25 November 2007

Soviet Women Players

Women chess players often present special difficulties in any survey of historical chess players. The techniques used to select male players don't always work for female players. Why not? Because women frequently play in events for women only. For example, in this project on Soviet players, one of my criteria for inclusion is participation in the finals of a Soviet Championship. Women never played in any of these events.

My other start point, the lists included in Kotov & Yudovich's 'Soviet School of Chess', resulted in eight women being included. As the book was published in the 1950s, later players were not mentioned. To fill this gap I first turned to 'Women in Chess' by John Graham. Starting with Nona Gaprindashvili, this gave me the names of six Soviet players (many Georgian) who competed in international events.

Another reference, which I've just started to study, is 'Soviet Women in Chess' by Elizaveta Bikova (Fizkultura i Sport, 1957).

This book, a treasure trove of info about early Soviet women's events, has crosstables for

  • Soviet Championships
  • Russian (RSFSR) Championships,
  • Moscow Championships,
  • Leningrad Championships, and
  • early FIDE Championships.

The book also has photos and short biographies of the best known players. The biggest problem is understanding; struggling with the Russian language gives me excellent insight into what it must be like going through life as a semi-literate.

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