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Lyudmila Rudenko

Full name Lyudmila Vladimirovna Rudenko
Country Soviet Union
Born July 27, 1904
Lubny, Poltava, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine)
Title International Master, Woman International Master
Women's World Champion 1950-53

Lyudmila Vladimirovna Rudenko (Russian: Людми́ла Влади́мировна Руде́нко, Ukrainian: Людмила Володимирівна Руденко; the transcription of her first name may vary in different sources - Liudmila, Ljudmila, Ludmila...; 27 July 1904 - 4 March 1986) was a Soviet chess player and the second Women's World Chess Champion from 1950 until 1953. She was awarded the FIDE International Master and Woman International Master titles in 1950, and the Woman Grandmaster title in 1976. She was the first woman awarded the International Master title. She was USSR Women's Champion in 1952.

Born in Lubny in the Poltava region of Ukraine, in the Russian Empire, her father taught her to play chess at age 10 although at first she was more serious about swimming. After grammar school, she moved to Odessa and took a degree in economics. Rudenko became the Odessa swimming champion in the 400m breaststroke. In 1925, she was the holder of the title of Vice-Swimming Champion of Ukraine (breaststroke). Her professional career would be as an economic planner for the Soviet Union, and chess would remain a hobby.

Chess career

Rudenko began playing tournament chess in 1925 after a move to Moscow. In 1928, she won the Moscow Women's Championship. She then moved to Leningrad where she met and married scientist Lev Davidovich Goldstein; in 1931 they had a son. In Leningrad in 1929 she began training with chess master Peter Romanowski. She won the Leningrad Women's Championship three times. She would not reach the peak of international women's chess until she was about 40 years old.

In World War II, Rudenko organized a train to evacuate children from the Siege of Leningrad. She would describe this as the most important thing she had accomplished in her life. Women's World Champion Vera Menchik died in 1944 during an air raid, so after the war in the winter of 1949-1950 the World Chess Federation FIDE held a tournament in Moscow to determine the new women's champion. Sixteen women from twelve countries competed, with the four Soviet players taking the top four spots. Rudenko won (scoring nine wins, one loss, and five draws), and held the Women's World Championship title until losing it to Elisabeth Bykova in 1953 in the next championship cycle. She lost to Bykova by the score of 6-8 (five wins, seven losses, and two draws). After the war, Rudenko's chess trainers were Alexander Tolush and Grigory Levenfish.