Women and Chess

by Bill Wall


In 802 A.D., one of the earliest known references to a woman chess player was a letter mentioning the purchase of a slave girl noted for her skill in chess.

In 1804, Madame de Remusat (1780-1824), age 24,  played chess with Napoleon Bonaparte, age 35, at the Malmaison Castle.

In 1847, a women’s chess club opened in Holland.

In 1857, Amalie Paulsen Lellmann (1831-1869) defeated Judge Alexander Meek in an unofficial game during the first American Chess Congress.  She was the sister of Wilfred and Louis Paulsen, chess masters.

In 1872, Mary Rudge (1842-1919) became the first woman accepted in the Bristol, England Chess Club.

In 1879, Mary Rudge won the first Women’s International Chess Congress in London.

In the 1880s, the Brighton Chess Club in England had a ladies’ branch which ran tournaments.

In 1889, Mary Rudge gave the first public simultaneous exhibition in chess when she took on 6 opponents at once and won all the games.

In the September 1, 1894 New York Times issue, an article appeared that a Women's Chess Association of America was formed. The article states that in the spring of 1893, a few women met informally and organized the Women's Chess Association of America. In January, 1894 they elected their officers and had 75 members. They mention that the honorary members include English women's champion Mary Rudge (1845-1919) and Irish women's champion Mrs. Thomas Rowland (Frideswide Beechey) (1843-1919).   The club, renamed the Women’s Chess Club, was incorporated in 1896.  The president was Mrs. Eliza Campbell Foot and the vice president was Mrs. Winthrop Parker.  (source: New York Times, Mar 2, 1896, p. 6)

In the December 6, 1894 issue of the Fort Wayne newspaper, an article appeared called Two Queens of Chess. It states that Mrs. Jackson W. Showalter has long been considered the lady chess champion of America. On November 5, 1894 she began a 7 game match with Mrs. Harriet Worrall (1836-1928) of Brooklyn.

In the December 26, 1896 issue of the Newark Daily Advocate, there is an article called A Ladies Chess Congress. It mentioned Harriet Worrall as Brooklyn's best woman chess player. It announces a chess congress arranged by the British Ladies' Chess Club during the spring of 1897.

In the March 22, 1897 issue of the Arizona Republican, there is an article on the international chess congress for women players. It began in London with 20 women representing 9 different countries.

In 1927, FIDE, the world chess federation, established the Women’s World Championship as a single tournament, held alongside of the 1927 Chess Olympiad held in London.  The winner was Vera Menchik, who won the event in 1927, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, and 1939.

In 1950, FIDE published the first chess master list, which include 17 International Women Masters.

In 1963 Mrs. Edvige Rubinstein of Milan, Italy was the first woman to divorce her husband because he played chess. The court ruled that she was entitled to the divorce and custody of the children because her husband was so obsessed with chess that he refused to work and support their two children.

In 1977, the new title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM) was established by FIDE.

In 1978, Nona Gaprindashvili was awarded the gender-neutral title of Grandmaster based upon her performance in the 1977 Lone Pine International Tournament, where she beat 4 GMs. 

In 1986 Miss Leigh Strange won the British Ladies Correspondence Chess Championship. Later, it was discovered that Miss Leigh Strange was actually Nick Down, a former British Junior Correspondence Chess Champion. She (he) was banned from the British Correspondence Chess Association.

In 1986, FIDE gave every active female player in the world (except for Susan Polgar, the top-rated female) 100 bonus Elo points.  At the time, there were 600 women and 5,000 men with FIDE ratings.

In 1986, Susan Polgar became the first woman in history to qualify for the “men’s” World Chess Championship.

In 1991, Susan Polgar became the first woman in chess history to earn the Grandmaster title through the conventional means by earning the required Elo rating of 2500 or above and playing well against other GMs.

In October 2005, Judit Polgar, age 29, was ranked number eight in the world, just four points behind Vladimor Kramnik.

In 2010, 16 year old Hou Yifan of China won the Women’s World Chess championship after defeating Ruan Lufei.  Hou Yifan becomes the youngest women’s world champion.

