Person of day   -  9 MARCH 2021

NATALIJA POGONINA

NATALIJA POGONINA

Natasha was born in Vladivostok but her family moved to Kamchatka soon after. She learned to play chess at the age of five: in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Pogonina’s first trainer was Leonid Gankin. Under his guidance, in 1998, the talented chess player became the Russian champion among girl under 14 for the first time.

After this victory, Natalija met the renowned trainer Pavel Lobach and accepted his invitation to move to Saratov. The rising star of Russian chess surged forward and one success followed another. The player from Saratov won the women’s European championship three times and won a bronze medal at the world juniors’ forum.

In 2003, Natalija Pogonina began to achieve her first serious accomplishments in adult chess- at the European championship, she split the qualifying place defeated experienced grandmasters Inna Gaponenko and Regina Pokorna thanks to the superior tie-break, thus guaranteeing her participation in the world championship. In 2004, the young player was awarded the highest titleof chess. Natalija won big tournaments, such as the Bykova and Rudenko Memorials in 2005 and 2007, and in that same year she qualified for the Superfinal of the Russian championship. She became a regular participant in Russia’s most prestigious competition hereafter.

In 2009, one of Russia’s strongest grandmasters rose to the next level: she won the Moscow Open festival and came third at the European championship in St Petersburg in 2009. Pogonina’s rating surpassed the 2500 mark and became one of the highest in the country. In 2010, the grandmaster from Saratov was close to victory in the Russian championship, but her match with Alisa Galliamova finished in favour of her more experienced opponent. Natalia’s first “Russian gold” came two years later: having avoided defeat during the whole tournament, she overtook her competitors by an entire point.

Having overcome wide-ranging competition, Natalija Pogonina was included in the Russian national team at the European championship in 2011, where she made a palpable contribution to the Russian victory, defeating Salome Melia in her contest with her Georgian competitors. After this, she became the silver prize-winner of the team world championship in Mardin. A year later, Pogonina won gold medal at the Olympiad in Istanbul, where Russian women overtook their long-time competitors from China in the final stages. In 2013, Natalia won bronze and silver at the world and European championships with the Russian team. In 2014, Natalija and the national team once again became Olympic champions.

At the women’s world championship, which was determined by a knockout system between March and April 2015 in Sochi, Natalija Pogonina became the vice world champion. She beat Guo Qi and Ju Wenjun from China, Marie Sebag from France, Zhao Xue from China and Pia Cramling from Sweden consecutively, but, in the final, she lost to Mariya Muzychuk from Ukraine by a minimal score.

At the Superfinal of the 2017 Russian championship, Natalija Pogonina split 1st-2nd places with Aleksandra Goryachkina, but lost in the tie-break match.

Natalija Pogonina is a versatile individual whose life is not limited to chess. The grandmaster graduated from Saratov’s law school cum laude, she runs her own website and promotes chess however she can. She has been awarded with a medal “For Services to the Motherland” II Class for her contribution to the development of physical education and her high sporting achievements at the Olympiad in Tromso in 2014.