Lyudmila Rudenko gained fame by taking down kings and queens but was most proud of helping to save the lives of children during World War II.
The Soviet chess master helped pave the way for women in the sport, becoming the world’s second women’s chess champion in 1950, the same year she became the first woman awarded the title of International Master. To honor her achievements and the many titles Rudenko collected, Google dedicated its Doodle on Friday to the chess champ on her 114th birthday.
Born in 1904 in Lubny (now part of the Ukraine), Rudenko began learning chess from her father at the age of 10 but didn’t begin tournament play until she was 25. During that gap, she earned a degree in economics and focused more on competitive swimming than chess, becoming a champion in the 400-meter breaststroke in Odessa.
At the onset of World War II, Rudenko went to work at an armament factory in Leningrad. When the factory workers were evacuated to another city hundreds of miles away, the children of many workers were left behind.
As the Siege of Leningrad began, Rudenko was put in charge of evacuating the workers’ children. She organized a special train that removed the children before the military blockade tightened around the city. Despite her success as a chess champion, Rudenko considered this to be her life’s most important achievement.
Rudenko died in 1986 at the age of 81 in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg, Russia. She was inducted into the Chess Hall of Fame in 2015.
Doodling our world: Check out Google’s previous celebrations of people, events and holidays that impact our lives.
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