The talented Miss Golubenko

12/28/2004 – She is 14 years old and 16-time champion of Estonia in various age categories. Valentina's trainers are her parents, both strong players. But the three Golubenkos, who live in Kohtla-Jarve, Estonia, are Russian citizens, and so Valentina cannot play in Youth World Championships. We bring you the story and a picture album of Valentina's chess career.

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Non-citizens cannot play?

In Chess Today No. 1500 of Dec 16, 2004, Mikhail Golubev tells the story of a talented young lady who cannot play for her country. The Estonian Chess Federation did not send anyone to the European G14 in Turkey and the World G18 in Greece.

Valentina Golubenko, born on July 29, 1990, is a 16-time champion of Estonia in various age categories. Thus, in 2004, she won the U-18 and U-16 girls championships. Together with her parents and trainers, Anastasia and Valery Golubenko, Valentina lives in Kohtla-Jarve, Estonia. They are citizens of Russia, and do not have Estonian citizenship.

All three Golubenkos are members of the Estonian Chess Federation. But the Estonian Chess Federation will not allow Valentina (as well as other young "non-citizens") to represent Estonia in children's championships. Valery Golubenko claims that the decision of the ECF contradicts FIDE's General Rules for participation in FIDE events. According to an article published (in Russian) at the Diagonaal Chess Club site, Estonia's leading grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest agrees with this opinion fully.

In a letter by the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights ("Stateless Children and the Estonian Chess Federation") the organisation concludes: "These actions of the Estonian Chess Federation are obvious attempt to prevent and discriminate stateless children as well as adults to represent Estonia in the international chess arena. Besides, these actions constitute a breach of the principle of consideration of 'the best interests of a child' provided in the Convention for the Rights of the Child and in Estonian legislation".

Additional details can be found in this Infopress.ee article (Russian). Chess Today has undertaken an attempt to contact the Estonian Chess Federation for clarification. We, in the meantime, have put together a picture album of Valentina's chess career.

Valentina Golubenko, chess talent


1996: five-year-old Valentina plays her first game against Kasparov – actually the Kasparov chess computer of Saitek-Mephisto


The child has other hobbies beside chess


1997: playing in her first European Youth Championship, Girls' Under 10 in Tallinn, Estonia. Valentina was just seven at the time.


1999: Valentina shares third place in the European Girls' Under 10 championship in Greece. The winners on the stage are: Scarcea Raluca (ROM), Muzychuk Anna (UKR), Gakhokidze Tamar (GEO), Marinina Tatiana (RUS), Golubenko Valentina (EST), Atnilov Bella (ISR).


1999: Valentina sharing the sixth place amongst 100 boys at the World Youth Festival for Boys Under 10 in Spain B10. In the picture she is facing Tulay Berkay from Turkey. Valentina won the game in the Kalashnikov Variation.


Valentina's diploma for playing in the boys' section of the World Youth Festival

Tulay Berkay,Kamber - Golubenko,Valentina [B33]
World Youth B10 Spain, 02.11.1999
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 Be6 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Nc4 b5 10.Nb6 Rb8 11.Nbd5 Bxd5 12.exd5 Ne7 13.Bg5

13...b4 14.Bxf6 bxc3 15.Bxe7 Bxe7 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Qd2 Bg5 18.Qd3 Rc8 19.Kd1 Rxc3 20.Qe4 Rc4 21.Qe1 Qxd5+ 22.Bd3 0-0 23.Ke2 Rd4 24.Kf1 e4 25.Bxa6 Bd2 26.Qe2 Bc3 27.Rb1 Rd2 28.Qe3 Rd1+ 29.Ke2 Qh5+ 30.f3 exf3+ 31.gxf3 Rd2+ 0-1. [Click here to replay this game]


2000: Valentina is again in the best ten, now in the Girls under 10 World Youth Championship in Spain.

