USA's Top Daily Chess News Blog, Informative, Fun, and Positive

hosted by Chess Queen™ & 12th Women's World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I always play to win, says women's chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hello everyone,

Nona Gaprindashvili is considered a ‘chess legend’. She was the Women’s World Chess Champion for 16 years (1962-1978). She won the title defeating Elisabetta Bykova (world champion 1953-1961) and lost the title to Maya Chiburdanidze.

Nona is the current Women’s European Senior Champion and she won the Women’s World Senior Championship in 2009 (in 2010 she lost the title due to the worst technical tiebreak).
She was the first woman to get the title Grandmaster (‘absolute’).

Here is an interview with the Grandmaster on the sidelines of the world senior chess championship 2011 currently on in Opatija, Croatia

Q - Is this the first time you play in Opatija?A – No. It is my first tournament here, but when I was young, after playing in Belgrade and Zagreb, I came here to the coast to play simul and exhibitions; and beside some other places, I was also here in Opatija and in Rijeka. Moreover I played the Olympiads in Skopje and Novi Sad. I have to say that I always considered the former Yugoslavia as my second country; every year I came here to play and I always had a warm welcome by organizers and chess fans. And I have to say that this time also Chess Club Rijeka had a great affection for me which made me very happy and I would like to thank them and all the people in Opatija.

GM Gaprindashvili with her book 'Selected Games'

Q – When did you learn to play chess?
A – I was a little girl and I was learning to play looking at my four brothers. Honestly, I have to say that I did everything that my brothers did. So I played football, I played ping-pong, I played billiard: in billiard I am still very good, and I am a great supporter of Barcelona and Arsenal football clubs, as my whole family; I like to follow games and I appreciate good football players - I can say that I ‘understand’ football!

Moreover with my brothers I played chess! But I played my first important tournament when I was only 13 years old, and it happened almost by chance. A team event was organized in Tbilisi and each team was supposed to have a female chessboard. My brother played on the first chessboard for the team and he proposed me; so I had my beginning in an official event. I played very well and the club proposed to my parents a coach for me; I lived in a town far from Tbilisi, but I had an uncle there. So my parents send me to live with my uncle in Tbilisi. I started to study chess with a coach and in a couple of years I became the first Georgian women champion, and then the women champion of USSR (1956).
Now I try to teach chess my nephew Nicholas (5 years old); my son David and my other nephew Lary (16 years old) do not play chess.

Q- You were the first woman to get the title Grandmaster (absolute). How did you feel when you achieved this goal?
A- You can say the title ‘male’ Grandmaster! In the seventies, when I played tournaments (usually round robin tournaments, with 10, 12 or 14 players - at that time there were only few Swiss tournaments) all the men fought hard against me, because I was a woman. In almost equal position they went on and adjourned the game, one or even two times, while against man they would have made a draw. For me it was not easy. In any case I gained the Grandmaster title in the tournament of Lone Pine (USA) in 1977, where I played beautiful and interesting games. I remember for example my win against GM Peters. After this tournament all the players considered me in a different way. But this did not change my style of play: I always play to win!

Q- Among your games, do you remember any one in particular?
A- It might be the game against Velimirovic in Bela Crkva 1984; I played with black pieces and it was really a hard fight with continuous upsets, sacrifice and counter sacrifices. A lot of people were around the table looking at the game and when we agreed for a draw at the end they applauded both of us for a few minutes.

Q- And tournaments?
A- Oh, there are many. By the way I can mention Reggio Emilia 1982-83. I won the tournament (all the other players were men) and I played a very good game against Kapengut.

Q- Back to the world championship here in Opatija, 40 women participating, it is a record! What do you think about that? And what’s your goal in the tournament?
A- I think that the number of women in the Senior Championship will increase in the next few years, also because for women it is enough to be 50 years old. I think that it is a positive matter. As far as this tournament is concerned, I am confident - I am playing well, I feel good. In any case, as I told you, I always play to win, I never look to the opponent, I always look to the position!

Q- Your opinion about the playing time?
A- It is not a problem; in fact it is the same for all the players. I cannot say that it was better before; there were adjourned games and one game could last even 10-12 hours and we were supposed to have tough nerves! Now it is different, but surely it is better for organization!

Q- What about those new girls and women coming from China and India? Do you think that the traditional domination of female chess players from Georgia is finished or not?
A – Yes, female players from China and India are growing up, above all from China that always had good players. The problem is that after Xie Yun, the top player changed every year. Now there is young Hou Yifan: we will see if she can keep the world title for a few years. In my opinion she can improve, but I think that she has not yet found the right coach.
As far as Georgia is concerned, we dominated the world for around 40 years! We won everything, both individual and team events! It is normal that after such a long time something changes. In any case Georgia won the female Olympiad in 2008, so surely the Georgian tradition is not yet finished.

Thank you very much GM Nona Gaprindashvili! You will always be in the heart of chess fans!

Thank you to Adolivio Capece for sending us this interview from the World Senior Chess Championship 2011 currently being played in Croatia. You can access the official website at this link.

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
Also see her personal blog at

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home