Alexander Valeryevich Khalifman was born in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), Russia in 1966. He was taught chess by his father at the age of six.
He gained the Grandmaster title in 1990 with one particularly good early result being his first place in the 1990 New York Open ahead of a host of strong players.
His most notable achievement was winning the FIDE World Chess Championship in 1999, a title he held until the following year. He was rated 44th in the world at the time, which some compared unfavorably to "Classical" World Champion Garry Kasparov being rated #1. Khalifman said after the tournament, "Rating systems work perfectly for players who play only in round robin closed events. I think most of them are overrated. Organizers invite same people over and over because they have the same rating and their rating stays high. Perhaps in response, Khalifman was invited to the next Linares chess tournament, and performed credibly (though placing below joint winner Kasparov).
With his trainer Genadi Nesis he runs a chess academy in St. Peterburg, called "The Grandmaster Chess School." There he trains players from all over the world following the motto: "chess = intellect + character".
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