In April 2015, British Grandmaster Nigel Short, age 49, was interviewed by New in Chess magazine and said that men were naturally better players than women.  He claimed the lack of women in the game was due to the fact that they are “hardwired” differently and are not suited to competing at a high level.  Short has lost to Judit Polgar eight times in the past.  She also defeated Garry Kasparov in 2002.  Short responded, “The fact that I have one bad score against an individual doesn’t prove anything.  I’m talking about averages here…statistically women don’t compete in the same numbers.  The average gap is pretty large and that is down to sex differences…Those differences exist.

In the past, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has said, “women, by their nature, are no exceptional chess players; they are not great fighters.” 

Judit Polgar, who retired from competitive chess last year, responded, saying, “We are capable of the same fight as any other man.  It’s not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of being smart.  I believe that as I have proved it with my career that with the right amount of work, dedication, talent and love for the game, it is possible to compete the best male players in the world of chess even though many of my colleagues were skeptical about my potential.”

In 1962, Bobby Fischer gave an interview to Harper’s magazine and said, “They’re all weak, all women.  They’re stupid compared to men.  They shouldn’t play chess, you know.  They’re like beginners.  They lose ever single game against a man.  There isn’t a woman player in the world I can give knight-odds to and still beat.”

Currently, less than 5% of registered chess players are women.  There are 33 female players to hold the men’s Grandmaster title, or about 2% of all grandmasters.  There are about 1,440 male grandmasters.  There are about 3,210 male International Masters and 84 female IMs.  There are about 6,500 FIDE masters, and less than 1% are female.

In 1971, the first FIDE ratings list was published with 589 total players.  There was not one female on the list.  The first separate ratings list for women was published in 1979.  There were 24 females on that list.  Currently, there are over 1 million FIDE members and about 11% are female.  Among the 85,000 USCF members, roughly 3% are female.

In 2008, a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, concluded that: “96% of the observed difference [between male and female chess performance] would be expected given the much greater number of men who play chess.  There is little left for biological or cultural explanations to account for.  In science, where there are many more male than female participants, the statistical sampling explanation, rather than difference in intellectual ability, may also be the main reason why women are under-represented at the top end.”

In 1950, FIDE first began awarding master-level titles.  Initially there were 27 GMs and 94 IMs and 17 International Women Masters (now called Women International Master or WIM).  The Elo rating system was adopted in 1970.  A WIM title required only a 2200 rating, whereas the gender-neutral International Master title required a 2400 rating.  In 1977, FIDE began awarding the title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM).  The minimum WGM rating was 2300, whereas the gender-neutral GM title required a 2500 rating.  A woman FIDE master starts at 2100, but the gender-neutral FIDE master (FM)  title requires a 2300 minimum Elo rating.

Here is a list of who’s who in women’s chess.

Elena Akhmilovskaya (1957-2012), was a Woman Grandmaster of chess.  She won the Women’s Candidates tournament and in 1986, played a match against Maia Chiburdanidze for the Women’s World Chess Championship, but lost.  In 1988, she was the number two woman chess player for the Soviets at the Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece. During the tournament she defected and eloped with American International Master John Donaldson, captain of the American chess Olympiad team. They later moved to Seattle, Washington. She won the U.S. Women's Championship in 1990, 1993, and 1994.  She later married IM Georgi Orlov.  In 2010, she was awarded the title of FIDE Instructor.  She died of brain cancer in 2012 at the age of 55.

Anna Markovna Akhsharumova, born in 1957, is a Woman Grandmaster.  She won the Soviet Women's Championship in 1976 and 1984. In 1987, she won the U.S. Women's Championship with a perfect 9-0 score.  In 1983, she should have won the Soviet Women’s title again when she defeated Nana Ioseliani after Anna won on time forfeit.  However, Nana filed a protest alleging a chess clock malfunction.  Anna refused to re-lay the game and was awarded a loss instead.  She is married to Grandmaster Boris Gulko.

Nana Alexandria, born in 1949, was the USSR Women's Champion in 1966 at the age of 17, the youngest ever. She was also champion in 1968 and 1969. She was the Women's World Championship Challenger in 1975 and 1981.   She was awarded the WGM title in 1976 and became an International Arbiter in 1995.  She is now an administrator to FIDE.

Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (1968- ) won the World Junior Chess Championship for Girls in 1985.  She won the Georgian Ladies Championship in 1983, 1984, and 1990.  In 2003, she tied for 1st place in the Scottish championship.  She won the British Ladies championship in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007.  In 2006, her husband, Jonathan Grant, won the men’s Scottish championship, making them the first ever husband-wife pair to win a full national championship.  In 2009, she was awarded the men’s GM title.  In 2011, she won the Scottish championship.

