Famous Women Chess Players

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Women chess players? News on women players is out there, but it seems you really have to spend some time to find it. The presence of women in chess is a definite plus.

When Elo first started his Rating System, there was a problem with the separate women’s list. There weren't many women chess players who played competitive chess against men, and it was difficult to relate the two lists.

Women were often barred from the coffeehouses and taverns where chess clubs developed in the 19th century. Women players achieved distinction separately from men by the middle of the century. The first chess clubs specifically for women were organized in The Netherlands in 1847.

Website of chess  grandmaster Natalia Pogonina

I will give you two links to two very good articles on women chess players. You will enjoy and learn alot about some women chess players from these articles. One article is written by Natalia Pogonina.

Famous Women chess player WGM Natalia Pogonina (born on March 9, 1985) is one of the best female chess players in the world, member of the Russian chess team. Woman Grandmaster (WGM), three-times European champion (U16, twice U18), bronze prize winner at the World Championship (U18) and European Women Championship, winner of the gold medal at the 1st International Mind Sports Games, co-winner of the 2008 Student World Championship, and #1 at multiple prestigious international tournaments (2006 – Bykova Memorial, 2007 – Rudenko memorial, 2009 – Moscow Open, etc.). Her current FIDE rating is over 2500 – a mark that is associated with the title of a male Grandmaster. Women chess players by Natalia can be found here.

Natalia Pogonina

The second article is about Black Women in American Chess by Daaim Shabazz, Associate Professor of Business at Florida A&M University (USA). This article can be accessed here.

The First Women's Chess Champion, Vera Menchik

Judit Polgar: The Princess of Chess

Judit Polgar

Famous Women chess player Judit Polgár (born July 23, 1976) is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. She is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, she achieved the title of Grandmaster (GM) at the age of 15 years and 4 months. She was, at that time, the youngest person ever to do so. Polgár is ranked number 50 in the world on the May 2010 FIDE rating list with an Elo rating of 2682, the only woman on FIDE's Top 100 Players list, and has been ranked as high as eighth. She has won or shared first in Hastings 1993, Madrid 1994, Leon 1996, US Open 1998, Hoogeveen 1999, Siegman 1999, Japfa 2000, and the Najdorf Memorial 2000. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Judit's website

Judit Polgar Woman Chess Player

Hula chess excerpt from DIM mak films on Vimeo.

Hula chess is a video installation by Daniel Meirom of DimMak Films and chess champion and author Jennifer Shahade. The full installation debuted at the Francis M.Naumann Gallery in New York (24 West 57th St.) from September 10-October 30.

Jennifer Shahade

Jennifer Shahade

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Famous Women chess player Jennifer Shahade (born December 31, 1980 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American chess player and writer. She is a two-time American women's chess champion and, as of October 2007, has a FIDE rating of 2322. She has the FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster. Jennifer is the author of the book Chess Bitch. She also writes for the magazine Chess Life and is the daughter of FIDE Master Mike Shahade and Drexel University chemistry professor and author Sally Solomon, and the sister of International Master Greg Shahade.

In 1998, she became the first (and so far only) female to win the U.S. Junior Open. In 2002, she won the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in Seattle, Washington. The following year, although she did not repeat as U.S. Women's Champion, she did well enough to earn her second of three required International Master norms. In 2004, she returned to the top spot among U.S. women chess players by winning the U.S. Women's Championship that year in a seven-player invitational Round-robin tournament.

Shahade lives in Philadelphia and has earned a degree in comparative literature at New York University. Her writing has appeared in the LA Times, The New York Times, Chess Life, New In Chess, and chessninja.com. Her first book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport (Siles Press, ISBN 1-890085-09-X) was published in October 2005.

In 2006 Shahade was hired by the United States Chess Federation to be the web editor in chief of its site www.uschess.org . In 2007 Shahade co-founded a chess non-profit called 9 Queens.

