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M Karff 
 
Mona May Karff
Number of games in database: 46
Years covered: 1938 to 1974
Overall record: +22 -20 =4 (52.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.

MOST PLAYED OPENINGS
With the White pieces:
 King's Indian (4) 
    E62 E81 E60 E80
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (6) 
    B74 B54 B24 B50 B76
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   W Henschel vs M Karff, 1946 0-1
   M Karff vs G Gresser, 1950 1-0
   A Rivero vs M Karff, 1938 0-1
   M Karff vs R Hermanowa, 1950 1-0

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

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MONA MAY KARFF
(born Oct-20-1914, died Jan-10-1998) United States of America

[what is this?]
Mona May Karff was awarded the WIM title in 1950. She was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1937, 1939 and 1949-50. She held seven U.S. Women's Chess Champion titles and four consecutive U.S. Open titles. Her roots stem from the region of what was then probably known as Bessarabia and she passed away in Manhattan, New York in 1998.

Wikipedia article: Mona May Karff


 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 46  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. A Rivero vs M Karff 0-138 1938 US Women's ChampionshipA90 Dutch
2. M Karff vs B Janeckova  ½-½97 1939 Wch (Women)B13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
3. M Karff vs I Andersson  1-039 1939 Wch (Women)A14 English
4. E Rinder vs M Karff  1-041 1939 Wch (Women)A07 King's Indian Attack
5. E Raclauskiene vs M Karff  0-121 1939 Wch (Women)A45 Queen's Pawn Game
6. M Karff vs A Lougheed-Freedman  1-034 1939 Wch (Women)D00 Queen's Pawn Game
7. M Karff vs M Berea de Montero  0-139 1939 Wch (Women)A04 Reti Opening
8. C Roodzant vs M Karff  ½-½44 1939 Wch (Women)A52 Budapest Gambit
9. S Reischer vs M Karff  0-160 1939 Wch (Women)D37 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. M Karff vs Menchik  0-147 1939 Wch (Women)E60 King's Indian Defense
11. R Bloch Nakkerud vs M Karff  0-135 1939 Wch (Women)D02 Queen's Pawn Game
12. M Karff vs P Schwartzmann  1-040 1939 Wch (Women)A09 Reti Opening
13. M Karff vs Graf-Stevenson  1-078 1939 Wch womenD12 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
14. I Larsen vs M Karff  0-149 1939 Wch (Women)A28 English
15. M Karff vs D Trepat de Navarro  1-063 1939 Wch (Women)A15 English
16. M Karff vs B Carrasco  0-155 1939 Wch (Women)E81 King's Indian, Samisch
17. M T Mora Iturralde vs M Karff  0-153 1939 Wch womenB54 Sicilian
18. M A de Vigil vs M Karff  0-135 1939 Wch (Women)A07 King's Indian Attack
19. M Karff vs M Stoffels  1-031 1939 Wch (Women)A45 Queen's Pawn Game
20. M Lauberte vs M Karff  0-139 1939 Wch (Women)A47 Queen's Indian
21. W Henschel vs M Karff 0-116 1946 New York, New York, USAA47 Queen's Indian
22. M Karff vs V Borisenko-Belova  0-148 1950 Moscow, WCH Woman RUSD45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
23. O Rubtsova vs M Karff 1-042 1950 Moscow, WCH Woman RUSB76 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
24. M Karff vs Keller-Hermann  0-123 1950 Moscow, WCH Woman RUSE17 Queen's Indian
25. F Heemskerk vs M Karff  ½-½54 1950 Moscow, WCH Woman RUSE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 46  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Karff wins | Karff loses  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-16-05  Procopius: Chessgames.com, the following was published in the New York Times some time ago, and I quote it in full here:

January 18, 1998
Mona May Karff, 86, Women's Chess Champion
By ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr.

NEW YORK -- Mona May Karff, who won the U.S. women's chess championship seven times, died Jan. 10 at her home on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. She was 86 and had been among the first four Americans to attain the rank of international woman master.

The cause was heart failure, friends said.

From the time she won her first national title at the second women's championship in 1938 until she clinched her seventh national championship in 1974, Miss Karff was in the forefront of women's chess in the United States. She and a handful of other players, among them the late Sonja Graf Stevenson, the late Mary Bain and 92-year-old Gisela Kahn Gresser, a nine-time titleholder, dominated tournament competition.

For all her victories and the wide recognition she won in American chess circles, Miss Karff, who also won four straight U.S. Open titles, was something of a mystery.

A refined, elegant woman who loved opera, collected art, spoke eight languages fluently, traveled the world with confident ease and made millions in the stock market, she was an intensely private person of such shadowy origins that the U.S. Chess Federation lists her birthplace simply as Europe, and until recently her best friend had no idea she had once been married.

In fact, according to relatives in Israel, Miss Karff, whose maiden name was Ratner, was born in the Russian province of Bessarabia, moved to Palestine when she was a teen-ager and came to the United States in the 1930s, settling first in Boston, where she had a brief marriage to a cousin, Abe Karff, a lawyer who died several years ago.

"I knew she had a cousin in Boston," her friend, Bea Lacativa, said, recalling that it was not until she called the cousin's telephone number when Miss Karff was hospitalized last year that she learned that the cousin had also been her husband.

By her own account, Miss Karff was 9 when she learned chess from her father, Aviv Ratner, a Zionist who acquired a vast amount of property in Tel Aviv and later became one of the richest men in Israel.

