Nikita Vitiugov transfers to the English Chess Federation

by André Schulz
8/30/2023 – The Chess Federation of Russia has lost another top player. Nikita Vitiugov, who played under the FIDE flag after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has transferred to the English Chess Federation, where he now occupies the first place in the federation’s ratings list.

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The Russian attack on Ukraine had many negative consequences for the Chess Federation of Russia. Numerous Russian professionals and grandmasters have left the country or switched to other chess federations. With Nikita Vitiugov, another top player has now decided to take a personal choice and, after playing under the FIDE flag since the beginning of the war, has now switched to the English Chess Federation (ECF).

Born in 1987 in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Vitiugov learned chess at the age of five from his grandfather, who was himself a very good chess player. Nikita Vitiugov was trained by Alexey Yuneev and became a ‘master candidate’ at the age of ten. In 2005 he won the Russian U18 Championship. In 2006, he was the runner-up at the World Junior Championships. At the age of 18, Vitiugov was awarded the title of International Master. At 19, he was appointed as a Grandmaster by FIDE.

The tournament successes of the now 36-year-old include winning the Grenke Open in 2017 and the Russian National Championship in 2021.

Nikita Vitiugov has played and continues to play in several European leagues. He played for Wattenscheid in the Bundesliga from 2009 to 2013 and for SV Hockenheim in the 2016/17 and 2018/19 seasons. He is registered with Baden-Beden for the coming season. Vitiugov also played in the Chinese league. With the St. Petersburg team, he has taken part in all European Club Cups since 2008, won the cup with the team in 2011 and achieved podium finishes several times.

After 2010, Vitiugov was called up to the Russian national team several times and took part in the Chess Olympiads and World Team Championships. In the Russian national ranking he was most recently number four in the country behind Ian Nepomniachtchi, Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk, and with his 2720 Elo he was number 25 in the FIDE World Ranking. In the English ranking, Nikita Vitiugov now occupies the top position.

The Reliable Petroff

The Petroff (or Russian) Defence which is characterised by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 has been popular at the highest levels for many years and enjoys the reputation of being an extremely solid defence.


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.