GM Alexandra Kosteniuk plans to represent Switzerland for future chess events, a federation transfer that is likely to start on January 1, 2024. The news was published on the website of the Swiss Chess Federation.
Kosteniuk stopped playing for her native country Russia after the war in Ukraine broke out. The 38-year-old former women’s world champion became one of the first players to start playing under the FIDE flag for that reason, but now she has decided to represent Switzerland, where she is already playing in the national team championship.
Currently the world number-10 in the women’s FIDE rating list, Kosteniuk holds both a Russian and a Swiss passport, having been married to a Swiss citizen for more than a decade. Since 2015, she has been married to the Russian grandmaster Pavel Tregubov. The two live in France.
It will take another year before she can play for Switzerland and that is for financial reasons, said Peter Erismann, head of elite sport in the central board of the Swiss Chess Federation: “If she were to change federations now, the Swiss Chess Federation would have to pay the Russian Chess Federation a transfer fee of $10,000. [In fact, it’s 10,000 euros – PD.] After a two-year waiting period, changing federations is free.”
This two-year period would start at the moment Kosteniuk represented Russia for the last time in an official FIDE event, which was at the World Blitz Championships in December 2021. At least, this is what is suggested in paragraph 4.2 of the Transfer Regulations & Rules of Eligibility for Players (below), although it remains to be seen whether holding a passport will be considered the same as residency.
4.2 When the last representation date is less than 5 years prior to the transfer date, then the eligibility date is set 2 years after commencement of residency in the new federation without payment of the Transfer Fee and the Compensation Fee.
Kosteniuk will be by far the strongest player on the Swiss women’s team. Currently, the top four female players in the country are WGM Ghazal Hakimifard (2279), WIM Lena Georgescu (2262), WGM Monika Mueller-Seps (2237), and WIM Gundula Heinatz (2162).
With a rating of 2519, Kosteniuk would currently be the sixth highest-rated player in Switzerland, so it cannot be ruled out that she will be representing their team in open sections of e.g. the World Teams or the Olympiad. “We keep the flexibility to use her in the men’s national team if there is a need,” said Erismann, who also mentioned that she is planning to play in the 2023 Swiss Individual Championships this summer.
Kosteniuk is not the only new player in the Swiss women’s team. The 15-year-old Mariya Manko (rated 2117) joins as well, and most likely also the 18-year-old WIM Sofiia Hryzlova (rated 2157). Both are from Ukraine and fled with their family to Switzerland following the violence in their home country.