Alexandra Kosteniuk switches to Swiss Chess Federation

by Press release
1/2/2023 – The exodus of Russian chess players continues. In 2024 Alexandra Kosteniuk will play for Switzerland. The top Russian player and Women's World Champion from 2008 has both Russian and Swiss citizenship, and in 2013 Kosteniuk won the Swiss Championship (in the open tournament). | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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Press release of the Swiss Chess Federation

In 2024 GM Alexandra Kosteniuk will play for Switzerland

Alexandra Kosteniuk (38) has Swiss and Russian citizenship, is a grandmaster, currently number 9 in the women's world rankings, and will play for Switzerland from 1 January 2024.

Like many other Russian chess players the Women's World Champion of 2008, who currently has an Elo-rating of 2520, turned her back on her home country after the outbreak of the Ukraine war, and currently competes under the flag of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

According to Peter Erismann, who is responsible for top-level sport on the central board of the Swiss Chess Federation (SSB), Alexandra Kosteniuk, who has held a Swiss passport for more than a decade after a previous marriage to a Swiss, will be a member of the Swiss women's squad. "However, we keep the option open to also use her in the men's national team if there is a need."

The fact that Alexandra Kosteniuk, who plays in the Swiss Team Championship (SMM) for the SG Zurich in the National League A and lives in France and who became European Blitz Champion in Warsaw a fortnight ago, will not play for Switzerland as early as 2023 has a financial background. If she were to change federations now, the SSB would have to pay the Russian Chess Federation a transfer fee of 10,000 dollars. After a two-year waiting period, the change of federation is free of charge.

Alexandra Kosteniuk, who last played for Russia in December 2021, will still miss the European Team Championship in Budva, Montenegro, in November 2023, but she will play the men's title tournament at the Swiss Individual Championships in Leukerbad in July. She had made headlines in 2013 when she became the first woman to win the Swiss men's title at the SEM in Grächen.

Four weeks ago it was announced that Mariya Manko (2117 ELO), who is already listed under Switzerland by the FIDE, would be joining the Swiss women's squad. The 15-year-old Ukrainian, who fled to Switzerland with her family, caused a sensation at the European Youth Championship in Antalya, Turkey, last November when she won the gold medal in the Girls U16 section.

In all probability, another Ukrainian junior who fled to Switzerland, 18-year-old WIM Sofiia Hryzlova (2157 ELO), will also join the Swiss women's squad. She won bronze at the U18 European Championship in Antalya in November.

With the integration of Alexandra Kosteniuk, Mariia Manko and Sofiia Hryzlova into Swiss chess, the SSB is pursuing two goals, according to Peter Erismann. "On the one hand, we are offering the players affected by the Ukraine war the opportunity to continue competing in a team." To which one must know that chess is one of the few sports in which one can play for a national team without having the nationality of the respective country.

"On the other hand," says Peter Erismann, "it is of course also part of our sporting objectives to compete with the strongest possible national teams." According to Peter Erismann, this does not mean that the promotion of young talents in Switzerland is being neglected. "With the recent inclusion of the two juniors IM Daniel Fischer and FM Noah Fecker in the men's A squad, we have sent a clear signal that we are giving promising young Swiss players a chance. We want to do one thing, but not forget the other."

Press release at the Swiss Federation...