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Valentina Golubenko

Valentina Golubenko at the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, 2008
Country Croatia
Born 29 July 1990 (age 25)
Volgograd, Russia
Title Woman Grandmaster
Peak rating 2316 (July 2007)

Valentina Golubenko (Russian: Валентина Голубенко; born 29 July 1990, Volgograd, Russia) is a chess Woman Grandmaster and Girls' World U-18 Champion of 2008. Golubenko is the first and only World youth chess champion from Estonia thus far. Although a resident of Estonia, Golubenko plays under the Croatian flag as she is not qualified to represent Estonia owing to her Russian citizenship.


Golubenko family: Valentina, Valery, Valentina's sister Alexandra, Anastasia

Valentina Golubenko was born to a chess family. Her father, Valery Golubenko is a mathematician and chess player who won 1993-1995 championship of Estonia in rapid chess and a triple winner on board one in Estonian Team Championships. Valentina's mother, Anastasia Golubenko was a qualified chess coach with many years of experience, making the finals of the Moscow women’s championship in 1986.

Valentina Golubenko receives Gold Medal of the World Youth Chess Championship, 30 October 2008

Valentina Golubenko with Ivan Šarić, World Youth Chess Championship, 30 October 2008

Valentina was coached by her parents and very soon showed amazing chess talent. She won the Estonian championship in different age categories - three times for girls under 10 (1998-2000), once for boys under 10 (1999), five for girls under 12 (1998-2002), four for girls under 14 (2001-2004); twice for girls under 16 (2003-2004); and once for girls under 18 (2004). She was the rapid chess champion six times (for girls in 2001-2005 and for boys in 2007); and command champion for boys (2003) and for girls (2003 and 2004). In six of those tournaments she obtained 100% score by winning all the games. She also obtained high results on a number of international tournaments. In the European Chess Championship in Dresden in April 2007 Golubenko shared 5..19 places and qualified for the grandmaster title. She officially received this title in Antalya in November 2007, becoming the first ever resident Estonian woman to receive it.

On October 2008 Valentina Golubenko won the Gold Medal of the World Youth Chess Championship in the Girls Under 18 category. She received 9 points out of a theoretically possible 11 and was ahead of the Silver Medal winner, R. Preeti from India, by one point. She also participated in the Women's World Chess Championship 2008 but lost to Viktorija Čmilytė from Lithuania in the first round.

Conflict with Estonian Chess Federation

Despite having lived all her life in Estonia, Valentina Golubenko and her parents decided to hold Russian citizenship. Thus, since 2003 she has not been allowed to represent Estonia in the international chess championships, as according to the article 8 of the Sport Act of Estonia only citizens of Estonia and children under age of 18 residing in Estonia and without citizenship of any other country can (as individuals or team members) represent Estonia in international championships, such as World and European championships and Olympic Games. Golubenko's family claims that the decision of the Federation contradicts FIDE's General Rules for participation in FIDE events. Estonia's leading grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest agrees with this opinion. Still the Estonian Chess Federation has not allowed Golubenko to play under the Estonian flag despite open letters to FIDE written by both Golubenko's parents, because of the requirement of citizenship set in the Sport Act. As a solution, the Estonian Chess Federation proposed Golubenko to apply for Estonian citizenship; this proposal was rejected by the Golubenko's family. As Golubenko was denied to play for Estonia and her strength was not enough for Russia she decided to play under the flag of Croatia, which was allowed by FIDE.