Some talk of Judit Polgar, and some of Xie Jun, the highest-rated woman player and the women's world champion respectively, but of all the world's great chess heroines, there is none that can compare with Vera Menchik, for whom a 50th anniversary memorial tournament is being played at Oakwood House in Maidstone, Kent.

Born in Russia (although of Czech nationality) in 1906, Menchik became the first woman world champion in 1927 and held the title until her death in a London air raid in 1944. The only woman of her time to play in top-level tournaments, she defeated so many top players that her victims formed a notional 'Menchik Club'. Their undisputed leader was Max Euwe, who lost to her twice before he became world champion.

Menchik's style was patient and positional, usually not incisive enough to threaten the greatest players but powerful in overcoming lesser opposition, as the following game, from Hastings 1928-9 shows.

White: Vera Menchik Black: J Rejfir 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 Nf3 Nc6 11 Qe2 Nbd5 12 0-0 Nxc3 13 bxc3 b6 14 Rfd1 Qe7 15 Bg5 h6 16 Bh4 Bb7 17 Ne5 g5 18 Bg3 Rfd8 27 Be2 Bf6 28 Qh5+ Kf5 29 f4 Bxe5 6 dxc5 Bxc5 7 Bf4 d5 8 e3 0-0 9 Be2 dxc4 10 Bxc4 Nb4 19 Ng4 Nxg4 20 Qxg4 Rxd1+ 21 Rxd1 Rd8 22 Rxd8+ Qxd8 23 h4 Kg7 24 Bf4 Be7 25 hxg5 hxg5 26 Be5+ Kg6 30 Bd3+ Qxd3 31 Qh7+ Kf6 32 fxe5+ 1-0

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