Vera Menchik : A 75 Year Anniversary

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

BCN notes that on June 27th, 1944 (i.e. 75 years ago) Vera Menchik, “her sister Olga, and their mother were killed in a V-1 flying bomb attack which destroyed their home at 47 Gauden Road in the Clapham area of South London.[23] All three were cremated at the Streatham Park Crematorium on 4 July 1944.”

More from Wikipedia :

Vera Frantsevna Menchik (Russian: Вера Францевна Менчик; Czech: Věra Menčíková; 16 February 1906 – 27 June 1944) was a British-Czechoslovak-Russian chess player who became the world’s first women’s chess champion. She also competed in chess tournaments with some of the world’s leading male chess masters, with occasional successes including two wins over future world champion Max Euwe.

Her father, František Menčík, was born in Bystra nad Jizerou, Bohemia, while her mother, Olga Illingworth (c. 1885–1944[1]), was English. He was the manager of several estates owned by the nobility in Russia, and his wife was a governess of the children of the estate owner.

Vera Menchik was born in Moscow in 1906. Her sister Olga Menchik was born in 1907.

When she was nine years old her father gave her a chess set and taught her how to play. When she was 15 her school club organised a chess tournament and she came second.

After the Revolution her father lost a mill he owned and eventually also the big house where the family lived. The marriage broke down; her father returned to Bohemia, and in the autumn of 1921 Olga and her daughters went to Hastings, England, to live with Olga’s mother.

As Vera spoke only Russian she hesitated to go to the local chess club, but at last on 18 March 1923 she joined the Hastings Chess Club and began to take lessons from John Drewitt. Then she became a pupil of the grandmaster Géza Maróczy. During 1923 she played in several team matches.

In December 1923 she played in her first Hastings Congress and got a draw against Edith Price, the then British ladies’ champion.

In the next Hastings Christmas Chess Congress 1924/25 she played again in Group A, first class, and finished second with five points out of seven. She met Miss Price in the last round of the Group of the Winners and again drew.

In 1925 she contested two matches against Edith Price, winning both of them, and she was considered the strongest lady player in the country; as she was not British she could not enter the national competition.

In January 1926 she won the first Girls’ Open Championship at the Imperial Club in London with her sister Olga coming third. In 1927 she retained this title and Olga came second. Next year Vera was too old to play, and Olga again came second.

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik