Sergey and Kateryna tie the knot

8/5/2009 – My, how time flies. Only last week (it seems) they were cute little kids, and now they are all grown up and have started to marry. Sergey Karjakin became internationally famous when he completed his GM norms at the record-breaking age of 12. That was in 2002. Today he is nineteen and a world-class GM. His bride is WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova, 20. Congratulations to the happy couple.

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Katya Lahno did it in February, and now Sergey Karjakin, sixteen days younger than his talented conpatriot, has also tied the proverbial knot. On July 24th he married twenty-year-old Ukrainian WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova, rated 2272, at the Central Registry in Kiev. This was followed by a ceremony at the St. George Church in Kiev, with two dozen members of their family and closest friends were present.

At nineteen Serge is the second highest ranked GM in the second-strongest chess nation in the world (Ukraine, ten points behind Ponomariov). He is of course famous for becoming the youngest grandmaster in the history of the game: he made his final norm in 2002, at the age of twelve years and seven months. At the same time he was the second of FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov. You can read about this and see a picture of the twelve-year-old GM here (warning: some readers may find the images in that report unbearable cute).

Sergey and Kateryna started a serious relationship after the Individual European Championchip 2007 in Dresden. Actually they had known each other for a long time, but, as Sergey puts it: "we became closer at the disco in Dresden. I invited Katya to dance and the next day we visited the Dresden gallery. A little after New Year's Eve we started thinking about the wedding." The honeymoon is in Yalta, but this weekend the couple will travel to Jermuk, Armenia, where the next FIDE Grand Prix is being held.

There is speculation whether Sergey (Elo 2717) and Kateryna (2272) may be the strongest chess couple in the world. Not by a long shot. Their average rating is 2495. Here is our table of contenders – note that in only one case in our list the wife is stronger than the husband:

Husband Elo Wife Elo Average
GM Alexander Grischuk 2733 WGM Natalia Zhukova 2465 2599.0
GM Daniel Fridman 2665 IM Anna Zatonskih 2466 2565.5
GM Laurent Fressinet 2667 IM Almira Skripchenko 2443 2558.5
GM Socko Bartoz 2656 GM Socko Monika 2449 2552.5
GM Mohamad Al-Modhiaki   2570 GM Zhu Chen 2473 2521.5
GM Suat Atalik 2607 IM Ekaterina Atalik 2434 2520.5
GM Zhang Zhong 2613 WGM Li Ruofan 2423 2518.0
GM Yuri Drozdovskij 2620 WGM Natalia Zdebskaja 2412 2516.0
GM Robert Fontaine 2540 GM Kateryna Lahno 2481 2510.5
GM Sergei Movsesian 2716 WGM Petra Movsesianova   2303 2509.5
GM Jiri Stocek 2584 IM Zsuzana Stockova 2413 2498.5
GM Sergey Karjakin 2717 WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova   2272 2494.5
GM Juan Manuel Bellon 2445 GM Pia Cramling 2525 2485.0
GM Vadim Malakhatko 2570 IM Anna Zozulia 2341 2455.5
GM Dmitry Kryakvin 2571 WFM Elena Tomilova 2308 2439.5

Addendum: We have been informed (by Vondra Zbynek) that the couple Sergei Movsesian, originally Armenian but living in the Czech Republic, and Petra Movsesianova (born Krupkova), who were married on 9.8.2003, have ratings of 2716 and 2303 respectively. The average is 2509.5, so that we deemed it right to add them to our list above.

Addendum 2: The ever watchful Vondra Zbynek has found another pair: GM Jiri Stocek of the Czech Republic, 2584, and Zsuzana Stockova (born Hagarova), rated 2413, with an average of 2498.5 – which pushes the Karjakins down one more notch.

Addendum 3: From the Arctic Challenge in Tromsø we get instructions to add GM Yuri Drozdovskij, rated 2620, and WGM Natalia Zdebskaja, 2412, both from Ukraine, to our list. Their average is 2516.

Addendum 4: YASC – yet another super-strong couple. GM Vadim Malakhatko, 2570 and IM Anna Zozulia, 2341, both originally Ukraine, but currently living in Belgium, reach an average of 2455.5. Thanks to our readers, this time Francois Vandamme of Ostend, Belgium, for helping to complete our list.

Addendum 5: YASC! Migla Kaspars of Liepaja, Latvia, reminds us that GM Daniel Fridman of Germany, rated 2665, is married to IM Anna Zatonskih, USA, 2466, for an average of 2565.5, which is the second-highest on our list.

Addendum 6: Newly-weds GM Dmitry Kryakvin, rated 2571, and WFM Elena Tomilova, 2308, have an average of 2439.5. We have added them to our list.


Sergey, who has been a good friend since he was thirteen, kindly sent us the wedding pictures on this page. We have great pleasure in sharing the rest with you.


Sergey Karjakin and Kateryna Dolzhikova have tied the knot


The couple leave the Registrar's office


The bridesmaid is WFM Darya Orlyanskaya, and the best man GM Zahar Efimenko


The traditional carrying of the bride

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