Vera Menchik
by Bill Wall

Vera Frantsevna (Francevna) Menchik (Menchikova) was born in Moscow, Russian Empire on February 16, 1906.

Her father, Frantisek Menchik, a Czech, was born in the village of Bystra nad Jizerou, (near Semily), Bohemia. He was the manager of several estates owned by the nobility in Russia. He arrived in Moscow in 1904 and was a mechanic by trade. He later owned a mill in Russia.

Her mother, Olga Illingworth (1885-1944), was born in England. She was a governess of the children of some of the estate owners. Although English, she never taught her daughters English and the children never learned the Czech language. They could only speak Russian. Olga Illingworth's parents were Arthur Wellington, a cotton manufacturer, and Marie Illington.

Her sister, Olga Frantsevna Menchik Rubery, was born in Moscow in 1908 and was also a strong woman chess player.

In 1914, the Menchik family was stranded in Stockholm, Sweden at the start of World War I.

Vera learned chess in 1915 when she was 9, taught to her by her father in Moscow, who purchased a chess set for her as a birthday present.

After the Russian Revolution in late 1917, her father lost a mill he owned and their big house where the family lived. They were forced to share a new home with others. The Menchik family was forced to sweep snow, which later affected the health of Vera's grandmother.

Vera's grandmother, Marie, finally left Moscow and settled in Hastings, England. The rest of the family, except Frantisek, later moved to Hastings.

In 1921, when Vera was 15, her public school organized a chess tournament. The tournament was not completed, but Vera was in second place when it ended.

Her father left the family after their marriage broke down and returned to Bystra nad Jizerou, Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) in the autumn of 1921. Vera maintained contact with her father in letters and saw him on occasion when she played chess in Czechoslovakia.

Vera and her mother and sister moved to 13 St. John's Road, St. Leonard's, just west of Hastings, England in the autumn of 1921. They lived with Olga Illington's mother.

At the time, Vera could only speak Russian and hesitated to go to the local chess club to play chess because she was shy and could speak little English. Vera wrote, "I have often been asked, what made me think seriously about chess? In different circumstances I might never spend time in such a way, but chess is a quiet game and therefore the best hobby for a person who cannot speak the language."

On March 18, 1923, she got enough courage and joined the Hastings Chess Club. She soon began to take chess lessons from John Arthur James Drewitt (1873-1931), a chess master and philosophy professor. Then she became a pupil of Geza Maroczy (1870-1951). Maroczy was a Hungarian grandmaster (1950) and engineer who also moved to Hastings. He suffered extreme poverty during World War I. In 1919 he was accused of being a Communist in Hungary and was dismissed from his job as a senior officer at a savings bank and was a chief auditor at the Educational Ministry. He later moved to Hastings, England where he was allowed to stay at the Albany Hotel in Hastings for free for a period of time.

Vera also took up tennis and got interested in clay modelling. Some of here clay models came to be exhibited in the local School of Art in Hastings.

In May 1923, she played in a chess match for Hastings ladies against a team of Hastings 'third class' players. Vera lost her game to another promising young player, William Arthur Winser (1906-1991). He later won the Hastings Chess Club Championship 25 times.

In 1923 Vera Menchik began participating in several team chess matches, representing the Hastings Chess Club and Sussex County. She played board 28 (last board) for Hastings in a Sexton Cup match against Brighton and Hove. She drew her game.

In September 1923, she played board 39 for East Sussex in a 60-board match against West Sussex.

At Scarborough in 1923, Vera scored 4.5 out of 9 points and took 7th-8th place.

From December 27, 1923 through January 4, 1924, she played in her first Hastings Christmas Chess Congress in Hastings, England. She played in the 1st Class — Section A section. She did poorly (3.5 out of 9) but drew one game with Edith Charlotte Price (1872-1956), the then British ladies' chess champion (she won the British Ladies' Chess Championship 3 years in succession, in 1922, 1923, and 1924). The game with Price was published in the Glasgow Herald on January 19, 1924.

Vera entered the Sussex Ladies' Championship for the 1923-24 season. She did not win the event, but she helped her club winning a trophy for that season. Her name was engraved on the McArthur Cup as part of the Hastings winning team.

In September 1924, she played for the Hastings CC and won against Kent on board 20 of a 100-board match.

In the 1924/25 Hastings Christmas Chess Congress, she played in the 1st Class —Section 2 section, and took 2nd place, scoring 5 out of 7 (4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss). Vera then was in a playoff for the Hastings top woman title. She met Edith Price in the last round and their game ended in a draw.

In 1925, Miss Price then suggested a match with Vera Menchik. Two 5-game matches were played, and Vera won both matches. The first match was held in April 1925 at the Hastings Chess Club. Vera won the match with 2 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. This was probably the first match between lady chess players to see who was the strongest in their country.

The second match between Menchik and Price took place in June 1925. Again, Menchik won the match, scoring 3 wins and 2 losses, with no draws.

Vera was now considered the strongest lady player in Britain. However, not being a British citizen, Vera was not eligible to compete in the British Ladies' Championship.

In 1925, Vera was recorded as a 'first class' player of the Sussex Chess Association.

In June 1925, she won the Bradley Marten Cup and the Bogner Cup for here winning role in team matches.

In August 1925, she took 2nd place in the 1st Class (B Section) of the Stratford-on-Avon chess tournament. She won 8 British pounds (about $600 in today's currency) for 2nd place. She beat the winner, Sir George A. Thomas (1881-1972), in their game.

In 1925, Vera played in the men's Sussex County chess championship and reached the semi-final, where she finally lost.

