Sonja Graf-Stevenson


World Chess

Hall of Fame

Inducted 2016







Sonja Graf-Stevenson was one of the best female chess players of the 1930s and the chief rival of Vera Menchik, who then reigned as Women’s World Chess Champion. She learned to play chess during her childhood and later trained with Siegbert Tarrasch. Graf-Stevenson competed in tournaments and matches against both men and women, earning attention for her daring and sometimes risky play. She played in four Women’s World Chess Championship tournaments and matches, nearly taking the title at the Buenos Aires tournament (1939). Graf-Stevenson remained in Argentina during World War II, but immigrated to the United States in 1947, where she won two U.S. Women’s Chess Championships (1957, 1964). Her legacy also includes writing one of the first chess books by a top female player, Así juega una mujer (This Is How a Woman Plays, 1941).

Notable Games

Nancy Roos
Sonja Graf-Stevenson at the 1954 California Women’s Championship Los Angeles
Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Jacqueline Piatigorsky
Nancy Roos
Sonja Graf-Stevenson and Gisela Gresser
November 1957
Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Richard Kashdan