Vladimir Langin

‘Draughts is one of the most widely known games in the world. One of its most popular and challenging subsets is Russian draughts. But today it’s unfairly neglected. I hope that with the help of the Russian Draughts Foundation this remarkable intellectual game will attain a worthy position. I would really like to see this to happen in numerous countries all over the world’.

Five Wishes of the IDF President

29.02.2016 01:00

Unlike most grandmasters, Vladimir Langin does not recall the first time he picked up a draughts piece. He assumes he played at home with his mom and dad like all Soviet children.

On the other hand, he distinctly remembers his first tournament. He was 7 years old and his parents had sent him to the Berezka summer camp outside Zelenogorsk. The future grandmaster was placed in the youngest 7th squad and took third place in the camp tournament. The young boy received a fabulous prize – a set of plastic toy soldiers. To this day he still has not gotten over his curiosity: who came in first and second in that tournament?

Vladimir Langin says his first serious draughts achievement was a victory at a tournament hosted by the Leninskiye Iskry (‘Lenin’s Sparks’) newspaper in 1973 at the Spartak Chess and Draughts Club in Leningrad. The future grandmaster was 12 years old. That same year he enrolled in the draughts department at the Palace of Pioneers.

Langin doesn’t believe he owes his first victories to any propensities for draughts, but to his personality.

 

‘When I started playing draughts, I was motivated by the desire to win. I have a strong competitive nature: no matter what I do, I always want to be first. In addition to draughts, I was good at football in my youth and won Olympiads in mathematics and physics’, he says.

 

Vladimir Langin is very grateful for his competitive nature and says it is responsible for many of his achievements, for instance his successful completion of the 30th Physico-Mathematical School, one of the most difficult math schools in Soviet Leningrad.

The grandmaster tells the following story as another example of his competitive nature. For the 70th birthday of his close associate and teacher Alexander Leman in 2006, a study guide was released in which Vladimir read that Alexander had visited 40 countries in his life. Vladimir did the math and realised that at that time he had only visited 34 countries!

‘This impacted me so much for some reason that I decided: I can certainly beat that! Now I have visited exactly 70 countries, some of which are very hot with health risks, and immediately settled down’, he says.

The IDF president knows that other people aren’t always comfortable with his ‘champion’s’ nature and doesn’t claim that his character is a good thing.

When his career as an athlete started transforming into the career of a coach, Langin immediately wanted to become the best: he trained several world champions and earned the status of an honoured coach of Russia. In 1985, his first trainee became the junior champion of the USSR. At the time, Langin still actively played and took part in competitions.

As a coach, the most important principle for Vladimir is to give each student a chance. Whether or not the student takes advantage of this chance is his own concern. The grandmaster tells the story of a well-known coach who always selected one student from his group of 8-10 students and invested ‘100%’ in that particular student. The chosen one became the champion, but the coach didn’t care at all about the other students. Langin is categorically opposed to this approach to coaching. His principle is everyone starts at the same level.

The grandmaster makes no secrets: he has his favourites. But the favourites are the ones who manage to take advantage of the chance they are given.

‘I give everyone a fishing pole and then we see who catches a fish!’ he says.

 

‘I want to train a female world champion in the classic game. First of all, I work better with women. Second of all, men play at a much higher level, there’s more competition, and I simply wouldn’t have time to train a male champion. Over the entire history of draughts, there have been just over ten female world champions. I already have one world champion – my wife Antonina Langina, but I want to train another one from scratch. A female world champion in the classic game is in a class of her own. Training such a champion is incredibly difficult and prestigious’, he says.

 

The grandmaster met his wife at one of the most significant events for Soviet athletes – the USSR Cup. Up to 17 teams usually took part in such events – 15 from each republic and one team from each Moscow and Leningrad. In 1989, she won on behalf of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Kharkov Region city of Krasnograd.  

Vladimir contends that his wife’s interest in draughts did not matter much to him at that time:

‘I wasn’t even thing about it. I simply fell in love’, he says.

Vladimir attributes his titles at the 1993, 1994, and 1995 world championships to the support of his wife. She systematised his openings and variants and did the preparatory work that most athletes do themselves.