From December 28, 1925 through January 5, 1926, she played in the Hastings Congress, Major Tourney section. She scored 3 out of 9, tying for 7th-10th place. This was the first time a lady had played in the Major tourney section. (source: Hastings and St. Leonard's Observer, Jan 2, 1926)

In January 1926, Vera won the first London Girls' Open Chess Championship at the Imperial Chess Club in London. Vera scored 4-0. Vera was now the most experienced under-21 girl in Britain. Her sister, Olga, tied for 2nd- 3rd place.

In early 1926, Vera Menchik gave lectures on chess over the British Broadcasting system (BBC). (source: British Chess Magazine, Feb 1926, p. 53)

In 1926-27, Vera played in the Major Reserves Section at the Hastings Congress. She won 5, lost 1, and drew 3 to take 1st place in her section. This was her first victory in a "men's" tournament. Vera was now touted as the best woman chess player in the world.

In January 1927, Vera, age 20, again won the London Girls' Championship, held at the Imperial Chess Club in London. Vera had a perfect 5-0 score. Her sister Olga took 2nd place with 3.5 out of 5.

In 1927, Vera gave her first simultaneous chess exhibition. She took on 13 players at the Imperial Chess Club, winning 9, drawing 2, and losing 2. She was interviewed on BBC radio after the event.

In April 1927, Vera played in the 21st Kent County Chess Association tournament at Tunbidge Wells in Western Kent. She scored 2.5 out of 7 and taking 5th place.

The World Chess Federation, FIDE, established the 1st world championship for women in July 1927. Vera, playing as a Russian, entered the event (1 British pound entry fee) and won at the age of 21 in London (with 10 straight wins and 1 draw in the last round against Edith Mitchell).

The first world championship for women was held at the same time and place as the first FIDE Chess Olympiad (there was no Women's Chess Olympiad until 1957). At the time, Vera represented Russia.Her first-place winnings were 20 British pounds — about $840 in today's money. From then on, Menchik won every women's world championship until she was killed in 1944.

She won every Woman's World Championship after that: Hamburg 1930 (6 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw), Prague 1931 (8 wins), Folkestone 1933 (14 wins), Warsaw 1935 (9 wins), Stockholm 1937 (14 wins), and Buenos Aires 1939 (17 wins, 2 draws). She only lost one game (to Wally Henschel (1893-1988) at Hamburg in 1930) in 83 world championship games. She won 78 games, drew 4 games, and lost only one game in 7 world championship events (96.3%)! If you add her only title match against Sonja Graf (1908-1965) in Semmering, Austria in 1937, her record would be 87 wins, 9 draws, and 3 losses.

Vera was interviewed by the press about her first chess experiences. She said, "My first big chess played at the open tournaments at Hastings. In this tournament I was confident of doing well. I was in Russia the time of the revolution, and I was then very young, but I do not want to say much about it. Like many more we had unpleasant times. Papa owned a mill there; he no longer has it. Once I played chess every day, but lately I have not been so constant to the game." (source: Aberdeen Journal, July 30, 1927, p. 7)

From December 1927 through January 1928, Vera played in the Major A Section at the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 4 out of 9, taking 7th place. She won 2 British pounds, about $140 in today's currency. In this section, she defeated Abraham Baratz (1895-1975), a Romanian-French chess master . This was Menchik's first won over an acknowledged master. (source: British Chess Magazine, 1928)

In 1928, Vera was too old to play in the Girls' Open Championship. However, her sister, Olga, took 2nd place after losing a play-off for first place.

In April 1928, Vera played in the Major Division at Cheltenham. She took 1st place win 6 wins, 1 draw, and no losses. (source: British Chess Magazine, May 1928, p. 192)

In 1928, Vera scored 7 out of 8 in the Hastings Club Championship in the preliminaries. She finished 11.5 out of 14 to take 2nd place in the Hastings Club Championship, won by Edward Mackenzie Jackson (1867-1959)

In May-June 1928, Vera played in the Premier section of the Scarborough 1928 tournament. This was the first time a woman played in a master level event. She scored 4.5 out of 9, tying for 7th-8th place. (source: The Times of London, May 28 to June 2, 1928).

In July 1928, Vera played in the Major Open of the 21st British Chess Federation (BCF) Congress, held at Tenby. She scored 6.5 out of 11, taking 6th place. The director of the event was Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943). Nine years later, he would become Vera's husband after Stevenson's first wife was killed.

In December 1928, Menchik gave a 20-board simultaneous exhibition at the Flemish Chess Club in Antwerp. After 3 hours of play, she won 12m drew 3, and lost 5. (source: The Daily Colonist, Jan 6, 1929, p. 7)

From December 27, 1928 through January 5, 1929, Vera played in the Premier Reserve Section of the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 3.5 out of 9, tying for 8th-9th place.

Vera was the only woman to play in men's tournaments in the first half of the 20th century.

In April 1929, at the 22nd Kent County Chess Association Team Tournament at Ramsgate, she tied for 2nd place with Akiba Rubinstein (1880-1961), one half point behind Jose Capablanca (1888-1942). She won 3, drew 4, and had no losses. She was part of the Foreign Team that incuded Capablanca, Rubinstein, George Koltanowski, Geza Maroczy, Vicot Soultanbeieff, and Eugene Znosko-Borovsky. They played against the British Team that included Sir George Thomas, Frederick Yates, Reginald Michell, Theodore Tylor, William Winter, Edward Sergeant, and Hubert Price. The tournament was based on the Scheviningen System where the players on one team play all the players from the opposing team.

