Alexander Pichushkin: The Chessboard Killer

Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin, born on April 9th, 1974, is a Russian serial killer convicted of killing 48 people and attempting to kill 3 others. His total number of victims is unknown.

Early Years

Known to media as "The Chessboard Killer" or "The Bitsa Park Maniac”, as a young child, Pichushkin was very sociable and relatively normal. At the age of four, everything changed. Pichushkin fell off a swing and was hit in the head as it swung backwards. Following this incident he became hostile and impulsive. His mother took him out of public school and transferred him to a school for children with disabilities. As a result, children from his previous school began to physically and verbally abuse him, referring to him as "that retard". This only furthered his hostility.

Speculation has arisen as to whether or not this event caused damage to the frontal cortex of Pichushkin’s brain. Damage to the frontal cortex has been known to produce poor regulation of impulse and a tendency towards aggression. Two famous serial killers that are also reported to have had damage to the frontal cortex due to childhood injuries include Albert Fish and John Wayne Gacy Jr.

A recent study has demonstrated that 20 out of 31 confessed murderers have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Out of that 20, 64% have been shown to have frontal lobe deformities. However, it has not been proven that this contributed their need to kill.

Upon entering adolescence, Pichushkin's maternal grandfather recognized his intelligence and, feeling that his talents were being wasted, took him to live in his home where he encouraged Pichushkin's intellectual pursuits. The most significant of these pursuits was chess, which quickly became his favourite pastime. Pichushkin was a fantastic chess player, playing games against drunken elderly men in exhibition games at Bitsevski Park (also known as Bitsa). He found a channel for his aggression by playing chess, dominating every game.

It is speculated that the ultimate blow to set Pichushkin on edge was the death of his grandfather as a teenager. He was forced to return to his former childhood home and at some point after his return, he enrolled as a student again at his old public school. The death of his grandfather overshadowed Pichushkin, affecting every aspect of his life to the point where he began to drink large quantities of vodka in order to dull the pain of loss and calm his severe aggressive tendencies. He continued to play chess both at home and in Bitsa Park, this time joining in with the other men by drinking vodka.

The Murders

In 1992, around the time of the trial of Andrei Chikatilo - a serial killer that Pichushkin was reported to admire - he committed his first murder. Russian media have speculated that Pichushkin may have been motivated by Chikatilo's serial murders (Chikatilo was convicted of killing 53 children and young women in a 12 year period, though it is reported his death count might be higher).

“It was all the same to me who I killed. I killed for the sake of the process itself. And, for the record, I wanted to kill as many people as possible and to beat Chikatilo’s record.”

His primary targets were elderly homeless men, whom he lured to their deaths with a bottle of vodka. After having a drink with his victims, Pichushkin would kill them, hitting them over the head with a hammer. He is most famous as being unique in his method of ensuring his victims would die. His method? Sticking vodka bottles in the skulls of every victim. A number of the murders he committed were also done by throwing his victims into the sewers underneath Bitsa Park. This was not foolproof, however, as one victim survived.

His last murder, that of Marina Moskalyova, was committed in the summer of 2006. A metro ticket was found in her pocket at the time her body was found, leading authorities to Pichushkin after viewing surveillance footage of Marina walking the subway platform with him.


He was arrested on June 15, 2006. Due to the nature of his crimes, Russians considered reinstating the death penalty. However, on October 24, 2007, Alexander Pichushkin was convicted of 48 murders and three attempted murders. During the trial (while housed in a glass cage), he asked a Russian court to add an additional 11 victims to his body count, drawing the initial count up to 60 and three surviving victims. It took Judge Vladimir Usov an hour to read the verdict: life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.

"I liked the sound of a skull splitting,” he told prosecutors.

Once apprehended, Pichushkin led police to the scenes where he committed some of his murders in Bitsa Park. He proceeded to demonstrate on film how each murder was committed, detailing how he would attack from behind to avoid blood hitting his clothing before sticking a vodka bottle in the skull of each victim to ensure their death. He claimed that he felt like God, deciding whether his victims should live or die.

"For me, life without killing is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was I who opened the door for them to another world."

Pichushkin initially stated that his intentions were to kill sixty four people, the number of squares that are on a chessboard. He later recanted this statement, claiming he would have killed many more had he not been stopped.

In an interview with Russian tabloid Tvoi Den, Pichushkin spoke his thoughts on human life:

"Human life is not too long. It is cheaper than a sausage. My lawyer: I would cut him open like a fish. I would have killed him like an insect, and I would receive much pleasure from the process. I would cut him up and make belts out of his flesh. But as for remembering everyone I killed, who and when and where, that, I don’t remember. I don’t even care to remember."

In the same interview when asked if he regretted his crimes he said, “No, I do not regret it. So much strength and time spent. Repent? I do not repent, this is again a dull formality. It will not change my sentence. Since I was young I dreamed ... Everything was different back then. And it all turned out the way I wanted it to. I knew that they had me nailed when they started pressing me about 12 victims, but then they all were surprised that I actually killed 60. I watched a show about me on TV. Denis, my classmate, told the camera: "When we learned that he had committed these crimes it was a shock." Others said I was a rare case - killing just for the sake of killing. There is no motivation: neither race nor sex nor religion. Even someone wrote: Pichushkin himself doesn’t know yet that the history of criminology is changed, that it didn’t account for someone such as him, that he will go down in history forever …”

Known Victims

  • Vyacheslav, Klimov
  • Yuri
  • Tikhomirov, Nicholas
  • Oleg Lvov
  • Safonov, GD
  • Pavlov, Sergey
  • Elistratov VP
  • Konovaltsev Andrey
  • Vyacheslav
  • Veselovsky Andrew
  • Yuri Chumakov
  • Boris N. Nesterov
  • Lobov Mikhail
  • Chervyakov GM
  • Ilyinsky NI
  • Minaev VM
  • Fedorov SV
  • Pushkov A.
  • Dolmatov VN
  • VP Il’in
  • Kashtanov Igor
  • Stanova VP
  • SS Chudin
  • Vladimir
  • Nikolay A. Vorobyov
  • Lavrienko O.
  • Dudukin VI
  • Soloviev VN
  • Grishin, BA
  • Lyovochkin AN
  • Romashkin JN
  • Joldoshev MA
  • Kulygina Larissa

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