Switching federations

by André Schulz
7/20/2023 – The Austrian Chess Federation has a new top grandmaster representing their country. Kirill Alekseenko (photo) has joined the Austrian federation and with his 2674 rating is the new number one in the European country. The Spanish Chess Federation also reports a prominent addition, as Sara Khadem has completed her transfer. | Photo: Biel Chess Festival

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Strong newcomers

The Austrian Chess Federation recently reported the addition of two strong newcomers. GM Kirill Alekseenko is number 63 in the world with a 2674 rating and is now the number one in Austria. Alekseenko comes from Vyborg, a city in northern Russia near the border with Finland. As a child, he moved with his family to St. Petersburg. He learned chess from his chess-loving grandfather. Alexeenko played his first chess tournament at the age of 7. In 2007, he became the European U10 Champion, in 2011 he won the U14 World Championship and in 2013 he became the European U16 Champion. He won silver and bronze medals at other World Youth Championships. He has held the grandmaster title since 2015. In 2020, he took part in the Candidates Tournament thanks to a wild card.

Kirill Alekseenko was one of the 43 Russian chess players and officials who protested the Russian attack on Ukraine in 2022 with an open letter published online. He first played under the FIDE flag like many other Russian chess professionals and will now represent Austria. Alekseenko plays in the Austrian Bundesliga for ASV Linz.

With his change of federation, Kirill Alexeenko is following the example of some other top Russian players. Alina Kashlinskaya switched to the Polish Federation and is now number one in the women’s ranking there. Alexandra Kosteniuk transferred to the Swiss Federation. Dinara Wagner (née Dordzhieva) is now playing very successfully for Germany. Daniil Yuffa has been playing for Spain since 2021. Evgeny Romanov now represents Norway. Alexey Sarana and Alexandr Predke now play for Serbia.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk next to Switzerland’s flag at the Nicosia Women’s Grand Prix | Photo: Mark Livshitz

The second newcomer announced by the Austrian federation is the Ukrainian Valentin Baidetskyi (Elo 2492), who now occupies seventh place in the national ranking.

Iran also lost a top grandmaster in Alireza Firouzja. After the last World Rapid Chess and Blitz Championship, Sara Khadem decided not to return from her home country, but moved to Spain with her family. During the tournament, she had played without headgear and was threatened with reprisals by the Iranian ‘morality guards’. At first, she had declared that she would continue to play under the flag of her country of birth, but now the Spanish federation announced Sara Khadem as a new representative. The number 15 in the women’s world rankings now leads the Spanish women’s ranking.

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