Arakhamia-Grant wins Baltic Queens

by ChessBase
8/27/2009 – Originally from Georgia, GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant has lived in Scotland for the past thirteen years. The second seed took sole first place in the Baltic Queen Tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, with 6.0/9 points and a 2558 performance. Second was another migrant player: IM Ekaterina Atalik, originally from Russia, now living in and playing for Turkey. Pictorial report with interview.

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Baltic Queen International Tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia

This women's event took place from August 11th-20th 2009. It was a Category eight tournament, attracting some of the top female talents in the world.

The winner, with 6.0 points from nine games, and a performance of 2558, was second seed GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant of Scotland, rated 2506. This lady has a sparkling chess background: she was junior girls' world champion, three times the champion of her native Georgia, and she participated in the World Championship Candidate Tournament. After having settled in Scotland she won the British Women's Championship four times and secured the bronze medal of the European Championship 2001. She has an aggressive style of play and always aims at extremely complicated positions.

Second was IM/WGM Ekaterina Atalik, 2434, originally from Russia, today living in Turkey with her husband, GM Suat Atalik. Ekaterina Polovnikova (her original name) was five times Russian girls champion, European girls champion 1997. Her best achievement came after she had become a Turkish citizen – a sensational victory at the women's European Championship 2006. Solid opening repertoire and bright positional style was the foundation of this success.

Final standings

The winner, GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, receives the trophy

IM Ekatrina Atalik, GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant and IM Elisabeth Pähtz with their prizes

First: Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, 6.0/9, perf. 2558; second: Ekaterina Atalik, 5.5/9, perf. 2524

Third: Elisabeth Pähtz, 5.0/9 , perf. 2479; fourth: Pia Cramling, 5.0/9, perf. 2475

Fifth: Viktorija Cmilyte, 5.0/9, perf. 2480; sixth: Anastasia Bodnaruk, 4.5/9, perf. 2450

Seventh: Natalia Zhukova, 4.0/9, perf. 2404; eighth: Julia Demina, 3.5/9 , perf. 2374

Ninth: Irina Turova, 3.5/9, perf. 2373; tenth: Peng Zhaoqin, 3.0/9, perf. 2328

An outing in St Petersburg on the free day

The Grand Cascade and Grand Palace, modeled after Louis XIV's Château de Marly

"First of all, I am a mother, and only then a chessplayer"

Interview with winner GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant

Kirill Levkin: You were born in Georgia and were playing for the country for a long time. Why have you changed your citizenship?

Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant: The point is that in 1996 I married a Scottish citizen. My husband is a chessplayer too, an amateur. And I've been living in Scotland for 13 years already, but have continued to play for the Georgian Chess Federation in championships. I changed the federation last year only. The decision had many reasons, and the main one is that long since I'm a habitant and a chessplayer of Scotland, and it would be right to play for the country where I live with my family.

And where is there more competition at the national level: in Scotland or in Georgia?

As for men's chess, there are five grandmasters in Scotland, six counting me – it is a good staff for a small federation. But most participants of national championships still play at amateur level, so, of course, competition in Scotland does not reach that in Georgia, and popularity of chess is much less.

You are in St. Petersburg for the second time this year. What are your impressions of our city?

I played chess in Leningrad many years ago, but I was a schoolgirl then and have only hazy recollections. I was very glad to hear that Petersburg is to play host to the European Championship [held in March 2009]. And now when I said at home I'm invited to this tournament, everybody envied me. They said, 'Oh, no, you are lucky! You are going to Petersburg again!' Your city has a quite fair name all over the world, and many people of different countries want to come here and see all this beauty themselves.

Many sportsmen are superstitious. How about you?

I got rid of it even in my childhood. When a little girl, I had some tokens, lucky things to take to important games, but all this has gone now. Though I agree that many chessplayers are superstitious.

What hobbies have you apart from chess? I guess chess is number one?

I think it is not the case now already. First of all, I am a mother, and only then a chessplayer. I have a family, a daughter – Elena. She is ten already. I played much chess earlier, now I try to spend more time with my family.

Does your daughter play chess?

She can play chess, but she has not much interest in it. My husband play chess, I play chess, and she seems to have cultivated some immunity to it. She often goes to tournaments with us, but has quite different hobbies. She is very musical, she goes to a music school, and I'd say she infected her parents with music. Now we are keen classical music listeners, often go to concerts, music is constantly sounding at our home. Also, I like to see movies; I often see them on DVD together with my husband, but usually late in the evening, when our daughter is sleeping.

What do you plan to take with you as a keepsake of Petersburg?

Don't know yet. Last time I've bought a matreshka [Russian nesting doll]. I'm very glad they presented to us a book about your city at the opening ceremony. It was an excellent gift, and I shall keep it solicitously. What else? It's hard to say now, I must fulfill my cultural plans. I've managed to visit only Hermitage in March. I thought I could walk around in the morning as we live in the very center, but I failed so far. Hope to visit Peterhof on the rest day.

Kirill Levkin was a press officer of the "Baltic Queen" tournament


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