Then, in 2003 and 2005, when the grandmaster was no longer playing, Antonina became the world champion. He helped her prepare and they applied numerous theoretical variants that she had prepared for his championship back in the day.

‘I get extremely nervous when my wife is taking part in tournaments – much more so than for myself’, the grandmaster says. ‘Thank God she no longer plays!’

According to the IDF president, he and his wife almost never play draughts at home. However, one day there was a funny incident.

His friends gave him a souvenir – a chocolate board with chocolate draughts. They started playing as a joke and Vladimir did something that his doctors had categorically forbidden him to do: he literally ate his wife’s draughts. The grandmaster became ill and he lost (he smiles because his wife plays so well!). But the grandmaster got his revenge a few years ago when they were on a Dutch cruise ship and suddenly came across a draughts table with a standard 64-square draughts board.

Since that time they haven’t played. Langin says that his wife is not in agreement. Asked if a game of draughts can actually make them argue, he replies evasively:

‘Well, not argue, of course, but after all she’s also a champion and has the matching character’.

Today, Antonina Langina is a member of the Executive Board, the General Secretary, and Chairman of the Technical Commission of IDF.

 

‘I want us to have many long years of love, support, and mutual understanding. For me, my wife is also a friend, a teammate, my harshest judge, and a critic’, he says.

 

Vladimir has not taken part in competitions since 2000. His doctors prohibited it due to a dangerous increase in his blood sugar during tournaments. The grandmaster continues to train, but he is primarily an organiser. In this regard, his competitive nature initially made him president of the Draughts Federation of Saint Petersburg, then the president of FMJD Section-64, and then president of the International Draughts Federation (IDF).

Langin believes that the Draughts Federation of Saint Petersburg was very weak in 1993 when took it over despite the city’s great draughts potential. Today, the grandmaster calls the Saint Petersburg federation one of the best in the country and is proud that thanks to the federation’s involvement a draughts division has opened at the Lesgaft National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health (Russia only has one other university with such a branch – Churapcha in Yakutia). In addition, as president of the Draughts Federation of Saint Petersburg, Langin has opened a sports school in the city.

However, Vladimir places his greatest hopes on the International Draughts Federation. Under his leadership, the IDF has joined The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA) and is in the final stage of negotiations with the administration of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Today, the IDF already includes 50 member nations from all continents.

 

‘My dream is for draughts to be recognised by the International Olympic Committee. This is incredibly important and challenging; The FMJD has operated since 1947 and failed to secure IOC recognition, while the IDF is only 3 years old’, he says.

 

Text: Lev Godovannik

Photo: Maria Lvova and the personal archive of Antonina and Vladimir Langin

Saint Petersburg, February 2016

 

Biography

He is the president of the International Draughts Federation (IDF), a presidium member of the Russian Draughts Federation, the president of the Saint Petersburg Draughts Federation, and a member of the executive board of the Russian Draughts Foundation for the Advancement of the Sport of Draughts.

Vladimir is a Russian grandmaster, a three-time world champion in the MARSH version of Russian draughts (1993, 1994, and 1995), a two-time bronze medallist (1997 and 1998), and a multiple Russian champion in individual and team events.

He has been awarded the Order ‘For Services to the Fatherland, 2nd Class’, the honorary titles ‘Honoured Master of Sports’, ‘Honoured Coach of Russia’, and Honoured Physical Culture Worker of the Russian Federation, and the medals ‘In Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Saint Petersburg’ and ‘80th Anniversary of the State Sports Committee’.

Vladimir Olegovich Langin was born on 17 December 1960 in Leningrad.

He is the president of the International Draughts Federation (IDF), a presidium member of the Russian Draughts Federation, the president of the Saint Petersburg Draughts Federation, and a member of the executive board of the Russian Draughts Foundation for the Advancement of the Sport of Draughts.

Vladimir is a Russian grandmaster, a three-time world champion in the MARSH version of Russian draughts (1993, 1994, and 1995), a two-time bronze medallist (1997 and 1998), and a multiple Russian champion in individual and team events.

