Maia Chiburdanidze

wom-faviconMaia Chiburdanidze (born 17 January 1961 in Kutaisi, USSR) is a Georgian grandmaster, and the seventh Women’s World Chess Champion (1978-1991). She is the only chess player in history who has won nine Chess Olympiads and only her compatriot Nona Gaprindashvili won more: 11 Chess Olympiads.

Maya began to play chess at the age of 6, she improved her chess skills at the Tbilisi Pioneer Palace under the coaching of Shishov.

At the age of 12 she succeeded at the 1973 USSR Girls Championship (the third place). In 1974 she got the title of the International Master having played at her first International tournament at Brasov without any loss.

Chiburdanidze finished 2nd in the Tbilisi Women’s Interzonal (1976), thereby qualifying for the 1977 candidates matches. She advanced through to the Candidates Final, where she beat Alla Kushnir by 7½–6½ to set up a world title match in Pitsunda, Georgia, against Nona Gaprindashvili, the reigning women’s world champion. Chiburdanidze defeated Gaprindashvili by 8½–6½.

She successfully defended her title four times. In 1981 she drew a tough match 8–8 against Nana Alexandria, in Borjomi/Tbilisi, but kept the title as Champion. Three years later she played Irina Levitina in Volgograd, Russia and won convincingly by 8½–5½. The next defense came against Elena Akhmilovskaya in Sofia in 1986, and Chiburdanidze won the match by 8½–5½. In 1988 she retained her title again by narrowly winning a match in Telavi, Georgia against Nana Ioseliani by 8½–7½.

She was awarded the grandmaster title in 1984. She was the second woman, after Gaprindashvili, to be awarded the title.

In 1991 in Manila she lost the world women final to a young Chinese chess player named Xie Jun with a score 6½-8½.

She has attempted to regain the world title but, with the rise of the Chinese women and the formidable Polgár sisters, this has proved difficult and her best performance since 1991 has been 1st in the Tilburg Candidates tournament of 1994, losing the playoff to Zsuzsa Polgár by 5½–1½. Subsequently, despite not approving of the knockout format, she has entered the world championships of recent years. She reached the semi-finals in 2001, only to be knocked out by Zhu Chen of China, who went on to win the title. In 2004 she again reached the semi-finals where she lost to Antoaneta Stefanova who went on to win the title.

She has played extensively in men’s tournaments around the world and her best form was seen in the 1980s and early 1990s. She was 1st in tournaments in New Delhi (1984) and Banja Luka (1985) and in the next decade she finished 1st in Belgrade (1992), Vienna (1993) and in Lippstadt (1995).

She was a key member of the USSR team that dominated the women’s Olympiads of the 1980s and, when Georgia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, she played board 1 for the new Georgian national team that won four gold medals, in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 2008.

She also played in the European Team Championships of 1997 when Georgia won the gold medal and in the 1st Europe v Asia Intercontinental rapidplay match which was held in Batumi (Georgia) in September 2001. Asia won the women’s section by 21½-10½ with Maia contributing 3½. In 2008 Dresden Olympiad, she played on board 1, for Georgia, that won the gold medal (1st place), and she also won gold medal for best performance (2715 pt).

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