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Sonja Graf-Stevenson
Number of games in database: 130
Years covered: 1932 to 1955
Overall record: +32 -77 =17 (32.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      4 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (22) 
    D00 D02 E00 A40 A46
 Queen's Gambit Declined (5) 
    D30 D37 D39
 Nimzo Indian (4) 
    E21 E34 E33 E32
With the Black pieces:
 Queen's Gambit Declined (10) 
    D30 D37 D38
 Queen's Pawn Game (6) 
    D02 D00 D04 D01
 Ruy Lopez (6) 
    C86 C83 C78 C84 C79
 Orthodox Defense (5) 
    D51 D63 D55 D50
 Giuoco Piano (4) 
    C53 C50
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson, 1934 0-1
   Graf-Stevenson vs Semmler, 1932 1-0
   J Dobias vs Graf-Stevenson, 1937 0-1
   I Larsen vs Graf-Stevenson, 1939 0-1

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   1939 World (women) chess championship by gauer

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(born Dec-16-1908, died Mar-06-1965, 56 years old) Germany (federation/nationality United States of America)

[what is this?]
Sonja Graf was born and grew up in Munich, Germany. From an early age she spent as much time as possible in the chess cafes of the city, which Graf would later recount served as a refuge from her abusive father. There she became a protegee of Siegbert Tarrasch. By the middle 1930s she was regarded as one of the strongest female players in the world.

Graf lost to Vera Menchik in matches in 1934 (+1 -3 =0) and 1937 (+2 -9 =5); the first of these was generally regarded as an exhibition match, while the second was reportedly a women's world championship title match. She also lost a match to the problemist Heuaeker (+0, =0, -6). Vera Menchik was absent from the Semmering 1936 tournament and Graf took 1st place. Graf also played in the Women's World Championship tournament in 1937 and 1939, tying for third in 1937 and finishing second to Menchik in 1939. She was awarded the WIM title in 1950.

During the 1939 women's world championship, played concurrently with the olympiad, Graf was refused permission to play under the German flag because of her outspoken opposition to the Nazi regime; she played in the tournament under a flag bearing the Spanish word "libre" ("free"). World War II broke out during the tournament, and Graf chose to remain in Argentina after the tournament's conclusion. During her time in that country, she published two books in Spanish, "Asi Juega una Mujer" ("This is How a Woman Plays", about her chess career), and "Yo Soy Susann" ("I am Susan", about her abusive childhood).

In 1947 she married an American, Vernon Stevenson, moved to Hollywood, California, and began playing under the name Sonja Graf-Stevenson. During her early years in the United States Graf-Stevenson played relatively little, giving birth to a son in 1951. However, she eventually resumed active play, winning the California Women's Championship in 1956, sharing the US Women's title with Gisela Kahn Gresser in 1958-59 and winning that title outright in 1964. By 1964 she had moved to New York and was giving lessons in the Greenwich Village chess studio run by Lisa Lane. She passed away in New York in 1965.

Wikipedia article: Sonja Graf

 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 130  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Graf-Stevenson vs Spielmann  1-038 1932 SimulE00 Queen's Pawn Game
2. Graf-Stevenson vs Spielmann  1-028 1932 SimulD18 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
3. G Harum vs Graf-Stevenson  0-127 1932 ViennaD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
4. Graf-Stevenson vs Semmler 1-033 1932 MnichovD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. Graf-Stevenson vs E Mulder  ½-½35 1933 UtrechtD02 Queen's Pawn Game
6. E Rinsma vs Graf-Stevenson  1-028 1933 Leeuwarden simulC59 Two Knights
7. D P Bergema vs Graf-Stevenson  1-031 1933 Leeuwarden simulC30 King's Gambit Declined
8. Graf-Stevenson vs Menchik  0-149 1934 WWCC MatchD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson 0-130 1934 WWCC MatchD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
10. J Mieses vs Graf-Stevenson  1-022 1935 HastingsC26 Vienna
11. Graf-Stevenson vs Reshevsky  0-130 1935 Major OpenE60 King's Indian Defense
12. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson 1-037 1935 Yarmouth ITA09 Reti Opening
13. R Gerlecka vs Graf-Stevenson  ½-½51 1936 Semmering AUTC46 Three Knights
14. Graf-Stevenson vs E Klein 1-061 1936 Major OpenD39 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin, Vienna Variation
15. C Roodzant vs Graf-Stevenson 0-131 1936 Semmering AUTD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Graf-Stevenson vs C Benini  1-052 1936 Semmering AUTD00 Queen's Pawn Game
17. Graf-Stevenson vs Opocensky  0-146 1937 It, Prague (Czech Republic)E33 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
18. J Dobias vs Graf-Stevenson 0-151 1937 PragueA13 English
19. Pelikan vs Graf-Stevenson  1-043 1937 PragueA02 Bird's Opening
20. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson  1-028 1937 wch mA13 English
21. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson 1-021 1937 SemmeringD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
22. Foltys vs Graf-Stevenson  1-043 1937 PragueC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
23. Graf-Stevenson vs P Trifunovic  0-132 1937 It, Prague (Czech Republic)E34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
24. Graf-Stevenson vs Keres ½-½33 1937 Prague (Czech Republic)E00 Queen's Pawn Game
25. E Eliskases vs Graf-Stevenson  1-020 1937 PragueA09 Reti Opening
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 130  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Graf-Stevenson wins | Graf-Stevenson loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Resignation Trap> I'm working on the games from Hollywood 1952 at the moment.
Jan-13-08  brankat: A very interesting and colourful person, Mrs.Graff-Stevenson. Ahead of her time for sure.

