Nona Gaprindashvili

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Nona Gaprindashvili
ნონა გაფრინდაშვილი
Gaprindashvili, 1963
CountrySoviet Union → Georgia
Born (1941-05-03) 3 May 1941 (age 82)
Zugdidi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union (now Georgia)
TitleGrandmaster (1978)
Women's World Champion1962–1978
Peak rating2495 (July 1987)

Nona Gaprindashvili (Georgian: ნონა გაფრინდაშვილი; born 3 May 1941) is a Georgian chess Grandmaster. She was the women's world chess champion from 1962 to 1978, and in 1978 she was the first woman ever to be awarded the FIDE title of Grandmaster. Noted for her aggressive play style, Gaprindashvili has been recognized with entry into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Presidential Order of Excellence in 2015.

Gaprindashvili began playing chess when she was five years old, and she moved to Tbilisi to train under Grandmasters in 1954. By 1962, she won the title of women's world chess champion in a landslide victory against the previous champion, Elisaveta Bykova. This won her widespread acclaim throughout Georgia. She successfully defended her title four times: three against Alla Kushnir and one against Nana Alexandria. She lost her title to Maia Chiburdanidze after a narrow loss in 1978. Gaprindashvili participated in men's tournaments during her career, including a performance at Lone Pine International which earned her the title of Grandmaster. She later competed regularly in the Women's World Senior Championship.

Besides her chess career, Gaprindashvili maintained an active presence in Georgian politics: she served as a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Georgia, as president of the Georgian National Olympic Committee, and as a member of the People's Assembly group that organized the 2011 Georgian protests. In 2021, Gaprindashvili filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix after it erroneously described her in The Queen's Gambit as never having competed against men; Netflix settled in 2022.

Early life[edit]

Nona Gaprindashvili was born in Zugdidi in 1941, the youngest of six children and the only girl.[1] Her family was highly athletic, and the neighborhood children would often gather at the Gaprindashvili's home to play table tennis, billiards, and football. They had her play goalkeeper during their football games because she was the girl of the family.[2] She first learned to play chess from her father while she was five years old and from watching her brother play.[1][2] When Gaprindashvili was eleven or twelve, she accompanied her brother to a chess tournament, and when he was unable to play, she played in his stead.[2] Here she was noticed by chess trainer Vakhtang Karseladzé [ru]. Her parents had her live with her aunt in Tbilisi, where she could train with chess Grandmasters beginning in 1954.[1][2] By 1956, at the age of fourteen, she won the semi-final of the Women's Soviet Union Championship.[2]

World champion and Grandmaster[edit]

Gaprindashvili won the Women's Candidates Tournament in 1961, making her eligible to challenge Elisaveta Bykova, the reigning world champion in women's chess.[1] Gaprindashvili's favorite football team, FC Dinamo Tbilisi attended the game as spectators to support her.[2] Gaprindashvili won the 1962 match against Bykova with a large victory of nine points against Bykova's two.[1] The game was adjourned, to be resumed the following morning, but Bykova conceded by phone later that night.[2]

After her victory, Gaprindashvili was a celebrity in Georgia, and crowds gathered to meet her as she returned from the World Championship match. Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade described Gaprindashvili as a symbol of Georgian nationalism and merit during the country's time as a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Her victory marked the beginning of a "women's chess revolution" in Georgia.[1] Woman Grandmaster Rusudan Goletiani said that this went even further, with her success helping inspire a broader "intellectual revolution" for Georgian women.[3] Many women took up chess afterward, and Georgia became one of the most prominent countries in women's chess, producing numerous masters during Gaprindashvili's career.[1]

Gaprindashvili went on to defend her title successfully three times against the Soviet player Alla Kushnir. In 1975, Gaprindashvili was challenged by the Georgian player Nana Alexandria. The competition between two Georgians was widely followed in their home country, and Gaprindashvili won with 8.5 points against Alexandria's 3.5.[1]

