The exodus of Russian grandmasters continues

by André Schulz
9/6/2023 – Apart from Kirill Alexeenko (to Austria) and Nikita Vitiugov (to England), the FIDE transfer list shows several other prominent Russian grandmasters who have left their federation after Russia invaded Ukraine. Evgeny Alekseev now plays for Israel and Sanan Sjugirov is the new number one in Hungary.

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Russia's attack on Ukraine has also had many negative consequences for Russian chess players and chess professionals. The Russian Chess Federation was practically excluded from participating in international competitions and has since left the European Chess Union and joined the Asian Chess Federation. International tournaments no longer take place in Russia.

Russian players could and can take part in international tournaments outside Russia, if they play under the FIDE flag.

But many Russian players have drawn their personal conclusions, left the country and changed federations. The FIDE transfer list for 2022 shows almost 100 transfers from the Russian Chess Federation to other federations. This year, by the beginning of September, another 100 Russian players who want to continue their chess careers outside Russia have joined the list.

With Nikita Vitiugov, the Russian Federation recently lost its number four. Vitiugov has moved to the English Federation, where he is England's new number 1. However, the FIDE transfer list shows that other prominent Russian grandmasters have also left the Russian Federation. Former top grandmaster Evgeny Alexeev now plays for Israel. At his peak, in 2009, the now 38-year-old Alexeev had an Elo rating of 2729, now his rating is 2573.

Former European Champion Anton Demchenko (2608) has moved to the Slovenian Federation, as has Vladimir Fedoseev (2683). The new chess home of Alexander Motylev (2602) is Romania. Aleksandr Predke (2652) and Alexey Sarana (2693) now play for Serbia. Pavel Tregubov has been living in France for a long time and has now formally joined the French Federation. And Maksim Chigaev (2615) now plays for the Spanish federation.

Sanan Sjugirov (Elo 2705), who was last ranked number five in Russia, has moved to Hungary and is now the country's new number one.

In women's chess some Russian grandmasters have also changed federations. The best known names are Alina Kashlinskaya (Poland) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (Switzerland).


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