Shahade has also displayed her poker prowess by finishing 17th out of 1286 in the 2007 Ladies World Series of Poker, and 33rd out of 1190 in the same event in 2008. Jennifer's website

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Famous Women chess player Alexandra Konstantinovna Kosteniuk is a Russian chess Grandmaster. Alexandra learned to play chess at the age of five after being taught by her father. At the age of 17, she reached the final of the World Women's Chess Championship, but was defeated by Zhu Chen. Three years later, she became the European women's champion by winning the tournament in Dresden, Germany.

In November 2004, she was awarded the International Grandmaster title, becoming the tenth woman to receive the title. Before that, she had also obtained the titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master.

Kosteniuk has been promoting chess in the capacity of a fashion model and ambassador of chess in order to spark interest in the game around the world.

Alexandra's website, which is maintained by her husband, covers the chess events she is participating in and offers current information about her. Alexandra's website

Kosteniuk World Chess Champion. How She Became Champion Video

Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar

Famous Women chess player Susan Polgar (born April 19, 1969, as Polgár Zsuzsanna and often known as Zsuzsa Polgár) is a Hungarian-American chess player. She is also a chess writer and promoter and the head of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence at Texas Tech University.

On the July 1984 FIDE Rating List, at age 15, she was the top-ranked woman player in the world. She was the first woman to earn the title of Grandmaster in regular competition. She was the Women's World Chess Champion from 1996 to 1999. In October 2005 Polgar had an Elo rating of 2577, making her the second-ranked woman in the world at the time, after her sister Judit Polgár. She has been inactive and has not played in official competition since 2004.

She was born and brought up in Budapest, Hungary, and now lives in Lubbock, Texas, having recently moved from Forest Hills, Queens in New York City, where she ran the Polgar Chess Center and the Susan Polgar Foundation, which gives chess training to children, especially girls. (Wikipedia) Susan's website

Humpy Koneru

Humpy Koneru

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Famous Women chess player Humpy Koneru (born 31 March 1987 in Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh) is a chess grandmaster from India. Her January 2010 FIDE Elo rating is 2614, placing her number two in the world for women (behind Judit Polgár). In 2007 she surpassed the rating of 2577 set by Susan Polgar to become the second-highest ranked female player in history. She became the second female player ever, after Judit Polgár, to exceed the 2600 Elo mark.

From 2002 through 2008, Humpy held the record as the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster (not merely a Woman Grandmaster), which she achieved at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár's previous mark by three months; however, this has since been surpassed by Hou Yifan.

In 2001 she won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship. In 2006 she participated in the Women's World Chess Championship, but was eliminated in the second round. In the Women's World Chess Championship 2008 she made it to the semi-finals, but was beaten by Hou Yifan. In 2009 she tied for 1st-4th with Alexander Areshchenko, Magesh Panchanathan and Evgenij Miroshnichenko in the Mumbai Mayor Cup. Humpy's FIDE Chess Profile

Irina Krush

Irina Krush

Famous Women chess player Irina Krush (born December 24, 1983) is an American chess player and won U.S. Women's Chess Championship in 1998, 2007, and 2010. Born in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine), she is widely known for her series of chess training videos, the "Krushing Attacks" series.

Krush learned to play chess at age five, emigrating with her parents to Brooklyn that same year (1989). Krush attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, which is considered by many to be one of the top high school chess teams in the USA.

At age 14 Krush won the 1998 US Women's Chess Championship to become the youngest U.S. Women's Champion ever. She holds the title of International Master (IM), a Woman Grandmaster (WGM), and has one of three tournament results (norms) necessary to qualify for the International Grandmaster (GM) title. On the October 2008 FIDE rating list for women, Krush has a FIDE rating of 2452, 34th best among active female players. (Wikipedia) Irina Krush Bio

Xie Jun

Xie Jun

Famous Women chess player Xie Jun is a chess grandmaster from China. She had two reigns as Women's World Chess Champion. Xie is only the second woman to have two reigns.

Among women, Xie has been the number 2 or number 3 highest rated woman for much of her career. Judit Polgár, the top-ranked woman, does not play women-only chess events. Wikipedia more on Xie Jun

Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova

Famous Women chess player Antoaneta Stefanova (born April 19, 1979) is a Bulgarian chess grandmaster, and a former Women's World Chess Champion. She was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She recieved lessons from her father when she was four years old.

