Lyudmila Rudenko: Five things you didn't know about the inspirational Soviet chess champion

The first woman to be awarded the International Master title went on to save children in Leningrad

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Friday 27 July 2018 16:32 BST
Lyudmila Rudenko: Who was the Soviet chess player?

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Louise Thomas

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Lyudmila Rudenko, one of the world's most influential chess players, was born 114 years ago today.

Born in 1904 in the city of Lubny, then part of the Russian Empire and now in central Ukraine, she would go on to win the highest honour in the game.

Now, Google has celebrated the chess master’s legacy with a Doodle which takes artistic inspiration from 1960’s graphic art and posters.

Here are five facts about the chess supremo.

1. She was the first woman awarded the International Master title

Introduced to the game by her father at the age of 10, Rudenko emerged as a world class player in the late 1920's, placing fifth in the 1928 Moscow Women’s Championship.

She went onto become the second Women’s World Chess Champion in 1950 and maintained her grip on the title for three years.

When she lost it to fellow Russian Elisaveta Bykova. she completed the tournament with a record of five wins, seven losses and two draws.

Google said its doodle “reimagines a focused Rudenko’s determination during the world championship game”.

Rudenko was named an International Master of chess in 1950, and a Woman Grandmaster in 1976, 10 years before she died.

She was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2015.

2. She also had a great zeal for swimming

Rudenko was initially enthralled with swimming and won a local competition in the women’s 400-meter breaststroke in Odessa.

It was after that triumphant swim that she set off to Moscow where she cultivated her flair for chess.

By 1925 she had managed to become the swimming vice-champion of Ukraine in her chosen stroke.

3. Economics

After graduating from secondary school, Rudenko studied economics in Odessa and began a career as an economic planner in Moscow.

4. She was married to a prominent scientist

After winning her first competition in 1928 at the Moscow women’s championship, she moved to Leningrad.

It was there she married her husband Lev Davidovich Goldstein, with whom who she had a son, Vladimir, in 1931.

Goldstein was the founder of the department of cybernetics in the military academy named after Alexander Mozhaysky.

There is reportedly still a plaque honouring him at the academy.

5.She organised a train to evacuate children from the siege of Leningrad during WWII

She believed her single greatest achievement to be organising children during the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War.

The city was subjected to a 900-day siege by invading German forces - resulting in the deaths of more than one million civilians.

The armament factory she was working in was evacuated ahead of the advancing Germans but the workers children were left behind. As the siege started she was placed in charge of rescuing them and organised a special train to save them.

She described this as the most important accomplishment in her life.

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