20 Greatest Female Chess Players

This article was last updated by on

20 Greatest Female Chess Players!! History shows that chess grandmasters have predominantly been males. However, many female chess players have emerged over the years and have proved that their skills are equal to that of male players. 

Chess is one of the world’s oldest and most popular board games. It is an abstract strategy game and can turn quite competitive as the game progresses.

Because it requires immense intelligence, concentration power, and patience to play the game, chess players are among the world’s most respected players.

One of the most awaited chess matches is the 2023 Women’s World Chess Championship which is set to happen in the summer of 2023. 

Susan Polgar
Susan Polgar (Source: Chess Daily News)

Today, we will look at some of the greatest female chess players in the world.

Let’s begin. 

Quick Overview

Before getting into the details, let us first look at the overview of the 20 greatest female chess players.

Chess Player Country
20. Irina Bulmaga Romania
19. Elina Danielian Armenia
18. Jovanka Houska England
17. Xu Yuhua China
16. Antoaneta Stefanova Bulgaria
15. Anastasiya Karlovich Ukraine
14. Alexandra Botez United States
13. Maria Emelianova Russia
12. Alina l’Ami Romania
11. Nona Gaprindashvili Georgia
10. Yelena Dembo Greek
9. Xie Jun China
8. Natalia Pogonina Russia
7. Jennifer Shahade United States
6. Maia Chiburdanidze Georgia
5. Anna Rudolf Hungary
4. Alexandra Kosteniuk Russia
3. Hou Yifan China
2. Susan Polgar Hungary
1. Judit Polgar Hungary

20 Greatest Female Chess Players

We have prepared our list with the help of internet sites like SportsBrowser.

20. Irina Bulmaga

Starting our list of the greatest female chess players, we have 30 year-old Irina Bulmaga on the 20th number.

She has won multiple Moldovan Girls’ Chess Championships in various age categories.

Irina Bulmaga
Irina Bulmaga (Source: Twitter)

Since 2009, Bulmaga has represented Romania in international chess tournaments.

In 2012, she won the FIDE titles of Woman Grandmaster (WGM) and International Master (IM) 2013.

19. Elina Danielian

45 year-old Elina Danielian is a six-time Armenian women’s chess champion.

She has represented her home country twelve times in the Women’s Chess Olympiads from 1992 to 2014.

Elina Danielian
Elina Danielian (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2003’s 5th Women’s European Team Chess Championship, Danielian won gold for Armenia.

Similarly, she won the European Individual Chess Championship in 2021.

18. Jovanka Houska

Number 18 of the greatest female chess players is Jovanka Houska.

The 43 year-old chess player started chess early and represented England at the World Youth Championship for Girls U-10 in 1988.

Jovanka Houska
Jovanka Houska (Source: British Chess News)

Houska is the British Women’s Chess Champion with nine title wins.

Similarly, she also has the International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She has heavily contributed to England’s women’s chess.

17. Xu Yuhua

47 year-old Xu Yuhua is a former Women’s World Champion and China’s third women’s world chess champion.

She won the Women’s World Chess Championship knock-out tournament in Russia in 2006.

Xu Yuhua
Xu Yuhua (Source: Twitter)

Yuhua is also a chess grandmaster and China’s 22nd Grandmaster.

Similarly, she participated in the 2nd FIDE Women Grand Prix from September 27 to October 9, 2009, and won the title.

16. Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova is a 45 year-old Bulgarian chess grandmaster.

She received chess lessons from her Father and won the Girls U-10 section at the World Youth Chess Festival in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, in 1989.

Antoaneta Stefanova
Antoaneta Stefanova (Source: Britannica)

From 2004 to 2006, Stefanova was the Women’s World Champion. Likewise, she represented her country in the 2000 Chess Olympiad and the Women’s Chess Olympiad.

15. Anastasiya Karlovich

On number 15 of the greatest female chess players, we have 41 year-old Anastasiya Karlovich.

