Person of day   -  28 SEPTEMBER 2023



Vladimir Chuchelov was born on 29thSeptember 1969 in Moscow. When he was young, Vladimir trained in Moscow’s Pioneers’ Palace, first with Viktor Cherny, then with Abram Khasin. While serving in the Army, Chuchelov played for CSKA in team Soviet championships and competed in the final of the Red Army championship. He served with the Soviet forces in Germany, where he played in local tournaments. 

“At first, there was a small mix-up and instead of the forces in Germany, I was sent to a cooking school in Poland. For reasons I haven’t established, this school was secret, so it was impossible to get me out of there. They tried to transfer me to this German sports club at the highest level for an entire year, but that turned out to be a tough task. 

As a result, I completed the course of a young soldier without playing chess for almost a year. I remember that my family would send me diagrams from home, so I would remember how various pieces moved and so my basic understanding of chess wouldn’t erode. I remember that I joined the army when I was a candidate for master- and a good candidate at that. The most interesting was that although I didn’t play chess for a year, I immediately fulfilled all the requirements for an international master in my first three tournaments.” (V.Chuchelov)

In 1990, Vladimir Chuchelov won tournaments in Portz and Hamburg and became an international master. After completing his service, he moved to Belgium, where he lived near the German border, though it took him a little longer to receive citizenship.  

Chuchelov won the 1992 German championship and several difficult German opens. A short while later, his rating surpassed 2500 and in 1995, Vladimir became a grandmaster. He played for Rochade club, won multiple Belgian championships with them and played in several European Cups.

Vladimir Chuchelov played in the 2000 zonal tournament. In 2001, he played in the individual Belgian championship for the first time, even though he never played for his second homeland’s national team. 

“In 2002, the Dutch grandmaster Jeroen Piket asked me to help him in Wijk aan Zee. That was my first experience as a coach. Yes, I remained an active player who had few thoughts about a trainer’s career. But it was a first experience which ended in a comical manner: I got some horrible cold and had to go home after a week, since my illness was some rare combination of all others. Evenmydoctorwassurprised.

As well as that, in that same year, a Dutch magnate called Van Oosterom who helped Piket and sponsored a tournament in Monaco offered Piket to work for his office and represent his family. He quit chess and moved to work in Monaco, which he doesn’t seem to regret. Many of my later students would say that this was the first man who couldn’t survive me and quit chess straight away. 

Only a year later, based on Piket’s recommendation, I was invited to Wijk aan Zee (which was becoming a tradition for me at this point) by Van Wely. For five or six weeks, we were immersed in intensive preparation. Loek had a negative total for that tournament: -35. Whenever he played, he finished with some catastrophic result like -5, -6 or -7.  

That tournament went very well- at one point, he was in the lead with +3. The organizers were petrified, since Loek had a system where he would be paid very little to play but his bonus if he finished with a positive score would be enormous. This was relevant for any positive score. The organizers were so sure that he wouldn’t do better than his usual -5, -6 or -7. And here he was, winning +3. The organizers had to offer a large bonus at the end of the tournament, since he remained in the positive with +1 points.    

So that was my first dramatic experience where I saw the fruits of my labour. That happens rarely in chess, where you work and immediately see the results when you go to a tournament. 

The Dutch chess federation noticed this and started to ask me to give lectures and work with some young players. So that was how I began to work. At some point I decided to do this quite seriously and for five-six years, I worked fairly intensely in writing textbooks. Of course, when a trainer begins his career, he doesn’t have too many students- many might not even know that he is a trainer. I took this very calmly and set myself a simple task: to work for eight hours a day. If there were students, great, if not, I would work on textbooks. It became immediately apparent that any trainer needed his own concept and I had to think a lot about that.” (V. Chuchelov)

Over the course of his long career, Vladimir Chuchelov created his famous 60-hour course for young chess players which he called “Strategic Equilibrium”, or a “Ten-Day Torture” jokingly. 

Vladimir Chuchelov’s most successful students are Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana, both of whom entered the chess elite while trained by Chuchelov. Today, Vladimir assists Teimour Radjabov and Zhansaya Abdumalik. Furthermore, he was on Hou Yifan’s training team for her world championship match against Mariya Muzychuk. Other students of the grandmaster include Benjamin Bok, Robin Van Kampen, Parimarjan Negi and Abhijeet Gupta.

In 2013, Vladimir Chuchelov was recognised as that year’s best trainer by FIDE.