twice Women’s World Chess Champion
Elisaveta Bykova was a Soviet chess player and twice Women’s World Chess Champion, from 1953 until 1956, and again from 1958 to 1962. She was awarded the titles of Woman International Master in 1950, International Master in 1953, and Woman Grandmaster in 1976.
Bykova was born to a peasant family. When she was twelve, her family moved to Moscow, where she began to play chess with her brother. Her talent became apparent in 1927, when she won her school’s chess championship.
In 1938, she won the women’s Moscow championship and after the Second World War she was a three-time winner of the Women’s Soviet Chess Championship (1946, 1947 and 1950).
After winning in 1952 the Women’s Candidates Tournament in Moscow, in 1953 she defeated in Leningrad the reigning champion Lyudmila Rudenko, with seven wins, five losses, and two draws. She lost the title to Olga Rubtsova in 1956, but won it back two years later, becoming the first woman to do so.
In 1960, she defended successfully the title against Kira Zvorykina, but in 1962, she lost the title against the 21-year-old Nona Gaprindashvili.
She worked as an engineer in a large Moscow printing house, and was also an author and columnist about chess in the USSR. Passionate about women’s chess, Bykova also wrote three books about Vera Menchik, Soviet women chess players, and the Women’s World Championship. She also promoted chess through lectures and the organization of tournaments.