Since 1994, Stefanova has successively competed in grandmaster championships, seventh among male nationals in 1993. In 1997 her FIDE rating broke into the top ten of women worldwide. She earned the title of Grandmaster in June 2003. More on Antoaneta

Baraka Shabazz

Baraka Shabazz

Perhaps the most famous Black female player was that of Baraka Shabazz, who was taught to play chess in a cabin in Alaska by her stepfather. She burst onto the scene in the early 80s and became a media darling, particularly in the Black community.

At age 15, Baraka would give simultaneous exhibitions of up to 20 boards, reached "Expert" level and later represented the U.S. in the under-16 girls' tournament in England. She played in several major tournaments before abruptly giving up the game in her late teens. Baraka will go down as a historic figure in Black chess. She said she wanted to be a symbol of achievement for the black community. She never became a World Champion, or attained Master level, but she did reach her goal of being a symbol for the black community. We in chess thank Baraka for her efforts as one of the first female prodigies in U.S. Chess. Baraka is featured at the ChessDrum website

Almira Skripchenko

Almira Skripchenko

Famous Women chess player Almira Skripchenko (born 17 February 1976) is a French chess player who has achieved the FIDE International Master and Woman Grand Master titles. She was born in Chişinău, Moldova and started playing chess when she was 6 years old. In 2001, at 25 years old, she celebrated her biggest success ever, winning the individual ladies European championship. She was chosen "best sportsperson in 2001 in Moldova" and decorated with the Order of National Merit in her native country. Almira Skripchenko has taken part in several Chess Olympiads (with Moldova, then with France), playing on her team's top board. She is a member of the ACP Board (Association of Chess Professionals). (Wikipedia) More on Almira Skripchenko here

Anna Zatonskih

Anna Zatonskih

Famous Women chess player Anna Zatonskih born in Mariupol, Ukraine, June 17, 1978) is a chess player from the United States. She is a Woman Grandmaster, as well as an International Master. She is a chess professional, who coaches players and competes in tournaments. She is the 2006, 2008 and 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Champion. (Wikipedia) More info on Anna Zatonskih.

Xu Yuhua

Xu Yuhua

Famous Women chess player Xu Yuhua born October 29, 1976 in Jinhua, Zhejiang is a Chinese chess Grandmaster and former Women's World Champion (2006-2008). She is China's third women's world chess champion after Xie Jun and Zhu Chen.

On March 25, 2006 she won the Women's World Chess Championship knock-out tournament in Ekaterinburg, Russia, defeating Russian IM Alisa Galliamova in the final. She became China's 22nd Grandmaster by winning the Women's World Chess Championship.

She won the 2nd FIDE Women Grand Prix, Nanjing, 27 September - 9 October 2009. (Wikipedia)

Xu Yuhua's chess games

Alisa Maric

Alisa Maric

Famous Women chess player Alisa Marić is a Serbian chess player, who holds the FIDE titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master. Her best Elo rating was 2489 points. Alisa Marić was introduced to chess at the age of four, together with her 20 minutes younger twin sister Mirjana Marić. Alisa and Mirjana are the only twins with "Woman Grandmaster" titles in the history of modern chess.

At the age of 12, Alisa became national chess master and senior champion of Belgrade. At 15, she was FIDE Woman International Master (WIM) and World Junior Vice Champion Under 20 (World Junior Chess Championship Dobrna 1985.). As a 16 year old girl, she was youngest ever winner of Yugoslav Chess Championship, which was held in Pucarevo 1986. At the age of 18, Alisa was awarded with FIDE Women Grandmaster title (WGM). At 20, she was third ranked female player in the world and a FIDE International Master. (Wikipedia) Official site of the Chess Grandmaster

Ruan Lufei

Ruan Lufei image

Famous Women chess player Ruan's natural talent for the game, hard work, and co-operation with her coach, Xu Jun, saw her break into the world's top 20 female chess players in January 2008. She had previously been in the FIDE Top 20 Girls List from 2004-2007, having reached a peak of 6th position on the October 2007 list.