During the Kent Congress, Menchik participated in a living game exhibition featuring boys dressed in red and white costumes with hats that were shaped like chess pieces. Menchik played B. H. Lohman in the living game exhibition but lost. (source: Sunday Referee, April 7, 1929)

In June 1929, Vera played at an international tournament in Paris, held at the Cafe Harola. She scored 3 out of 11 and took 11th place. The event was won by Saviely Tartakower (1887-1956).

In July-August 1929, she participated in an international tournament in Carlsbad (Karlsbad). Carlsbad 1929 was the strongest chess tournament after World War I up to its time. The tournament was held at the Kurhaus for the first 8 games, and then to the Hotel Imperial for the rest of the games. The Viennese master Albert Becker (1896-1984), who played in this event, said that anyone who lost to Menchik would have to be put into a Vera Menchik Club. He wanted to ridicule any master who lost to this woman. Becker was the first victim.

V. Menchik — Albert Becker, Carlsbad 1929 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Ne4 6.Bd3 f5 7.Ne5 Qh4 8.O-O Nd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Bd2 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Bc5 12.Bxe4 fxe4 13.Qb3 Qd8 14.Na4 Be7 15.Bb4 b6 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.cxd5 exd5 18.Rac1 Bb7 19.Nc3 Qf7 20.Qb4 Rd8 21.Rfd1 Ba8 22.h3 Qe7 23.Qxe7+ Kxe7 24.b4 Rd7 25.Rd2 Rhd8 26.Ne2 Rc8 27.Rdc2 Rdc7 28.Nd4 g6 29.Nb5 Rd7 30.Kf2 h6 31.g4 a6 32.Nd4 Rdc7 33.f5 g5 34.Kg3 Bb7 35.h4 gxh4 36.Kxh4 Kf7 37.Kh5 a5 38.bxa5 bxa5 39.Nb5 Rd7 40.e6+ 1-0

Menchik took last place with 2 wins, 17 losses, and 2 draws. Becker also said that anyone who drew with Menchik would become candidate masters of the Vera Menchik Club. Menchik may have been pre-occupied during the tournament as she visited her father that she had not seen in over 10 years. The event was won by Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935).

Lucky for chess master Hans Kmoch (1894-1973) that Vera Menchik only scored a total of 3 points. On the eve of the Carlsbad tournament, Kmoch said, "If Menchik gains more than 3 points, I will join women's ballet." (source: Schach, Sep 1929)

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) said of her, "I have suspended final judgment so far about Miss Vera Menchik of Russia, because the greatest caution and objectivity in criticism are necessary regarding anyone so extraordinary. However, after 15 rounds it is certain that she is an absolute exception in her sex. She is so highly talented for chess that with further work and experience at tournaments she will surely succeed in developing from her present stage of an average player into a high classed international champion." (source: Alekhine, "Carlsbad Report," New York Times, Aug 25, 1929, p.2 of the sports section)

In September-October 1929, Vera played at the international tournament in Barcelona. She scored 7 out of 14, tying for 8th-9th place. The event was won by Jose Capablanca (1888-1942). The chess tournament was held in conjunction with the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition or World's Fair.

From December 27, 1929 through January 4, 1930, Vera played in the 1929-1930 Hastings Chess Congress, Premier Section. She scored 3.5 out of 9, taking 9th place. The event was won by Capablanca.

In the 1920s, Vera played in more than 15 club matches per year, playing for the Hastings Chess Club and the Sussex County teams. She scored better than 83% in her team matches.

By 1930, she played on board 1 or 2 for the Hastings Chess Club. She represented the Hasting Chess Club until 1934. She represented Sussex County until 1937.

From 1930 through 1937, Vera represented Czechoslovakia in the Women's World Chess Championships. In 1939, she represented England in the 7th Women's World Championship, held in Buenos Aires.

In 1930, she won the Hastings & St. Leonard's Chess Club Championship, scoring 13 wins, 1 draw, and no losses.

In April 1930, Vera played in a Hastings Invitational. She scored 2 out of 4, takng 3rd place. J. Drewitt and William Winter (1898-1955) tied for 1st place. (source: The Times, April 19, 1930).

In April 1930, Vera played in the Premier Tourney of the 23rd Kent County Association, held at St. Augustine's College in Canterbury. She scored 3.5 out of 7, taking 5th place. The event was won by Sir George Thomas. (source: The Times, June 21, 1930)

In June-July 1930, she played in the 23rd Annual Congress of the British Chess Federation, held at Scarborough. She scored 4 out of 11, taking 10th place. The event was won by Edgard Colle (1897-1932).

In July 1930, the 2nd Women's World Chess Championship took place during the 3rd Chess Olympiad in Hamburg. Vera Menchik defended her title with 6 wins, 1 loss (to Wally Henschel), and 1 draw (to Paulina Wolf-Kalmar).

In 1930, Vera was elected on the Hastings CC committee and thus became the first woman in the club's history to occupy such a post.

From December 29, 1930 through January 7, 1931, Vera played in the 1930-31 Hastings Chess Congress, held at the Waverly Hotel. She scored 3 out of 9, tying for 8th-9th place. (source: British Chess Magazine, Feb 1931)

In 1931, a match-tournament was held in Antwerp. The Foreign Players were Rubinstein, Yates, Arthur Dake, William Winter and Menchik. The Belgium players were Emanuel Sapira, Koltanowski, Arthur Baert, Emiel De May, Walter Perquin, and D. Shernetsky. Menchik scored 3 out of 6, taking 7th place.

