The Queens of Chess: Celebrating the Women's World Chess Champions
Women have always been a force to reckon with in the world of chess, and the Women's World Chess Champions serve as the perfect example of this. From Vera Menchik to Ju Wenjun, each of these women has carved a unique niche for themselves in the world of chess, inspiring many along the way. As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us honor some of the Women's World Chess Champions in the last decade, for their contributions to the sport.
Alexandra Kosteniuk, the 14th Women's World Chess Champion, from Russia, held the title from 2008 to 2010. She was just 24 when she won the title, and her unique style of play and her strategic brilliance took the world of chess by storm. Kosteniuk was not only a gifted player but also a great ambassador for the sport.
Hou Yifan from China, the 15th Women's World Chess Champion, is one of the most successful women players of all time. She won the title three times, from 2010 to 2012, then from 2013 to 2015, and finally from 2016 to 2017. She also has recorded one of the highest Elo ratings ever by a female chess player. Hou Yifan's dominance in the sport is a testament to her incredible talent and hard work.
Anna Ushenina from Ukraine, the 16th Women's World Chess Champion, held the title for a brief period in 2012-13. Despite being an underdog in the tournament, Ushenina's brilliant performance and tactical acumen allowed her to emerge victorious. Her triumph was a remarkable achievement, and it inspired many women around the world.
Mariya Muzychuk, the 18th Women's World Chess Champion, also from Ukraine, held the title from 2015 to 2016. Her victory was particularly impressive as she beat the reigning champion, Hou Yifan, to claim the title. Muzychuk's success was a great boost for women's chess in Ukraine and inspired many young girls to take up the sport.
Tan Zhongyi, the 20th Women's World Chess Champion, from China, won the title in 2017-18, becoming only the fifth Chinese woman to hold the title. She gets another crack at the world championship in 2023 as she has qualified for the FIDE Women’s Candidates Final scheduled between March 27 - April 6 2023.
Ju Wenjun, the current Women's World Chess Champion, also from China, won the title in 2018 and has held it ever since. Her ascent to the top of the world rankings was a remarkable journey. Ju Wenjun is known for her calm and collected style of play, and she is a role model for young women chess players all over the world.
Although we only focused on the champions of the last decade, it is impossible to discuss the Women's World Chess Champions without mentioning two of the most legendary players in the game’s history.
Nona Gaprindashvili, the first Women's World Chess Champion, from the Soviet Union (Georgian SSR), held the title for an incredible 16 years, from 1962 to 1978. Her achievements in the sport are truly remarkable and she was highly respected and feared by legendary chess players like Mikhail Tal.
Susan Polgar, the 9th Women's World Chess Champion, from Hungary, held the title from 1996 to 1999. She is one of the most successful women players of all time, and her contributions to women's chess are immeasurable and continue to this day with great force. She has been a great ambassador for the sport, and her tireless efforts to promote chess and empower young women have earned her numerous accolades.
These women have shown that nothing is impossible if you have talent, dedication, and passion. Their achievements have not only elevated the status of women in chess but have also inspired a generation of young girls to take up the sport. They are not just chess champions, but also ambassadors for gender equality and empowerment.
It is important to note that, despite the many successes and achievements of women in chess, the treatment towards female players has been far from perfect. In the past, women have faced numerous barriers to entry, including being excluded from many high-profile tournaments and competitions. Even now, as the sport becomes more inclusive, female players still face discrimination, bias, and abuse. This is unacceptable, and as a community dominated by men, we have a responsibility to do better. We must create a supportive environment that values and celebrates the contributions of women in chess. Only then can we truly achieve gender equality and unlock the full potential of chess.
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