Mary Bain (1904-1972) was the Women's World Championship Challenger in 1937 and 1952. She was US Women's Champion from 1951 to 1953. She was the first American woman to represent the U.S. in an organized chess competition.  She was awarded the Woman IM title in 1952.

In 1882 Frideswide Beechley-Rowland (1843-1919) became the first woman to win a prize for chess composition. She was also the first woman to write a chess column. She authored several chess books in the 1880s.

Edith Baird (1859-1924) was the most famous female chess composer. She composed over 2,000 chess problems.

Anjelina Belakovskaia (1969- ) won the U.S. Women's championship in 1995, 1996, and 1999. She has also won the Women's Championships of the Soviet Union and the Ukraine.  She is a FIDE Woman Grandmaster (1993) and International Master. 

Liudmila Belavenets (1940- ) is a Russian woman International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster and a Woman IM.  In 1975, she won the Women’s Soviet Chess Championship.  She won the 4th ICCF Women’s World Championship (1984-1992). 

Jana Malypetrova Hartston Miles Bellin, born in 1947, was a top British woman player for many years. She won the British Women's championship in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1979. In 1982, she was awarded the WGM title.  She is a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesiology.  She is the chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission, which supervises drug testing of chess players.

Clare Benedict (1870-1961) was the first woman chess patron. She sponsored team chess tournaments in European countries, which was held from 1943 to 1979.  She was related to James Fenimore Cooper (her great-grandmother was his sister).

Clarice Benini (1905-1976) was an Italian chess master.  In 1937, she took 2nd place in the Women’s World Chess Championship, behind Vera Menchik.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1950.

Katarina Beskow (1867-1939) was a Swedish chess master.  She was a four-time Women’s World Chess Championship challenger.  In 1927, she took 2nd place in the first Women’s World Championship, behind Vera Menchik.

Sharon Burtman (1968- ). An American chess master, was awarded the WIM title in 1989.  She tied for 1st place in the 1995 US Women’s Championship, shared with Anjelina Belakovskaia.

Elisabeth Bykova (1913-1989) won the first women’s Candidates tournament and became the 3rd women's world champion from 1953 to 1956. She was also the 5th women’s world champion from 1958 to 1962.   In 1976, she was awarded the WGM title.  She won the women’s Soviet championship in 1946, 1947 and 1950. 

Ruth Cardoso (1934-2000) won the South American Women's Championship in 1966, 1969, and 1972. She won the Brazilian Women's Championship 7 times.

Chantel Chaude de Silans (1919-2001) was a French player and countess. In 1936, at the age of 17, she won the ladies' championship of France. In 1947, she was the first woman to ever take part in the men’s French Chess Championship.  She was the first female to play in a men's chess Olympiad (Dubrovnik, 1950).  She was awarded the WIM title in 1950 and, later, the honorary title of WGM.

Maya Chiburdanidze, born in 1961, was an International Master at 13, USSR women's champion at 16 and world women's chess champion at 17, the youngest of any world champion in chess until 2010. In 1977 she was awarded the WGM title and in 1984 the GM title, the second woman to be awarded the GM title.  In 1978, she became women's world champion and remained world champion until 1991.  She successfully defended her title four times.

Viktorija Cmilyte (1983- ) is a Lithuanian chess player.  She was awarded the men’s GM title in 2010. 

Pia Cramling was born on April 23, 1963 in Stockholm. From 1983 to 1985, she was the world number one female chess player. She became a Grandmaster in 1992.  She is married to GM Juan Bellon of Spain.

Rachel Crotto, born in 1958, played in the U.S. Women's chess championship at the age of 13. She was U.S. Women's Chess Champion from 1977 (age 17) to 1979. She gave up the game in 1986.

Yelena Dembo (1983- ) was awarded the WGM title at 17 and the IM title at 19.

Esther Epstein, born in 1954, was USSR Women's Vice Champion in 1976 and US Women's Champion in 1991 and 1997. Her husband is GM Alexander Ivanov.

 Miss Fatima (1914-?) won the British women's chess championship at Hastings in 1933. She was a servant to maharaja Sir Umar Hayat Khan. Also in 1933, the British men's champion was Mir Sultan Khan, also a servant of Sir Umar Khan.