On February 6, 1931, Vera gave a 2-board simultaneous exhibition in London. (source: Daily Mirror, Feb 7, 1931, p. 24)

In 1931, Vera became resident chess coach for the Empire Social Club in Bayswater, a suburb of London. She was also the assistant editor of the chess journal the"Social Chess Quarterly" with William Winter.

In 1931, Vera won the Women's World Championship, held in Prague. She scored 8 straight wins.

In August 1931, Vera played in the 24th BCF Chess Congress, held at Worcester. She scored 9 out of 11 (7 wins, 4 draws, and no losses), taking 1st place.

On December 15, 1931, Vera was invited for a dinner reception for Alexander Alekhine at the home of Major General Sir Malik Mohammed Umar Hayat Khan (1875-1944). (source: British Chess Magazine, 1932)

From December 28, 1931, through January 6, 1932, she played in the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 4 out of 9, tying for 5th-8th place. The event was won by Salo Flohr (1908-1983). Olga Menchik tied for 1st place in the "B Class" section.

In February 1932, Vera took 8th place in the London International Tournament. She scored 4.5 out of 11. The event was won by Alexander Alekhine.

In March-April 1932, Vera played in the Easter Congress, held at Cambridge. She scored 3 out of 7, tying for 5th-7th place. The event was won by Mir Sultan Khan (1905-1966).

In August 1932, she took 2nd at the 35th British Chess Federation Major Open, held in London. She scored 9 out of 11. The event was won by George Koltanowski (1903-2000).

From December 28, 1932, through January 6, 1933, Vera played in the Premier Section of the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 3.5 out of 9, taking 6th-8th place. The event was won by Salo Flohr.

In June 1933, Vera won the Women's World championship, held in Folkestone. She scored 14 straight points.

In August 1933, Vera played in the 13th Czechoslovakian National Chess championship at Mnichovo Hradiste in Czechoslovakia. She scored 4.5 out of 11, tying for 8th-12 place. The event was won by Salo Flohr.

From December 27, 1933, through January 5, 1934, Vera played in the Premier Section of the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 3 out of 9, tying for 7th-8th place. Salo Flohr won the event.

In 1934, Vera played at Groningen. She scored 3.5 points (3 wins and a draw) to take 1st place.

In March 1934 Vera played an informal match with the 2nd best woman chess player in the world, Sonja Graf, and won with 3 wins and 1 loss. The match was held in Rotterdam. Menchik also won a formal match against Graf in 1937.

In early 1934, Vera Menchik gave 16 simultaneous chess exhibitions throughout the Netherlands, winning 238, losing 54 and drawing 83.

In April 1934, she played at Amsterdam. She scored 1.5 out of 3, tying for 2nd-3rd place. The event was won by Emile Mulder.

In August 1934, Vera took 3rd place (out of 9 players), behind Vasja Pirc (1907-1980) and Lajos Steiner (1903-1975), at Maribor. She scored 3 wins, 1 loss, and 4 draws. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1934)

In August 1934, Vera Menchik and Karel Opocensky (1892-1975) gave a tandem simultaneous exhibition in Czechoslovakia where they scored 19 wins, 4 losses, and 2 draws.

In late August 1934, Vera played in a tournament at Semily, Czechoslovakia. This was also an opportunity for Vera to visit her father. Menchik scored 5.5 out of 7, tying for 2nd-3rd place. The event was won by Pavel Hadac.

In November 1934, Vera's grandmother, Marie Illingworth, died in Hastings at the age of 74, and the Menchik family moved to Bayswater, a suburb of London.

In 1934, Menchik was the main judge in the part of selecting the best move from tournament games played at the Dominion Congress held in Canada. (source: Chess Review, Jan 1935, p. 43)

In 1934, a chess club in Czechoslovakia was named after Vera. The Mencokova Chess Club was formed in Semily.

From December 27, 1934, through January 5, 1935, Vera played in the Premier section of the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 3 out of 9, taking 8th place.

In February-March 1935, Vera played in the Moscow International with 19 other elite chess players such as Lasker, Capablanca, Botvinnik, Flohr, etc. The event was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. She took 20th place (last place) with no wins, 16 losses (10 in a row at one point), and 3 draws. Botvinnik and Flohr tied for 1st place.

During the Moscow tournament, Vera gave 2 simultaneous exhibitions against 10 Soviet players. In each exhibition, she won 9 games and drew one game.

In April-May 1935, Vera played at Margate. She scored 2.5 out of 9, taking 9th place. The event was won by Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992).

In July 1935, Vera played in the 28th BCF Congress, held at Yarmouth. She played in the Major Open (usually reserved to non-British players), and not the British Championship, as she was not a British citizen yet. She scored 7 out of 11, taking 3rd place. The event was won by Samuel Reshevsky. In their individual encounter, Menchik beat Reshevsky.

In August-September 1935, Menchik won the Lady Hamilton-Russell Cup and the Women's World Championship, held in Warsaw, Poland. She won 9 straight games, lost none, and drew none. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1935, p. 227)

In 1936, she lived at 64 Queen's Road, London, England.

In April 1936, Vera played at Margate in the Premier Division. She scored 3.5 out of 9, taking 7th place. The event was won by Salo Flohr.

In July 1936, Vera played in the 14th Czechoslovakian Championship at Podebrady. She scored 7 out of 17, taking 13th place. The event was won by Salo Flohr.

