Anastasiya Karlovich: Please tell us a little bit about your life these days.
Nona Gaprindashvili: I still enjoy playing chess, so if I have a chance to play somewhere I’m trying to use it: for example I participate in some veteran tournaments. I’m using any opportunity to be at tournaments because chess was my life and I don’t want to leave the chess world. I’m also glad to be here as a chief of the Appeal’s committee.
A.K: How do you find Qatar and organisation here?
N.G.: I have very good impressions of Qatar. I was in the centre and I liked it a lot visually. I’m amazed by the attention towards plants here. People provide water to any tree, any plant. It’s very hard to do but they do it. The hotel is very good here and conditions for the players are excellent, so if somebody plays bad objectively they have only themselves to blame (smiles).
A.K.: What do you think about Women Grand Prix tournaments?
N.G.: I think the idea is great! Such tournaments give a chance for chess players to earn good money and play in a strong event.When I became the World Champion I got 900 roubles and it’s just ridiculous. I have 5 golden medals from World championships, 11 Olympic medals; I won many tournaments and didn’t earn anything. But nowadays chess players can earn more in one tournament comparing to what we could earn in the World Championship. After Ilyumzhinov came to chess he gave a chance to the average player to live from chess. There are some people who don’t want to admit it but it’s their problems, I respect him. He started to organise the World cups, also some other commercial tournaments appeared. If you play good, and I’m not talking about 10 best players, you can live from chess. I’m also glad that women chess players started to earn money by playing chess.
A.K.: What can you say about the current situation in the ultimate event of Woman Grand Prix? What are your expectations?
N.G.: I’m very impressed by Danielian here, she is a sole leader of the event. She was quite lucky in some games here and I do not always agree with her evaluations of the games, I had the different ones.But Armenian players have one good and important quality – they fight till the end in every position. So Danielian shows her character here, playing better in complicated positions than her opponents. But the main fight is still ahead, so everything can happen. I’ll try to abstain from giving predictions.
A.K.: Whom do you grieve for here? N.G.: Of course it’s impossible and not normal not to support Nana Dzagnidze, who has a chance to represent Georgia in the match to decide the next World Champion. She started very well winning against her main opponent Humpy Koneru. If both Nana and Humpy will play badly then Nana will promote. So Koneru has to try to be ahead of her in the Grand Prix tournament. But both of them play unstable here and I don`t want to say anything concrete right now. The quality of games means a lot for me. I like logical games. Of course it`s interesting to see the games here but I don’t like when the advantage twistes from one opponent to another. A.K.: Do you think it is typical for women’s chess only?
N.G.: No there are enough games with the same quality played by men. I think it depends on the class of the opponents. In my opinion, the percentage of high quality games shows the level of class. If we speak about women World Champions I can say that I need time now to remember who is a current champion. It’s important for me when a player repeats the success. But the names are changing all the time and after Xie Jun, who became the World Champion and defended her title three times, there was nobody else who tried the crown on more than one time. One time a good player can win the title but the stability means a lot for me.
A.K.: The system changed and in the recent years 64 players fight for the title in the World cup… N.G.: The system doesn’t matter at all! The same people are fighting for the World Title.
A.K.: What characteristics should the World Champion have and did they change last years?
N.G.: I believe that only a person, who combines the number of special characteristics, can become a world champion or will play better than her opponents. So the summary includes chess talent, strong nervous system, character, psychological stability. Speaking about character I mean sportive character, ability to play in any situation, when you are not afraid, when you can fight. If you lose this ability you would never achieve good results! The one who has all those qualities goes forward.
A.K.: What can you say about situation around chess in your country today?
N.G.: Of course we can not compare the successes of the new generation with what we had before when Georgian players were playing against each other in the matches for the World Title. But it’s impossible to win everything all the time. But even after the USSR collapsed our girls won four Olympiads. There are players from the new generation such as Nana Dzagnidze. But after you got used to really big successes… Anyway chess traditions are still strong in Georgia and we hope one day they’ll be recovered because I believe they don’t disappear.
A.K.: You started a new era in women’s chess by becoming the first woman to be awarded a men grandmaster title. Now we have many grandmasters among women…
N.G.: We have inflation today. We have so many grandmasters in general. In our time we knew all grandmasters of our generation. And all of them had great personalities and it means a lot. Without computer they were searching all the time that’s why everybody had his own ideas, own achievements. And they had depth, understanding of chess.
A.K.: Which advise can you give to the players who want to achieve good results in chess?
N.G.: I’m telling it to everybody but nobody listens (smiles). I was already five-time champion and Yuriy Nikolaevich Borisenko was invited to work with Ubilava and me as a trainer. He changed my chess understanding head over heels. It became clear for me that I was working incorrectly before. He explained how to work on chess, how to work on the openings. I`ve got so many ideas in the openings I was used to play and I started to understand them deeply. There is a lack of understanding nowadays. And it does not come with the computers only. Computer is very useful for information: we didn’t have it before and we lost a lot of time searching for information. It’s better to step aside the theory and look for something that is your own. It’s good to use computers just to check your ideas. Why chess is still alive? Because somebody finds a new idea and all approaches are overthrown after that.
A.K.: Don’t you feel sorry there are not so many spectators at chess tournaments any more?
N.G.: Life goes on…People don’t come to watch games to the playing halls. They can do it through internet. And I know millions of them watching chess.
A.K.: What do you like to do besides chess?
N,G.: I’m very glad when I have time to rest at home on Saturdays and Sundays. Than I have a chance to watch much soccer. So usually I support and like to watch the matches of Spanish, English and Italian leagues. My favourite teams are Barcelona and Arsenal. I don’t just love football, I adore football! And the important thing is that I also have understanding of football. I know when the arbiter makes mistakes, when the commentators make the wrong observations.
A.K.: Do you like to make bets and are you successful?
N.G.: Sometimes I do. I`m not playing professionally of course but I like to put little bets on a group of different matches. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose...I also like to watch snooker. I used to play pool during the Soviet times and I didn’t like snooker from the beginning because it looks a bit different. But if I was a child and if I had a choice I would play snooker along with chess. I also liked jurisprudence and I`ve got a proposition to enter the law institute. But I refused to study law because at the moment I`d already made my choice. But I still like to read juridical books. I still remember some parts of the book with speeches of the famous lawyers in the court. I like reading and usually carry 10 books with me when I go to tournaments.
A.K.: It’s also well known that you work as a politician in Georgia…
N.G: I don’t call it “politics”. I just don’t like what’s going on in my country nowadays. I want to see completely different Georgia. I have 2 grandchildren and, instead of doing the things which I enjoy to do, I`m absorbed in this work. We believe we have to save Georgia for the new generations. I’m not even in opposition I just love my country; I want Georgia to develop economically and spiritually. The young generation, the best intellects leave our country and work abroad.Never before Georgians were living their country, their Motherland so easily! But today statistic shows that about 1,5 million people from Georgia live abroad.