Vera Menčíková

Article

July 5, 2022

Věra Menčíková (English Vera Menchik, married Vera Menchik-Stevenson, Russian Вера Францевна Менчик, (February 16, 1906, Moscow, Russian Empire – June 26, 1944, London, United Kingdom) was a Czechoslovak-British world chess champion. She was born in Moscow in a mixed family. Her father František Menčík was Czech, born in Bystré nad Jizerou. Her mother, Olga Illingworth, was English.

Chess Career

At the age of nine, her father gave her a chess set and taught her the game. At the age of 15, she finished second in a chess tournament organized by the school club. When she was 15, her father lost the mill he owned, as well as the house where the family lived, as a result of the changes that occurred in Russia after the USSR. The marriage broke up and he returned to Bohemia. Mother and daughters moved to England, where she settled in Hastings. Nevertheless, Věra Menčíková represented Czechoslovakia all her life. This is contradicted by the fact that in the 1927 World Cup starting list she was listed as Russian and in the 1939 World Cup starting list as English. She was first coached by Drewitt, later Géza Maróczy became her most important chess teacher. In 1937 she married Rufus Stevenson, who was editor of the British Chess Magazine and later secretary of the British Chess Federation. She died together with her mother and sister Olga Menčíková, also a chess player, during the German rocket bombardment of London.

Titles

From 1927 to 1944, the first holder of the title of World Chess Champion. She received the title of master of the Central Union of Czechoslovak Chessmen (ÚJČS) in 1933 according to the same classification rules as men.

Singles competitions

In January 1926 she won the London Girls' Championship and her sister Olga was third. A year later, she defended the title against Olga

Matches

In 1925 she won two matches against Great Britain champion Price. She also won two world title matches with Graf and a match with Mieses

Women's World Cup Tournaments

She won the title of champion for the first time in 1927 and defended it six times in tournaments, winning 78 of 83 games, drawing four times (with Michell in 1927 and Wolf-Kalmar in 1930 and Laubert and Schwartzmann in 1939) and losing only to Henschel in 1930.

Men's tournaments

She is considered to be the first female chess player in history to successfully participate in men's championship competitions.

Team competitions

She participated in several team matches in which men played and which were organized by the so-called Schevening system.

Vera Menčíková Club

Věra Menčíková was the first woman to successfully participate in heavily contested men's tournaments. Her entry into this sphere was accompanied by mistrust and ridicule from a number of chess masters. When she entered the tournament in Karlovy Vary (1929), Viennese champion Albert Becker jokingly suggested that the champions whom Menčíková defeated in the tournament should form a club named after her. He soon found his idea very unfortunate, as he immediately became its first member, and the other participants of the tournament named him "Chairman for three years" with great mischief. He was not enthusiastic about it, but later he took it better, after all, it was a select company, whose management was taken over from Becker as "chairman for life" by Max Euwe, the world chess champion in 1935-1937 (as at that time the only member of the club that Menčíková she beat twice, in 1931 and 1932). Other (grand)masters of famous names gradually became members of the club, such as Jacques Mieses, Frederick Yates, Friedrich Sämisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Mir Sultan Khan and Karel Opočenský.

Art

In 1996 on occasion