Person of day   -  20 AUGUST 2023



Olga Rubtsova was born on 20thAugust 1909 in Moscow. Her father, Nikolai Rubtsov, was a renowned scientist, a professor of extractivemetallurgy and a laureate of a state Soviet prize. Furthermore, he was a decent chess player of the first category who regularly played against Alexandre Alekhine. Essentially, the father of the first female world champion became her first trainer. Olga followed her father’s footsteps and worked as an engineer-caster. But chess remained her primary interest. 

When Olga was 17, she won a large juniors’ tournaments organised by the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper and a year later, she became the first female champion of the USSR! Olga Rubtsova repeated this success four more times- at tournaments in 1931, 1937, and 1949 and at a match in 1935 when she won 7:2 against Olga Semenova-Tyan-Shanskaya.

Olga Rubtsova’s first husband was Isaak Mazel- a master of sport and a promoter of chess who died of typhus in 1945. After the War, Rubtsova married Abram Polyak- a chess master who played in Soviet championships and was a renowned trainer and journalist. 

Rubtsova went into the first post-war world championship, which took place in Moscow, as a five-time Soviet champion. She was considered to be the most likely successor to Vera Menchik, who died in the bombings of London. However, in 1950, Olga came second to Bykova and her next candidates’ tournament was completely unsuccessful as she came mid-table. 

Rubtsova’s time came in 1955, when she won the qualifying tournament before winning the match-tournament against her main competitors, Bykova and Rudenko. In 1957, the world champion led the Soviet team at the 1stWomen’s Olympiad, where she won with her team. 

However, Rubtsova lost the world crown to Elisaveta Bykova in 1958. After six games, the world champion led 4:2, but then she hit a crisis and lost six games in a row, setting a new anti-record for the world championship. Bykova won 8,5:5,5. 

After this, she decided to switch to correspondence chess due to her greater years. Olga Rubtsova won the first world championship, which took place between 1968 and 1972, and became the world champion for correspondence chess. Olga Rubtsova is the only woman in history to win this world championship twice. The next world championship was slightly less emphatic; Rubtsova split 1stplace, but came second due to additional criteria. In 1976, she was awarded the title for classical and correspondence chess. 

Olga is the mother of five children, who all played chess and who all achieved sporting title. However, only the youngest daughter Elena followed her mother’s footsteps. Elena Fatalibekova (nee Rubtsova) is an international master who won several Soviet, Russian and international tournaments. She played in candidates’ tournaments, and in the 2000s, she became the world and European champion among veterans. In the 1965, the Soviet champion saw both mother and daughter Rubtsova play- the only such instance in history.

Olga Rubtsova became a recognised master of sport of the USSR in 1952, an international arbiter in 1964 and an International chess correspondence grandmaster in 1973. For her achievements in chess, she was awarded an Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1957.  

The legendary chess player died on 13thJanuary 1994 in Moscow at the age of 84. She is buried at the Vvedensky Cemeteryin Moscow alongside her husband, Abram Polyak.