Person of day - 4 OCTOBER 2023
Elena Rubtsova was born on 4th October 1947 in Moscow. Elena’s parents were world champion Olga Rubtsova and master of sport of the USSR Abraham Poliak. From early childhood, the girl’s parents made every effort to make Elena a strong chess player and their endeavours were not wasted. In 1963, Elena split 1stplace at the junior women’s USSR championship and qualified for the 1964 Soviet women’s championship, where she won a medal at first attempt.
The young woman won the Moscow championship and a tournament organised by the Burevestnik Sports Society. Elena studied psychology at university and played for the student team before joining her mother at Spartak. In the 1960s, Elena Rubtsova regularly finished among the top five in Soviet championships and played at a match-tournament between the three strongest Soviet players and the three strongest players from Yugoslavia in 1967.
At an international tournament in 1970 in Gori, Elena came second and became an international master. A few years later, Elena married Alexander Fatalibekov- a famous psychologist. A new chapter of her career opened: Fatalibekova won tournament in Chelyabinsk in 1971, played well at the 1975 zonal tournament and sensationally came first at the 1976 inter-zonal tournament in Tbilisi.
The tournament in Georgia brought together all the world’s finest female players, like Maia Chiburdanidze, Marta Litinskaya, Tatiana Zalutovskaya and Valentina Kozlovskaya and the strongest players from Europe. However, Elena Fatalibekova was above competition, winning 8 points out of 11 and finishing a half-point ahead of the future world champion.
Soon after, the quarterfinals of the candidates’ tournament took place in Sochi, where Fatalibekova faced Valentina Kozlovskaya- a strong grandmaster who was trained by her husband, Igor Bondarevsky, who was also Boris Spassky’s coach. The result of the competition shocked Soviet chess fans- Elena Fatalibekova won 6:2! In the semi-final against Alla Kushnir, Elena held her own for a long time, but lost the final game and the match 3,5:6,5.
As a result of the candidates’ matches, FIDE awarded Elena the title of grandmaster. In the 1970s and 1980s, Elena played in several inter-zonal tournaments and won a few international tournaments. Retaining her playing prowess for many years, the grandmaster played for the post-Soviet Russian B team at the 1994 Olympiad. Alongside Irina Kulish, Galina Strutinskaia and Tatiana Roschina, she finished a respectable 12th.
Elena Fatalibekova won several women’s senior competitions in Russia, Europe and around the world. In individual rankings, Elena was the best senior chess player three times: in 2000, 2001 and 2004. In 2017, Elena Fatalibekova once again became the world champion among female seniors with the Russian team and won silver at the European championship in 65+ group.