Person of day - 23 APRIL 2022
It may be difficult to believe, but the semi-finalist of the women’s world championship in 2015 Pia Cramling entered the chess elite in the early 1980s after playing wonderfully on the first board in the 1982 and 1984 Olympiads and splitting 6thplace at the U21 European championship. At the 1984 super-tournament in Biel in, Pia not only stood up to all the male players, but she even managed to defeat Viktor Korchnoi in 30 moves at a time when he was one of the world’s strongest grandmasters. After the tournament, Cramling’s rating surpassed 2400 and she headed the women’s rating list, even overtaking world champion Maia Chiburdanidze. In 1983, she was the first Western chess player to be nominated for a female chess Oscar.
At the 1986 candidates’ tournament, Cramling could not live up to analysts’ optimistic predictions- she was overtaken by Akhmylovskaya, Levitina and Alexandria. Disappointed by this misfortune, the grandmaster from Stockholm chose to concentrate on playing against men and by 1992 she has fulfilled all the criteria for the title of male grandmaster.
At the start of the 1990s, alarmed by the division of the male chess world, FIDE took great pains to ensure that the female candidates’ tournament would bring together all the strongest players. The right to a match against Xie Jun was contested by Zsuzsa Polgar, Maia Chiburdanidze, Alisa Galliamova, Nana Ioseliani and Ketevan Arakhamia- only Judit Polgar remained absent. In this race, the Swede came third, behind Polgar Sr and the great Maia. In the next candidates’ tournament, in 1997, Pia finished mid-table.
Shortly afterwards, the chess world changed as knockout world championships burst onto the scene. Cramling continued to play at men’s level, defeating strong grandmasters like Ivan Sokolov, Lajos Portisch, Vlastimil Hort, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov and Viorel Bologan and playing for her national team at men’s Olympiads. She also continued to compete successfully in the greatest women’s competitions: she won the European championship in 2003 and 2010 and qualified for the semi-final of the world championship in 2008 and 2015. The last two world championships in Sochi in 2015 and Tehran in 2017 proved that Pia remains a dangerous opponent for any chess player.
Cramling played in three Women vs Veterans matches; she has a total result of +4 against celebrated chess players of the older generation.
Pia Cramling is married to a famous Spanish grandmaster, Juan Bellon Lopez. The couple have lived in Spain for a long time, but they have recently decided to move to Sweden. Their daughter, Anna Cramling Bellon, is the strongest junior in the Scandinavian state.