Chess Champion Tries To Make the Game COOL


Alexandra Kosteniuk’s hand shakes a bit as she picks up a pawn and moves it to the centre of the chessboard. After only fourteen moves the game is over with a  cool "checkmate".

She is  young and  attractive,a   Russian lady of 24  , whom the media call the Kournikova of Tennis. She doesn't like this name because unlike the Russian tennis star, who has never one a single tournament, Kosteniuk is the current female  World Champion. Up to now, she has done everything right -being a master at 8 and a grandmaster at 14.


But, like Kournikova, Kosteniuk knows that she is pretty and uses her beauty to make her game popular all over the world. She has been on covers of fashion magazines and has contracts with Russian electronics firms and mobile phone companies. She also markets a computer chess game called "Alexandra the Great".

By doing all this she wants to give chess a better image in public than it now has.  "Eveyone thinks chess is boring" she says  . "It's  not only a game for fat old men in dark suits. And if you tell the world there are also some attractive young women out there playing chess, the game might get more attention!".

Alexandra-Kosteniuk-at Bled

Alexandra Kosteniuk at the World Chess Championships at Bled - Andrejj


Born in Perm, Russia she learned how to play the grand game at the age of five.  She was only allowed to watch 30 minutes of television a day and spent most of her time doing other activities. It was her father who taught her how to play chess. After two months he took her to a chess club where she won every game she played. National and international tournaments followed.

Although her parents and her sister still live in Moscow, Alexandra lives in Key Biscayne Florida, together with her husband and manager Diego Garces and their baby Francesca. The two met at an international tournament in Switzerland in which Alexandra played twenty opponents at the same time.

Being a world champion is very challenging for the young Russian because she travels a lot and is often sad when she can't be at home with her daughter. Playing tournaments is not so important for her any more. She spends a lot of her time giving lectures in schools and teaching children how to play. She dreams of opening up a chess academy in order to train the grandmasters of the future.

"Alexandra is a role model of the game", says her father. "The children like her because she is modest and understands them. It's motivating when kids look up to her and say : That's what I want to be too!"


Related Topics



  • activity = things that you do
  • attention= interest
  • challenging = difficult in an interesting and exciting way
  • checkmate = when the chess game is over the king is in a position in which he cannot make a move or escape any more
  • chessboard = the board of squares on which chess is played
  • contract= an agreement, mostlyin writing between two or more people
  • current= at the moment
  • grand= great
  • lecture = a long lesson on a subject in front of students or pupils
  • market= here: to advertise chess and make it interesting for people
  • media= the newspapers, radio and television
  • modest= if you don't want to talk about what you can do and how good you are
  • opponent = the person you are playing against
  • pawn = a chess piece that is the smallest and not worth so much; each player has eight pawns
  • public = here: in society
  • role model= a famous person that does good things so you want to copy them 
  • suit= clothes made of the same material; usually a jacket and trousers
  • tournament = a number of games in which you play against other people or teams