During her career, Gaprindashvili successfully competed in tournaments that were traditionally played by men, winning amongst others the Hastings Challengers tournament in 1963/4.[4] She tied for second place at Sandomierz in 1976,[5][6] tied for first place at Lone Pine International in 1977,[7] and tied for second at the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting in 1978.[8][9] Her performance at Lone Pine made her the first woman ever to earn a norm for the title of Grandmaster.[10] Her performances at Sandomierz and Dortmund did not earn grandmaster norms, which would have contributed to her earning a Grandmaster title, as she was one-half point short in each case.[11][12] At the meeting of the FIDE Congress in 1978, Gaprindashvili was awarded the title of Grandmaster, although the normal requirement was three norms totaling 24 games.[1] She considers her Lone Pine performance and her subsequent awarding of Grandmaster to be her greatest achievement in chess.[2]

The same year, Gaprindashvili was challenged for her title by another Georgian player, Maia Chiburdanidze, who was only seventeen years old at the time of the tournament. Their first three rounds were draws. Chiburdanidze then won three rounds in a row, followed by two victories for Gaprindashvili. The final round was to determine who would take the championship. It was won by Chiburdanidze, and Gaprindashvili lost her title as world champion.[1]

Later career[edit]

Gaprindashvili in 1995

Gaprindashvili played for the Soviet Union in the Women's Chess Olympiads of 1963, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, and for Georgia in 1992.[13] She was one of the contributing players of the Soviet Union team that dominated the Women's Olympiads of the 1980s. She won 25 medals, including eleven team gold medals and nine individual gold medals.[14] At the Olympiad of Dubai 1986 she won all ten games she played.[13] Gaprindashvili was a five-time winner of the USSR Women's Chess Championship: in 1964, 1973/74, 1981, 1983, and 1985.[15] She achieved her peak FIDE rating of 2495 in July 1987.[16] Gaprindashvili went on to train young female chess players, including Ana Matnadze and Tea Lanchava.[1] As of her 2022 win, she has eight victories at the Women's World Senior Championship, a championship for female players at least 65 years of age.[17]

Besides chess, Gaprindashvili was also active politically, serving as a member of the Soviet Parliament of Georgia. She then served as president of the Georgian National Olympic Committee from 1989 to 1996. Gaprindashvili was active in the protests against President Eduard Shevardnadze in 2002.[2] She was then among the most prominent members of the People's Assembly, a political opposition movement that protested the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. She and the People's Assembly were involved in the 2011 Georgian protests.[2][18]

In 2005, at age 64, Gaprindashvili won the BDO Chess Tournament held in Haarlem, the Netherlands, with a score of 6½/10 points and a performance rating of 2510.[19] In 2020, Gaprindashvili appeared in the documentary Glory to the Queen, alongside Nana Alexandria, Maia Chiburdanidze and Nana Ioseliani.[20]

The Netflix series The Queen's Gambit and its story were influenced by Gaprindashvili's life.[21] When it was released in 2020, Gaprindashvili was the only real life chess player to be mentioned in the show. It erroneously described her as a woman's chess player who had never competed against men.[1] In response, she filed a lawsuit against Netflix for US$5 million for false light, invasion of privacy, and defamation on 16 September 2021.[22] In September 2022, Netflix settled with Gaprindashvili on undisclosed terms.[23]

Play style and philosophy[edit]

Gaprindashvili has been noted for her competitiveness and aggressive playing style.[1] Following her victory over Bykova in 1962, it became common for young female chess players to emulate Gaprindashvili's style of aggressive and technical play.[24] As a child, Gaprindashvili had a reputation for handling losses poorly.[1] She has expressed an appreciation for the fact that arbitrators do not have a significant role in chess, having seen problems in other sports.[2] Gaprindashvili has said that she does not like to compare chess players, as she sees each chess player as having their own body of work rather than a single factor that can be compared. Among those she considers great chess players, she has listed Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, and Paul Morphy.[2]

Honors and awards[edit]