Does anyone here know whether J.Shahade's book on "..women in Chess.." has been written and published?

Jan-13-08  nescio: <brankat: Does anyone here know whether J.Shahade's book on "..women in Chess.." has been written and published?>

You mean "Chess Bitch"?

Jan-13-08  brankat: <nescio> Yes, that's the one. Thank You.

Btw, I assume You are from The Netherlands. A very good friend of mine, <achieve> at this site, has a beautifully run Forum here. He is also Dutch, from Amsterdam. Perhaps You could visit his forum sometime.

Jan-13-08  brankat: <necio> I just had me the J.H.Donner quote translated :-)
Jan-13-08  nescio: <I just had me the J.H.Donner quote translated :-)>

I hope you realise it was all tongue-in-cheek? You may also try to translate Donner's comment about Gaprindasjvili I posted on the Jan Hein Donner page (August 1).

Jan-13-08  achieve: Goedendag heer <nescio>

I said Donner was just being Donner- which implies a big tongue-in-cheek factor.

I never met him though...

Jan-13-08  achieve: <brankat> The Donner quotation from the Donner-page is a very complimentary one, I could translate a few key sentences if you want...
Jan-13-08  brankat: <nescio> <achieve> Thanks guys. Of course Mr.Donner is only joking. BUT, in every joke there must be at least a bit of truth, otherwise they would not be funny :-)
Dec-16-08  Karpova: This game and some others will be submitted but since today is her birthday - her win over Menchik from their 1934 match:

[Event "Match"]
[Site "Rotterdam m"]
[White "Menchik, Vera"]
[Black "Graf-Stevenson, Sonja"]
[Date "1934.?.?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Round "1"]
[ECO "D40"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.a3 Bd6 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O b6 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.cxd5 exd5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Rd1 Ne5 13.Ba6 Nxf3+ 14.gxf3 Bxh2+ 15.Kxh2 Qd6+ 16.f4 Bxa6 17.Qf3 Bb7 18.Bd2 Qd7 19.Qh3 Qxh3+ 20.Kxh3 d4 21.exd4 cxd4 22.Nb5 d3 23.Be3 Rfd8 24.Nd4 Ba6 25.b4 Nd5 26.b5 Nxf4+ 27.Kg4 Ne2 28.Rxd3 Bxb5 29.Nxb5 Rxd3 30.Kf3 Nc3 0-1

Dec-16-08  brankat: <Karpova> Thank You. A nice win by Mrs.Graf-Stevenson.

Here is the link to an article about Sonja in "New Yorker", Sept, 1964.

Dec-16-08  brankat: R.I.P. Mrs.Graf.
Apr-22-12  Karpova: C.N 7622 with two games from Spielmann's Simuls (which have been submitted to the database) and a pleasing photo of Sonja.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: I have added several paragraphs to her bio, using the sources above and Mark Weeks' site The history of the women's world championship in the thirties seems to be pretty confused; if anyone can offer any additions or corrections, by all means let me know.
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <Caissanist> Very nice work. Good to see a decent tribute to a great woman.
Sep-07-12  Karpova: Munich City Championship around 1934 with 16 participants was won by Zeuner with 11.5 ahead of Silbermann with 11.0, Gebhard and Zollner with 10.5 and Kohler with 10.0. Sonja came in shared 10-11th with 6.0 points.

From page 92 of the 1934 'Neue Wiener Schachzeitung'

Dec-16-12  brankat: R.I.P. Mrs.Graf-Stevenson.
Oct-02-13  Karpova: On pages 299-300 of the 1933 'Neue Wiener Schachzeitung', Sonja Graf's chess tourney through the Netherlands and Northern Germany from June to October is mentioned.

7 Simuls in the Netherlands: +84 -42 =37

Short match against Adolf Georg Olland ended 1-1

3 Simuls in Hamburg: +42 -14 =12

Furthermore, she beat the best female chessplayer of Hamburg, Ehlers with 5.5-0.5 (a first match between these two had ended 2-2 but it's not said when it was played)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. WIM Sonja Graf-Stevenson.
Dec-17-13  chesssalamander: I think her draw against Keres should be in her notable games.
Feb-22-14  Granny O Doul: I'm seven years late to the party, but if somebody "keeps" outbidding you on an ebay auction, you are doing something very wrong.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: There are two really annoying ways of being outbid. One is the sniper, who waits until the last second to outbid you incrementally. I am amazed that people don't routinely set up dynamic closings in such circumstances. Some of us don't live in mom's basement with ergo more cash to spend and more time to scrape pennies on Ebay.

The second annoying auction is when you find yourself being constantly outbid by apparently the only other person in the world who shares your desire to own whatever. I know that's the charm of Ebay for the sellers, but from the buyer's perspectivce, it's maddening.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Flaming Nora! I don't fancy yours much!
Premium Chessgames Member
  waustad: Congratulations on being chosen for the chess hall of fame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Sonja Graf.
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