Chess is a game of tactics, intelligence, speed and fast thinking. But also, like every other game in the world, it is also dominated by Men. But women like in every other field are no less than men and have proved that in the Chess game as well. In this article we will look at the top 10 greatest female chess players of all time.
Judit Polgar, one of the most prominent and strongest chess players in the history of chess. She is a Hungarian Grandmaster, who became grandmaster at the age of just 15 Years and 4 months. At the age of 12 itself, she joined the elite list of top 100 FIDE rated players becoming the youngest player to join the list. She and her sisters were part of an educational experiment by her father to prove genius are made, not born. Polgar then went on to become one of the greatest chess players, breaking and making all possible records in chess history. Her playing style with tactical and aggressive play is still followed by many. She is adept to faster time control, which has helped her win in many blitz and rapid chess tournaments. She had a peak rating of 2735 in 2005 and is currently rated 2675. She was also ranked world no 8 in 2004 and women's world no 1 from 1989 to 2014. She is still the only woman to cross 2700 Elo rating. She is the inspiration to many women to take up chess as a profession and definitely is the top player to play chess. She announced her retirement from chess in 2014 and was then announced as head coach of Hungary's national men's team.
Xie Jun, Chinese Grandmaster started playing chess when she was 6 and was a champion chess player of Beijing by 10 and started playing international chess. She became world women's world champion by defeating Maya Chiburdanidze in 1991. She had two reigns in the world chess championship from 1991 to 1996 and 1999 to 2001. She became an idol for many Chinese and Asian female players to take up chess and her optimism and attacking style of play has also gained popularity. Post retirement, she is working as president of the Chinese Chess Association.
Susan Polgar, sister of Judit Polgar was also part of an educational experiment. She is an American Hungarian Grandmaster who was women's world champion from 1996 to 1999. In 1984, she was the top ranked women chess player in the world. She became grandmaster at the age of 15 and was just the third woman to achieve this. In 1992 she also won both blitz and rapid chess championships for women. After retiring from Professional chess, she founded the Polgar chess foundation to train children. She also was the head coach of Texas tech knight riders from 2007, leading the team to the best chess team in the nation in 2011 and 2012.
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Maia Chiburdanidze, sixth Women's World Chess Champion from 1978 to 1991. Maia, originally from the Soviet Union, became the only second women grandmaster in chess history. Maria's style of play is solid, following classical chess principles basically influenced by her trainer. She was a major member of the USSR team that dominated Olympiads over the years. She was one of the few women players to excel in the highest level of chess and has contributed to development of the game in the Soviet Union.
Vera Menchik, a Russian chess player was the first women's world chess champion from 1927 to 1944. She was the pioneer chess player in women's chess and had inspired and motivated many women to take up chess. She was the longest world champion and held this title for 17 years. She was honored by naming the Chess Olympiad trophy by the name Vera Menchik Cup and was also inducted into World Chess hall of fame in 2011. She was killed in a bomb attack in 1944.
Hou Yifan, again a Chinese chess Grandmaster, is currently ranked 99 in world rankings. She was born in 1994 and started playing chess from 5 itself and soon was able to beat many chess players by 9. She became the youngest member of the Chinese national team and won the World youth championship. She currently is the second highest rated chess player and world champion in women's chess four times. Hou is the youngest ever grandmaster in women's chess and also the youngest to win a world women's chess championship at 16 years. She is still recognised as the best chess player of the current generation, much ahead of the competitors in Chess around the world. She is currently working as professor in Shenzhen University since 2020, keeping chess as a hobby rather than profession.
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Nona Gaprindashvili is the first women player to be awarded the Grandmaster award by FIDE in 1978. She was part of the Chess Olympiad team of The USSR and won many medals in both individual and group games. She was also a five time winner of the Women's Soviet Championship. She has even won the Women's Senior championship a record 6 times and is still the only women world champion to win a senior title as well.
Aleksandra Goryachkina, is currently ranked no 2 in women's world ranking right behind Hou Yifan. Russian origin Aleksandra holds the grandmaster title and with a Elo rating of 2611 is still the fourth highest rated player in chess history. Born into a chess family with both the parents having a elo rating of more than 2200, Aleksandra Goryachkina quickly became a chess prodigy and won World youth chess championship in various categories and Laos second youngest grandmasters of women's chess. She is the highest ranked chess player from Russia. She currently is the face of Russia in world chess and is expected to break many other records and inspire many women across the world.
Koneru Humpy is an Indian origin Chess Prodigy who won the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15years. She won the World Youth chess championship thrice and also Asian youth championship in 1999. She first participated in the women's world chess championship in 2004 and since then has participated in every edition of the tournament. She took a break from chess and returned in 2019 and won the Women's World Rapid chess championship. Currently she is working at ONGC limited after retirement from professional chess.
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Alexandra Kosteniuk is again a Russian chess player and grandmaster known for winning the women's world rapid chess championship. She learnt chess from Russian State academy of Physical Education as she graduated as chess trainer in 2003. She then became grandmaster in 2004 and was only 19th woman to achieve this feat. In 2006 she became the first woman to win chess960 championship and also won Women's World chess championship in 2008. She took part in the inaugural women's world cup and won the tournament in the first edition itself in 2021. She currently has a FIDE rating of 2510 and is an active chess player who is representing Russia in world chess.
These were the list of some of the most elite and notable chess players in the history of chess who played a major role in uplifting women's chess.
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