Person of day   -  4 FEBRUARY 2021

NIKITA VITIUGOV

NIKITA VITIUGOV

Nikita discovered chess when he was a young boy aged 5 - he was shown his first moves by his grandfather, who played at a level of a regional champion. Vitiugov soon enrolled in a session led by an experienced trainer from Leningrad, Alexey Yuneev. He became a candidate for sports master at 10 and was soon among the leading Russian players of his age group.

In 2004, St Petersburg emerged from its chess wilderness, a real federation was opened, the city’s team was resurrected and one of its players achieved stunning success. Nikita Vitiugov played for “FINEK” and later “SPbCF”, with which he took multiple prizes in national championship and won the team European Cup.

Vitiugov also performed brilliantly in individual tournaments: he became the Russian U18 Champion, won the silver medal at the U20 World Championship and often played in Russian Superfinals. He has won three bronze medals at the strongest national Championships - in 2009, 2013 and 2015.

In 2008, the grandmaster from St Petersburg won the Russian Cup, consecutively outplaying Yuri Yakovich, Igor Lysyj, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Artyom Timofeev and Boris Savchenko. Thanks to his consistently-high results, Vitiugov was selected for the Russian national team for the 2010 world championship, where he made a significant contribution to his team’s victory. At the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, he played for the junior team first and for the main team later. In 2013, Nikita once again became a world champion as a member of the Russian team. He regularly played in friendly matches between Russia and China. At the team world championship in 2017, he played for the Russian team, which won silver medals.

Nikita Vitiugov’s style was heavily influenced by his illustrious countryman. “Lessons with Korchnoi gave me much more than I anticipated. Perhaps that was because of a romantic outlook: the legend descended from the screen and became human and accessible” the youngest of all the trainees later recalled. Also beneficial were Vitiugov’s alliances with the experienced grandmaster and trainer Marat Makarov and Peter Svidler, who Nikita helped during two candidates’ cycles.

Vitiugov is a very creative and determined chess player, who seeks decisive victory regardless of the figures’ colour, and so he had won multiple Swiss-system tournaments. In 2011, he split first place in the “Aeroflot Open” and in 2013 he won a prestigious tournament in Gibraltar. He split another first place in a difficult tournament in Carlsruhe in 2017. In the super-final of the Russian championship in 2017, which was played in his native St Petersburg, Nikita split 1-2nd place with Peter Svidler, but lost to his older colleague in the tie-breaker. In the open Tradewise Chess Festival in Gibraltar, he was among the players who split 1-7 places. 

In 2019, Nikita Vitiugov won the European Team Championship as a member of the Russian national team, took the silver medal at the Russian Championship Superfinal, and made it to the quarterfinals of the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk (having defeated Sergey Karjakin and Wesly So, in particular) and lost to Yu Yangyi in Armageddon.

Nikita Vitiugov is the author of two books about his favourite debut- the French defence. Furthermore, he is the co-author of a book that is devoted to the memory of Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi. Vitiugov has also written several notable articles, which have been published in chess and sports publications.