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Former Women's World Champion Changes Federation From Russia To Switzerland
Alexandra Kosteniuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Former Women's World Champion Changes Federation From Russia To Switzerland

AnthonyLevin
| 25 | Chess Players

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk has transferred her federation to Switzerland and will no longer represent Russia, effective March 3, 2023. Since her first marriage to a Swiss citizen, she has held dual citizenship in both countries. Kosteniuk, who resides in France with her daughter and husband, GM Pavel Tregubov, is currently number four in Switzerland with a rating of 2536 and is their top woman player.

The federation change came sooner than expected. Normally, the transfer would require a €10,000 fee for a player rated 2500 to 2599 and be permitted "only if he or she has citizenship, naturalization or residency in the country of that Federation," according to the FIDE Handbook. It is free, however, if a player does not play for their old federation for two years—and that was the plan as the Swiss Chess Federation did not have a budget to cover the transfer fee.

Her last event under the Russian flag was the 2021 World Blitz Championship, played at the end of December, so she was planning to wait until December 31, 2023, to make the transfer. Plans changed this March, however, as the Russian Chess Federation moved from the European Chess Union to the Asian Chess Federation. As part of this change, fees are waived for Russian players moving to European federations. Kosteniuk's transfer is now confirmed with FIDE with no fee.

What will be Kosteniuk's first games under the Swiss flag? If counting online games, her debut was in the Pro Chess League, where in her very first game she had the pleasure of facing GM Magnus Carlsen in his last few months as world champion.

Over the board, her first games under the Swiss flag were at the German Women's Bundesliga over the last weekend. She plays for the team OSG Baden-Baden. 

As for her first complete tournament under the Swiss flag, it is planned to be the fourth (and final) leg of the Women's Grand Prix in May.

Peter Erismann of the Swiss Chess Federation mentioned two months ago that Kosteniuk may be considered for the open national team rather than the women's team. When asked about any developments with this situation, Kosteniuk initially responded: "It's too early to say" but added, "Of course, it would be more interesting for me to play for... the open team, right, but... most likely I will play for the women's team because I will make it stronger, much stronger, and we will be able to compete for, well, maybe top 10 in the European Championship and, I think, top 20 in the Olympiad."

She is currently representing Switzerland in only individual events. She expects to know by June 1 whether she will be allowed to play for the Swiss national teams this year. If so, she would participate in the European Team Championship this November. If not, her debut with the team will most likely be at the Chess Olympiad in 2024, held in Budapest, Hungary.

The 38-year-old grandmaster is one of the best women chess players in history. She was the 10th woman to earn the grandmaster title, in 2004, and was the women's world champion from 2008 until 2010. Kosteniuk is also a two-time Russian women’s champion, a European women’s champion (also two-time rapid and three-time blitz champion for European women), and a 10-time gold medalist in team competitions playing for Russia (at three Olympiads, two Women's World Team Championships, and five European Team Championships). 

In 2021, she won the inaugural Women's World Cup and Women's World Rapid Championship, while also taking silver in the Women's World Blitz Championship.  In 2023, she won the second leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix, which is part of the qualification cycle for the FIDE Women's Candidates Tournament 2024. She is number seven on FIDE's list of the world's top women. 

FIDE's top 100 list.

Kosteniuk is the 12th women's world chess champion, a grandmaster, educator, advocate for peace, streamer, and mom. She recently shared her thoughts in an interview about the federation transfer and the Russo-Ukrainian War. The full interview has been published here.

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