Strutinskaya retains world title


Russia's Galina Strutinskaya has retained her title as the world strongest female over-60. In a tight battle with Tamara Khamidashvili and Elena Fatalibekova, she took the title at the very last moment...


The women's championship at Kamena Wurle was exceptionally tense. This is not surporising, in an event of 11 rounds, with just 22 players of a very even standard - virtually a round robin tournament! Nobody amongst the main contenders avoided defeat. 

Strutinskaya suffered two. In round 3, she unexpectedly lost to the German, Martina Belz, and then, after three wins in a row, to Natayla Titorenko of Russia. After seven rounds, Galina had just 4.5 points. She managed to beat Elena Fatalibekova, and hold  Elena Ankudinova and Lyudmila Saunina. Then in the last round, she beat, to order, Tatyana  Bogumil, and had hope that the surging finisher (2 out of 2 in rounds 9 and 10 against Titorenko and Belyaova) Khamidashvili could not also beat  Svetlana Mednikova, and that Ankudinova could not beat Lopatina. 

But it all worked out for the Muscovite. Strutinskaya reached 7.5, as did Khamidashvili and Fatalibekova, but she was ahead of them on tie-break after scoring 1.5 against them in their personal encounters. Victory in such a difficult contest should be especially precious to Galina, and she can now feel the truth of the saying that defending a title is harder than winning it for the first time. 

The Elo-favourite and undoubted favourite, Nona Gaprindashvili, ended the tournament on 6.5, and a share of 7th place. The key for her was round 6, when she lost to the future champion. Her chances finally went with a second defeat, in round 10, against Fatalibekova. 


(Text by Evgeny Atarov)