Konstantin Landa, 1972-2022 – Chess.com

Konstantin Landa, 1972-2022 - Chess.com


GM Konstantin Landa has passed away at the age of 50, after a long struggle with cancer. The news was confirmed by the Russian Chess Federation.

Landa was born May 22, 1972 in Omsk, a city in southwestern Siberia. He got his first chess lessons when he was five and a half years old. On his personal website, he wrote: “First, my dad hastily taught me draughts. He said that it was too early for chess. And three weeks later, after returning from a business trip, he lost the first [chess] game to me.”

As a young player, he was coached by GM Alexander Goldin and GM Evgeny Sveshnikov and participated in the training sessions of GM Mikhail Botvinnik‘s famous school. At the age of 13, he defeated GM Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition over six boards. The other players in this exhibition were future GMs Vladimir Akopian, Boris Alterman, Alexei Shirov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Peter Svidler.

Landa was a runner-up in the Soviet Youth Championship in 1989 and a runner-up at the Russian Championship in 1992. He became an international master in 1991 and a grandmaster in 1995, but even after that achievement, he hesitated to commit himself to a full-time professional career in chess.

During the 1990s, he graduated from university with a diploma in computer science and worked as an IT expert in a bank and other companies. He became a Microsoft Certified Engineer in network communication in 2001, but his passion for chess prevailed.

Landa’s chess career got a new start in 1999 when he moved to Germany. After that, he could participate in dozens of open tournaments and national team championships each year. At his rating peak in October 2008, at the age of 35 Landa ranked number 32 in the world with a rating of 2678 Elo.

Tournament victories for Landa include Oberwart (1994), Noyabrsk (1995), Ubeda (1999), Deizisau (2001), Furte (2002), Bad Wiesse (2002), Trieste (2005), Reggio Emilia (2006), Hamburg (2007), Vlissingen (2011), Senden (2011), and Hamburg (2014).

Landa did reach the elite level in his career, but as a coach rather than as a player. In three years, he brought GM Arkadij Naiditch from an aspiring IM to the number one player in Germany and an elite player.

Landa himself called his most successful student GM Alexandra Kosteniuk because he was her coach in 2008 when she became the 12th Women’s World Champion. 11 years later, in 2019, he coached GM Aleksandra Goryachkina in her world championship match against GM Ju Wenjun. Landa also worked with e.g. GMs Evgeny Alekseev and Daniele Vocaturo.

He worked as head coach of Iran, the UAE, the Kazakhstan women’s team, the Indian juniors, and many other teams. In 2011, he earned the FIDE Senior Trainer title for his achievements.

As a journalist, Landa wrote tournament news and travel notes for the Russian chess press and his own site. In 2021 he co-authored with GM Konstantin Sakaev a two-volume manual on chess, translated into English as The Complete Manual of Positional Chess.

As an IT expert, Landa was among the first chess professionals concerned with the problem of cheating. He prepared a project for anti-cheating tournament rules in 2012 and became a member of the FIDE Fair Play Commission.

The chess community is shocked by Landa’s passing. One of his students called him “a very honest, and just a good man.” Anand Ananthanarayanan, the father of GM-elect Pranav Anand, described him as “an excellent friend” and “a down-to-earth gentleman, extremely soft-spoken and caring.”

Yuri Garrett, a long-time friend and co-member of the FIDE Fair Play Commission, wrote: “I will cherish all the good moments we had together, at the chessboard, at my place, and in our common fight against cheating, but most of all I will forever keep in my heart and mind the lessons in fighting spirit which he taught me in so many ways—the last time before getting into his final, impossible battle.”

Peter Doggers contributed to this story.


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