2001: Valentina again shared third place, this time in the G12 European Youth in Chalkidiki, Greece. She started very slowly – only 1.5 pts from 4, but then won all the remaining five games! The decisive, last game, was against a strong opponent from Russia and is listed as a sample of play against the Dutch Stonewall.

Golubenko,Valentina - Kharmunova,Nadezhda [A94]
EU-ch U12 Girls Chalkidiki (9), 09.09.2001
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 f5 4.g3 Nf6 5.Bg2 c6 6.0-0 Bd6 7.b3 0-0 8.Ba3 Bxa3 9.Nxa3 Bd7 10.Nc2 Be8 11.Nce1 Bh5 12.Qc2 Nbd7 13.Nd3 Ne4 14.e3 Ndf6 15.Nfe5 g5 16.f3 Nd6 17.Rfc1 Qe7 18.cxd5 exd5 19.Rab1 Rae8 20.Re1 Kh8 21.b4 Rd8 22.a4 a6 23.Qc5 Qg7 24.Qc2 Be8 25.Nc5 Qe7 26.Rf1 Nd7 27.Ncd3 Nc4 28.Qc3 Bh5 29.Nxc4 dxc4 30.Nf2 Nf6 31.e4 Qd7 32.d5 cxd5 33.e5 Ng8 34.Rfe1 Qg7 35.b5 axb5 36.Rxb5 Be8 37.Rb4 Bc6 38.Qd4 Ne7 39.a5 Ra8 40.Qd2 Rfd8 41.Nd1 Rac8 42.Ne3 Re8 43.Bh3 Rf8 44.Nc2 Ng6 45.Qxg5 h6 46.Qe3 f4 47.Qc3 Rce8 48.Nd4 Nxe5 49.Nf5 Rxf5 50.Bxf5 Nxf3+ 51.Qxf3 Rxe1+ 52.Kf2 Ra1 53.Qxf4 Ra2+ 54.Kg1 Qe7 55.Qxh6+ Kg8 56.Be6+ Qxe6 57.Qxe6+ Kg7 58.Qe5+ Kf7 1-0. [Click here to replay this game]


2002: Valentina played in the Moscow International Youth Games (under the aegis of IOC) for the Estonian national team in the G14 section. In this game she beat Svetlana Vassilikova from Russia.


2002: With mother Anastasia and Russian coach Aleksander Schetinin in the Press Centre of Moscow International Youth Games


2002: Valentina playing in the G12 European Youth Championship in Spain


2004: Valentina in the Keres Chess House in Estonia

A recent game by Valentina

Golubenko,Valentina - Brokko-Olde,Margit [A70]
Estonian Team Ch., 03.04.2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 g6 6.Nf3 d6 7.Bf4 a6 8.e4 b5 9.Qe2 b4

10.e5 bxc3 11.exf6+ Kd7 12.Qc4 Bb7 13.g3 Kc8 14.Bh3+ Nd7 15.0-0 cxb2 16.Rae1 Qxf6 17.Qa4 Qd8 18.Bxd7+ 1-0. [Click here to replay this game]

The mother and trainer

Valentina's coaches are her parents, Anastasia and Dr. Valery Golubenko, both quite strong players. Anastasia played in the finals of the Moscow women’s championship in 1986, Valery reached the semifinal of the men’s section in 1988.


The coach: Valentina’s mother Anastasia Golubenko


Anastasia Zinovjeva (maiden name) at the U18 Championship of Russian Federation in Kirishi, 1982. In the background are the youthful talents Igor Khenkin and Alexei Dreev.


Anastasia (right) with her teammate Tatiana Gladisheva (today WGM) in the Press Centre of the first Karpov-Kasparov match. Behind Tatiana is Anatoly Ufimtsev, one of the founders of Pirc-Ufimtsev defense.


Anastasia (right) discusses the game with Mark Taimanov (writing) and Vassily Smyslov. Seated on the left is Miguel Najdorf, in the Press Centre of the first Karpov-Kasparov match.


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