GM Kateryna Lagno

Full name
Kateryna Lagno
Born
Dec 27, 1989 (age 30)‎
Place of birth
Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Federation
Russia
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Bio

Kateryna Lagno is a Ukrainian-born Russian chess grandmaster. As of August 2020, in blitz she was the highest-rated woman in the world. She has won three women’s blitz championships and one rapid championship.

Youth Career

Born at the very end of the 1980s in Lviv in what is now western Ukraine, Lagno came up through the chess ranks representing that country before moving to Russia in 2014. (While playing for Ukraine, her name was transliterated as Lahno instead of Lagno.) 

A prodigy, Lagno found success quickly, winning the 1999 girls’ under-10 world championship. By 2002, she was a WGM, breaking GM Judit Polgar’s record for the youngest player ever to achieve that title. 

Lagno’s other big win in a youth event came in 2003, when she won the European championship for girls under 14. A year later, she was already playing for Ukraine in the Chess Olympiad and competing for the women’s world championship. 

Eleven months older than world champion Magnus Carlsen, Lagno played him when both were young in the middle of the 2000s decade, including twice at Wijk aan Zee. In 2004, both played in Group C and drew their game. In 2006 they played in Group B of the same tournament, where Carlsen won their matchup.

Championship Events

Lagno played for the women’s world championship for the first time in 2004. After defeating WIM Luciana Morales Mendoza in the first round and IM Ekaterina Polovnikova in a second-round playoff, Lagno was defeated in the third round by IM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya.

Although she fell short in the 2004 world championship, Lagno was victorious at the European Individual Championship in 2005. After scoring +6 -0 =6 in the main event, she swept a two-game playoff against GM (then IM) Nadezhda Kosintseva.

Lagno won the same event in 2008, this time with an 8.5/11 score to win by a half-point without the need for a playoff. Lagno’s most important result in the event is perhaps her victory against GM (then IM) Viktorija Cmilyte, one of the six players just behind her at 8/11.

In 2010, Lagno made her deepest run to that point for the women’s world championship, falling to GM Hou Yifan in the quarterfinals. She also showed her blitz abilities by winning that world championship for the first time. Her first rapid championship came in 2014.

In 2011, Lagno played in Group C at Wijk again and finished third with an 8/13 score, resulting in a berth in Group B in 2012, where she won the following brilliancy against GM Sipke Ernst.

Olympiads

Lagno is one of the few players to win gold at the Olympiad for multiple countries. She was on the second board for the 2006 Ukrainian team, which placed first over Russia and China. During 2008-12, Lagno was Ukraine’s first board as they finished second, ninth, and third, respectively.

In 2014, she made her Olympiad debut for Russia, leading the team on the first board as they won the event for the third consecutive time. It was Lagno’s last Olympiad as of 2020.

Kateryna Lagno, 2013
Lagno at the Women's Grand Prix event in Tashkent in 2013, where she tied for second. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Recent Years

In 2018, having skipped the two previous world championship tournaments, Lagno returned to the event and nearly emerged as the champion. A 2-0 sweep of GM Lei Tingjie earned Lagno’s way into the semifinal, where she won 3-1 against GM Mariya Muzychuk. In her final against GM Ju Wenjun, Lagno drew all four games in the standard portion and then the first two rapid games, but Ju won the next two and the title.

Kateryna Lagno, 2018
Lagno at Gibraltar in 2018, where she won four games against just one loss in an open field. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In blitz, however, Lagno won her first of two consecutive championships in 2018. Lagno continued her blitz dominance in 2020, with a win in the women’s FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial event (3+2 time control).

Lagno also won the third leg of the FIDE Chess.com Women's Speed Chess Championship Grand Prix (beating Hou in the final), where she ended in fourth place. 

At 2608, Lagno is the highest-rated woman in blitz, as of August 2020, by seven rating points over Hou. Lagno also remains in the top five at standard time controls and should be successful at every time control for years to come. The fact that her partner is super-GM Alexander Grischuk is not hurting her career, it seems!

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