Sunday, May 17, 2009

Alexandra Konstantinovna Kosteniuk (Russian: Александра Константиновна Костенюк )

Born on April 23, 1984 in Perm, Volga Federal District
Alexandra Konstantinovna Kosteniuk (Russian: Александра Константиновна Костенюк ) is a Russian chess Grandmaster and the current Women's World Chess Champion.

Alexandra learned to play chess at the age of five after being taught by her father. She has a little sister named Oxana, who is a woman FIDE master level chess player.

Her chess career is full of notable achievements. In 2001, at the age of 17, she reached the final of the World Women's Chess Championship, but was defeated by Zhu Chen. Three years later, she became female European champion by winning the tournament in Dresden, Germany. She also won the 2005 Russian Women's Championship, held in Samara, Russia, finishing with a score of +7 =4 -0. In August 2006, she became the first Chess960 (Fischer random) women world champion after beating Germany's top female player Elisabeth Pähtz 5.5-2.5. She defended that title successfully in 2008 by beating Kateryna Lahno 2.5-1.5. However, her top success so far has been to win the Women's World Chess Championship 2008, beating in the final the young Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan, with a score of 2.5-1.5.

In November 2004, she was awarded the International Grandmaster title, becoming the tenth woman to receive the highest title of the World Chess Federation, FIDE (see Fédération Internationale des Échecs). Before that, she had also obtained the titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master. She is 11th on the April 2009 FIDE women Elo rating list with a rating of 2516.

Kosteniuk's mottos have been "chess is cool" and "beauty and intelligence can go together". With these as a backdrop, Kosteniuk has been promoting chess in the capacity of a fashion model and ambassador of chess in order to spark interest in the game around the world.

She is also the host of a popular podcast "Chess is Cool" which informs listeners about Alexandra's life and current chess events.

You have undoubtedly an important role to play in promoting chess as an icon for a younger generation in Russia and all over the world. What role do you see yourself playing in the future?
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk:- Especially now that I have a little baby daughter, I see my role as teaching chess to kids, showing them that chess is a great game that can help them in their life, first at school, then succeeding in life.

In August 2006 you became the first Chess960 (Fischer Random) women world champion, could you tell us about your views on future for Fischer Random chess?
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk:- I absolutely love Fischer Random Chess (Chess960), it's a great invention of Bobby Fischer, it allows us to start playing chess from move 1 on. One thing I don't like about chess preparation of Grandmasters nowadays is the enormous amount of time one needs to devote to opening preparation. In Fischer Random you need to use your brains from the very beginning, the games become immediately interesting and unusual. Fischer Random favors the better player, the one with more imagination and better calculating skills. I am looking forward to defending my title in Mainz in August 2008.

Russian's have added chess as a subject in the Schools; do you think Chess can be used as a powerful educational tool?
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk:- Chess is a most useful tool it has been proven many times. It improves memory, stimulates logical thinking, and helps to show kids that the world is quite a competitive place, either you win, or your neighbor will. It is also great to show that the more you work at chess, the better you will become. That is valid for anything in life.

Most of the world champions came from Russia, What could be the reasons? What qualities make Russians dominate the chess world?
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk:- I think it's the fact that in the Soviet Union chess was so highly viewed, so many kids started to play chess, there were so many chess schools that selected the most gifted kids and gave them top trainers. Chess Grandmasters were heroes and so everybody dreamed of becoming one and worked a lot on chess, creating the famous Soviet Chess School. I think in general the whole world has very gifted people, it's partly a numbers game, and partly a good teaching system.

Apart from chess, you have snagged attention with your good looks, your glamorous photos on magazines, modeling with a new chess uniforms etc. Do you think glamour can help in popularizing chess world wide?
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk:- Glamour can help to attract people to chess. Many people think that chess is boring, and parents may not want their kid to be like they perceive like a boring chess player. So when they see an article that shows me being a "normal" girl, looking "normal", and having time to play chess, they think "Hey, I think if my daughter was like this girl it would not be so bad", and so that's good for the image of chess.

World Rank
World (all players): 704
World (active players): 637
Female (active players): 11

National Rank RUS
National (all players): 128
National (active players): 108
Female (active players): 2

Continent Rank Europe
Rank (all players): 560
Rank (active players): 513
Female (active players): 8

Full name Alexandra Konstantinovna Kosteniuk (Александра Константиновна Костенюк)
Country Russia
Born April 23, 1984 (1984-04-23) (age 25)
Perm, Volga Federal District, Russia
Title Grandmaster
Women's World Champion 2008 - present
FIDE rating 2516
(No. 11 on the April 2009 FIDE rating list for women)
Peak rating 2540 (April 2006)
Official Website

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