Grandmaster Chef: Alexander Grischuk

by Alexey Root
10/31/2020 – To honor Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk on his 37th birthday, October 31, National Master Mike Walder shares a recipe for a dish that Grischuk might enjoy. Walder also annotates one of Grischuk’s favorite wins, over Grandmaster Vugar Gashimov. WIM Alexey Root tells why Grischuk is a Grandmaster Chef honoree. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Candidate Grischuk

In the 2020 Candidates Tournament, which was suspended on March 25, Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk is in fourth place (of eight players) with seven draws in seven rounds. Grischuk has played in four previous Candidates Tournaments, in 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2018.

Unlike the 2020 Candidates Tournament, which is a round robin, the 2011 Candidates Tournament had elimination matches. Grischuk reached the 2011 finals, losing to Grandmaster Boris Gelfand. By winning the 2011 Candidates Tournament, Gelfand earned the right to challenge World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand.

For that 2012 World Chess Championship match, Gelfand was 43 years old and Anand was 42 years old. At 37, Grischuk is the oldest player in the current Candidates Tournament. In 2011, Gelfand (at age 42) was the oldest player in that year’s Candidates Tournament. Just as Gelfand won ahead of the other, younger Candidates in 2011, Grischuk could win the Candidates Tournament. The 2020 Candidates Tournament is expected to resume in the spring of 2021.

Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk during the 2020 Candidates Tournament | Photo: Lennart Ootes / FIDE

20 years a Grandmaster

Grischuk earned his grandmaster title in 2000. At 27:36 into this video, Grischuk mentioned that one of his best achievements was winning the Ordix Open twice in a row, in 2003 and 2004.

Grischuk is a three-time World Blitz Champion (2006, 2012, and 2015). At his peak classical rating of 2810, for parts of 2014 and 2015, Grischuk ranked third in the world. He has been a member of the Russian team at nine Olympiads. As of October 2020, his classical rating is the sixth-highest in the world.

The recipe

Alexander GrischukIn October of 2010, Grischuk was interviewed for Crestbook. When asked his favorite food, he replied, “I can say what I don’t like, as I like almost everything else. So then, I don’t like: eggplant, zucchini, fish with bones.”

According to a November 2018 thread on Reddit, Grischuk mentioned khachapuri, a Georgian dish of cheese-and-egg filled bread. The dish is also a favorite of Judit Polgár. Since this was National Master Mike Walder’s first time baking khachapuri, he read through 20 versions of this popular dish, as posted by websites such as the Food Network.

Then Walder baked the recipe for his roommates, International Master Elliott Winslow and FIDE Master Frank Thornally. After dinner, Winslow remarked, “Frank and I liked it. I wished I’d known about khachapuri when I played in a backgammon tournament at the Cosmos Hotel, Moscow, in 1998. I bet ‘No meat, but you make me khachapuri?’ would have made their day and mine in the Georgian restaurant.”

[Pictured: Grischuk at the 1992 U-10 World Championship | Photo: Gerhard Hund]

Khachapuri by Mike Walder



  • Olive oil, 1 Tablespoon plus more for the bowl
  • Milk, 1/4 cup
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Sugar, a pinch
  • Active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon
  • All-purpose flour, 1-3/4 cups plus more for dusting
  • Kosher salt, 1-1/4 teaspoons

Filling and Topping:

  • Mozzarella, 1 pound, shredded
  • Feta, 8 ounces, crumbled
  • Eggs, 2 large, at room temperature
  • Butter, unsalted, 2 Tablespoons, at cool room temperature, cut into 4 same-sized pieces


  1. Heat the milk and water in a small saucepan over low heat to lukewarm, between 110 and 115 degrees F. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Cover the bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add flour and whisk in salt. Make a well in the middle of and pour in the milk/yeast mixture and add the oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated and the mixture forms a sticky ball of dough. Flour your worksurface. Work the dough on the surface by hand, kneading for about 5 minutes. Add flour as needed to make the dough smooth and only slightly sticky. Add a sprinkle of water if the dough is dry and crumbling and knead again. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough, turning it to cover the dough with oil. Loosely cover the bowl but make sure the dough can breathe: I put a plate over the bowl’s top. Set in a room-temperature location and let sit for 1.5 hours.
  3. Combine the cheeses in a bowl, toss to mix.
  4. Place oven rack in second-to-bottom slot and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Put parchment paper down on your work surface. Lightly flour the paper. By now the dough ball should have doubled in size. Deflate the dough with your hand, then form a ball with the dough. Cut the dough in half, putting one half back in bowl. 
  6. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough into an oblong or rectangle about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. Make two lines of cheese mixture ½ inch from both of the long sides ending about 1 inch from either side. Roll the sides of the dough over the cheese, making a “canoe” which will hold additional cheese in its center. At the top of the dough and at the bottom, twist to make the ends of the canoe. Keeping the canoe on the parchment paper, transfer the canoe to a baking sheet. Trim the excess parchment paper. Do the same thing with the second dough ball. Let your khachapuri canoes rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the remaining cheese mixture to the inside of each khachapuri. Put your baking sheets into the oven for 12 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  8. Open the oven and, using a teaspoon, make a well in the middle of both cheese canoes by pressing down. Fill each well with a raw egg. Return each khachapuri to the oven for 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the two khachapuris, adding butter on both sides of each egg yolk.
  10. Feeds three people.

Start eating by tearing the ends of each canoe and dipping them into the gooey egg yolk and cheese mixture, continuing dipping with the cheese-filled crusts, then resort to knives and forks when there are no more crusts to use.


Khachapuri with Gashimov v Grischuk after 23.Bf4 | Photo: Elliott Winslow

The game

When asked, in 2019, to list which of his games he likes the most, Grischuk picked Grischuk-Nakamura, Moscow Grand Prix 2019; Grischuk-Rodshtein, European Team Championship 2014; and Gashimov-Grischuk, World Team Championship 2010. Walder annotates Grischuk’s king-walk win over the brilliant but short-lived Grandmaster Vugar Gashimov.


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Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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