Creating a list of the world’s top female chess players is a complex task. The criterion of play in women’s chess has been cultivated considerably over the years with many women now competing against the top players around the globe. With that in mind, let’s look at our list of the top women ever to play chess.
While Judit Polgar has never exactly won a World Women’s Chess Championship, there’s no argument that she is the greatest woman ever to play chess. At the height of her career, Polgar was one of the top players in the world (female or male), making it into the top 10 on the ratings list numerous times. Her absence of Women’s World Championships is because she never attempted to win the title. She instead concentrated on competing for the overall World Championship. Polgar got that chance in 2005 when she played in the 2005 FIDE World Chess Championship Tournament. She finished 8th.
Maia Chiburdanidze earned her 1st USSR Girl’s Championship at the age of 15. A year later, she won the 1976 USSR Women’s Championship. It was crystal clear that she was one of the best female players in the world when she got her first Women’s World Chess Championship in 1978, defeating the ruling champion, Nona Gaprindashvili. Chiburdanidze would defend her title at least four times, keeping it until 1991. Since then, she has stayed active in the pursue for the Women’s World Title, making it to the semi-final matches as late as in 2004.
Possibly the most famous female player in the world, Susan Polgar, along with her sisters Sofia and Judit, was seen as a chess prodigy early in life. Her achievements include becoming the 1st woman to earn the grandmaster title via tournament play rather than by winning the World Women’s Chess Championship.