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The Women of Chess: Female Grandmasters


In this exploration, we delve into the world of female chess players, their achievements, and the evolving landscape of women’s chess. One question that often arises is, who is the best women’s chess player? Join us as we unravel the intricacies of female grandmasters, their ratings, and the inspiring stories that have shaped the narrative of women in chess.

Table of Content

Are there any female chess grandmasters?

While historically dominated by male players, the chess arena has witnessed a remarkable rise in female grandmasters over the years.


Traditionally, the chess world has been dominated by male players, and the absence of female representation in grandmaster titles was notable. However, times have changed, and today, there are indeed female chess grandmasters. 


The title of Grandmaster is the highest achievement a chess player can attain, and it is not gender-specific. The World Chess Federation, FIDE, awards this prestigious title based on a player’s performance in tournaments and their Elo rating. 


Over the years, the number of female grandmasters has grown, challenging the historical gender gap in the chess community.

What is the female master rating?

The Female Master Rating, often referred to as the FIDE Women’s Rating, is not the best women’s chess player rating – but rather, a numerical measure of a female chess player’s skill level. It is calculated using a similar method to the regular FIDE rating, which considers a player’s performance in rated games. 


The Female Master Rating provides a comparative measure of a female player’s strength within the women’s chess community. 


While some argue against the need for a separate women’s rating, as it may perpetuate a perceived gap between male and female players, others contend that it offers a platform for female players to showcase their talents and compete against their peers on an equal footing.

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The title of Grandmaster is the highest achievement a chess player can attain, and it is not gender-specific

Who is the best female chess player in the world?

The question of who holds the title of the best women’s chess player is subjective, as it depends on various factors such as playing style, achievements, and the period in question. 


The title has often been associated with legendary players who have left an indelible mark on the chess world. 


Judit Polgár, a Hungarian chess prodigy, is frequently regarded as one of the greatest female players in history, having defeated multiple World Chess Champions.


In recent times, Hou Yifan, a Chinese chess grandmaster, has emerged as a prominent figure in women’s chess. 


Hou Yifan became the youngest women’s world chess champion in 2010 at the age of 16 and has consistently remained among the top-ranked female players. Her achievements in open tournaments, where she competes against both male and female players, further highlight her exceptional skills.

best women's chess player

Ratio of female VS male grandmasters

While the number of female grandmasters has increased over the years, there still exists a notable disparity in the ratio of male to female grandmasters. 


The reasons for this discrepancy are complex and multifaceted, encompassing historical gender biases, societal expectations, and the overall composition of the chess community. 


Efforts are being made to address this gender gap, with initiatives promoting inclusivity and encouraging more girls to take up chess.


It is essential to note that the imbalance is not indicative of a lack of talent among female players but rather reflects the challenges they face in breaking through traditional barriers. 


As the chess community becomes more diverse and inclusive, it is likely that the ratio of female to male grandmasters will continue to evolve, fostering a more equitable representation in the higher echelons of the chess world.

Three female grandmasters and their stories

  1. Judit Polgár:

    Often hailed as the best women’s chess player in history, Judit Polgár achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 15. Breaking gender stereotypes, she consistently competed in open tournaments against male players and defeated several World Chess Champions, including Garry Kasparov. Polgár’s impact on the chess world extends beyond her gender; her strategic brilliance and fearless approach have left an enduring legacy.

  2. Hou Yifan:

    As a trailblazer in contemporary women’s chess, Hou Yifan has redefined the landscape of female players. Becoming the women’s world chess champion at a young age, she has since shifted her focus to open tournaments, competing against male counterparts. Hou Yifan’s commitment to challenging gender norms in chess makes her a compelling figure and an inspiration for aspiring female players worldwide.

  3. Nona Gaprindashvili:

    A Georgian chess player and the first woman to be awarded the title of Grandmaster, Nona Gaprindashvili, has had a groundbreaking career. Her achievements include multiple Women’s World Chess Championship victories and representing the Soviet Union in Chess Olympiads. Gaprindashvili’s contributions to women’s chess paved the way for future generations, demonstrating that gender is not a barrier to success in the world of chess.
best women's chess player


The world of women’s chess has witnessed remarkable progress, with female grandmasters making significant strides in challenging historical norms. 


While the question of who is the best women’s chess player remains subjective, the achievements of players like Judit Polgár, Hou Yifan, and Nona Gaprindashvili highlight the extraordinary talent within the female chess community. 


As efforts to bridge the gender gap in chess continue, the evolving landscape promises a more inclusive and diverse future for the game. The stories of these female grandmasters serve as an inspiration, encouraging aspiring players to pursue their passion for chess regardless of gender, and contributing to the vibrant tapestry of the chess world.

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