The Top Chess Players in the World
The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Nikita Vitiugov

Nikita Vitiugov
Full name
Nikita Kirillovich Vitiugov
Born
Feb 4, 1987 (age 37)‎
Place of birth
Leningrad, Russian SFSR, USSR (now Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Federation
England
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Bio

Nikita Vitiugov is a Russian-born grandmaster who plays under the English flag. He was the Russian chess champion in 2021 and coach of GM Ian Nepomniachtchi at two FIDE World Championship matches. He is a two-time winner of World Team Chess Championships and a three-time European Club Cup winner. He also won prestigious tournaments in Gibraltar (2013) and Prague (2019).

He is also a theoretician, writer, and chess blogger.

Vitiugov learned to play chess at the age of five. His first coach was IM Alexey Yuneev. Vitiugov won the Russian Under-18 championship in 2005. Next year he became an international master and shared second with GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko, half-point behind GM Zaven Andriasian, at the World Junior Chess Championship. He became a grandmaster in 2007.

In 2009 Vitiugov won the World Team Chess Championship scoring 5.5/6 at the second reserve board for the Russian team. In 2013 Vitiugov and the Russian team repeated this achievement. 

In March 2010 Vitiugov surpassed 2700 rating and has consistently been among the world’s strongest players since then. He reached his peak rating of 2751 Elo in December 2019.

In 2013 Vitiugov finished the first Gibraltar Masters tournament tied with GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Chanda Sandipan, and Nigel Short with a score of 8/10 and defeated them in playoff matches.

Nikita Vitiugov at the World Chess Cup in 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In 2013, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021, Vitiugov won the Russian Team Championship and in 2011, 2019, and 2021 he won European Club Cup. Each time he played for the teams from his home city, Saint Petersburg.

Vitiugov shared first with GM Peter Svidler with a score of 7/11 at the Russian Chess Championship Superfinal 2017 but lost in the tiebreak match. Earlier, he won the bronze medals in the national championship three times—in 2009, 2013, and 2015.

In 2017 Vitiugov won the Grenke Chess Open. In 2018  he was invited to the Grenke Chess Classic tournament and shared third place with Vachier-Lagrave and GM Levon Aronian.

Nikita Vitiugov at Grenke 2018

Nikita Vitiugov in 2018. Photo: Eric van Reem/Grenke Chess Classic.

In March 2019, Vitiugov won the first edition of the Prague International Chess Festival Masters with a score of 5.5/9, a half-point ahead of GMs Vidit Gujrathi, Radosław Wojtaszek, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Boris Gelfand. In the same year, he knocked GMs Sergey Karjakin and Wesley So out of the FIDE World Cup 2019 but was eliminated by GM Yu Yangyi in the quarterfinal.

Nikita Vitiugov 2021 Russian Championship

Nikita Vitiugov with the Russian Chess Superfinal trophy. Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/CFR.

Vitiugov participated in 15 Russian championships before he won the Russian Championship Superfinal 2021 with a score of 7/11, a half-point ahead of GM Maxim Matlakov and a point ahead of GMs Andrey Esipenko, Dmitry Andreikin, and Vladimir Fedoseev.

Vitiugov was Svidler's second at the Candidates Tournaments in 2013 and 2014. He was one of Nepomniachtchi's seconds for the Candidates Tournaments in 2020-2021 and 2022 and at the FIDE World Championships in 2021 and 2023.

Vitiugov moved to Spain in 2021 and decided to stay there with his family after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He expressed his anti-war stance in an interview with Chess.com. In August 2023 he сompleted his transfer to the English Chess Federation.

Vitiugov has written two books about the French Defense and many essays. He is a passionate football (soccer) fan and has a blog about chess and football.

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