In 2007, she was awarded the Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title. Information on Ruan from Wikipedia

Kateryna Lahno

Kateryna Lahno picture

Kateryna Lahno (born December 27, 1989) is a Ukrainian chess player. She earned the FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM) at the age of 12 years and 4 months, breaking Judit Polgár's record to become the youngest ever to earn this title. She is now a full Grandmaster.

At the age of 15 she won the 2005 European Individual Women's Championship. In May 2008, Lahno won the European Individual Women Chess Championships again in Plovdiv, by one-half point in the 11-round open tournament. Famous Women chess player Kateryna Lahno details at Wikipedia

Hou Yifan

Yifan Hou picture

Famous Women chess player Hou Yifan (born February 27, 1994, in Xinghua, Taizhou, Jiangsu, China) is a Chinese chess prodigy. In 2008, she became the youngest ever female in history (at the age of 14 years 6 months) to qualify for the title of Grandmaster.

At the age of 12, she became and still holds the record for being the youngest ever player to participate at the FIDE Women's World Championship (Yekaterinburg 2006), and at the Chess Olympiad (Torino 2006). At the age of 16, she is now the Women's World Chess Champion accomplished in December of 2010. Hou Yifan details

Nana Dzagnidze

Nana Dzagnidze image

Famous Women chess player Nana Dzagnidze is a chess player from Georgia, who achieved the title of International Grandmaster in 2008.

Despite some leveling off of her tournament performances in the period 2003-2007, she made a significant leap in the last quarter of 2008 and playing more chess than ever, continued the upsurge into 2009, registering her highest Elo rating and rising to eighth on FIDE's list of 'Top 100 Women', higher than Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.

In July 2010 she won the women's Grand Prix tournament, the fourth of six such tournaments as part of the Women's World Chess Championship cycle for 2011. She won seven games and drew four, in the eleven-round round-robin tournament. She finished 1½ points ahead of second-place finisher Tatiana Kosintseva. Nana Dzagnidze info at Wikipedia.

Record Set for World’s Youngest Chess Champion

Women Chess Grandmasters

1. Nona Gaprindashvili

2. Maia Chiburdanidze

3. Susan Polgar

4. Judit Polgar

5. Pia Cramling

6. Xie Jun

7. Zhu Chen

8. Humpy Koneru

9. Antoaneta Stefanova

10. Alexandra Kosteniuk

11. Zhaoqin Peng

Women's World Champions

Vera Menchik


Lyudmila Rudenko


Elisabeth Bykova


Olga Rubtsova


Elisabeth Bykova


Nona Gaprindashvili


Maia Chiburdanidze


Xie Jun


Susan Polgar


Xie Jun


Zhu Chen


Antoaneta Stefanova


Xu Yuhua


Alexandra Kosteniuk


Hou Yifan


Anna Ushenina


Hou Yifan



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Are Men Better Chess Players Than Women?

Men are NOT better chess players than women according to experts from Oxford University who say there aren't that many top female players because girls find the game too boring. Read the whole story here.

Gender Issues in Chess

I have not had the opportunity to play against a female chess player in any of the tournaments I have attended. The tournaments have been all male dominated. I am sure there are many different reasons for the scarcity of women in chess.

Are men better chess players than women? In my opinion, I think not. There are many smart women in our society and there are some who play chess extremely well. Famous Women chess players Judit Polgar and Alexandra Kosteniuk come to mind. There are many others, but these two seem to dominate the media news for female chess players.

If you look at the participation rate of women and compare that to performance, you will find that in cases where the participation rate of women and men is equal the issue of ability disappears.

Women do not seem as obessive with the game of chess as that of men. There are a few exceptions considering the success of Polgar and Kosteniuk. Will the achievements of women in chess change? With Susan Polgar and the women's World Champion Kosteniuk consistenly promoting the game to female players, only time will tell. I would love to see more female players across the board from me. Be it in chess tournaments or just a casual game. I am rooting for you ladies! As the saying goes, "You go girl!"

Womens Chess Events

Why Do You Think There Is A Shortage Of Women Chess Players?

Tell us your opinions on why there is a shortage of women in chess. Ladies we would love to hear from you.

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