Cathy Forbes Warwick (1968- ) won the British Women’s Chess Championship in 1987, 1988, and 1994. 

Ursula Foster (1927-2004) was a very active chess player in California and was ranked among the top female players in the country. She was a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. She was a classmate and friend of Anne Frank. Her older brother died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.  I played her several times in California.

Jennie Frenklakh, born in 1980 near Chernobyl, was a USCF master at 16. She won the US Junior Championship for players under 13 in 1993.

In 1977 Nona Gaprindashvili (1941- ) of Soviet Georgia became the first woman to take first place in a men's chess tournament when she tied for first place at Lone Pine, California. In 1978 Nona Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be given the men's International Grandmaster title. She had a perfume named after her. She was 5-time Women's World Chess Champion from 1962 to 1978.

Ellen Gilbert (née Strong) (1837-1900) was known as the Queen of Chess in the 19th century. She was a strong correspondence player and one of the first significant woman players in chess history.

Rusudan Goletiani, born in 1980, won the 2005 U.S. Women's Championship. She is a Woman Grandmaster. At age 9, she won the Soviet Junior Championship for Girls Under-12 in 1990. She was the winner of the 19th annual Frank P. Samford chess fellowship in 2004.

Sonja Graf-Stevenson (1908-1965) was the Women's World Championship Challenger in 1937 and 1939, losing to Vera Menchik. She shared the U.S. Women's title with Gisela Kahn Gresser in 1958-59 and won it in 1964.

Gisela Gresser (1906-2000) was the first woman in the United States to achieve a master rating. She won the U.S. Women's Chess Championship 9 times from 1944 (scoring 8-0) to 1969. She won the 1969 U.S. Women's Championship at the age of 63.  In 1950, she was awarded the WIM title.  She was the first American woman to be inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame.

Lina Grumette (1908-1988) was a popular chess organizer in California who ran The Chess Set in her Hollywood home. She competed in the US Women's championship in the 1940s.

Anna Hahn (originally Khan), born in 1976, was the US Women's champion in 2003. She was Latvian women's champion in 1992. She came to Brooklyn in 1993 and was the first female to play on the Murrow High School chess team.  She led the school to two national championships in 1993 and 1994.  She earned the title of WIM.  She is an expert in kick boxing.

Hoang Thang Trang, born in 1980, won the 1998 Girls' Under-20 championship. She was awarded the men’s GM title in 2007.

Edith Holloway (1868-1956) won the British Women’s Championship in 1919.  She won it again in 1936 at the age of 68.  She played for England in the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad at Paris in 1924.  She was the first woman to play in a Chess Olympiad.

Hou Yifan, born in 1994, became the youngest ever female in history to qualify for the title of Grandmaster.  In 2008, she was awarded the Grandmaster title at the age of 14 years, 6 months.  At the age of 12, she became the youngest player to participate in the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship.  In 2007, she became China’s youngest ever National Women’s Champion.  In 2008, she became the youngest ever finalist for the Women’s World Championship title.  In 2010, she became the youngest ever women’s world champion.  She was the 3rd seed in the Women’s World Chess Championship knockout, held in Hatay, Turkey.  She beat Ruan Lufei in the final knockout round to take the title.  She lost her title in 2012 but regained it in 2013.  She is a former two-time Woman’s World Chess Champion.  She is currently ranked as the No. 1 female player in the world.

Barbara Hund, born in 1959, is Germany's 1st Woman GM. She won the German Women's Championship in 1978. She now lives in Switzerland.

Harriet Hunt (1978- ) is the strongest British female chess player. She was World Girls' Champion Under-20 in 1999. She has won the British Ladies’ championship four times.  She is an International Master and WGM.

Nana Ioseliani, born in 1961, was the USSR Women's Champion in 1981 and 1982. She is a former World Women's Championship challenger.  She was awarded the WGM title in 1980 and the IM title in 1993.

In 1989 Carol Jarecki became the first woman to serve as chief arbiter for any world chess championship cycle match (Karpov-Hjartarson world championship quarterfinals). She is a former anesthesiologist and avid aircraft pilot.  Her son was a child prodigy and chess master at an early age.