He has been awarded the Order ‘For Services to the Fatherland, 2nd Class’, the honorary titles ‘Honoured Master of Sports’, ‘Honoured Coach of Russia’, and Honoured Physical Culture Worker of the Russian Federation, and the medals ‘In Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Saint Petersburg’ and ‘80th Anniversary of the State Sports Committee’.

Vladimir studied at School No. 534 from grades one through eight and then completed the prestigious 30th Physico-Mathematical School in 1978.

In 1983, he graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Railway Engineers with a major in industrial and civil construction.

From 1983 to 1995, he worked in his trained profession at the Leningrad-Finland division of October Railway.

In 1996, he served as a senior coach/teacher at the draughts division of the Chess and Draughts Specialised Children and Youth Sports School. In 2010, he earned a second degree at Lesgaft National State University.

His wife, Antonina Langina, is an international grandmaster, a Russian grandmaster, and a two-time world champion in draughts-64: in the classic programme (2003) and the blitz programme (2005). She has also won multiple European championships as part of the Saint Petersburg team.

Vladimir arrived on the draughts scene at age 13 when he won the prize of the Leninskiye Iskry (‘Lenin’s Sparks’) newspaper in 1973 and was awarded a certificate by editor-in-chief Vitaly Bianki and Honoured Coach of the USSR Yury Barsky.

Langin went on to play draughts at the Zhdanov Palace of Young Pioneers and Schoolchildren and also at the Spartak Chess and Draughts Club under the guidance of noted Leningrad coach and educator Yury Akselrod.

In 1978, he took first place in the Leningrad youth championship for Russian draughts and third place in the city championship for international draughts, defeating future world champion Alexander Dybman.

That same year, Vladimir finished second in the USSR youth championship.

Vladimir is a five-time men’s champion of Leningrad/Saint Petersburg (1981, 1984, 1990, 1993, and 2003) and has won multiple city championships in team events and in rapid draughts.

He won the Lokomotiv Central Council men’s championship (1985), was a two-time winner at the championships of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions as part of the team of the Leningrad-Finland division of October Railway (1989 and 1990), and was the founder and captain of this team.

Vladimir won the 1989 USSR Cup on his own draughts board.

He is a three-time world champion in Russian draughts (1993, 1994, and 1995), a two-time bronze medallist (1997 and 1998), and a multiple Russian champion in individual and team events.

Langin has been a successful coach for 30 years. An Honoured Coach of Russia, he has trained Russian draught world champions Antonina Langina and Mikhail Goryunov, five-time Russian women’s champion Tatyana Androsik (Markova), eight grandmasters, and more than 30 masters of sports. His students include winners of USSR youth championships Roman Vitenberg and Daniil Teplitsky, Russian youth champion Igor Shukshin, as well as winners and medallists from world, European, and Russian championships Kamilla Kulikova, Anton Smirnov, Dmitry Bochkarev, Yevgeny Vyaznikov, Dmitry Abarinov, Yevgeny Podkovyrov, Yekaterina Ivanova, Viktor Yegorov, Dmitry Melnikov, Maria Kriskevich, Yury Prokopenko, and Svetlana Streltsova.

Vladimir has been head of the Saint Petersburg Draughts Federation since 1993. In recent years, his initiatives and direct involvement have been essential to the opening of the Chess and Draughts Specialised Children and Youth Sports School in Saint Petersburg (1995) and a specialised draughts department at Lesgaft National State University (2008). The following events have been held under his leadership:

A draughts tournament as part of the Goodwill Games cultural programme (1993);

Russian draughts men’s and women’s championships (2003, 2011, 2013, and 2015) and junior championships (2005, 2006, and 2010);

European championships: men’s and women’s championships in Russian draughts (2014) and junior championships in international draughts (2002 and 2007);

Club team championships (2001);

Championships of Russia in draughts-64 and international draughts (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2008, and 2010);

The Victory Cub in honour of the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II (2015).

In 2006, Vladimir Langin was awarded the highest officiating rank of the World Draughts Federation – International Arbiter.

 

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