Today’s Google Doodle honors Lyudmila Rudenko, a Ukraine-born woman who went on to become the second woman to win the Women’s World Chess Championship and the first woman to be awarded the International Master title in the World Chess Federation.
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Before her success in chess, Lyudmila Rudenko was passionate about swimming. Her father introduced her to the sport at just 10 years old, and she ended up placing first in the 400-meter breaststroke at a local competition in Ukraine.
After swimming, she moved to Moscow to focus on chess and spent most of her career paving the way for women in the sport.
“We can never forget the struggle—the lack of opportunity, support, information, as well as having to withstand sexism and discrimination—that women had to endure in the male-dominated field of chess,” Susan Polgar, the chess Grandmaster, told Quartz.
Perhaps even more notable than her chess excellence, though: She organized an extensive evacuation of factory workers’ children during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, she considered that feat her life’s most important accomplishment.
Today would have been Rudenko’s 114th birthday.
Here’s Google’s full excerpt for today’s Doodle:
On this day in 1904, one of the world’s most influential chess players was born in Lubny, Ukraine. Twenty-four years later, Lyudmila Rudenko achieved the first major check(mate) in her storied career when she won the 1928 Moscow Women’s Championship. This championship was just one of the many prestigious titles she’d earn in her lifetime. As an International Master in the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and later Woman Grandmaster, Rudenko made a career paving the way for women to come.
Rudenko was first introduced to chess by her father at just ten years old. Initially interested in swimming, she placed first at a local competition in Odessa, Ukraine in the 400-meter breaststroke before moving to Moscow in 1925 and refining her gift for chess.
In 1950, Rudenko became the second woman ever to win the Women’s World Chess Championship—a title she held until 1953. In 2015, she was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame. In fact, despite her major accomplishments in the game, she considered her life’s most important achievement to be organizing the evacuation of children during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II.
Today’s Doodle—which draws artistic inspiration from 1960s graphic art and posters—reimagines a focused Rudenko’s determination during the world championship game.
On what would’ve been her 114th birthday, we honor Rudenko’s achievements both on and off the board.
Cднем рождения, Lyudmila!
— Google UK (@GoogleUK) July 27, 2018