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September 2018

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ALEXANDER ONISCHUK

Person of day - 03.09.2018

ALEXANDER ONISCHUK

Alexander Onischuk was born and raised in Simferopol. The young chess player quickly rose to become one of the strongest players in the Soviet Union and he played in the last USSR-Yugoslavia match, where he won +3 points against Yugoslavia’s best juniors. In1991, Onischuk became the world champion among juniors under 16 years old. 

After the collapse of the USSR, Alexander immersed himself into European tournaments and continued his rapid development: in 1993, he became an international master and a year later, he became a grandmaster with a rating above 2600 after successes in Dresden and Munster. At the same time, Onischuk made his debut in Ukraine’s Olympic team at the Tournament of Nations in Moscow. He won bronze and silver medals with Ukraine’s Olympic teams. In 1995, he split 1st place with Roman Slobodjan at the world U20 championship, but he came 2nd due to additional criteria.

In 1997, he became the champion of Russia and the winner of the European Winners’ Cup with a team from Azov called Ladya. In 2003 and 2008, he won bronze medals at the European club championship with Gazovik from Tyumen and PVK from Kiev. In 1998, he split 2ndplace at the zonal tournament in Donetsk and two years later, he won the same tournament in Ordzhonikidze. He also played in the 2000 FIDE knockout world championship, where he lost to Alexei Shirov in the second round. 

In 2001, Alexander Onischuk moved to the US, taking a path from Denver to Baltimore to Manassas. He was the US champion in 2006. He played for his new homeland’s national team and won two Olympic bronze medals and medals at team world championships. In 2006, he was in Veselin Topalov’s team for the match against Vladimir Kramnik. 

He won tournaments in Biel in 2007, the Torre Memorial in 2008, the Moscow Open in 2009, the Mexico Championship in 2010 and several other large tournaments. 

“A chess tournament in America is primarily an opportunity to earn money. Everything is subject to this aim. The clustered layout, the strange conditions- everything! And prizes? We must tell our readers how prizes are distributed in America. They are distributed based on ratings groups. And at large opens, like the New York Open or the World Open in Philadelphia, the prizes for chess players in the ratings group of 1000 points is comparable to the earnings of grandmasters, although I can’t imagine how you have to play to have a rating below 1000.

Allthispresentsaseriouschallengetome. I played in these tournaments for a while, but now I have to play somewhere in Europe, Thank God. I have decided for myself that enough is enough. So I have boycotted American tournaments for several years now, expect the US championship. I play in that and only in that. I’ve played in one rapid tournament, but that was only because Susan Polgar organised it. It was organised well, but that was an exception to the rule.  

Meanwhile, chess isn’t considered in America to be a sport for professionals. However, it is important to note that chess is respected in the States as an intellectual sport. People understand that it is a game for the intelligent and parents gladly buy their children chess sets.” (Alexander Onischuk)

In 2017, Alexander split 1st place at the US championship with Wesley So, but he lost the play-off. He played for his national team at the 2017 world championship in Khanty-Mansiysk and he played very well, losing only to Nikita Vitiugov. Onischuk trains the chess team of University of Texas, where he acts as mentor for multiple promising chess players. The grandmaster’s pupils regularly win the US Students’ Championship. In 2016, Onischuk became the director of the university’s chess program. 

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