Mona May Karff (1914-1998) played in 3 women's world championships. She won the US Women's Chess Championship 7 times (1938, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, and 1974 at the age of 60). She became a millionaire playing the stock market.

Carmen Kass, born in 1978, is a super model and was the President of the Estonian Chess Federation.

Edith Keller-Herrmann (1921-2010) was a German woman chess master.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1950 and the WGM title in 1977. 

Humpy Koneru (1987- ) is the youngest to win the British Ladies Chess Championship at the age of 13 years, 4 months. In 2002, she became the first woman chess player from India to receive the Men's GM title, at the age of 15 years, 1 month, and 27 days. She is the youngest female GM.

Alexandra Kosteniuk, born in 1984, has been called the Anna Kournikova of chess. She won the 2005 Women's Russian Chess Championship. In 2004, she won the Women's European Championship and was the 12 world women’s champion from 2008 to 2010. She was a Woman Grandmaster at the age of 14. In 2013 she became the first woman to win the men’s Swiss Chess Championship.  She also won the women’s championship. 

In 1993, Irina Krush, at the age of 9 (born Dec 24, 1983), beat a chess master, the youngest girl ever to beat a chess master in a rated game. In 1995 Irina Krush played in the U.S. Women's chess championship at the age of 11. She won the U.S. Women's chess championship in 1998 at the age of 14, the youngest-ever holder of that title. In 1999, she tied for 1st in the female section of the World Junior Championship. She has won the US women’s championship 7 times (1998, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).

Alla Kushnir (1941-2013), was USSR Women's Champion in 1970. She was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1965, 1969, and 1972.   She was awarded the WIM title in 1962 and the WGM title in 1976.

Kateryna Lahno, born in 1989, won the European Girls' Under-14 championship and became the youngest Woman GM in history at the age of 12 years and 4 months.   In 2007 she was awarded the GM title.  In 2014 she won the Women’s World Rapid Championship.

In 1962 Lisa Lane Hickey (1938- ) withdrew from the Hastings Reserve tournament because she said she was in love and could not concentrate. She was the U.S. Women's chess champion from 1959 to 1962, and 1966. She appeared on the cover of the August 7, 1961 issue of Sports Illustrated, making her the first of only two chess players to appear on its cover (the other was Bobby Fischer in 1972). She married Neil Hickey and runs a gift store.

Diana Lanni qualified for the U.S. Women's Championship and used chess to beat a drug addiction problem and suicidal tendencies. In 1982, she represented the USA in the Women's Olympiad in Lucerne. She now teaches chess to kids.

Ingrid Larsen (1909-1990) won the Danish Women's championship 17 times.

Agnes Lawson-Stevenson (1873-1935) was 4-time British Ladies' Champion and married to Rufus Stevenson, editor of the British Chess Magazine. On the way to play in the 1935 Women's World Championship, she left the aircraft to complete a passport check. She returned to the aircraft from the front and ran into the propeller and was killed.

Irina Levitina, born in 1954, won the USSR Women's championship 4 times (1971, 1978, 1979, 1981). She won the US Women’s championship 3 times (1991, 1992, 1993).  She was awarded the WGM title in 1976.  She is now a professional bridge player, winning 5 world champion titles in women’s bridge.

Alisa and Mirjana Maric are twin sisters and both are women GMs. They are the only twin GMs in history. Alisa has a PhD in Economics.

Beatriz Marinello, born in 1964, was USCF President from 2003 to 2005. She was the Women's Champion of Chile when she was 16.  She was awarded the WIM title.

Vera Francevna Menchik (1906-1944) was women's world chess champion from 1927 to 1944. She defended her title 6 times and only lost one game, while winning 78 and drawing 4 games. In 1937, she married Rufus Stevenson, editor of the British Chess Magazine and later secretary of the British Chess Federation. Her sister, Olga, was also a chess master.  She was killed in Kent, a county in southeast England, when a German V-1 rocket hit her home. Players who lost to Vera Menchik became known as members of the Vera Menchik Club. It included Albert Becker, Max Euwe, Sammy Reshevsky, Mir Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas, C.H.O'D. Alexander, Edgar Colle, Frederick Yates, William Winter, Lajos Steiner, Frederich Saemisch, Milner-Barry, Harry Golombek, Karel Opocensky, and Jacques Mieses.

