Titled Ladies

Titled Ladies

| 86 | Chess Players

     At one time there were no official titles in chess.  In 1950 FIDE created the Grandmaster, the International Master and the International Women Master titles.  The first two sets of titles weren't based on ratings, which were almost non-existent at that time anyway, but on other criteria:

  Of the 27 Grandmasters, one was the world champion and 14 were qualifiers (not participants) in the 1950 Candidates Tournament.  These were:
Mikhail Botvinnik, Isaac Boleslavsky, Igor Bondarevsky, David Bronstein, Max Euwe, Reuben Fine, Salo Flohr, Paul Keres, Alexander Kotov, Andor Lilienthal, Miguel Najdorf, Samuel Reshevsky, Vasily Smyslov, Gideon Stahlberg and László Szabó. 
   12 more were selected from the living players who had been among the strongest in their prime.  These included:
Ossip Bernstein, Oldřich Duras, Ernst Grünfeld, Boris Kostić, Grigory Levenfish, Géza Maróczy, Jacques Mieses, Viacheslav Ragozin, Akiba Rubinstein, Friedrich Sämisch, Savielly Tartakower and Milan Vidmar,

   Those selected for the International Masters title were (by country):

Soviet Union: Vladmir Alatortsev, Lev Aronin, Ilia Kan, Fedor Dus-Chotimirsky, Boris Verlinsky, Vasily Panov, MarkTaimanov, Alexander Konstantinopolsy, Mikhail Yudovich, Piotr Romanovsky, Gavril Veresov, Alexander Tolush, Vitaly Chekhover, Gregory Lisitzin, Vladmir Makogonov, Genrikh Kasparyan, Piotr Dubinin, Vladmir Simagin, Vladas Mikenas, Vladmir Nenarokov, Viktor Goglidze ;  Holland: Theo van Scheltinga, Lodewijk Prins, Nicolaas Cortlever ;  Italy: Vincenzo Castaldi, Mario Monticelli ;  Peru: Esteban Canal ;  Czechoslovakia: Ludek Pachman, Jan Foltys, Karel Opocensky, Jaroslav Sajtar, Cenek Kottnauer, Frantisek Zita ;  France: Nicolas Rossolimo ;  Switzerland: Henri Grob, Hans Johner ;  Belgium: Albéric O'Kelly de Galway ;  England: Sir George Thomas, Henry Atkins, C.H.O'D. Alexander, Harry Golombek, William Winter ;  Hungary: Lajos Asztalos, Gedeon Barcza, Pal Benko, Tibor Florian, Erno Gereben, Geza Nagy, Jozef Szily, Apad Vajda ;  Finland: Eero Book ;  Sweden: Folke Ekstrom, Erik Lundin, Gösta Stoltz ;  Denmark: Jens Enevoldsen ;  Yugoslavia: Svetozar Gligoric, Petar Trifunovic, Vasja Pirc, Braslav Rabar, Milan Vidmar, Jr., Srecko Nedeljkovic ;  USA: Arnold Denker, Arthur Bisguier, Al Horowitz, Isaac Kashdan, Hans Kmoch, Herman Steiner ;  Austria: HansMueller ;  Spain: Antonio Medina, Arturo Pomar ;  Argentina: Julio Bolbochan, Carlos Guimard, Hermann Pilnik, Héctor RossettoNew Zealand: Robert Wade ;  Australia: Lajos Steiner ;  Canada: Daniel Abraham Yanofsky ;  Brazil: Erich Eliskases ;  West Germany: Wolfgang Unzicker, Karl Ahues, Ludwig Rellstab, Gregor Kieninger, Paul Schmidt ;  East Germany: Berthold Koch, Kurt Richter, Rudolf Keller ;  Rumania: Octav Troianescu, Stefan Erdelyi ;  Poland: Kazimierz Makarczyk, Kazimierz Plater ;  Bulgaria: Aleksandar Zwetkow

   The last title category was conferred upon women to recognize their accomplishments, presumably against each other.  

     While the first two categories involved some records, calculations and  possibly arguments, the final group, that of women, was quite simplified: 

All the participants in the 1949-50 Women's World Championship tournament qualified with the only addition being Sonja Graf, presumably since she had played a world championship match with the now-deceased first women's world champion, Vera Menchik, and considered herself the default champion after Menchik's death (or perhaps she was seeded but didn't participate due to the birth of her son, Alexander). 

 This presentation is simply meant to be a recognition of the ladies upon whom the original titles were conferred

[Just as the establishment of the world championship under FIDE's control did, the establishment of official titles was a flex of FIDE's muscles. Since the original conference of titles should carry some historical significance but is mostly ignored,  I decided to prelude the list of ladies with all the title recipients.]


Chess Review Feb. 1950


     The tournament in Moscow for the women's world chess championship was won by Mrs. Ludmilla Rudenko, one of a quartet of Soviet representatives who captured all first four prizes. Mrs. Rudenko thus succeeds officially to the preeminent position in chess formerly held by Mrs. Vera Menchik Stevenson, a casualty of the war during the bombing of London.  The new champion is forty-seven years old and learned to play chess comparatively late in life. In addition to her Moscow title, she has held the Leningrad championship several times.  She has a fifteen-year-old son who is understood to be a fair player.

     The American representatives, Mrs. Gisela K. Gresser of New York and Miss N. May Karff of Boston, co-champions of the United States, got off to a flying start but soon bogged down and finished near the bottom. Mrs. Gresser, in particular, began splendidly by downing Mrs. Rudenko in the opening round and taking the lead in the fifth. In the sixth round, however, she lost to Mme. Chaude de Silans of France and thereafter, like her compatriot, Miss Karff, she encountered nothing but disaster.

     A strong bid for the title was made by Mme. de Silans up to the late rounds, when the Soviet players finally moved ahead in a decisive spurt. Miss Eileen Tranmer, British champion, and Miss Edith Keller, German ace, staged a 'putsch' of their own to pull up with Mme. de Silans in a tie for fifth, sixth and seventh places. 

     Runner-up to Mrs. Rudenko was Mrs. Olga Rubsova, forty-year-old holder of the Soviet national title, which she has won four times. She is the mother of four children, all of whom play chess. Mrs. Rubsova was taught chess at the age of fifteen by her father, a college professor.


see also:

The First WIMs

Soviet Union

Lyudmila Rudenko

Olga Nikolaevna Rubtsova

Valentina Borisenko-Belova

Elisaveta Ivanovna Bykova


María Teresa Mora Iturralde


Nina Hrušková-Bělská


Ingrid Larsen



Eileen Betsy Tranmer


Chantal Chaudé de Silans


Edith Keller-Hermann


Fenny Heemskerk


Józsa Lángos


Clarice Benini


Roza Maria Hermanowa (Germanowa)


Giselle Gresser

Mona May Karff

Sonja Stevenson-Graf

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