Hosting European women’s chess championships may backfire a bit on home turf
2011-04-30 14:39:43
by Yi Gaochao

TBILISI, April 30 (Xinhua) — Feelings toward the board game of chess among Georgian women are as split as generation gaps between grandmothers and granddaughters.

The generation-asunder feelings are once more brought forth by the incoming of the 2011 European Individual Women Chess Championship and the 2011 European Individual Women Rapid Chess Championship to the threshold of the South Caucasus country. Georgia is hosting the two events one after the other in early and mid-May.

For the old-timers, chess for women is reminiscent of a Georgian glory, though under the flag of the then Soviet Union. Between 1961 and 1991, two Georgian women reigned the international chess scene for women with 10 successive world championship titles spanning the entire three decades.

For the newcomers, chess for the weaker sex set off the jinx and jitters for them to break through so as to equal even part of the 1961-1991 Georgian glory.

First Nona Gaprindashvili and then Maia Chiburdanidze made their fame not only for reigning the world for three decades but also for being the world’s first and second women to gain the title of grandmaster for their expertise and excellence in the game.

Their fame soon spilled out of the chess board. Gaprindashvili has a perfume named after her, with a Tbilisi factory churning out Gaprindashvili perfume in bottles shaped like the chess piece of Queen. Chiburdanidze has several commemorative postage stamps minted for her including a 1986 one by Mongolia to depict one of her famous moves in the world championship games.

Be it the dissolution of the former Soviet Union or the political and economic ups and downs, Georgia has experienced 20 years of oblivion through a drought of medals of any hue in women chess actions.

Gia Giorgadze, president of the Georgian Chess Federation, said while explaining the backstep: “Speaking on this setback we have to take into account one important circumstance such as a painful process of changing of generations.”

The absence of Chiburdanidze from the Georgian squad led to a below-par performance at last year’s Chess Olympiad as against the Chiburdanidze-paced Georgian team for the previous Chess Olympiad.

Yet such young talents as Salome Melia and Bella Khotenashvili produced some brow-lifting performances at the last Chess Olympiad held in Russia.

Spearheaded by top-seeded Nana Dzagnidze, the Georgian trio are expected by compatriot chess lovers and admirers to revive to some extent and even to restore to the full the Georgian glory in women chess games by making the most of their home advantage.

But chess pundits in Georgia cannot be just too optimistic, in that Georgia enters this year’s European championship with none who has ever taken any medal from the annual event which was inaugurated in 2000 in the Georgian Black Sea resort of Batumi. The Georgians took two bronze medals from the 2000 and 2001 championships but these medallists do not play this year.

The upcoming young Georgian women chess players will face strong rivals as two-time continental champions Pia Cramling from Sweden (2003 and 2010), Tatiana Kosintseva of Russia (2007 and 2009) and Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine (2005 and 2008).

If they truly want to triumph on home turf, the Georgian women chess players, especially the leading trio, will have to beat their own nerves and nerds first before they can hope to beat their opponents en route to taking their first European medals after a hiatus of a full decade.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: , ,