She started playing chess at age eight and was the semi-finalist at the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast men’s chess championship in 1998.

Anastasiya Karlovich
Anastasiya Karlovich (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2000, Karlovich was part of the gold medal-winning Ukrainian team in the European Girls’ U-18 Team Chess Championship.

The same year she achieved the FIDE titles Woman International Master and Woman Grandmaster 2003.

14. Alexandra Botez

American-Canadian chess player Alexandra Botez is our 14th greatest female chess player. The 28 year-old won her first Canadian children’s national championship at age eight.

Alexandra Botez
Alexandra Botez (Source: Instagram)

Similarly, she won the US Girls’ Nationals when she was 15. Botez is a five-time Canadian National Girls Champion.

In March 2016, she achieved her highest FIDE Elo rating of 2092. Currently, she holds the International Chess Federation title of Woman FIDE Master.

13. Maria Emelianova

On number 13 of the greatest female chess players, we have women’s FIDE Master, Maria Emelianova.

She began playing chess at the young age of six and stood first at the Yekaterinburg’s Women Rapid Championship.

Maria Emelianova
Maria Emelianova (Source: Chess.com)

Until age 17, Emelianova competed in several chess tournaments.

Currently, she works as a freelance photographer for chess events and commentates on chess tournaments through her Twitch Channel, PhotoChess.

12. Alina l’Ami

Alina l’Ami is a 38 year-old with the International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) titles.

She started playing chess at a young age.

Alina l'Ami
Alina l’Ami (Source: Wikipedia)

In 1995, l’Ami was the winner of the U-10 Girls’ division of the World Youth Chess Championship. 

Similarly, in 2002, she won the U-18 Girls’ section of the European Youth Chess Championship and the Women’s Balkan Individual Championship in Istanbul.

11. Nona Gaprindashvili

Nona Gaprindashvili was the first female chess player to be awarded the Grandmaster FIDE title in 1978.

Born on May 3, 1941, she was the fifth women’s world chess champion.

Nona Gaprindashvili
Nona Gaprindashvili (Source: Chessbase.com)

At age 20 in 1961, Gaprindashvili won the fourth women’s Candidates Tournament.

She represented the Soviet Union in the Women’s Chess Olympiads eleven times from 1963 to 1990 and Georgia once in 1992.

10. Yelena Dembo

Yelena Dembo takes the spot for the 10th greatest female chess player on our list.

The 40 year-old holds International Master and Woman Grandmaster titles.

Yelena Dembo
Yelena Dembo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Dembo began competing in chess tournaments at age three. She won eight medals, including a gold medal at the European Rapid Championship in 2002.

She is currently working as a chess teacher and an author.

Read Here About Top 12 Best Chess Players In The World>>

9. Xie Jun

Born on October 30, 1970, Xie Jun is a Chinese grandmaster who began playing chess at age six.

In 1984, she became the Chinese Girls’ chess champion.

Xie Jun, World Chess Hall of Famer
Xie Jun, World Chess Hall of Famer (Source: Wikimedia.org)

From 1991 to 1996 and 1999 to 2001, Jun had two separate reigns as Women’s World Chess Champion. She is one of the three female chess players with at least two reigns.

As one of the prominent female chess players, Jun was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2019.

8. Natalia Pogonina

On number 8 of the greatest female chess players, we have 39 year-old Natalia Pogonina, who holds the FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster (WGM).

Natalia Pogonina
Natalia Pogonina (Source: Wikipedia)

Pogonina started playing chess at age five. In 2012 and 2018, she won the Russian Women’s Champion.

Similarly, she was a member of the gold medal-winning Russian team during the Women’s Chess Olympiads of 2012 and 2014.

7. Jennifer Shahade

Jennifer Shahade is the FIDE title of Woman Grandmaster and two times United States Women’s Champion.

The 43 year-old started playing chess at a young age.

