Nona Gaprindashvili

The game is presented here in compact algebraic notation. If you do not know this notation scheme, then you should visit the chess notation link from the Beginner's Chess Page.

A Brief Biography

Nona Gaprindashvili was born on May 3, 1941, in Zugdide, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. She became the Women's World Champion in 1962, when she won the title from Elizaveta Bykova by a score of 9-2!. Gaprindashvili went on to dominate the women's international chess scene, and remained Women's World Champion for 16 years! She finally lost the title to another Georgian, Maia Chiburdanidze, in 1978, losing by the score 8-1/2 to 6-1/2 (Chiburdanidze went on to remain Women's World Champion for 13 years). Nevertheless, in that same year, Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be awarded the unqualified Grandmaster title (which you might call a men's Grandmaster title), in addition to the title designated Women's Grandmaster. Gaprindashvili is one of only a few women who could compete realistically in top level tournaments dominated by male grandmasters.

My Game with Gaprindashvili

Gaprindashvili came to the Monterey Park Chess Club on March 18, 1977 for a simultaneous exhibition. I do not remember how many games she played, but it must have been the usual 25 or so. For reasons then and now unknown to me, she was not in a very god mood that day. Unlike Smyslov the year before, or Petrosian the year after, Gaprindashvili was not interested in talking to anybody. She also refused to autograph anything, until her husband prevailed upon her to autograph the score sheets, which she reluctantly did. She won all of the games except one, a draw on one of the lower boards, and was visibly upset by her failure to win all of the games. But she worked much harder to win her games, and so achieved a better score than did either Smyslov or Petrosian, against comparable opposition.

White - Nona Gaprindashvili
Black - Tim Thompson
Simultaneous Exhibition, March 18, 1977
At the Monterey Park Chess Club

1.e4,c5; 2.Nf3,d6; 3.d4,cd4; 4.Nd4,Nf6; 5.Nc3,g6
Black adopts the Dragon Variation (5... g6) of the Sicilian Defence (1... c5).
And White adopts a classical line, characterized by this quiet development of the bishop to e2. The more popular line of attack then (and now) is 6.Bc4 followed by 7.f3 and the violent Yugoslav Attack proceeds as White launches the kingside pawns to storm the Black king directly. The classical lines pay more attention to the maneuvering game, and the control of space.
6... Bg7; 7.O-O,O-O; 8.Bg5
Here Gaprindashvili adopts a uncommon line. The QB usually goes to e3, followed by the advance f2-f4. The move adopted by Gaprindashvili seems intended to threaten the removal of the f6 knight, in order to get a stronger grip on the d5 square. Control of the d5 square is a common major theme in all variations of the Sicilian Defence.
8... Nc6; 9.Nb3
The retreat to b3 is standard. White wants to avoid exchanges, in order to inflict Black with a cramped and overcrowded position. The only drawback to the idea is that it gives the Black QB a good place to go on the e6 square.
9... Be6; 10.kh1,Rac8?!
The White king commonly seeks shelter in the corner before the f-pawn advances, exposing the g1-a7 diagonal. However, Black goes wrong here by taking the c8 square with the rook; that square should be left vacant for the queen, which is now obliged to go to d7. The right thing for Black to do is 10... a5; 11.a4,Nb4 following up by putting the queen on c8 and applying pressure as quickly as possible on the queenside.
The queen needs to back up the bishop and prevent the advance f4-f5.
Black already has a difficult position (something which can happen fast in the Dragon variation). This move is intended to support the advance b7-b5 but creates a weakness in the form of a hole at b6. It is probably better to go ahead and play 12... a5 instead; this also makes a hole at b6, but makes a future for the c6 knight, which could then maneuver N-b4-a6-c5. On 12... h6 White will probably just retreat the bishop B-h4-f2 where it can pressure the Black queenside.
13.Nd5,Bd5; 14.ed5,Na7
The knight will not be as useful on b5 as it would be on c5.
White simultaneously cuts off the c-file to the c8rook, and the long diagonal to the g7 bishop.
15... Nb5; 16.Re1,Rfe8; 17.Qd3,Ng4!?
At this point I had simply run short of assertive ideas, while White is set up to make clear progress attacking along the e-file. So I hatched a semi-desperate plan to sacrifice on c3. This is just about guaranteed to fail in a tournament game, but in a simultaneous exhibition, where the exhibitor has little time to deal with any one game, upsetting the position like this can be a fruitful idea, if you get enough counterplay.
18.Qe2,h5; 19.h3,Nh6; 20.g4,Kh7
Here the idea is to sacrifice a pawn by allowing the White g-pawn to capture on h5 and g6, which will make a very good square for the Black knight on f5. This will also open the h-file for Black to harass the White king.
It's finally time to strike. I don't think she anticipated this move.
22.bc3,Bc3; 23.gh5,Ba8; 24.Ra8,Nf5; 25.hg6+,fg6; 26.Bg4!
I have gotten what I was looking for, but Gaprindashvili responds accurately. The overall material balance is about equal, I have given up two bishops in return for a rook and a pawn. I need to mobilize my rooks and try to create threats around the idea of creating a passed pawn. Gaprindashvili at once pins the knight, and puts the bishop on a good diagonal that aims right at the Black queen, and the c8 square. She now threatens to maneuver her knight N-d4-e6, which I cannot allow. So my response here is just about forced.
26... e5; 27.de6,Qe6; 28.Qe6,Re6; 29.Bf5,gf5; 30.Nd4
White is clearly getting the better of the game, by making targets out of the Black pawns. My only chance is to use the rooks aggressively, as a team.
30... Re3; 31.Rg1!
Gaprindashvili avoids 31.Nf5,Rc2+; 32.Kg1 or h1,Ree2 when Black produces serious threats to force a draw by perpetual check.
31... Rc5; 32.Bf6,Ra5; 33.Rg2,Re4; 34.Nf3,Re3
34...Rf4?? loses the rook to 35.Rg7+,Kh8; 36Rg4+, while the Black king gets checkmated on any move other than to h8.
35.Ng5+,Kg8; 36.Bd4,Rd3; 37.Bf6,Ra4??; 38.Rc2 And Black resigns
An unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise interesting game. Seduced by a chance to attack the f-pawn with my rook, I completely overlooked the threat to my back rank. Had my rook stayed where it was I could block at c5. White has the better game in any case, and stands to win by advancing the h-pawn to queendom. But anything is better than walking into checkmate. 37... Kf8 gets out of the way of the White rook on the g-file, but makes the advance of the h-pawn even easier.

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