Person of day - 28 JUNE 2023
Vladimir Potkin was born in Rybinsk into a chess family- his mother was a local champion, while his father Alexey was a player and administrator simultaneously. Under his guidance, Vladimir made his first step in juniors’ and adults’ chess, becoming an international master and qualifying for the adult knockout Russian championship in 1999.
Potkin began to be trained by renowned masters, such as Igor Zaitsev, Mark Dvoretsky and Evgeny Sveshnikov; the young chess player soon made a rapid surge and became a grandmaster and he won the prestigious Internet blitz tournament Dos Hermanos. In 2005, he split 2ndplace in Pardubice and he won the Aratovsky Memorial in Saratov in 2007.
In that same year, Vladimir Potkin was involved in dramatic events at the final of the Russian Cup. Potkin was one of the chess players defeated by Marat Askarov, who his colleagues accused of cheating. Potkin was one of those who signed a letter to Russian Chess Federation President Alexander Bakh, asking him to investigate the situation. The story dragged on until 2008, when Askarov quit chess.
For a while, Vladimir Potkin was helping Levon Aronian before becoming a full-time trainer of Ian Nepomniachtchi. His work with the young Muscovite gave him an enormous impulse- Potkin won the 2011 European championship, qualified for the World Cup, played for Russia against China and participated in the Superfinal of the Russian championship for the first time. He was also a semi-finalist of the 2010 Russian Cup.
At the 2011 World Cup, Vladimir was one of the initial heroes of the first half. He knocked out Nikita Vitiugov, Alexei Shirov and almost beat Alexander Grischuk. At another Superfinal in 2012, he split 1stplace and played in the additional match-tournament of six players, but he left without a medal. He won several Russian team championships with SHSM-64 and Nashe Nasledie, both from Moscow. He also won bronze at the 2003 European Cup.
At the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, he was captain of Russia’s junior team. He went on to become one of the main coaches of the men’s national team, with which he won the 2013 world team championship. He personally worked with Sergey Karjakin, who won the 2016 Candidates Tournament in Moscow with his mentor’s help. At the 2018 Candidates Tournament, he was one of the seconds to Alexander Grischuk. At the present moment, he is one of the trainers for Russia’s women’s team.
Vladimir Potkin: “I have always thought that preparation was a secret of two people: the coach and the pupil. There are, however, several unifying principles. At university, I spoke with different sportsmen, be they basketball players, tennis players or golfers. I even remember how the golfers boasted that they, alas, could not train in Russia, so they went to the Canary Islands, where the pitches were better.
So we were discussing the problems that arose during preparation, and I understood that the types of sport may be different, but the principles of preparation are often the same. Chess is particular for its emphasis on mental exertion, so one must focus on stimulating the brain. In athletics, it may be more important to have functional legs. But the human organism obeys the same bio-rhythms, and you can create a calendar based on general laws. I’m always very sceptical about training programmes based on “How to become a grandmaster in X number of years”!”
In recent months, Vladimir Potkin has returned to play regularly at tournaments. The player-coach of Tyumen’s Molodezhka helped the team qualify for the European Cup, with Potkin playing at the first board. In 2019, he commented on the 'Armageddon' show together with Elmira Mirzoeva on the Match TV. The final of the show saw the fight of two of his trainees, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin.
During the 2020 lockdown, Vladimir initiated a series of online friendly matches of the Molodezhka club against the chess players from Italy, Israel, Croatia, Poland, Cuba, and many others.
In 2020-2021, he was one of Ian Nepomniachtchi's seconds during the FIDE Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg and helped the Russian grandmaster qualify for the World Championship Match versus Magnus Carlsen.