Person of day   -  16 OCTOBER 2023



Olga Mikhailovna Ignatieva was born on 16th October in Korchmino, in the Saint-Petersburg Governorate of the Russian Empire. Her first notable successes came in the 1940s: she became the champion of Leningrad in 1941, 1949 and 1950. Ignatieva played in 17 Soviet championships, coming fifth in her first one, in 1945.

In 1945, Olga married grandmaster David Bronstein and the couple had a son called Lev. In 1950, the family moved to Moscow, where Ignatieva and Bronstein began to play for Dynamo. She was the champion of Moscow in 1951 and joint champion with Bykova in 1956. She also won the internal Dynamo championships in 1952 and 1966. 

Her grand breakthrough came at the 1951 zonal tournament, where she came second. In the subsequent candidates’ tournament, the strongest female players in the world fought for the right to play against world champion Lyudmila Rudenko. The tournament was attended by Elisaveta Bykova, Olga Rubtsova, Valentina Borisenko, Kira Zvorykina, Edith Keller-Herrmann and Fenny Heemskerk. Ignatieva finished second, only a point behind Bykova. 

Sadly, Olga Ignatieva’s performance in the next candidates’ tournament was sub-par; she finished 12thout of 20. 

“The conflict came to a head at the 1955 candidates’ tournament. Olga Ignatieva was considered one of the favourites, but she was not living up to expectations and losing game after game. Then, an eternal example of calmness and tranquillity, master Vasily Panov took aim at her trainer Zagoryansky. One day, he came into the press-bureau and hung up a paper with the following lines:

Time to get rid of him as a trainer-

Since Ignatieva is playing very badly.

Shortly before, General A. Ignatiev published his 50 Years of Service. It became a bestseller and the target of multiple jokes. The rhyme itself was from a scene described by the General. 

When Zagoryansky came to the press-bureau, he made a sour face and left silently. A day later, he pinned his “Answer to Chamberlain”:

Neither original nor creative

Can we call this act of Panov

And this shithead definitely knows

That even his rhyme is stolen.

Panov showed up and took the paper with him. Maybe he kept it in his personal archive. Surprisingly, there was no direct confrontation. The contestants kept their positions.” (V. Henkin)

In 1957, Ignatieva divorced Bronstein. She continued to perform for a long time, demonstrating admirable results: 5th-7th places at the 1957 FIDE zonal tournament, first place at the Ukrainian national championship in 1962 and 3rd-4th places at the 1970-71 international tournament in Chelyabinsk. 

In 1978, Olga Ignatieva became a grandmaster thanks to her former successes. She has been an international arbiter since 1971 and she also worked as a trainer. 

Olga died in Moscow on 6th June 1999 and she was buried at the Khovanskoye Cemetery.