Person of day - 5 OCTOBER 2023
Alexander Panchenko was born and raised in Chelyabinsk, where he started to play chess at the local Pioneers’ Palace and the Krupskaya Chess School in the group of Leonid Gratvol- a recognised trainer of Russia. Among Gratvol’s students are celebrated chess players like Anatoly Karpov, Gennady Timoschenko, Evgeny Sveshnikov, Semen Dvoyris, Tatiana Shumyakina and others.
Alexander Panchenko was the champion of the USSR among schoolchildren in 1971, the Soviet champion among young masters in 1978, the champion of the RSFSR in 1979, a winner of multiple international competitions and a six-time winner of the Soviet championship with team Flight, from Chelyabinsk.
In 1981, when Panchenko was at his peak after winning an international tournament in Sochi and fulfilling the second criterion of grandmaster’s norm, the Chairwoman of the RSFSR chess federation Vera Tikhomirova offered him to lead the Russian Chess School. Alexander accepted and proved himself to be an outstanding teacher: in his ten years of work, Panchenko’s school prepared a whole generation of spectacular Russian chess players, including Olympic champion Sergei Rublevsky, vice world champions Ekaterina Kovalevskaya and Alisa Galliamova, Russian champion Sergey Volkov and other renowned grandmasters and masters.
In 1989, Panchenko became the head coach of the RSFSR at the 4th juniors’ games of the USSR in Kramatorsk, where the team he led- consisting of Dreev, Ulybin, Scherbakov, Sorokin and Khenkin- came first. He also headed the women’s Olympic team at the 1992 Olympiad in Manila.
“What was the main secret of Panchenko’s success as a coach? I think that he had the necessary charisma and power of attraction. Despite the fact that training sessions took place in a friendly and light-hearted manner, Alexander had our endless respect and reverence. Children were attracted to him by his warmth and kindness. Perhaps his light character stopped Alexander from achieving more as a player, but it allowed him to fulfil his potential as a trainer.” (Artem Timofeev- grandmaster and student of A. Pachnenko)
Alexander Panchenko is the author of several chess textbooks. His Theory and Practice of the Endgame remains one of the best works in that area.
Alexander Panchenko died on 19th May 2009 in Kazan.