Alexander Igorevich Grischuk was born in Moscow, where he lives to this day. His father taught him the game when he was four and his early coaches were Mikhail Godvinsky until age 7, and Maxim Blokh until age 10, before being mentored by Anatoly Bykhovsky for five years until after he gained his IM title. He won his IM title in 1998 and his Grandmaster title in 2000. His formative influences were the games (and teachings) of Aron Nimzowitsch, Robert James Fischer and Anatoly Karpov.
<Youth> Grischuk’s first international success was coming equal first, but second on count back, at the World U10 Championship in 1992. During the 1990s, he won the under 10, 12, 14 and 16 Russian Championships in which he competed.
<National> Grischuk has been highly successful in Russian Championships in their various forms. He came =3rd in the 56th Russian Championship (2003), outright second in the Russian Championship (2004) behind Garry Kasparov, 2nd in the Russian Superfinals (2007), and then finally won the Russian Championship Superfinal (2009). He followed up with 3rd in the Russian Championship Superfinal (2010) and =3rd in the Russian Superfinals (2011). His placement in the 2011 event qualified him to contest the Russian Superfinals (2012), in which he scored 4.5/9 after losing his final round game to Peter Svidler, finishing a half point off the lead in a low scoring event.
<World> Grischuk became quite famous as a junior, reaching the semifinals of the 2000 FIDE world championship when he was only sixteen, losing to runner up Alexey Shirov in the second last round, after defeating Darcy Gustavo Machado Vieira Lima, Ilya Yulyevich Smirin, Grigory Yuryevich Serper, Jaan Yukhanovich Ehlvest and Vladislav Ivanovich Tkachiev in the preceding rounds. He was less successful in the 2002 FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament, as he lost to Alexander Motylev in round two after beating Ehsan Ghaem Maghami in the first round. In the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004) he made it to the quarter finals, defeating Kenneth T Solomon, Vasilios Kotronias, Valerij Filippov, and Alexander Beliavsky before losing 3-1 to eventual champion Rustam Mashrukovich Kasimdzhanov. He finished in the top 10 in the 2005 FIDE World Cup, which qualified him for the 2007 Candidates Tournament in May–June 2007. In 2007, he won the Candidates Match: Grischuk - Malakhov (2007) and the Candidates Match: Grischuk - Rublevsky (2007) to qualify for the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007), but there he finished last out of the eight players. Grischuk finished third in the FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2010, which qualified him as the first alternate for the World Championship Candidates (2011). Upon the withdrawal of Magnus Carlsen from the Candidates tournament, Grischuk was appointed to take his place. Grischuk caused a major upset in the first round by ousting tournament favourite Levon Aronian in the rapid game tiebreaker after drawing the classical match 2-2 (+0 =4 -0). He met Vladimir Kramnik in the semi-finals, winning in the blitz tiebreaker 1.5-0.5 (+1 =1) after drawing the classical games 2-2 (+0 -0 =4) and the rapid games 2-2 (+0 -0 =4). He met Boris Gelfand in the final match of the Candidates and after drawing the first 5 games, lost the sixth and last game to be eliminated from the Candidates. By virtue of his rating, he qualified to play in the World Cup (2011) as part of the 2013 World Championship cycle; he beat countryman and IM, Vladimir Genba in the first round, French GM Sebastien Feller in the second, compatriots Alexander Morozevich and Vladimir Potkin in the third and fourth rounds, Czech GM David Navara in the quarter final, and Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk in the semi final to qualify for the World Championship Candidates (2013). In the final, he met countryman Peter Svidler but lost 2.5-1.5 to secure second place. At the Candidates he scored a rating neutral 6.5/14 (+1 -2 =11) to place 6th out of 8, his sole win being against Ivanchuk. As a finalist in the World Cup 2011, Grischuk qualified to play in the World Cup (2013). There he defeated Australian IM Igor Bjelobrk in the first round, and Polish GM Dariusz Swiercz in the second round. However, he was eliminated when he lost to Vietnamese #1, GM Le Quang Liem in the third round tiebreaker.
<Grand Prix series 2012-2013> Grischuk started auspiciously in the 2012-13 Grand Prix series by placing 4th in the FIDE Grand Prix London (2012) behind the 3 co-leaders to collect 90 points to kick off his GP points tally. His second sally into the series resulted in =4th at the FIDE Grand Prix Thessaloniki (2013), adding another 85 points to his Grand Prix points total - he was the only undefeated player in this event. (1) His 2nd place at the FIDE Grand Prix Beijing (2013) lifted him to 3rd in the Grand Prix series, but he was unable to score the sole 1st in FIDE Grand Prix Paris (2013) needed to secure qualification in the Candidates Tournament of 2014, and nor was he nominated as the Organizer's nominee when Khanty-Mansiysk was settled as the venue for that event.
