In the news around the world: Alexandra Kosteniuk

by ChessBase
7/3/2005 – One of the strongest female players in the world today is also one of the most popular. There can hardly be another chess star who has been featured in more articles, magazine covers, TV reports and advertisements. Alexandra Kosteniuk is showing the world that in chess there is a place for glamour and beauty.

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In the news: Alexandra Kosteniuk

Press Review June 2005 – by Pufichek and Feigel

It's no magic that Alexandra Kosteniuk is one of the most popular female chess players in the world: she does most to show the world that chess is a wonderful game. On top of that her superb chess results and good looks help to make it a powerful message.

Alexandra achieved great results at a young age. Her father taught her chess at the age of five, and already at the age of eight she was an accomplished master. In 1996, at the age of 12, she became world champion Girls U-12. She repeated that result in 1998 by becoming World Champion U-14 and since then her results only went up. Here are some early clippings we have on file:

Note that in all the pictures on this page you can click on the
individual articles or magazines to see full-sized versions of them.

In 1998, at the Elista Olympiads, Alexandra earned the Woman Grand Master title (WGM), at the age of 13 years and 8 months. In 2000 she broke the male barrier and became International Master (IM), a men's title. In 2001, the International Chess Federation, FIDE, called Alexandra to be the face of chess, and a famous photo shoot took place in Moscow (see the whole photo shoot by clicking here).

Alexandra continued to train hard and in December 2001 caused a sensation by playing superbly at the Moscow World Championship and going all the way to the final, losing narrowly to the Chinese Grandmaster Zhu Chen. Alexandra was by far the most striking revelation of those world championships, and her notoriety shot up immediately. The point was that Alexandra had proven to the world that it is possible to be at the same time pretty (what FIDE wanted to prove with their photo shoot), and intelligent (which is quite obvious if you become Vice-Champion of the world at the age of 17).

Armed with the concept that "Chess is Cool" and "intelligence and beauty can go together", that first FIDE photo shoot was to be printed all over the world, especially in the USA, where Alexandra gained immediate reknown thanks to articles promoting chess in Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, etc.

In March 2002, the very respected company Chessbase conducted a Player of the Year Award (read about it by clicking here), and to everyone's surprise Alexandra won the contest, ahead of Garry Kasparov, the strongest male chess player on the planet. That was almost a revolution, the concept that a girl can play chess and play it well, and that you can be pretty and have a normal life and be a chess player. Chess became "cool", a game parents can recommend to their children without the fear that these will become outcasts. Chess was moved straight to the front page of influencial newspapers such as Italy's Stampa and the Netherlands "Algemeen Dagblad".

More important newspaper clippings came out about chess and Alexandra in France's Figaro, USA's Washington Times and Russia's Kommersant.

In fact, we have on file more than 1,000 articles in more than 20 languages about Alexandra and her quest to show the world that chess is cool. Below you will find articles in the language Malayalam (one of the many languages of India), in Hebrew, and in Chinese.

One key to the attention of the press is Alexandra's success in the modelling industry, which landed her jobs for famous fashion magazines Vogue, Elle Girl, Marie-Claire, and Officiel. But Alexandra does not model for modelling sake alone, in each article, Alexandra insists on showing that chess is cool, and opening the world of chess to more and more people. You can find the full Vogue shoot here, the Elle Girl here, and the Marie-Claire here (this last one for members).

This wealth of interest continued and expanded to other non-chess magazines (business, youth, general, women), where articles about Alexandra were written and more people were exposed to the benefits of playing chess. we have more than 500 magazine articles in more than a dozen different languages. Special photoshoots were conducted with the sole purpose of promoting chess in the world, with well-known fashion photographers P.-W. Henry in his first series (click here to see it), and his second series (click here), and Zhenia Minkovich (click here to see her photos). More such photoshoots are conducted regularly and photographic assistance to newspapers and magazines is provided free of charge in exchange for the promotion of the game of chess.

Alexandra even made the cover of several non-chess magazines, a real feat which put even more weight to the message that chess is a game to be taken very seriously.

And we should not forget about chess magazines, from Italy to Indonesia passing by India, Greece and Russia, which thanks to Alexandra's continuous progress and new achievements have given ger the honor to be on their covers. During the last two years, Alexandra became the European Champion 2004, she broke the Elo 2500 mark and became the fourth rated woman on the planet in July 2004, as well as the Number 1 Girl U-20 in the World. In November 2004 she was awarded the supreme title, Grandmaster (men), a title that only nine women before her have ever earned in the whole history of chess.

Below you will see magazine covers where Alexandra was featured together with famous people from the chess world or the cultural world, or the business world, like Garry Kasparov, Sergei Karjakin, Juan Antonio Samaranch (President Olympic Committee), and Paolo Fresco (Chairman, Fiat).

Below are a few backcovers of chess and non-chess magazines.

and some covers of sport magazines:

Alexandra also has regular chess puzzles published in Russian and Ukrainian newspapers, and gives away prizes generously to successful readers.

You can find many articles mentionned in this report in Alexandra's Articles page, see them by clicking here. The site www.kosteniuk also has a continuous thank-you gift for anybody who sends in either an original article about Alexandra that we don't have in our files or a good scan of it. Please contact us if you'd like to send us one.

We will follow this Printed Press Report with a TV Press Report and a Business Press Report, keep posted!

(c) Pufichek, Feigel,

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