Wednesday, 5 December 2012

When the Women's World Champion came to town

In the absence of topical news, here's another look back at a bygone age.

Vera Menchik, born in Moscow in 1906, was the first Women's World Champion, obtaining that title in 1927 in London.  At a time when strong women chess players were rather thin on the ground, she held that title throughout the rest of her lifetime.

She moved to England in 1921 with her Czech father and English mother, and in 1936 was invited by the Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club to give a simultaneous display.  The photo below shows her surrounded by her opponents. Somewhere in that photo is a young Don Ward, doyen of Suffolk Chess and Suffolk Champion on 12 occasions.

(Click on photo for larger image)

Vera played 23 simultaneous games against Club members, winning 18, losing one and drawing four.

Sadly, she died on 27 June 1944, when a V1 bomb destroyed her home in Clapham, London, killing Vera along with her two sisters and mother.

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