Jennifer Shahade
Jennifer Shahade (Source: Wikipedia)

In 1998’s US Junior Open, Shahade became the first female winner, and in 2002, she won the US Women’s Chess Championship.

She is also a writer and has written books on chess, like Chess Bitch, Play Like a Girl, and Chess Queens. She also co-authored Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess.

6. Maia Chiburdanidze

On number 6, we have Maia Chiburdanidze as one of the greatest female chess players.

She started playing chess at age eight and won her debut match in the Brasov women’s international tournament in 1974 at age 13.

Maia Chiburdanidze
Maia Chiburdanidze (Source: Reddit)

In 1976, Chiburdanidze became the USSR Girls’ champion. Until 2010, she was the youngest Women’s World Chess Champion, and from 1978 to 1991, she held the title.

In 1984, she became the second woman to be awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE.

5. Anna Rudolf

Anna Rudolf is a 36 year-old chess player with the International Master (IM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) titles. 

She first came into the media’s limelight after defeating Hungarian Grandmaster (GM) Lajos Portisch.

Anna Rudolf
Anna Rudolf (Source: Wikipedia)

Rudolf has represented her home country at the Chess Olympiad and the European Team Chess Championship.

Anna is a three-time Hungarian women’s national champion. She is also a regular chess commentator at high-profile tournaments.

4. Alexandra Kosteniuk

Our fourth greatest female chess player is Alexandra Kosteniuk, the reigning Women’s World Rapid Chess Champion.

Now 39 year old, she learned to play chess at age five.

Alexandra Kosteniuk
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Source: Chess.com)

From 2008 to 2010, Kosteniuk was the Women’s World Chess Champion. In 2004, she was the European women’s champion.

She won the Russian Women’s Chess Champion twice, in 2005 and 2016. 

Kosteniuk was part of the Russian team that gold medal at the Women’s Chess Olympiads in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

3. Hou Yifan

Another Chinese player to make it to our list of the greatest female chess players is 30 year-old chess master Hou Yifan.

She is the second-highest-rated female player of all time.

Hou Yifan
Hou Yifan (Source: Kaspersky)

Yifan was the youngest female player to qualify for the title of Grandmaster at age 14 and the youngest to win the Women’s World Chess Championship at age 16.

She is a four-time Women’s World Chess Champion. Yifan is the third female chess player to be rated among the list of the world’s top 100 players.

2. Susan Polgar

The second greatest female chess player on our list is 55 year-old Hungarian-American chess grandmaster Susan Polgar.

She won her first chess tournament, the Budapest Girls’ U-11 Championship, at age 4.

Susan Polgar
Susan Polgar (Source: Chessdom)

From 1996 to 1999, Polgar was the Women’s World Champion. She was a top-ranked female player in the world at age 15.

Similarly, she was the third female chess player to win the title of GrandGrandmasterwon twelve medals at the Women’s Chess Olympiad.

1. Judit Polgar

The greatest female chess player title goes to the chess grandmaster, Judit Polgar.

The 47 year-old is considered the strongest female chess player.

Judit Polgar
Judit Polgar (Source: Hungary Today)

Polgar achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 in 1991. Similarly, she was the youngest player in history to make it to the FIDE top 100 players rating list.

She was also the only serious woman candidate for the World Chess Championship in 2005.

One of the influential female chess figures, Polgar, was inducted into the 2021 World Chess Hall of Fame.


More female chess players are coming into the limelight and challenging their level of intelligence with male chess players.

These female chess players have paved a path for a new generation of young females looking to break into the chess world.

Although female chess players have only had the opportunity to shine recently, they have broken the gender boundary in chess.

Therefore, they deserve to be called the greatest female chess players.

Boby Rai
Boby Raihttps://playersbio.com/

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


Sports Journalism Feature Writing


  • Boby's writing transcends conventional boundaries, offering readers a glimpse into the lesser-known stories.
  • His feature articles provide a deep dive into the human side of sports, exploring the emotions, challenges, and aspirations.


Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

Related articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share article

Latest News