Mariya Muzychuk (1992- ) is the current women’s world chess champion.  She was awarded the Women’s International Master title in 2005, the Women’s Grandmaster title in 2007, the International Master title in 2008, and was granted the title of Grandmaster by winning the 2015 Women’s World Chess Championship.

Elisabeth Paehtz was World Junior Champion for Girls in 2005.   She is an IM and WGM.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky (1911-2012), was a woman chess player and patron. She played in several US Women's championships. She was a member of the Rothschild banking company.

Natalia Pogonina (1985- ) is a Russian WGM (2004) and IM (2015).  She reached the final of the 2015 Women’s World Championship

Judit Polgar (1976- ) became an International Master at the age of 12 - younger than Fischer or Kasparov. At 13 she was the World Under-14 Champion (played against boys) and FIDE's highest rated woman. She was awarded the GM title in 1991 at the age of 15 years and 4 months.  She won the U.S. Open in 1998, the only woman to ever win it. In 1999 she was the first and only woman to be a FIDE World Champion quarterfinalist. For the past 20 years, Judit has been the world’s highest rated female player, but has never competed for the women’s title.  She only plays in men’s events.  She is the strongest female chess player in history.  In August 2014, she announced her retirement from competitive chess.

In 1989 Sofia (Zsofia) Polgar (1974- )  achieved the highest performance rating ever recorded when she scored 8.5 out of 9 at an international tournament in Rome. Her performance rating was over 2900.  She is an IM and a WGM. 

In 1981 Susan (Zsuzsa) Polgar (1969- ) was the winner of the first Women's Cadet (under 16) chess championship. In 1991, she was awarded the GM title.  She was the Women's World Chess Champion from 1996 to 1999. In 1999, Susan had given birth to her first child and requested that the world championship match be postponed.  FIDE refused, and eventually set up the world championship match between Alisa Galliamova of Russia and Xie Jun of China.  The winner was Xie Jun.  She is the head of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) at Webster University.

In 1948 Edith Price (1872-1956) won the British Ladies Championship at the age of 76, the oldest player ever to win a national championship. She won the British Women's Championship 5 times (1922, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1948).

Adele Rivero won the 1st U.S. Women's championship in 1937.

Nancy Roos (1905-1957) won the US women’s championship in 1955. 

Alexey Rudolph Root won the U.S. Women's championship in 1989.

Olga Rubtsova (1909-1994) was the 4th women's world champion from 1956 to 1958. She became the first Women's Correspondence Chess Champion in 1972. She is the only chess player to become world champion at over-the-board and correspondence chess.  She won the Soviet Women’s Championship four times (1927, 1931, 1937, and 1948).

Ludmilla Rudenko (1904-1986) was the 2nd women's world champion from 1950 to 1953. She was an economist and former swimming champion. She became the Odessa swimming champion in the 400 meter breaststroke.  She was awarded the FIDE IM title and the WIM title in 1950, and the WGM title in 1976.  She was the first woman awarded the IM title.  She won the USSR women’s championship in 1952.

Mary Rudge (1842-1919) won the 1st Women's International tournament in London in 1897. She was age 55 and the oldest of the 20 players.

Elaine Saunders, born in 1926, won the British girls’ under-21 title at the age of 10. She won the British women's championship at the age of 13.

Diane Savereide was the U.S. Women's Chess Champion 6 times, from 1975 to 1984.

Jennifer Shahade, born December 31, 1980, is a Woman International Master and a two-time U.S. Women's Champion (2002 and 2004). She is the author of Chess Bitch and Play Like a Girl.  In 1998, she became the first and only female to win the U.S. Junior Open.  She was awarded the WGM title.

Almiria Skripchecnko (1976- ) is a French player who is an IM and a WGM.

Antoeneta Stefanova, born April 19, 1979, won the FIDE Women's World Championship in 2004. She was awarded the GM title in 2003.  In 2012, she became the first Women’s World Rapid Chess Champion.

Anne Sunnucks, born in 1927, was British Women's champion in 1957, 1958, and 1964. She was an officer in the British Army.

Eileen Trammer (1910-1983) won the British Ladies' Championship with a perfect 11-0 in 1949. She won the British Ladies' Championship four times. She was a musician, but then became deaf and then took up chess.

Xie Jun, born in 1970, was women's world champion from 1991 to 1996, and again from 1999 to 2001. In 2000, a knock-out event was the new format of the women’s world championship, won by Xi Jun.  She was awarded the men’s GM title in 1991.

