To Lyudmila Rudenko, chess started out as just a hobby — swimming was her first love and talent.
But the Lubny, Ukraine, native would end up becoming a world-famous chess champion in the late 1920s, eventually winning the Moscow Women’s Championship in 1928.
In honor of what would have been Rudenko’s 114th birthday, Google’s doodle team whipped up a chess-inspired doodle for its homepage, drawing “artistic inspiration from 1960s graphic art and posters,” read Google’s blog post.
According to the World Chess Hall of Fame, Rudenko began playing the game at age 10. It wasn’t until she moved to Moscow in 1925 and then Leningrad in 1929 to work as an economic planner that she actually began competing.
Years after knocking reigning U.S.S.R. champion Olga Rubtsova out of the Moscow Women’s Championship, Rudenko became the first to win the post-World War II champion − and then the second Women’s World Chess Champion after Vera Menchik.
In 1950, Rudenko’s pure talent earned her the title of International Master, which she held until 1953. And in 1976, Rudenko became a Woman Grandmaster, the highest designation a chess player can attain. These titles are bestowed by world chess organization Fédération Internationale des Échecs (or the World Chess Federation).
But she didn’t consider winning the chess titles and accolades among her most significant accomplishments.
During World War II and the Siege of Leningrad — a military blockade against what’s now known as Saint Petersburg by the Nazi and Finnish armies — Rudenko “organized the evacuation of the children of factory workers, a feat that she considered her most important accomplishment,” according to Britannica Encyclopedia.
At the time, Rudenko was married to cybernetic pioneer Lev Davidovich Goldstein, with whom she had one son.
“After World War II ended, her chess career resumed, and she participated in the historic ‘Radio Match Great Britain’ in 1946,” Heavy.com reported. According to AMICI, this was the first event organized by the “Anglo-Russian” chess club match, lauded as “an opportunity to demonstrate the friendship between the two countries.”
Rudenko died in Leningrad on March 4, 1986.
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