Person of day - 27 JULY 2023
Lyudmila Rudenko’s chess career began in the second half of the 1920s. Her first performance was unsuccessful, but in 1928, Rudenko became the champion of Moscow and in 1932, the champion of Leningrad. After moving there, the talented chess player was noticed by Petr Romanovsky and Alexander Tolush, who began to train her as she honed her craft. Later on, she would be trained by such a renowned master as Grigory Levenfish. In 1936, Rudenko came second at the Soviet championship- it would be another 16 years before she came first. But two years before that, Rudenko would win her life’s greatest trophy: the world championship.
After the death of Vera Menchik during the bombing of London in 1944, FIDE organised a special tournament in Moscow in 1949-1950 to decide the world’s best female chess player. Lyudmila Rudenko won that tournament, winning 11,5 points out of 15 and overtaking Olga Rubtsova by one point. Although she wasn’t world champion for a long time, losing the 1953 world championship to Elizaveta Bykova by a score of 6:8, she wrote her name into the chess history books as the first Soviet world champion.
She was an international grandmaster among women, an international master among men and a recognised master of sport. She was successful in team as well as individual competitions, playing for the Soviet team in the radio-match against Great Britain in 1946 and the match against Czechoslovakia in 1954. Rudenko played with a sharp combinative style, preferring to take the initiative and put the opponent on the defence. The chess players of those times were defenceless against this. In 1968, when she was 64, she achieved her last notable success: she became the champion of Leningrad for the eighth time, showing fresh ideas and the same combinative style.
Lyudmila Rudenko died in February 1986 in Leningrad.