Xu Yuhua of China won the Women's World Chess Championship in March, 2006 and was world women’s champion from 2006 to 2008.  She is a Woman GM.  She was pregnant during the championship and played, unlike Judit Polgar and Zhu Chen years earlier.

Anna Zatonskih, born in 1978, won the 2006 U.S. Women's championship. She also won it in 2008, 2009, and 2011.  She is a Woman Grandmaster and International Master. She won the Ukrainian Women's Championship twice.

Zhu Chen, born on March 16, 1976, became the 11th Women's World Champion in 2001 when she defeated Alexandra Kosteniuk by the score of 5-3. In 1988, she won the World Girls' Under 12 Championship, becoming the first Chinese chess player to win a gold medal in an international event. She won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship in 1994 and 1996. She became a Woman Grandmaster in 1998. She did not take part in the Women's World Championship in 2004 (won by Stefanova) due to pregnancy. She is married to Grandmaster Mohammad Al-Modiakah of Qatar.

The FIDE Women's World Champions have been Vera Menchik (1927-1944), Lyudmila Rudenko (1950-1953), Elisabeth Bykova (1953-1956), Olga Rubtsova (1956-1958), Elisabeth Bykova (1958-1962), Nona Gaprindashvili (1962-1978), Maia Chiburdanidze (1978-1991), Xie Jun (1991-1996), Susan Polgar (1996-1999), Xie Jun (1999-2001), Zhu Chen (2001-2004), Antoaneta Stefanova (2004-2006), Xu Yuhua (2006-2008), Alexandria Kosteniuk (2008-2010), Hou Yifan (2010-2012), Anna Ushenina (2012-2013), Hou Yifan (2013-2015), and Mariya Muzychuk (2015- ).

Women with the men's grandmaster title are Nona Gaprindashvili (1978), Maia Chiburdanidze (1984), Susan Polgar (1991), Judit Polgar (1991), Pia Cramling (1992), Xie Jun (1994), Zhu Chen (2001), Antoaneta Stefanova (2001), Koneru Humpy (2002), Alexandra Kosteniuk (2004), Peng Zhaoqin (2004), Hoang Thanh Trang (2007), Kateryna Lahno (2007), Xu Yuhua (2007), Marie Sebag (2008), Zhao Xue (2008), Hou Yifan (2008), Nana Dzagnidze (2008), Monika Socko (2008), Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (2009), Tatiana Kosintseva (2009), Natalia Zhukova (2010), Elina Danielian (2010), Viktorija Cmilyte (2010), Nadezhda Kosintseva (2011), Dronovalli Harika (2011), Anna Muzychuk (2012), Anna Ushenina (2012), Valentina Gunina (2013), Irina Krush (2013), Bela Khotenashvili (2013), Ju Wenjun (2014), and Mariya Muzychuk (2015)

The top 10 rated women players are: Hou Yifan (2686), Judit Polgar (2675), Humpy Koneru (2593), Dzagnidze (2570), Ju Wenjun (2545), A, Muzychuk (2543), Cmilyte (2533), Kosteniuk (2533), Gunina (2530), and Lagno (2530).


Judit Polgar – Garry Kasparov, Russia vs. Rest of the World, Moscow 2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 h6 10.Rd1+ Ke8 11.h3 Be7 12.Ne2 Nh4 13.Nxh4 Bxh4 14.Be3 Bf5 15.Nd4 Bh7 16.g4 Be7 17.Kg2 h5 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.Kf3 Bg6 20.Rd2 hxg4+ 21.hxg4 Rh3+ 22.Kg2 Rh7 23.Kg3 f6 24.Bf4 Bxf5 25.gxf5 fxe5 26.Re1 Bd6 27.Bxe5 Kd7 28. c4 c5 29.Bxd6 cxd6 30.Re6 Rah8 31.Rexd6+ Kc8 32.R2d5 Rh3+ 33.Kg2 Rh2+ 34.Kf3 R2h3+ 35.Ke4 b6 36.Rc6+ Kb8 37.Rd7 Rh2 38.Ke3 Rf8 39.Rcc7 Rxf5 40.Rb7+ Kc8 41.Rdc7+ Kd8 42.Rxg7 Kc8 1-0.