In August 1936, Vera played in the Major Open B section at the Nottingham Congress. She scored 4.5 out of 11, taking 8th place. (source: British Chess Magazine, 1936, p. 514)

On September 9, 1936, Vera's father died at the age of 56.

On November 27, 1936, Vera Menchik signed a contract at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London to play a 16-game chess match with Sonja Graf (1908-1965) for the women's championship of the world. (source: CHESS, Aug 14, 1937)

From December 28, 1936, through January 6, 1937, Vera played in the Hastings Chess Congress. She scored 2.5 out of 9, taking 9th place. The event was won by Alexander Alekhine.

In 1937, Vera played in a London chess tournament to determine a spot on the British team that would represent Britain in the upcoming Stockholm Chess Olympiad. Vera score 1.5 out of 5, taking 5th place. The event was won by Harry Golombek (1911-1995). Golombek was already a part of the British team, so the 5th spot for the team went to George Wheatcroft, who took 2nd place.

In March-April 1937, Vera played in the Major Tournament at Margate. She scored 4 out of 9, tying for 6th-7th place. Reuben Fine (1914-1993) and Paul Keres (1916-1965) tied for 1st-2nd place.

In June-July 1937 Vera played a title-match for the world's women championship at Semmering, Austria, and won with 9 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses against Sonja Graf. (source: Chess Review, Aug 1937, p. 185) The match was underwritten by William D. Zimdin, who owned the Pahhans Hotel in Kemeri, Latvia.

In July-August 1937, Vera retained her title of Woman Chess Champion of the World with a clean score of 14 wins, no draws, no losses in Stockholm. She was 4 points higher than her nearest rival. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1937, p. 230)

In 1937, Vera Menchik, age 31, announced her engagement to Rufus Stevenson, the secretary of the British Chess Federation and an editor of the British Chess Magazine. At age 59, he was 28 years her senior. They were later married on October 19, 1937. Stevenson's first wife, Agnes Lawson (1873-1935) , was killed in August 1935 when she walked into a moving propeller as she was flying to the Women's World Chess Championship in Warsaw. (source: British Chess Magazine, Nov 1937. P. 551)

It is interesting that the other top woman in the world, Sonja Graf, also married a man named Stevenson. She married a merchant mariner named Vernon Stevenson in 1947. They later moved and settled in Southern California.

Vera moved to her husband's home at 47 Gauden Road in Clapham, a suburb of South London. Vera was now a British citizen. She preferred to keep her maiden name in chess circles.

Vera Menchik accepted her invitation to play in the 1937-38 Hastings Congress but had to withdraw to take care of her husband, who was in ill health.

In 1938, Vera played at Bournemouth. She scored 1 out of 3, tying for 3rd-4th place.

In March-April 1938, Vera played at Lodz. She scored 3.5 out f 15, taking 15th place. The event was won by Vasja Pirc.

In late April 1938, Vera played at Margate. She scored 3 out of 9, taking 9th place. The event was won by Alexander Alekhine.

In June 1938, Vera was chosen to play for Britain against Holland. She drew 2 games against Willem Jan Muhring. The British team won the match.

In August 1938, Vera Menchik-Stevenson was the first woman ever to compete in the British Chess Championship. She became a British citizen after marrying Rufus Stevenson. The championship was held at Brighton, the 31st British Chess Federation Championship. She scored 5.5 out of 11, taking 7th place. The event was won by Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander (1909-1974). (source: Chess Review, Sep 1938, p. 207)

In September 1938, she played In the Jubilee Congress at Plymouth. She scored 3 out of 7, taking 5th place. Alexander Alekhine and Sir George Thomas tied for 1st-2nd place.

In 1938, Vera put an ad in the September 1938 issue of the British Chess Magazine (BCM) for three shillings and sixpence per hour. She offered to visit chess clubs for lessons, give simultaneous displays and adjudicate unplayed games. She was also willing to give bridge lessons, private and classes.

In December 1938, Vera's sister, Olga, married Clifford Granville Rubery (1912-1999).

In April 1939, Vera played in the Premier Division at Margate. She scored 2.5 out of 9, taking 9th place. The event was won by Paul Keres.

In August 1939, Vera participated in a living chess display at Wandle Park to help raise money for the Croyden General Hospital. She drew her game with Imre Koenig (1901-1992).

In August-September 1939, the Women's World Championship was held in Buenos Aires. Vera won, scoring 17 wins and 2 draws (against Milda Lauberte and Paulette Schwartzmann).

In September 1939, women's world chess champion Vera Menchik and men's world chess champion Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) played in a chess tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay, called the Millington Drake International Tournament. They helped raise money for the British Red Cross just after World War II started. Menchik took 3rd place in the Montevideo event, scoring 5 out of 7. Alekhine won the event. Menchik had just retained here women's world championship title in Buenos Aires, scoring 18-1. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1939, p. 200)

In late September 1939, she was the manager of the new British National Chess Centre in the Cavendish Square building of John Lewis, Oxford Street.

In December 1939, Vera played in the Hampstead Invitation Tournament, held in London. She scored 6 out of 11, tying for 5th-7th place. Imre Koening and Philip Milner-Barry tied for 1st-2nd place. The event was sponsored by the Hampstead Chess Club and held at the National Chess Centre, managed by Menchik.

In March 1940, Vera played in the London Easter Congress. She scored 6 out of 9, taking 3rd place. Harry Golombek and Paul List tied for 1st-2nd place. The event was held at the National Chess Centre.

In 1940, Vera played in the London National Chess Centre Championship. She scored 5.5 out of 11, tying for 7th-8th place. The event was won by Harry Golombek.

