Person of day   -  4 NOVEMBER 2023



Elisaveta Bykova was born in the village of Bogolyubovo, Vladimir Oblast. Her first success in chess came in the Moscow Championship of 1937: she took 3rd place. Later on, she would become the six-time winner of the Moscow championship and a three-time winner of the USSR championship.

She did not become the world champion at first attempt. In world championship of 1949-1950, she split 3rd-4th place. Her second attempt was more successful. Having won the candidates’ tournament of 1952, Bykova won the right to a match against Lyudmila Rudenko. This took place in 1953 and the contender won with a score of 8:6. And so, the throne of chess had a new queen.

Bykova’s victory was to be expected- she was already the three-time USSR champion- in 1947, 1948 and 1950- and a six-time champion of Moscow. As Nona Gaprindashvili later pointed out, Bykova “had no equals in the development of simple positions and endgame, and she possessed remarkable industry, cold-bloodedness and fantastic determination.”

In the 1950s, she was, without a shadow of doubt, the planet’s strongest chess player, but she lost that title to Olga Rubtsova, taking second place in a three-part match-tournament for the world championship. However, she regained her lost title a year later, beating Rubtsova by 8,5:5,5. In 1960, she reaffirmed her right to the title of champion by beating Kira Zvorykina by 8,5:4,5. This was her last success in the fight for the world championship. There was a new star on the horizon- a young Georgian chess player called Nona Gaprindashvili, who beat her predecessor in 1962 with by decisive score of 9:2

Elisaveta Bykova played for the Soviet team for many years, notably against the teams of Great Britain, Yugoslavia, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. In 1960 she won the international tournament in Amsterdam.

Throughout her life, Bykova worked hard for the cause of chess. She helped to organise the broadcasting of the show “Chess School” on television and did a lot to popularise the game. During the Great Patriotic War, Bykova was the inspiration behind initiator behind the patronage of hospitals by chess players and she gave performances before the Red Army that consisted of lectures, conversations and séances of simultaneous chess.

Elisaveta Ivanovna Bykova died in March 1989 in Moscow.