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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

For Your Viewing Pleasure...An Exciting Win by Gaprindashvili

     Georgian female chess players have been especially strong; its players having once held the Women’s World Champion title for just under 30 consecutive years. The first was Nona Gaprindashvili, who in 1962 became the Women’s World Champion at the age of 21. 
     A five-time world champion, she played a big role in helping the Soviet Olympiad team to 11 team gold medals during her tenure while earning nine individual gold medals herself. She is also the first woman to earn the GM (men's) title. Gaprindashvili held her title until 1978 when she was dethroned by Maya Chiburdanidze. Even after losing the title Gaprindashvili’s love for the game and her fighting spirit enabled her to win four Senior World Championships (1995, 2009, 2014, and 2015). 
     She was so popular in Georgia that parents named their daughters Nona in her honor.  She was a celebrity and was recognized on the streets and she inspired a host of Georgian female stars: Maya Chiburdanidze, Nana Aleksandria, Nana Ioseliani, Nino Gurieli, Ketevan Arakhamia and Ketevan Kakhiani.  In 1975 she had a perfume named after her. Interesting fact: Traditionally, when Georgian women got married their parents would give them chess sets as part of their wedding presents. So, maybe that has something to do with the amazing success of Georgian women at chess. 
     Gaprindashvili was born May 3, 1941 in Zugdidi, Georgia (then part of the Soviet Union) and held the women's world championship from 1962–1978. In 1961, at the age of 20, she won the women's Candidates Tournament and played Elisabeth Bykova. Gaprindashvili won the match easily, scoring +7−0=4, and went on to defend her title successfully four times: three times against Alla Kushnir and once against Nana Alexandria. She finally lost the title in 1978 to 17-year-old Maia Chiburdanidze, by a score of +2−4=9. 
     Gaprindashvili played for Soviet Union in the Chess Olympiads of 1963, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, and for Georgia in 1992 and won the Soviet Women's Championship five-times: 1964, 1973, 1981, 1983, and 1985. 
     During her career Gaprindashvili successfully competed in men's tournaments, winning the Hastings Challengers tournament in 1963/4 and tying for first place at Lone Pine International tournament in 1977 against a field of 45 players which included many GMs. The Lone Pine victory gave her two GM norms over 23 games, not the 24 required.  According to Pal Benko, always somewhat a snot in my opinion, when in 1978 FIDE awarded her the men's GM title, she did not actually earn it. Benko felt this represented a "slight tarnish" on her title. 
     In 1995 Gaprindashvili won the Women's World Senior Championship for the first time followed by victories in 2009, 2014 and 2015. In 2005, at age 64, she won the BDO Tournament in Haarlem, The Netherlands with a score of 6.5-3.5 and a performance rating of 2510. She won also the Women's European Senior Championship in 2011 and 2015.
     Gaprindashvili was awarded with the Order of Excellence in 2015 by President of Georgia for "her outstanding contribution to the country and nation" and "representing Georgia at an international level". 
     In the following game she defeated veteran Fridrik Olafsson in the Euwe Stimulans in 2007. This tournament was won by the 25-year old Zambian IM Amon Simutowe, completing his final GM norm in the process. This win is very exciting. Gaprindashvili got the initiative and kept up the pressure in a tactical battle until Olafsson finally went astray.
     Olafsson first won the Icelandic Championship in 1952 and the Nordic Championship a year later, rapidly becoming recognized as the strongest Icelandic player of his generation and he had considerable success in international play, but was soon eclipsed by Bent Larsen. 

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