<Grand Prix series 2014-2015> Qualifying for the series by rating, Grischuk has so far only participated in the first leg, namely the FIDE Grand Prix Baku (2014), where he scored 6/11 placing 3rd-7th, acquiring 82 Grand Prix points. He did not compete at the second leg of the Grand Prix series in Tashkent, but contested the third leg at FIDE Grand Prix Tbilisi (2015) and the fourth at FIDE Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk (2015) where he scored in the middle of the field on both occasions, results not enough to trouble the leader board.
<World Championship cycle 2016> Grischuk has qualified for the World Cup (2015) by rating. He needs a top 2 finish in that even to qualify for the Candidates. He made heavy weather of it in round one when he was paired with number 122 seed Yusup Atabayev, with whom he drew the standard games, as well as the two sets of rapid game tiebreakers before finally overcoming his younger opponent in the blitz tiebreaker. In round two, Grischuk again won in the tiebreakers, this time against Vladimir Fedoseev but lost the third round to Pavel Eljanov to exit the tournament.
Grischuk’s best results are 1st at the Young Masters in Lausanne in 2000, 1st at the Chigorin Memorial Tournament in 1999, 1st at the Torshavn International, also in 2000, 2nd at Linares in 2001; 2nd at Wijk aan Zee in 2002, where he scored 8.5/13, =1st with 6.5/9 at Aeroflot A 2002 and 4th at Wijk aan Zee in 2003. He won the 5th Karpov It Tournament (2004) on count back ahead of Sergei Vladimirovich Rublevsky and came =3rd in the same event in 2005. He played in his first Tal Memorial (2006) scoring 4.5/9, one point behind the joint winners. At the Tal Memorial (2010), he came =4th, half a point behind the joint winners. In 2009 he scored his first victory at Linares (2009), finishing in first place on count back ahead of Vassily Ivanchuk. In 2010, he finished second in Linares (2010) to Veselin Topalov. In 2014, he placed 3rd at the category 21 Norway Chess Tournament (2014) behind Karjakin and Carlsen. In November 2014, Grischuk easily won the category 20 Petrosian Memorial (2014) with 5.5/7 and a near-3000 TPR, a full point clear of outright second-placed Vladimir Kramnik. His results in this event also lifted his live rating to over 2800 for the first time. His performance since then has been uneven, gradually slipping below the 2800 mark. At the category 22 Norway Chess (2015) event in Stavanger in June, Grischuk placed =5th with 3.5/9 (+1 -2 =5), shedding 10 rating points.
A dab hand at 960 chess, Grischuk won the FiNet Chess 960 Open in 2009 ahead of a huge field of GMs and IMs.
Along with being a top-level professional, Grischuk is also known as one of the best blitz chess players in the world, having once held the record for highest rating achieved on the Internet Chess Club. His successes at rapid and blitz chess include reaching the last four in the Cap D'Agde FRA (2003), and winning the 2003 Ordix Open and the 11th Ordix Open (2004). In 2006 he won the World Blitz Championship (2006) in Rishon Lezion, Israel with 10.5 points out of 15 games (+9 =3 -2). In 2008, he competed in the 2008 ACP World Cup defeating Karpov, Peter Svidler, and Sergey Karjakin in mini-matches before losing in the final to Teimour Radjabov. In 2009, he won the Moscow blitz championship, came =2nd with 7/9 at the XXIV International tournament at Ciudad De Villarrobledo and defeated Pavel Eljanov and Alexander Moiseenko to make it to the semi-final of the 2009 ACP World Rapid. In 2010 he won the Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2010) section of the Amber Melody tournament. He lost the CCM5 Rapid Match (2005) (Anand-Grischuk Rapid Match) by 3/8 (+2 =2 -4).
In July 2012, Grischuk lead most of the way to win the World Blitz Championship (2012) by half a point ahead of a fast-finishing Carlsen, with 20/30. He placed 3rd with 4.5/7 in the SportAccord World Mind Games (Men's Rapid) (2012) and finished with a poor 8.5/15 in the SportAccord World Mind Games (Men Blitz), shedding 49 blitz rating points. He came second on tiebreak behind Karjakin at the Piterenka rapid in late December 2012 and was runner-up to Karjakin at the Aeroflot Rapid Open (2013) after losing on time in a dramatic Armageddon tiebreaker. He placed outright 3rd in the FIDE World Rapid Championship (2013) with 10.5/15 and 2nd in the FIDE World Blitz Championship (2013) with 20/30, half a point behind the new World Blitz Champion Le Quang Liem. Grischuk went on to win the powerful ACP Cup, a rapid (25+10) knockout format held in Riga during 13-15 September, in the Armageddon tiebreaker against fellow finalist and compatriot Ian Nepomniachtchi.
