Person of day - 13 OCTOBER 2023
Like Nona Gaprindashvili, Nana Alexandria was a student of the outstanding Georgian trainer Vakhtang Karseladze. When she was just 15, Alexandria was already the champion of Georgia. During her debut in the Soviet championship, she split 6th-7thplaces. It became quite clear that Georgia was home to another talented chess player who would eventually compete with Gaprindashvili.
In 1966, 17-year-old Alexandria became the champion of the USSR- a competition she would win again in 1968 and 1969. After studying her performances, Mikhail Tal called her “an unusually multi-faceted player”. She was equally adept at east and difficult positions and she felt confident in endgames.
In 1967, Alexandria joined the fight for the world championship and in 1971, after defeating M. Lazarevich, she played against A. Kushnir in the final candidates’ match, but she lost that battle. However, in the next cycle, she defeated M. Litinskaya 5,5:2,5 and I. Levitina 9:8 and won the right to play against world champion Nona Gaprindashvili. Alexandria lost that match in 1975 3,5:8,5
Six years later, in 1981, she played another match for the world champion. Before that, she defeated E. Akhmylovskaya 5,5:3,5, M. Litinskaya 7:5 and N. Ioseliani 6,5:2,5. In her match for the world championship, she was playing against the new champion, Maia Chiburdanidze. The match was rigorous and the opponents were equal. Alexandria was as good as her opponent, but victory proved elusive. The final score was an 8:8 draw and Chiburdanidze retained her title of world champion. Alexandria made another attempt to play Chiburdanidze, but after she won against T. Lemachko in the quarter-final, she lost to I. Levitina in the semi-final 6,5:7,5 in in 1983.
Alexandria was successful in several international tournaments. She won 13 large tournaments, including ones in Tbilisi, Belgrade, Budapest, Pyatigorsk, Biel, Wijk aan Zee and Novi Sad.
“When people ask me, who beside world champion made significant contributions to the development of chess, my answer is Nimzowitsch and Keres. In women’s chess, that person is Nana Alexandria. Believe me, it is much harder to be second best in the world for decades than first for two or three years!” (M. Tal)