On September 23, 1940, the National Chess Center, managed by Vera Menchik, was destroyed by fire from a German bomb during the first few weeks of the Blitz, a German bombing campaign of nighttime bombing raids against London.

In June 1941, Vera was the games' editor for "Chess" magazine, edited by Baruch Harold Wood (1909-1989).

In the early 1940s, there was little demand for chess tournaments during World War II. Vera Menchik started giving contract bridge lessons, instead.

In 1942, Vera was a member of the active West London Chess Club.

In June 1942 Vera, age 41, played a match with Jacques Mieses (1865-1954), age 77, and won, with 4 wins, 5 draws, and 1 loss.

In August 1942, Vera played in the Kent County Congress in Sidcup. She scored 3.5 out of 5, tying for 2nd-3rd place. The event was won by R. M. Bruce.

In 1943, Vera played in the West London Summer Tournament, held at the West London Chess Club. Vera scored 6.5 out of 9, taking 3rd place. The event was won by Paul List.

On February 10, 1943, her husband, Rufus Stevenson, died of a heart attack. Her sister and mother soon moved into Vera's house at 47 Gauden Road, Clapham.

During the war, Vera was active in the Women's Voluntary Service (W.V.S.). She gave simultaneous exhibitions and did hospital work and visiting the wounded.

In 1944, Vera played in the West London Chess Club Championship. She took 6th place. Edward Sergeant and Albert Simonson tied for 1st-2nd place.

A few days before she was killed, Vera was playing the championship of the Southern Counties Chess Union. It was an elimination tournament and she had won her first 3 games. She qualified for the semifinals and was supposed to play her next game on June 27, 1944. She died one day before her scheduled game.

Vera Menchik was killed, along with her sister Olga and mother, in a bombing raid on the night of Tuesday, June 27, 1944, at the age of 38. A Nazi V-1 buzz bomb hit her home at 47 Gauden Road in the Clapham area of South London. The house was razed to the ground. A total of 11 people were killed on Cauden Road from the V1 bomb that hit.

Vera, her mother, and her sister, Olga, had all taken shelter in the house basement, rather than going to the backyard bomb shelter or the neighborhood bomb shelters, which went untouched. The V-1 rocket was a direct hit on their house, leaving the backyard bomb shelter unscathed.

The first source announcing her death was The Times of London on June 30, 1944, page 7.

On July 4, 1944, Vera, her mother, and her sister were all cremated at the Streathan Park Crematorium on Rowan Road in England. Their ashes were scattered at a garden of remembrance.

She is buried in the Wandsworth Cemetery in London.

On July 18, 1944 a columnist in the Sussex Daily News wrote about the rocket bombing of Vera Menchik: "In the annals against the German nation, this black blot will remain forever marked against the German nation, and must fill chess players of the future with repulsion and disgust."

Another report on Menchik's death said this: "The news of this unspeakable tragedy will be received by the chess world with sorrow and with abhorrence of the wanton and useless robot methods of a robot people. One shudders at the heritage of hatred which will be theirs, but their greatest punishment will come with their own enlightenment." ("Vera Menchik Dead," CHESS, Aug 1944, p. 173)

Her death was also reported in the British magazine called The Children's Newspaper. "Chess-players all over the world will be grieved at the death, by enemy action, of Mrs. Vera Stevenson, better known as Vera Menchik. Though only 38, she had been famous as an international chess-player for 20 years, having gained the title of world champion among women in 1926, and held it ever since. She was well able to meet and contest hard games with the foremost men chess-masters, such as Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, and Sir George Thomas. Russian-born, she came to this country at the age of 16, and in 1937 married the secretary of the British Chess Federation, Mr R. H. S. Stevenson, who died last year. Vera Menchik was a gentle, delightful personality, who will be mourned for her sweet nature as well as for her fame in the most fascinating of indoor games." (source: The Children's Newspaper, July 15, 1944, p. 2)

In 1957, at the first Women's Chess Olympiad at Emmen, Netherlands, the trophy for the winning team was named the Vera Menchik Cup.

In 1994, FIDE declared 1994 to be the "Year of Vera Menchik" in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of her death.

She was World's Women Champion from 1927 until her death on June 26, 1944. She has been the longest reigning Women's World Chess Champion (17 years). There was no world's women champion from 1944 until 1950 when Ludmilla Rudenko of the Soviet Union won the world's women championship in Moscow.

Her peak historical rating would be around 2390 in 1931. Professor Elo listed her 5-year peak rating at 2350.Chessmetrics had her best world rank as #52 in May 1929. Her best individual performance was Hastings 1931, where she scored 3.5 out of 8 against 2600-rated opposition.

Her longest chess game was with Ernst Gruenfeld (1893-1962) at Carlsbad in 1929. She drew after 111 moves.

She was the first woman ever to play in the British Championship and the first to play in a master tournament.

Vera Menchik was described as "undoubtedly the most placid of all the masters. She sits stolidly, surveying the scene and shunning the spectators. She is imperturbable, unless some unlucky onlooker whispers a bit too audibly. Then she will turn slowly around, regard the culprit, and emit a loud "Ssssshhhh!!!" (source: Little, "Mannerisms of the Masters," Chess Review Dec 1937, p. 280)

The Hastings Chess Club possesses Vera Menchik's medal from the Women's World Championships. They survived the V1 rocket bombing of Vera's house.

When the Women's Olympiads began in 1957, a trophy, called the Vera Menchik Cup, was created for the winning team.

