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Legendary Nona Gaprindashvili

01.01.2009, By EICC 2008
Legendary Nona Gaprindashvili

Nona Gaprindashvili (born May 3, 1941) is a Georgian chess player, the sixth women's world chess champion (1962–1978), and first female Grandmaster. Born in Zugdidi, Georgia (then part of the Soviet Union), she was the strongest female player of her generation. 

In 1961, aged 20, Gaprindashvili won the fourth women's Candidates Tournament, setting up a title match against Russian world champion Elisabeth Bykova. She won the match easily, with a final score of 9-2 (+7−0=4), and went on to defend her title successfully four times: three times against Alla Kushnir (1965: 10–6; 1969: 12–7; 1972: 12–11) and once against fellow Georgian Nana Alexandria (1975: 9–4). She finally lost her crown in 1978 to another Georgian, 17-year-old Maia Chiburdanidze, by a score of 6½–8½ (+2−4=9). 

During her career Gaprindashvili successfully competed in men's tournaments, winning (amongst others) the Hastings Challengers tournament in 1963/4 and tying for first place at Lone Pine in 1977, earning a grandmaster norm. 

In 1978 Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be awarded the Grandmaster title. She was awarded the title as a result of winning Lone Pine 1977 against a field of 45 players, mostly grandmasters. Although she did not meet the technical requirements for the GM Title, this result was so spectacular that FIDE found it sufficient. 

On the EICCs in Plovdiv Nona Gaprinashvili is specially invited by BCF as a member of Appealing Commitee. 

Nona Terentieva, for which time do you visit Bulgaria? 
Third or fourth time, but until now I always participated in tournaments on your sea resorts. In Plovdiv I come for the first time, and I enjoy the city very much. 

What are you doing now? 
I have retired on a pension. I am a real pensioner, although I do not stay at home all the time. Recently I even took active part in the politics on opposition’s part. I gave moral support with my name and authority to a man who, unfortunately passed away (Gaprindashvili has in mind Badri Patarkatsishvili- eminent Georgian contactor and public figure, who took part in the vote for Georgian president in January 2008, but was placed third. A month later Patarkatsishvili suddenly passed away from heart attack in London.) This man who was a president of the Georgian Olympic Committee practically saved the sports in our country. Before that Georgian athletes were leaving the country and winning medals for other nations, but thanks to Badri’s efforts they started to receive all necessary recourses for their preparation, including incredible for the Georgian standards financial support. 
In principle I do not have affinity towards the politics, but because of the man Badri and his ideas I agreed to take the lead of his Democratical Party for United Georgia. And since I was connected with the politics only due to this person, after his sudden death I logically withdrew from this sphere of influence. 

But you did not refuse from the place of Honorable President of the National Olympic Committee of Georgia?! 
No, at least for the moment. After the Beijing Olympiad there will be new elections for president (until now NOCG was led by Patarkatsishvili) and if you management, acceptable for me is chosen, I will stay and cooperate them. 

What part of your life takes now chess? 
I am still very interested in chess. Every time that I get invited I respond with pleasure- no matter if it is a tournament, or just to pay a visit for some chess event. I love chess, and I cannot quit this pleasure- if you quit all the nice things in life you will grow old immediately. I take part in blitz tournaments and in senior tournaments, where I am doing quite well. 

Can you share something interesting from these tournaments with us? 
I took part in the World Senior Women Championship only once, became champion, and lost interest. Until then I play in the men championships. And straight from my first try I was very close to the title. I can not still forget how three years ago I literally gifted the first place to yours Ljubcho Spassov. Without praising myself too much, but I really played in this tournament great. With three rounds to go we were four people to the lead the field. I had to play as Black against Spassov. The other pairing finished in a quick draw, and I achieved a winning position. However at this moment I relaxed too much, and started to think that I would win anyway. As a result technically drawn endgame arisen, in which I have a pair of light pieces for a rook and a pawn. Spassov offered a draw, which I rejected because I considered the position playable. However, a few move later I blundered a piece. In the remaining days of the tournament, even during the closing ceremony GM Vasiukov was telling me: “Nona, accept my condolence!” after winning this game, Spassov drew the last to and claimed the title. 

I guess you must feel very sorry about this game, since I can steel see your emotion. 
I feel sorry not for the missed title (because I am sure that I would win it, hence I did not lose this game), but for the fact that the quality of my play in this tournament that was that high was not appreciated. After that I kept asking myself for a long time if I would be capable of playing games in such a high level. 

Do you find among the young GMs your successor- a player with excitable and brilliant style-like yours? 
Currently there is no woman chess player who is outlined against the others. The tournament results shows that the top players are about equal and one and the same person can hardly win two strong tournaments in a row. There is whole bunch of very good female players, and for the moment it is hard for me to mention the one who is superior to the others. 

Do you include Judit Polgar in this group? 
No, since she does not participate in female tournaments. By the way, I have played her only once, on an Olympiad and won very nicely. The play in male tournaments is different. Do you know that in the year that I lost my World title to Chiburdanidze was my most successful year in male tournaments? But the psychology in the men and women events is very different. I am sure that if Judit decides to play in a female tournament she will not win her first competition. She will need a period of acclimatization to adopt herself to the female chess. The expectations towards her will be too high, any place different than first will be considered a failure. 

Do you think that female player should not take part in men events? 
Yes, men and women should play separately, since male players have a number of advantages before the start of the game. First-start from their birth boys are genetically liable to fight. Second-the physiological processes that happen and male and female bodies are not in favor of the latter when we speak about chess. The third moment is the nervous system, the psychological stability which is better in men. Fourth-female active chess life ends when she creates family, or in best case until she has a child. From this moment on she can never dedicate to chess, while the man, if he had earned enough and hade taken good care of his family, can be “excluded” from his parent’s obligations. If we summarize all this you will understand why women should not compete in male tournaments. 

Do you think that there is an optimal age for the good chess player? 
No. Цhess longevity depends on the sum factors: chess talent, physical health, and psychological stability. The summery of these components determines the long lasting good chess form. You will find out here in Plovdiv that titles will be decided not by the most talented players, but from those who harmonically possess these factors. 

Thank you for the conversation. 

Interview by Lejla Dimitrova 


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