The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Valentina Gunina

Valentina Gunina
Full name
Valentina Gunina
Feb 4, 1989 (age 35)‎
Place of birth
Murmansk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union



Valentina Gunina is a Russian chess grandmaster and three-time Russian Women’s Chess Champion. A 1.d4 player as White and a 1...c6 Caro-Kann/Slav player as Black, she has also won the European Women’s Individual Championship three times as well as the Women's World Blitz Championship twice (2012 and 2023).

Youth And Junior Career (1989-2009)

Valentina Gunina was born in 1989 in Murmansk, a northwestern Russian port city in the Arctic Circle. She displayed an incredible talent from a young age. She was the gold medal winner at the girls’ World Youth Championship twice, in the under-14 division in 2003 and under-18 in 2007. This achievement is on top of being Europe’s girls’ youth champion in her age group in 2000 (under-12) and 2004 (under-16).

By 2005 she was already competing for Russia’s women’s championship. The next year, a full-point victory in its second-level Higher League championship earned her another spot in the Superfinal. She has played in that event every year since 2005.

Becoming GM (2009-13)

In 2009 Gunina achieved her first great result at the Russian Championship with 6/9 for a third-place finish. In 2011 she won it for the first time by a full point with 6.5/9. In between, she was on the Russian Olympiad team for the first time in 2010, playing on the fifth board for the gold-winning squad. She made WGM in 2010 and IM the following year.

Her progress continued in 2012 with three significant first-place finishes: the Chess Olympiad (where she moved up to the second board), the European Individual Championship (won on tiebreaks with an undefeated +6 =5 score), and the Women’s Blitz Championship. It was also her first year playing for the Women’s World Championship, where she advanced to the second round.

It was only a matter of time before Gunina made GM on the strength of these accomplishments. In 2013 she did just that, reaching her last two norms at Tradewise Gibraltar in January and the European Individual Championship in March. She then capped off the year with her second victory at the Women’s Russian Chess Championship in October.

As GM (2013-Present)

In 2014 Gunina won her second consecutive Russian championship and third overall as well as her second European Individual Championship—this one outright by half a point with a +7 =4 score. She was also on the second board for the gold-winning Russian women’s team at the Chess Olympiad.

Valentina Gunina, 2019

Gunina in 2019. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Unsurprisingly, the Russian women’s team has also been successful at the European Team Championships. In 2015 Gunina won her fourth of these events with her team. She also advanced to the third round of the World Championship.

The year 2016 was one of Gunina’s best. She came in third at the Women’s Grand Prix series of tournaments, which included a win at Batumi in April. She won the Super Rapid tournament at the London Chess Classic with five wins and two draws in an open field as she defeated fellow GMs such as John Nunn and Ilya Smirin. On Russia’s second board at the Chess Olympiad, she had the top individual women’s event with a performance rating of 2643.

Her success has continued. In 2018 she won the Women’s European Individual Championship again, her third. And in 2019 at the inaugural Cairns Cup in St. Louis, she emerged victorious with +5 =4, a half-point better than Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Vanina89 on, she was a finalist in the 2019 Women’s Speed Chess Championship, which became a multi-event a year later: the FIDE Women's Speed Chess Grand Prix. Gunina was a finalist in the first leg and then won the second.

In 2023, 11 years after winning her first World Blitz Championship, Gunina won her second.

Clearly one of the most successful Russian chess players of her age, Gunina is in no danger of slowing down any time soon.

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