On February 14, 1996, the Czech Republic issued a chess stamp depicting Vera Menchik. The commemorative postage stamp coincided with celebrations honoring her on the 90th anniversary of her birth.

On September 8, 2011, she was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri, as the 16th member.

In her lifetime, she played and beat the following masters:

Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander (1932, 1933)
Ramon Rey-Ardid (1929)
Abraham Baratz (1927)
Albert Becker (1929)
Eero Book (1938)
Edgard Colle (1929)
Max Euwe (1930, 1931) — Vera had 2 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss against Euwe
Stefan Fazekas
Paulino Frydman (1936)
Harry Golombek
Mir Sultan Khan (1931)
Frederic Lazard (1929)
Reginald Michell (1928, 1929, 1931)
Jacques Mieses (1928)
Stuart Milner-Barry (1932, 1934, 1935)
Karel Opocensky (1936)
Brian Reilly (1935, 1936)
Josef Rejfir (1934)
Samuel Reshevsky (1935)
Friedrich Saemisch (1929)
Philip Sergeant (1936, 1938)
Herman Steiner (1938)
Lajos Steiner (1936)
George Alan Thomas (1929, 1930, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938)
Karl Treybal (1936)
Theodore Tylor (1933, 1937)
William Winter (1930, 1932)
Frederick Yates (1928, 1929)
Eugene Znosko-Borovsky

All are now members of the Menchik Club, having lost a chess game to Vera Menchik.

The Candidate Members to the Menchik Club (having drawn with Menchik) include these masters:

Karl Ahues (1930)
Lajos Asztalos (1934)
F.Bohatirchuk (1935)
Josef Cukierman (1929)
Marcel Duchamp (1929)
E. Eliskases (1936, 1938)
Salo Flohr (1935, 1936)
Karl Gilg (1929)
Ernst Gruenfeld (1929, 1930)
George Koltanowski (1932, 1936)
Imre Koenig
Andre Lilienthal (1935)
Geza Maroczy (1930, 1932)
Willem Muhring (1938)
Miguel Najdorf (1938, 1939)
Vladimir Petrov (1938)
Vasja Pirc (1934)
Akiba Rubinstein (1930)
Rudolf Spielman (1934)
Savielly Tartakower (1929, 1938)
Milan Vidmar, Jr.
Milan Vidmar, Sr. (1929, 1934, 1936)
G. Wheatcroft (1939)

Here are some of her games.

Janecek - V. Menchik, Buenos Aires 1939 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc1 Ne4 9.Nxe4 dxe4 10.a3? [10.Nh4] Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 Qxg5 0-1

Lougheed - V. Menchik, Buenos Aires 1939 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Qb6 5.Bd3? [5.b3] c4 6.Be2 Qxb2 7.O-O?? [7.Nbd2] Qxa1 8.Nbd2 Qxd1 and Black won 0-1

Winter — V. Menchik, Canterbury 1930 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 c5 4.d5 Bg7 5.e4 d6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Be3 Qa5 8.Qd2 Rd8 9.Nge2 a6 10.Nf4 e5 11.dxe6 fxe6 12.g4 Nc6 13.h4 Nd4 14.Qf2 e5 15.Nfd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rf8 0-1

Michell — V. Menchik, Hastings 1931 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc2 O-O 9.Be2 e5 10.dxe5 Ne4 11.Ndxe4 dxe4 12.Bf4 Nxe5 13.Rc1 Nd3+ 14.Bxd3 exd3 15.Qxd3 Bf5 16.Qd1 Qxa2 17.O-O Qxc4 0-1

Roodzant - V. Menchik, Buenos Aires 1939 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O Nf6 6.c4 Be7 7.d5 Qc8 8.dxe6 dxe6 9.Nc3 O-O 10.b3 Rd8 11.Qc2 Na6 12.a3 Nc5 13.Bb2 Nce4 14.Rad1 Rxd1 15.Rxd1 a5 16.Nd4 [16.Nxe4 or 16.h3] Nxf2 17.Bxb7 Qxb7 18.e4? [18.Kxf2] Nxd1 0-1

George Thomas - V. Menchik, Carlsbad 1929 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 O-O 7.a3 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.dxc5 Qxc5 12.Bd3 Nf6 13.O-O Bg4 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qb6 16.b4 Rac8 17.Rac1 Rc6 18.Qf5 Rfc8? [18...g6] 19.Qxc8+! [19...Rxc8 19.Rxc8+ leads to mate] 1-0

Goglidze - V. Menchik, Moscow 1935 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Rc1 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Qa4 Bb7 10.Ba6 Bxa6 11.Qxa6 c5 12.O-O h6 13.Bh4 Qc8 14.Qxc8 Raxc8 15.Ne5 g5 [15...Rfd8] 16.Nxd7 Nxd7 17.Nxd5 Bd6 [17...Bd8] 18.Bg3 Rc6 [18...Bxg3 19.Ne7+ and 20.Nxc8] 19.Nb4 1-0

George Thomas - V. Menchik, Paris 1929 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Nbd7 6.O-O Be7 7.Nbd2 O-O 8.e4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.Bg5 c5 13.Rac1 Kh8 14.Bb1 Rad8 15.Nc3 cxd4 16.Nb5 Qb8 17.Nbxd4 h6 18.Bxf6 Nxf6 19.Ne5 Qa8 20.Nxe6 1-0

