Nona Gaprindashvili

wom-faviconNona Gaprindashvili (born 3 May, 1941) is a Georgian chess player, the fifth women’s world chess champion (1962-1978), and first female Grandmaster in chess history. Born in Zugdidi, Georgia (then part of the Soviet Union), she was the strongest female player of her generation.

Nona began playing chess at 5. At 12 she started to take part in chess events and started to be coached by Karseladze. At 14 she was the 2nd at Tbilisi championship. The following year became a Georgian women champion and participated in the USSR Championship where she finish 7th. Well placed in the 1960 USSR Championship she got the right to participate in the 1961 Candidates Women Tournament.

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).

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. She was one of the contributing players of the USSR team that dominated the women’s Olympiads of the 1980s. She won as many as 25 medals, among which 11 team gold medals and 9 individual gold medals. At the Olympiad of Dubai 1986 she won all the ten games she played.

She was a five times winner of the Women’s Soviet Championship: in 1964, 1973, 1981, 1983, and 1985.

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 after scoring two Grandmaster ‘norms’ totaling 23 games, the last of which was winning Lone Pine 1977 against a field of 45 players, mostly grandmasters. Although she did not meet the technical requirements for the GM title, which required 24 games, by exceeding the GM ‘norm’ requirement in Lone Pine, FIDE found her results equivalent to 24 games and made her the first woman Grandmaster. Not until Zsuzsa Polgar did another woman achieve the Grandmaster title through regular tournament play.

Her play is characterized by universal style and high technique of playing endings. Euwe considered Gaprindashvili as a chess player of very wide perspective and her play versatile and bright.

In 2005, at age 64, Nona won the BDO Chess Tournament held in Haarlem, the Netherlands with a score of 6.5/10 and a performance rating of 2510.

In 2009 she won in Condino, Italy the World Senior Championship for women and in 2014 she won the title again in Katerini (Greece).