Lyudmila Rudenko

logo-home-womLyudmila Rudenko (27 July 1904 – 4 March 1986) was a Soviet chess player and the second Women’s World Chess Champion from 1950 until 1953, USSR Women’s Champion in 1952. She was awarded the FIDE International Master (the first woman awarded the International Master title) and Woman International Master titles in 1950, and the Woman Grandmaster title in 1976.

Rudenko was born in Lubny in the Poltava region of Ukraine. Her father taught her to play chess at the age of 10 although at first she was more serious about swimming. In 1925, she was the holder of the title of Vice-Swimming Champion of Ukraine (breaststroke). Her professional career would be as an economic planner for the Soviet Union, and chess would remain a hobby.

Rudenko began playing tournament chess in 1925 after a move to Moscow. In 1928, she won the Moscow Women’s Championship. She then moved to Leningrad where she met and married scientist Lev Davidovich Goldstein; in 1931 they had a son. She won the Leningrad Women’s Championship three times.

Women’s World Champion Vera Menchik died in 1944 during an air raid, so after the war in the winter of 1949–1950 FIDE held a tournament in Moscow to determine the new women’s champion. Sixteen women from twelve countries competed, with the four Soviet players taking the top four spots. Rudenko won (scoring nine wins, one loss, and five draws), and held the Women’s World Championship title until losing it to Elisabeth Bykova in 1953 in the next championship cycle. She lost to Bykova by the score of 6–8 (five wins, seven losses, and two draws).

In World War II, Rudenko organized a train to evacuate children from the Siege of Leningrad. She would describe this as the most important thing she had accomplished in her life.