Rejfir — V. Menchik, Maribor 1934 .c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qa4 exd5 7.Nf3 Bc5 8.Qb5 Qd6 9.g3 Nf6 10.Bg5 Ne4 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Nd2 O-O 13.Nxe4 Bb4+ 14.Bd2 Bxd2+ 15.Nxd2 Nd4 16.Qc4 Be6 17.Ne4 Qb6 18.Qd3 Rac8 19.Nc3 Qxb2 20.Rb1 Qxc3+ 0-1

V. Menchik — Brian Reilly, Margate 1935 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 e6 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bf4 Bb4 6. Qb3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 O-O 8. e3 b6 9. Bd3 Ba6 10. O-O c5 11. Bd6 Re8 12. Qa4 Bxc4 13. Bxc4 dxc4 14. Qxc4 Ne4 15. Bf4 g5 16. Qd3 f5 17. Bg3 c4 18. Qc2 Ndf6 19. Nd2 Qd5 20. Be5 Nxd2 21. Qxd2 Nd7 22. e4 1-0

George Thomas — V. Menchik, London 1932 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. Nge2 b6 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. d5 Ne7 10. g4 Nd7 11. Rg1 a5 12. O-O-O Nc5 13. Ng3 Bd7 14. h4 a4 15. h5 Qb8 16. Bh6 Qa7 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nf5+ Nxf5 19. gxf5 a3 20. f6+ Kh8 21. Qh6 axb2+ 22. Kb1 Rg8 23. hxg6 fxg6 24. Qxh7+ 1-0

Vera Menchik played in the following tournaments and matches:

Scarborough 1923 (scored 4.5 out of 9 and took 7th-8th place)
4th Hastings Congress 1923-24, Minor tourney (scored 3.5 out of 9)
Hastings Chess Club
6th Hastings Congress 1924-25, Minor tourney (scored 3 out of 9)
Edith Price Match #1 (Vera won 2, drew 2 and lost 1 to win the match)
Edith Price Match #2 (Vera won 3 and lost 2 to win the match)
Stratford on Avon 1925, B Section (scored 8 out of 11, taking 2nd place)
Hastings 1925-25
London Girls' Championship 1926
Hyeres 1926 (scored 2 out of 9)
Hastings 1926-27
London Girls' 1927
Tunbridge Wells 1927 (scored 2.5 out of 7)
Women's World Chess Championship, London 1927
8th Hastings Congress 1927-28, Major Open (scored 4 out of 9)
Cheltenham 1928 (scored 6.5 out of 7)
Scarborough 1928 (scored 4.5 out of 9)
Tenby 1928 —21st British Chess Federation Ch, Major Open (6.5 out of 11)
9th Hastings Congress 1928-29, Premier Reserves (scored 3.5 out of 9)
Ramsgate 1929 (scored 5 out of 7)
Paris 1929 (scored 3 out of 11)
Carlsbad 1929 (scored 3 out of 21)
Barcelona 1929 (scored 7 out of 14)
10th Hastings Congress 1929-30, Premier Tourney (scored 3.5 out of 9)
Hastings Chess Club Ch 1930 (scored 13.5 out of 14 for 1st place)
Hastings 1930
Canterbury 1930 (scored 3.5 out of 7)
Scarborough 1930, 23rd BCF Congress (scored 4 out of 11)
Women's World Chess Championship, Hamburg 1930
11th Hastings Congress 1930-31, Premier Tourney (scored 3 out of 9)
Hastings CC Ch 1931 (2nd place)
Antwerp Team Tourney 1931 (scored 3 out of 6
Worcester 1931, 24th BCF Ch, Major Open (scored 9 out of 11)
12th Hastings Congress 1931-32, Premier Tourney (scored 4 out of 9)
London International 1932, Premier Tourney (scored 4.5 out of 11)
Cambridge 1932 Easter Congress, Premier Tourney (scored 3 out of 7)
London 1932, 25th BCF Championship, Major Open (scored 9 out of 11)
13th Hastings Congress 1932-33, Premier Tourney (scored 3.5 out of 9)
Mnichovo Hradiste 1933, Ch Tourney ( scored 4.5 out of 11)
Women's World Chess Championship, Folkestone 1933
14th Hastings Congress 1933-34, Premier Tourney (scored 3 out of 9)
Groningen 1934 (scored 3.5 out of 4)
Sonja Graf match 1934
Amsterdam 1934, Section 2 (scored 2 out of 3)
Maribor 1934 (scored 5 out of 8)
Semily 1934
15th Hastings Congress 1934-35, Premier Tourney (scored 3 out of 9)
Moscow International Tournament (1.5 out of 19)
Margate 1935, Premier Tourney (scored 2.5 out of 9)
Yarmouth 1935, Major Open, 28th BCF ch (scored 7 out of 11)
Women's World Chess Championship, Warsaw 1935
Margate 1936
Prodbrady 1936
Nottingham 1936
London 1937
Znosko-Borovsky match 1937
Margate 1937
Sonja Graf match 1937
Women's World Chess Championship, Stockholm 1937
Bournemouth 1938
Lodz 1938
Margate 1938
England vs Netherlands match (board 8 — 2 draws)
Brighton 1938
Plymouth 1938
Margate 1939
Montevideo 1939
London 1939
London Easter 1940
Mieses match 1942
Sidcup 1942


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Upham, John, "Vera Menchik: A 75 Year Anniversary," British Chess News, June 28, 2019
"Vera FrantsevnaMenchik Stevenson," — FindAGrave -
"Vera Menchik Becomes First Woman to Join World Chess Hall of Fame," US Chess Federation News, Sep 20, 2011
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"Vera Menchik," Hastings & St. Leonards Chess Club -
Winter, "the Vera Menchik Club," Chess Notes -

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