Gaprindashvili was awarded the Presidential Order of Excellence in 2015 by President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili for "her outstanding contribution to the country and nation" and "representing Georgia at an international level".[14] In 2013, she was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame.[25]

Tbilisi's Chess Palace is dedicated to Gaprindashvili.[26] The town of Zugdidi put up a statue in Gaprindashvili's honor.[3] On her 60th birthday, the government of Georgia gave her two cars.[3] In 2016, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov gave her a representation of Caïssa, in the shape of a chess queen, made by the Lobortas Classic Jewelry House.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Shahade 2022, Chapter 3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sakelsek, Tadej; Mikhalchisin, Adrian (26 December 2018). "Gaprindashvili: "I am very thankful that chess was my sport of choice"". ChessBase. Retrieved 3 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Shahade 2022, Chapter 4.
  4. ^ Barden, Leonard (March 1964). "Nona Talks" (PDF). Chess Life. Vol. XIX, no. 3. pp. 57–58.
  5. ^ O'Connell, Kevin J., ed. (1977). FIDE Chess Yearbook 1976/7. Batsford. p. 83. ISBN 9780713406757.
  6. ^ Zuyev, Yuri (March 1980). "Nona Gaprindashvili: first woman grandmaster challenges men chess players". Soviet Life. Vol. 4, no. 282. p. 63.
  7. ^ Kashdan, Isaac (July 1977). "Lone Pine 1977" (PDF). Chess Life. Vol. XXXII, no. 7. pp. 361–364.
  8. ^ Ray Keene (June 1978). "VI Dortmund International Tournament". British Chess Magazine. pp. 241–243.
  9. ^ Golemba, Beverly E. (1992). Lesser-known Women. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 270. ISBN 9781685856069.
  10. ^ Soltis 2014, p. 347.
  11. ^ Benko, Pal (January 1979). "Chiburdanidze vs. Gaprindashvili, Match of the Century". Chess Life & Review. p. 15.
  12. ^ Graham, John (1987). Women in Chess: Players of the Modern Age. McFarland. pp. 32–35. ISBN 9780899502328.
  13. ^ a b "OlimpBase :: Women's Chess Olympiads :: Nona Gaprindashvili".
  14. ^ a b "Order of Excellence to Nona Gaprindashvili". FIDE. Archived from the original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  15. ^ Anatoly Karpov, ed. (1990). Шахматы. Энциклопедический Словарь [Chess. Encyclopedic Dictionary] (in Russian). Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya. p. 77. ISBN 5-85270-005-3.
  16. ^ "FIDE rating history :: Gaprindashvili, Nona". Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  17. ^ "Georgian chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili wins her 8th World Senior Chess Championship". Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  18. ^ "Georgia Protests: One Demonstration, With Many Interpretations". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  19. ^ Agterdenbos, Frits (10 September 2005). "Nona Gaprindashvili wins BDO Chess Tournament Haarlem". Chess News. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  20. ^ ""Glory to the Queen": A Tribute to the Georgian Queens of Chess". Chess News. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2023.
  21. ^ Bilen, Eren; Matros, Alexander (2023). "Superstar Effect". Encyclopedia of Heroism Studies. Springer. ISBN 978-3-031-17125-3.
  22. ^ Stevens, Matt (16 September 2021). "A Chess Pioneer Sues, Saying She Was Slighted in 'The Queen's Gambit'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  23. ^ "Netflix Settles 'Queen's Gambit' Defamation Suit Brought by Georgian Chess Grandmaster". Variety. 6 September 2022.
  24. ^ Soltis 2014, p. 348.
  25. ^ "Nona Gaprindashvili". World Chess Hall of Fame. 23 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Tbilisi Chess Palace and Alpine Club".
  27. ^ "Nona Gaprindashvili Earns the World Chess Champion Title Once Again". Georgia Today on the Web. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019.


External links[edit]

Preceded by Women's World Chess Champion
Succeeded by