What was the first women-only event held in Chess history?


2 Answers 2


The First International Ladies' Chess Congress in London, 1897. Games commenced on June 23 and the tournament was finished on July 3. It was organized by the Ladies' Chess Club of London and the Women's Chess Club of New York. The time control was 20 moves per hour, from 1 to 5 pm and 7 to 11 pm. Two games were played per day.

Results (after 19 rounds):

  1. Mary Rudge 18.5
  2. Louisa Matilda Fagan 15.5
  3. Eliza Mary Thorold 14
  4. Harriet J. Worrall 13
  5. Marie Bonnefin 12.5
  6. F. Sterling Barry, Edith Margaret Thomas 11.5
  7. Gertrude Field 11
  8. G. Watson, A. M. Gooding 10.5
  9. E. H. Sidney, Alice E. Hooke 10
  10. Rita Fox 9
  11. Anna Hertzsch 8.5
  12. Eschwege 6
  13. Müller-Härtung 5.5
  14. De la Vigne, Forbes-Sharpe 4
  15. Finn 3.5
  16. Stevenson 1

Referee: Harry Nelson Pillsbury

My sources are

  • Batgirl: Women Can Play Chess!, 2013, chess.com
  • Joost van Winsen: The Ladies Made an International Move, 2016, chess archaeology (with many pictures!)

The first women's world chess championship was held in London in 1927 and won by Vera Menchik (who successfully defended her title until she died during the Second World War). The WWCC was organized by FIDE in 1924.

There doesn't seem to be any record of a women-only tournament before that time.

  • 3
    I think there were some small (i.e. regional or local) events, but the Hastings 1895 tournament, which Pillsbury famously won, was the first, or one of the first, international tournaments where women competed (albeit in their own section). Lady Edith Margaret Thomas won it. After that, there were several women's international tournaments before 1927.
    – rougon
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 3:17

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