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Friday, November 22, 2019

Kira Zvorykina

Zvorykina in 1957
     Kira Alekseyevna Zvorykina (September 29, 1919 – September 6, 2014, 94 years old) was a Soviet chess player who spent many years living in Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia. It’s a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. 
     She published one book, Vrriadkh shakhmatnoĭ gvardii (In the Ranks of the Chess Guard, 1984) that recounts highlights from her career. 
     She came from a large family of seven children and in her youth both her immediate and extended family were enthusiastic players and held their own private chess tournaments. As a result of her success in these events, at the age of 16 she entered a school competition and won all of her games. 
     By 1927 the family had resettled in Leningrad where she joined the Palace of Young Pioneers' Chess Club where classes were given by Peter Romanovsky, then a Candidate Master, but who later became an IM, author and highly respected chess teacher. 
     At 17 she became the Leningrad Schoolgirl Champion and also began studying at the Institute of Cinematography. Her time for chess gradually became more limited and it wasn't until 1946 that she began to emerge as an important force in world chess, finishing second in the Leningrad Women's Championship. 
     After marrying GM and trainer Alexey Suetin she progressed further and went on to become a three-time winner of the Women's Soviet Championship: 1951, 1953, 1956. In 1957 and 1958 she tied for first, but lost the tiebreak with Valentina Borisenko (‘57) and Larisa Volpert (‘58). Suetin, by the way, was an excellent writer and any of his books are worth reading.

     Zvorykina was one of the strongest female players in the world during the 1950s and early 1960s. Her greatest international success was in Plovdiv at the Women's Candidates Tournament of 1959, when victory over a strong field earned her a match with reigning Women's World Champion Elizaveta Bykova for the title. Unfortunately the 1960 match coincided with her mother's terminal illness and this undoubtedly affected her play and she was soundly defeated by Bykova who won by a score of 8.5-4.5. 
     Zvorykina twice represented the Soviet Union in the Olympiads, winning team gold on both occasions while scoring an impressive undefeated 17.5-2.5 in her individual games. 
     In international chess, there were very few women's tournaments held in the 1950s when Zvorykina was at her peak, but she tied for fourth place at the 1952 Moscow event and beat Anne Sunnucks (+1 =1 −0) in the USSR versus Great Britain Match of 1954. 
     In the 1960s, she competed in only a small number of international tournaments without much success against a new wave of strong players like Tatiana Zatulovskaya, Nona Gaprindashvili and Nana Alexandria. 
     In World Championship Candidates tournaments she remained a consistent and respected performer throughout the 1950s and well into the 1960s, always finishing among the top five. 
     Zvorykina spent some time in Moscow, when Suetin was appointed Head Chess Coach there. Later, she lived in Minsk, where she ran a chess school, although her career had previously been in engineering. 
     A frequent competitor in the Belarusian Chess Championship, she was champion on three occasions (1960, 1973 and 1975). Despite advancing years, she played chess in rated tournaments until 2007; in 1998, close to her eightieth birthday, her Elo rating was still 2245 and at the World Seniors at Rowy, Poland in 2000, she finished in the middle of the pack. 
     She was awarded the WIM title in 1952 and the WGM title in 1977. She also became an International Arbiter in 1977. You can watch her playing a blitz game in 2009 on Youtube HERE
Zvorykina in later years

     Her opponent in the following game was Jozefa Gurfinkel (May 2, 1919 - October 7, 1989) was a student of Igor Bondarevsky. In 1939, she won the Rostov Oblast Women's Chess Championship. In 1950, she shared first place in the Russian PFSR Women's Chess Championship, but lost the playoff match. 
     In 1941 she graduated from the Rostov State University, Faculty of Philology. Worked as a chess trainer at the Rostov Chess Club and other parts of the city. Former Chairman of the Rostov District Chess Federation Women's Committee.
     In 1963, she moved to Volgograd with her husband, master Alexander Konstantinov and continued to work as a chess coach. Her daughter Tatyana Moiseeva (born 1951) is also a chess player. 
     Between 1947 and 1968, she participated in the USSR Women's Championships nine times. Her best result was in 1954, when she finished second behind Larissa Wolpert. 
     In 1950 she became a Sports Chess Master in the USSR. She was awarded the WIM title in 1954. She was on the Russian PFSR Chess Team, which won the USSR Chess Championship in 1951. 
     This game is one that appeared in Zvorykina’s book, In the ranks of the Chess Guard. It’s exciting and it doesn’t appear in the database of her games on chessgames.com. 

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