United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937–2020


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About the Book

As late as 1950, many chess clubs in America excluded women. The Marshall Chess Club in New York City was an exception, organizing the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship beginning in the late 1930s. Since the 1980s, the average rating of the players has increased. The Saint Louis Chess Club has organized the championship since 2009, with record-setting prizes. Drawing on archives and original interviews with the living U.S. Women’s Chess Champions, this book examines their careers with biographies, photos, and 171 annotated games, most of which are from the 60 championships between 1937 and 2020.

About the Author(s)

Alexey W. Root, Ph.D., is a lecturer at The University of Texas at Dallas and a former United States Women’s Chess Champion. This is her eighth book.

Bibliographic Details

Alexey W. Root

Foreword by Irina Krush
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 238
Bibliographic Info: 29 photos, 171 annotated games, 93 diagrams, 60 crosstables, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8693-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4687-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Championships and Champions  viii
Foreword by Grandmaster Irina Krush  1
Preface  3
Introduction  9
1. Adele Rivero Belcher  17
2. Mona May Karff  21
3. Gisela Kahn Gresser  29
4. Mary Bain  38
5. Nancy Roos  42
6. Sonja Graf  45
7. Lisa Lane  52
8. Eva Aronson  57
9. Marilyn Simmons  60
10. Diane Savereide  63
11. Rachel Crotto  72
12. Inna Koren  77
13. Anna Akhsharumova  81
14. Alexey Root  87
15. Elena Akhmilovskaya Donaldson  92
16. Esther Epstein  98
17. Irina Levitina  103
18. Sharon Burtman  110
19. Anjelina Belakovskaia  114
20. Irina Krush  122
21. Elina Cotler  133
22. Camilla Baginskaite  137
23. Jennifer Shahade  141
24. Anna Hahn  148
25. Rusudan Goletiani  153
26. Anna Zatonskih  159
27. Nazi Paikidze  169
28. Sabina Foişor  174
29. Jennifer Yu  179
Ratings and Crosstables  185
References  219
Traditional Openings Index (to game numbers)  225
ECO Openings Index (to game numbers)  226
General Index  227

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Alexey Root, takes a look at the history of the United States Women’s Chess Championships, something for which she is uniquely qualified in the sense that not only is she a Woman International Master (WIM), she has also won the Championship herself, back in 1989… Most of the best games have an appropriate amount of annotations to provide both enjoyment and instruction…. All in all, this is a good read and, as with all other publications from McFarland, carefully researched, thoroughly illustrated, indexed, etc.—everything that makes for a great book.”—American Chess Magazine

• “Wonderfully written…One of those must have chess books!”—Chess Book Reviews

• “Root has filled a large gap in chess literature…Root deserves great credit for locating and preserving games by the champions, especially early contests that might otherwise have been lost to future generations. This is a unique and scholarly work that makes an important contribution to the historical record. I suspect that not only collectors and chess historians will want to have a copy, but ordinary fans of the game will enjoy it as well.”—Chess Life

• “Fills a gap in American chess literature. Previous to its publication one could find little on the subject beyond a bare bones list of winners. Basic information such as a crosstable or a game played by the champion were often missing for many of these events. Even reliable biographical information about the winners was hard to find. No more….a major accomplishment and one chess historians will gratefully appreciate…fascinating”—IM John Donaldson (Mechanics’ Institute)

• “Fills a gap in American chess literature…Those who read United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937-2020, will learn a lot about American chess history…a fascinating read”—Mechanics Institute