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Death of a chess original – Bukhuti Gurgenidze, 1933–2008

5/26/2008 – Bukhuti Ivanovich Gurgenidze was one of the most original and striking players of the Soviet era. He won the Championship of his native Georgia eleven (or twelve) times, competed in nine USSR Championship finals, and was the trainer of some of the most successful women players in the game. His name has been applied to variations in the Modern Defence and the Sicilian. In Memoriam.
 

Death of a chess original

The Russian news website Novaya Gazeta reports the death yesterday of GM Bukhuti (Georgian: Buchuti) Ivanovich Gurgenidze, one of the most original and striking players of the Soviet era.

Born on 13 November 1933, in the town of Surami in Georgia, Gurgenidze became an International Master in 1966 and a Grandmaster in 1970. He was a member of the Soviet team that won the gold medals at the World Student Olympiads of 1957 and 1958.

Gurgenidze won the championship of Georgia eleven times, and competed in nine USSR Championship finals. He was also a distinguished trainer, working for many years with leading figures in Georgian ladies chess, at a time when the small Soviet state dominated the ladies' game at a world level. Gurgenidze was a long-time trainer of ex-world champion Nona Gaprindashvili, and also worked with her successor, Maia Chiburdanidze, and two of the latter's leading challengers, Nana Ioseliani and Nana Alexandria. During the 1990s, Gurgenidze was vice-president of the Georgian chess federation.

As a player, Gurgenidze was noted above all for his originality – the c6-d5 system of the Modern Defence (1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 d5 5.e5 h5) is named after him. One of his best games was the following slaughter from the 1966 USSR Championship:

Gurgenidze,Bukhuti - Lein,Anatoly [B29]
URS-ch34 Tbilisi (9), 1966
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 Qc7 6.Bf4 Nc6 7.Bc4 e6 8.0–0 b6 9.Re1 f5 10.Nh4 g6

11.Nxf5!! Na5 12.Bd5! Bb7 13.Nd6+ Bxd6 14.exd6 Qc8 15.Bh6 Rg8 16.Qf3 Bxd5 17.Qxd5 Nc6 18.Rad1 Nd8 19.Qg5 Nc6 20.Qf6 g5 21.Re5 1-0.

Georgian Championships

Numerous sources quote Gurgenidze as winning a total of eleven Georgian championships. We have records of twelve titles:

No. Year Winner
15 1955 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
16 1956 Shishov, Mikhail
17 1957 Blagidze, Alexandre
18 1958 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
19 1959 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
20 1960 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
21 1961 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
22 1962 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
23 1963 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
 
24 1964 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
25 1965 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
26 1966 Jinjikhashvili, Roman
27 1967 Jinjikhashvili, Roman
28 1968 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
29 1969 Jinjikhashvili, Roman
30 1970 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti
31 1971 Mikadze, Zurab
32 1972 Giorgadze, Tamaz
33 1973 Gurgenidze, Bukhuti

Gurgenidze shared first place with Mikhail Tal at Tbilisi in 1969-70 and placed first at Olomouc in 1976. His name is attached to the Gurgenidze Variation in the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Re1 e5 6.b4.

Carsten Hansen of Hackensack, USA, tells us, in the Accelerated Dragon, Maroczy Bind, one of the most popular and solid ways for Black to play is the Gurgenidze Variation: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 g6 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 d6 7 Be2 Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Bg7. And Herbert Braun of Hannover, Germany, says the variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 b5!? also bears his name.

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