Top 10 Greatest Female Chess Players of All TimeMay 18, 2022 2023-06-02 7:59
Top 10 Greatest Female Chess Players of All Time
Top 10 Greatest Female Chess Players of All Time
In a world dominated by kings, these extraordinary women emerged as the queens of the chessboard, defying expectations and rewriting the rules of the game. They shattered stereotypes, inspired generations, and carved their names in the annals of chess history.
From breaking through the glass ceiling to achieving unprecedented heights, these top 10 female chess players have left an indelible mark on the sport, captivating minds and hearts with their strategic brilliance.
10. Koneru Humpy
Koneru was born on 31 March 1987 in India and has not only made history in India, but in the World as a whole.
Her talents showed from a young age as she became the youngest woman to become a Grandmaster at the time in 2002.
As if this wasn’t enough, 5 years later she became a 2600+ rated player according to FIDE reaching her peak of 2623 in 2009.
The only world title she has attained so far is the Women’s World Rapid Championship, which she earned in 2019.
With her rating of 2586, currently, she is still within her peak, meaning she has been playing at the top level of her game for over 10 years.
She still has some years to make more history, including winning more World Championships.
9. Anna Olehivna Muzychuk
Born on the 28th of February 1990, Anna is a Ukraine born Grandmaster who is still currently active.
Anna was exposed to chess at the tender age of 2 years as her parents are chess coaches making her a prodigy.
This exposure paid off as she is part of an elite group of females who breached the 2600+ FIDE rating barrier.
Her peak is 2606, which she achieved in July 2012, according to the official FIDE list.
She has won the Rapid World Championship in 2014, and the World Blitz Championship in 2014 and in 2016.
The only title that she hasn’t yet won is the Classical World Chess Championship title. She did come close to winning it when she finished 2nd in 2017.
This Women’s World Chess Championship title has been elusive for Anna, but not for her younger sister Mariya, who won it in 2015 and could have a place in this list of the Top 10 Greatest Female Chess Players of All Time.
With her career still not over, there is a probability that she will win the Classical Chess World title, and when she does, she will probably climb up the rankings.
Anna Muzychuk and Mariya Muzychuk are the best women playing chess in their country and since their childhood years have been among the top female chess players in the world.
In the video lesson below, the RCA guest coach IM Mat Kolosowski will be presenting to you a few opening traps in the Four Knights Game:
8. Vera Menchik
Born on 16 February 1906, Vera will always be recognized as the first-ever Women’s World Chess Champion.
She first won the title in 1927, a reign that continued for a total of 17 years.
In those 17 years of her title defense, she won 78 games, drew 4 games, and only lost one.
Her capabilities also showed as she has a lifetime score of 2-2 with 1 draw again Max Euwe.
Her long streak as Women’s World Chess Champion will probably not be broken for a long time.
The Grandmaster title back then was still new into the scene and the criteria were still a bit unclear.
If she were to be born within modern times, and had the same great results as she had back then against both female and male chess players, there is no doubt she would have attained the title of Grandmaster.
You can watch in a short and amusing video (from our Spanish YouTube channel), a chess game played between Vera Menchik and Max Euwe, with a clear victory for her!
7. Aleksandra Goryachkina
According to FIDE this is the third highest-rated female chess player of all time.
Born on 28 September 1998, Aleksandra Goryachkina is a Russian Grandmaster.
She attained the title of Grandmaster in 2018, making her the fifth-youngest female chess player to achieve the title.
As if this wasn’t enough, in August 2011, she joined the 2600+ group, peaking at 2611 according to FIDE.
Currently, her rating is 2610, and with age on her side, there is a high possibility that she can probably reach 2650+.
She is the previous runner up to the Women’s World Chess Championship title, losing on tiebreaks against Ju Wenjun in 2020.
Her FIDE rating speaks volumes as she is the youngest female on this list.
There is a high possibility that when her career in chess is complete, she will be ranking higher.
6. Ju Wenjun
Born on 31 January 1991, Ju Wenjun is a Chinese-born and bred Grandmaster.
In November of 2014, she attained the title of Grandmaster from FIDE after meeting all the requirements.
As if this wasn’t enough, she joined a list of elite female chess players after she officially reached a FIDE rating of 2604 in March 2017.
Currently, she is the Women’s World Champion and has held the title on 3 different occasions, which are twice in 2018 and in 2020.
Due to Covid-19, her title defense has been delayed until 2022 with the candidate still yet to be determined.
Ju is able to gradually climb this list, considering that she is still active and isn’t changing the history books.
5. Susan Polgar
Born on 19 April 1969, Susan is a Hungarian Grandmaster who made huge contributions to the game as a whole.
