedule, the chief of the game's governing body told Chinese media Wednesday.
The chequered discipline is not commonly associated with the action-packed sports of the Winter Olympics. But China's official news agency Xinhua quoted World Chess Federation (FIDE) president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as saying it would "fit quite well" at the event.
"As for how chess is connected to the Winter Games," the news agency reported intriguingly, "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.
FIDE is 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 indirectly quoted him as saying on the sidelines of World Women Team Championship in the southwestern 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.