Who are the top 10 best women chess players of all time?
Hou Yifan, Judit Polgár, Humpy Koneru, Maia Chiburdanidze, and Ju Wenjun are just some of the most popular names.
Now, you may be asking how they got to the top. What qualities set these women apart, and is there anything you can learn from them?
Read on to discover the most surprising facts about these grandmasters!
The Top 10 Best Women Chess Players
Out of the millions of chess players in the world, only 1% become Women Grand Masters. Even so, the ones on our list stand above the rest.
These are our top 10 best women chess players based on their FIDE rating and other achievements!
1. Hou Yifan – Starting Em’ Young
The FIDE recommends starting chess at a young age, but Hou Yifan took this to another level.
Hou Yifan was born in February 1994. She became a part of the Chinese National Chess Team when she was only six years old!
Impressively, she received the grandmaster title when she was 14. At age 16, Hou Yifan won the World Women’s Championship for the first time. This makes her the youngest player to do so.
She’s the current holder of the number one spot for FIDE’s list of Top 100 Women. Her peak FIDE rating is at 2686.
2. Judit Polgár – The Unbeatable
Born in 1976 in Hungary, Judit Polgár is the youngest of three chess-playing sisters.
What’s amazing is she won the International Grandmasters at 15 years old. She also became the only woman to rank in the top 10 chess players in the world!
Aside from her popularity as the most charismatic chess player, Judit held onto her title of number one woman chess player from 1989 to 2015.
She retired from competitive chess with an impressive peak rating of 2735!
3. Humpy Koneru – Raising the Indian Flag
As if being a mom to a five-year-old isn’t hard enough, Koneru Humpy manages to juggle it with eight hours of training each day!
Born in March 1987, she became a grandmaster by 15.
Her achievements include winning the 2019 FIDE Rapid Chess Championship and the World Rapid Chess Championship in 2020.
Koneru is now the senior-most player leading the Indian team in the Asian Games. Her peak FIDE rating is at 2623.
4. Ju Wenjun – Playing for Fun
According to Ju Wenjun, she began playing chess for fun in 1998 at seven years old. To add to this, whenever she’s confused, she often follows her heart to decide on the next move.
It may seem like an easygoing strategy for playing chess, but it’s landed her the grandmaster position with a peak rating of 2604!
5. Susan Polgár – The Women’s Champion
Susan Polgár is Judit Polgár’s older sister.
Born in April 1969, she won her first chess tournament at age four. She became the number one woman chess player in the world at 15, and got a peak rating of 2577!
Yet, not everything is perfect within the chess community. The American-Hungarian woman brought sexual harassment cases to light.
Moreover, she opened the Susan Polgár Foundation, which aims to promote chess for young girls.
6. Anna Rudolf – Chess Influencer
Anna Rudolf is a three-time Women’s National Chess Champion. Born in Hungary in November 1987, she learned how to play chess at four years old.
Anna faced some obstacles in her career. She was accused of cheating by receiving signals from her lip balm tube. Yet, she overcame all the challenges.
In 2008, she became an Olympian and received the title of Woman Grandmaster.
Currently, Anna Rudolf is a popular chess streamer. Her Twitch channel has 286,000 followers as of July 2023. She also reached 201,000 subscribers on YouTube.
7. Maia Chiburdanidze – Beating the Odds
Georgian SSR’s Maia Chiburdanidze was born in January 1961.
Her aggressive play style helped her earn the title of world chess champion at 17. She held onto her position for more than a decade!
According to the New York Times, Maia is currently ranked 18th among the female chess players in the world. However, she’s beaten higher-ranked women like Hou Yifan and Anna Muzychuk.
Her peak FIDE rating is at 2692.
8. Nona Gaprindashvili – Georgian SSR’s Chess Queen
Before Maia Chiburdanidze beat her in 1978, Nona Gaprindashvili held the title of world chess champion for a whopping 16 years!
Born in May 1941 in the same country as Maia, the two would later put Georgia in the spotlight for women’s chess.
Nona herself is the first ever woman to become a grandmaster. She even starred in a documentary called Glory to the Queen in 2020.
9. Vera Menchik – The OG
Vera Menchik is one of the women overlooked by the chess community.
She was born in Russia in Feb 1906, 54 years before the Elo system got invented. Because of this, she isn’t an official grandmaster.
Still, she managed to become the first winner of the 1927 Women’s World Champion. She gained the respect of whoever she had a match with.
In 1935, she famously said she was “looking forward to drinking some men’s blood” before a competition!
10. Irina Krush – Our Favorite Commentator
America’s Irina Krush is a seven-time winner of the Women’s Chess Champion.
She received her grandmaster title after winning the Mayor’s Cup in New York. At that time, she was the lowest-rated participant.
In 2002 and 2004, she joined the Olympiads and beat the Women’s World Champion Xu Yuhua. Her peak rating is 2502.
Now, she’s often spotted as the commentator in various global competitions!
Women grandmasters are uncommon in the field of chess. Only 1% of players receive the title, and a rare few stand above the rest.
These amazing women faced plenty of discrimination, harassment, and accusations. Yet, they can overcome the challenges and serve as inspiration for the younger generation.
This list of the top 10 best women chess players of all time proves women are just as good as men!