List of female chess players

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From the Middle Ages through the 18th century, chess was a popular social pastime for both men and women of the upper classes. Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I played, and Thomas Jefferson wrote several times about Benjamin Franklin's playing chess in Paris with socially important women, including the Duchess of Bourbon, who was "a chess player of about his force".[1] Chess games between men and women were a common theme of European art[2][3] and literature in the fourteenth through 18th centuries.[4]

By the 19th century, however, the chess world had become dominated by male chess players, perhaps as a result of card playing becoming socially acceptable for mixed groups. Then during the 20th century, female players again made significant progress in breaking the male stranglehold on the game, although remaining fewer than 5% of registered tournament players.

The country of Georgia produced some of the best women chess players of the later 20th century, including the first female International Grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, who was awarded a special title in 1978. By the mid-1980s a number of women were competing regularly in events with men. In 1991, Susan Polgar became the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title on the same basis as the men, by earning Grandmaster norms.

Grandmasters[edit]

There are currently 30 female players to hold the GM title:[5][6]

Name Country Birth Date Date Age Earned World Champion Peak rating Notes
Nona Gaprindashvili  Georgia 1941-05-03 1978 37 WCC 1962–1978 2495 First female grandmaster
Maia Chiburdanidze  Georgia 1961-01-17 1984 23 WCC 1978–1991 2560
Susan Polgar  Hungary
 United States
1969-04-19 1991 22 norms 1996–1999 2577 First to be awarded the title traditionally
Judit Polgár  Hungary 1976-07-23 1991 15 norms 2735 Youngest grandmaster ever at the time
Xie Jun  China 1970-10-30 1991 21 WCC 1991–1996,1999–2001 2574
Pia Cramling  Sweden 1963-04-23 1992 29 norms 2550
Zhu Chen  China
 Qatar
1976-03-16 2001 25 norms 2001–2004 2548
Humpy Koneru  India 1987-03-31 2002 15 norms 2623
Antoaneta Stefanova  Bulgaria 1979-04-19 2003 25 norms 2004–2006 2560
Alexandra Kosteniuk  Russia 1984-03-23 2004 20 EWC 2008–2010 2540
Peng Zhaoqin  China
 Netherlands
1968-05-08 2004 36 EWC 2472
Hoang Thanh Trang  Vietnam
 Hungary
1980-04-25 2007 27 norms 2511
Kateryna Lahno  Ukraine 1989-12-27 2007 17 norms 2557
Xu Yuhua  China 1976-10-29 2007 30 WCC 2006–2008 2517
Marie Sebag  France 1986-10-15 2008 21 norms 2537
Zhao Xue  China 1985-04-06 2008 23 norms 2579
Hou Yifan  China 1994-02-27 2008 14 norms 2010–2012, 2013- 2639 Youngest ever female grandmaster
Nana Dzagnidze  Georgia 1987-01-01 2008 21 norms 2569
Monika Soćko  Poland 1978-03-24 2008 30 norms 2505
Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant  Georgia
 Scotland
1968-07-19 2009 40 norms 2506
Tatiana Kosintseva  Russia 1986-04-11 2009 23 norms 2581
Natalia Zhukova  Ukraine 1979-06-05 2010 30 norms 2499
Elina Danielian  Armenia 1978-08-16 2010 32 norms - 2521
Viktorija Čmilytė  Lithuania 1983-08-06 2010 26 norms - 2528
Nadezhda Kosintseva  Russia 1985-01-14 2011 26 norms 2576
Dronavalli Harika  India 1991-01-12 2011 20 norms 2525
Anna Muzychuk  Ukraine
 Slovenia
1990-02-28 2012 22 norms 2606
Anna Ushenina  Ukraine 1985-08-30 2012 27 WCC 2012–2013 2502
Valentina Gunina  Russia 1989-02-04 2013 24 norms 2533
Irina Krush  United States 1983-12-24 2013 29 norms 2502

There is also a Woman Grandmaster (WGM) title, but the requirements for achieving it are significantly lower. Still, chess has not regained its former social status among women. As of 2012, no woman has ever been the world champion, and only a handful have made it to the top 500 players. Even so, the strength of women players continues to climb, and by 2005 most of the top 10 women held the Grandmaster title. In September 2005, Susan Polgar's younger sister GM Judit Polgár of Hungary, then rated #8 in the world by the international chess organization FIDE, became the first woman to play for the World Championship title.[7]

International masters[edit]

As of 2013, 83 women hold the International Master title:[8]

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  • Xie Jun (1970) People's Republic of China - Women's World champion, GM 1994
  • Xu Yuhua (1976) People's Republic of China - Women's World champion, GM 2007

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See also[edit]

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