While most females would participate in females-only tournaments, Susan is the first woman to part take in events that had the majority as males.
In accordance with history, she is the third woman to obtain the title of Grandmaster after Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze.
She obtained the title of Women’s World Champion in 1996, then lost it in 1999 by way of forfeit due to multiple complications.
Her peak rating according to FIDE is 2577, which she achieved in January 2005.
Upon reaching this rating, Susan retired from all chess competitions making it 17 years since her retirement.
At the time of her retirement, she was now 40 years old, there was a very low chance that she could raise her rating to 2600+.
While most females showed fear when facing males, that was never the case for her, she always wanted to prove that she can be as good as them.
Susan paved the way for the coming of a new generation of female chess players, such as her sister Judit Polgar.
4. Maia Chiburdanidze
Maia was born on 17 January 1961 and is the second woman in history to attain the title of Grandmaster.
In 1978 she became the youngest woman at the time to become a Women’s World Chess Champion.
This record lasted for over 32 years until it was broken by Hou Yifan in 2010.
Her 14 years reign as the Women’s World Champion is also the 3rd longest of all time behind Vera Menchik(17 years) and Nona Gaprindashvili(16 years).
According to FIDE her peak rating was 2560, which she achieved in 1988 and, currently, while inactive she is rated 2500.
Maia is one of the females who also voiced against the divide between males and females in chess.
She has participated in multiple open tournaments where there is a majority of male players, winning multiple of them.
3. Nona Gaprindashvili
Born in Georgia on 3 May 1941, Nona is the first-ever woman to become a chess Grandmaster.
At the time of achieving the title, she was already the Women’s World Champion.
Her reign as the Champion lasted for over 16 years from 1962 to 1978. This makes her the second-longest reigning Women’s World Champion, behind Vera Menchik, who had it for 17 years.
FIDE placed Nona Gaprindashvili’s peak rating to be at 2495. But because the rating wasn’t relevant back then, we can’t really use this against her.
When it came to tournaments, it didn’t matter if it was open or closed, she would compete and score wins.
2. Hou Yifan
Born on 27 February 1994, the Chinese player just keeps on breaking records consistently.
In 2008, she became a Grandmaster after gaining all 3 norms and also the required rating.
At the time, she held and still holds the record of being the youngest female Grandmaster in history.
☉ Hou Yifan: The Current Best Female Chess Player in the World
As if that was not enough, she became the Women’s World Chess Champion in 2010. She then went on to defend her title twice in 2013 and 2016.
The format of the title was changed to knockout and Hou Yifan hasn’t competed for it ever since, losing in the second round.
In January 2011, her rating officially became 2602, meaning she had joined the list of elite females who surpassed 2600+.
This rating climbed until she reached 2686 in March 2015. Making her the second-highest-rated female chess player ever behind Judit Polgar.
Currently, her rating stands at 2658, and with age on her side, there is a high chance she will be able to achieve a lot more.
In January 2015, her blitz rating went up to 2702. Making her also the second female chess player in history to ever reach this rating in blitz after Judit Polgar.
Hou Yifan is capable of reaching higher standards in terms of her game. But the main problem is that she rather sees chess as a hobby rather than a career.
Despite all of this, the record books will always see her near the top of the greatest females to ever play the game.
1. Judit Polgar
No woman has been able to do what Judit has done for chess. Also pushing females to believe that they are capable of reaching the top!
Born in Hungary on 23 July 1976, Judit has been able to compete at the same level as top male chess players.
She became the youngest grandmaster ever in 1991 surpassing Bobby Fischer’s record.
Please note that in 1989, at just the age of 13, she was already ranked number 1 amongst female chess players on the FIDE rankings.
☉ The Best Female Chess Player of All Time: Judit Polgar
The majority of the females on this list managed to breach the 2600+ FIDE rating list. Polgar did one better by reaching 2700+.
She achieved this rating in January 2003 going on to peak with a rating of 2735. This made her the Number 8 ranked chess player in the world at the time.
Judit never won any Women’s World Titles as she generally never took part in the events.
This is mainly because her focus was to be the best chess player in the world, not the best female chess player.
After retiring, both her rapid and classical FIDE ratings are in the 2600+ range while her blitz is 2700+.
To top it off, she is the only woman to have defeated 11 former and current world chess champions.
If we are to put Judit in a different era, there is a high possibility that she would have achieved her goal of being the World Chess Champion.
All the females on this list have done well to reduce talks of chess being a male-dominated sport.
They have shown that with enough passion and less intimidation, they can compete at an elite level.
There are many female chess players who are not included on this list, but also doing well for the game… Thank you, Ladies!