In 2014 he played in both the FIDE World Rapid Championship (2014) and the FIDE World Blitz Championship (2014). His result in the former was a rating-neutral 10/15, a point from the lead (and =6th) while in the latter he scored a disappointing 12.5/21. In November 2014, he placed outright 2nd with 15.5/22 in the Mikhail Tal Memorial blitz tournament. He finished 2014 by winning the blitz and rapid chess sections of the Mind Games staged in Beijing with 19.5/30 and 5/7 respectively. In 2015, Grischuk participated again in both the World Rapid Championship (2015) and the World Blitz Championship (2015), this time reversing his fortunes from the previous year. In the former he scored 9/15 to place =26th and lose rating points while in the latter he came from behind to win with 15.5/21, defeating amongst other the defending champion Carlsen.
A member of the gold medal winning Russian team at the 2000 and 2002 Olympiads, Grischuk has also represented Russia at the Olympics in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, Chess Olympiad (2012) and Chess Olympiad (2014). He earned a bronze medal in 2000 for his results as second reserve.
In the five World Team Championships that were held in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 he won a team silver (2001) and three team golds (2005, 2010 and 2013), the individual silver and gold medals for board 3 in 2001 and 2005, the individual silver medal for board 2 in 2011, and the individual bronze medal for board 1 in 2010. As a 16 year old IM, he played for the Russian Team in 1999 in the European Team Championship, coming fourth at first reserve in a team that came 5th; subsequently, he played board three in his team which won gold in the 2003 and 2007 European Team Championships, and then struck individual gold on board 2 at the European Team Championship (2011) when Russia came 5th. At the European Team Championship (2013), he played top board and helped his team win bronze.
Grischuk’s success in the European Club Cup over the last decade and more from 2001 and 2014 has been outstanding: in that time he has won 5 team golds, 2 team silvers and 4 team bronzes, combined with 3 personal gold medals and 3 personal silvers. In 2010 he played for SOCAR Baku (winning individual silver for board 3) after four years with the highly successful Ural Sverdlovsk team, and then in the 28th European Club Cup (2012) he again played for SOCAR Baku, helping his team to gold. Next season, he again switched, this time to the Russian team Malachite, and playing board one scored a powerful 5/6 (TPR 2869) in the European Club Cup (2013) to win individual gold and help his team to the silver medal. Grischuk was a member of the successful Russian team that defeated the Chinese team in the inaugural Russia-China friendly match that was held in 2001. He has also played in the French Team Championships from 2001-2006; the Russian Team championships in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and more recently for his Malakhit Ekaterinburg team where he helped his team to a silver medal in the Russian Team Championship (2013) picking up a gold medal for board 2 (5/6: TPR 2980). His performance in the Russian Team Championship (2014) for his team Malachite earned him the team and individual gold (for board 2), raising his rating to an equal all time high at that time of 2792. In the Russian Team Championship (2015) team, he scored another individual gold medal.
He has also played in the Bundesliga and in the Spanish Club Championships.
Ratings and Rankings
Grischuk entered the top 100 at the age of 16 in July 2000 and he has remained in the top 100 since that time. He had been one of the world's top Juniors (U20) since before that time, eventually achieving world #1 Junior in the second half of 2003 when he was rated 2732 and also ranked world #6 in the third quarter and world #7 during the last quarter of the year.
He entered the world's top 10 in January 2003, and has been in the top 10 continuously since May 2013, and in the top 20 in the world for almost the whole period since April 2002.
April 2002 also marked the date when he first crossed the 2700 mark, where he has remained. Grischuk's highest standard rating to date was 2810, achieved for the first time on 1 December 2014 when he reached an official ranking of world #3, the second time he had attained that ranking, the first time having been in May.
Grischuk is married to GM Natalia Zhukova. He is also a professional poker player.
Grischuk is credited as saying in respect of World championship aspirations that "In Russia we have a saying: a soldier who doesn't want to be a General, is a bad soldier."
Sources and references
(1) Wikipedia article: FIDE Grand Prix 2012%E2%80%9313; Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Lengthy online interview: http://crestbook.com/node/1322; and Wikipedia article: Alexander Grischuk