Although she was soon defeating her father and others with ease, Miss Karff was at first so diffident about her skills that friends had to coax her to enter her first tournament. When she won handily, the diffidence was replaced by something akin to a full-blown obsession.

For all her success in the United States, Miss Karff, who was forever sailing off to Europe or South America for tournaments, fared less well in top international competition. Representing Palestine in the 1937 women's world championships in Stockholm, she placed sixth. Playing for the United States at the 1939 World Championships in Buenos Aires, she came in fifth.

The winner both times was Vera Menchik, who held the women's world title from 1927 until her death in 1944 and was one of only two women, along with Judit Polgar, a current international grandmaster, to hold their own against men in the highest levels of the game.

Apr-16-05  Procopius: Like almost every other woman in chess, Miss Karff limited herself to women's tournaments, qualifying as an international woman master when the International Chess Federation created the title in 1950 to encourage women's competition.

After women's world championship competition resumed in 1950, Miss Karff represented the United States in several tournaments, always finishing well back in the field.

By then, the woman who had styled herself "N. May Karff," typically without explaining what the "N" stood for, had moved to New York and emerged as Mona May Karff, a name she used when she made a tour of Europe in 1948 for the One World movement.

In New York, she became a fixture at the Marshall Chess Club on West 10th Street and began a long romance with Dr. Edward Lasker, a five-time winner of the U.S. Chess Open. Lasker was 25 years older than she, but friends recall them as a perfectly matched couple.

After Lasker died in 1981 at 95, Miss Karff continued to play regularly at the Marshall, where she was cherished both for her own achievements and as a bridge to American chess history through her association with Dr. Lasker, who won his first open in 1916 and later played a famous match with Frank J. Marshall, a longtime champion who founded the club.

She is survived by a niece, Miriam Reik, and two grandnephews, Dani and Aviv Reik, all of Tel Aviv.

Aug-08-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  dakgootje: Well maybe its finally time to update the bio?
Dec-06-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: I found a game of hers on User: SBC 's website (http://batgirl.atspace.com/womencha...):

[Event "US Women's Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1938.??.??"]
[Round "-"]
[White "Adele Rivero"]
[Black "Mona Karff"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. d4 f5 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. c4 c6 5. Nc3 d5 6. Nf3 Bd6 7. Ne5 O-O 8. O-O Nbd7 9. f4 Ne4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qb3 Qe8 12. cxd5 cxd5 13. Bd2 Bxe5 14. fxe5 a5 15. Rxf8+ Qxf8 16. Rf1 Qe7 17. Qb5 b6 18. Qc6 Rb8 19. Qc7 Ba6 20. Rf2 Rc8 21. Qa7 Bb5 22. Qb7 Qe8 23. Bh3 Rc6 24. b3 Qb8 25. Qxb8+ Nxb8 26. Bg5 h6 27. Be7 Kh7 28. Bd6 Rc1+ 29. Kg2 e3 30. Rf1 Rc2 31. Bxe6 Rxe2+ 32. Kf3 Nc6 33. Bf5+ g6 34. Bc8 Nxd4+ 35. Kg4 Rf2 36. Rc1 h5+ 37. Kh3 Bf1+ 38. Kh4 Nf3# 0-1

This one will also be submitted.

Dec-06-06  Dobbs: What a silly player. She has 17 games in the database, but only won 4. Also, she restricted herself to only women's tournaments.
Dec-06-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: <Dobbs> please elaborate: What's so <silly> about her? The fact that the database is not complete and contains only 17 games which can only be her fault, of course? Maybe the fact that she just played against women in the during her career in the first half of the 20th century?
Dec-06-06  SBC:

<Dobbs>

Something to think about:

this silly player was the US women's champion both in 1938 AND in 1974.

(as well as in 1941, 1942, 1946, 1948 [shared] and 1953)

Dec-06-06  thatsmate: What is she wearing in her necklace? Is that a clock?
Aug-03-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  collodi: What an interesting life! Her life would make a great biography or movie! Are there any other articles, game collections, or references to this remarkable woman and pioneer of women's chess?
Aug-24-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: Another picture of Mona May Karff (from Edward Winter's page): http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...
Jul-25-08  Granny O Doul: She won that game in the Fireside Book of Chess with the intro "the war between the sexes ends in an airplane checkmate!"

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Qg4 f5 5.Qg3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bd7 7.Be2 cd 8.Nd4 Nd4 9.Bh5+ Ke7 10.Qa3#

I might have moves transposed somewhere and I don't remember Black's name. It was also a "chess movie" in one of Chernev's beginner books.

Oct-20-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: A very talented Chess master, Mona May!

Three times the Women's World Championship Challenger!

R.I.P. Mona May Karff.

Oct-20-09  Birthday Boy: Happy Birthday!!!Mona May Karff!!!
Oct-24-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is a photo of Karff giving a simultaneous exhibition in Winnipeg in 1940:

http://tinyurl.com/247fad6

Dec-06-10  JG27Pyth: OH WOW! The second rated game I ever played in my life was against an elderly woman at the Marshall Chess Club -- this would be around 1987... Her name was Karff! She kicked my butt, too.
Dec-06-10  BIDMONFA: Mona May Karff

KARFF, Mona M.
http://www.bidmonfa.com/karff_mona....
_

Jan-15-12  SBC: In 1938 N. May Karff won the first universally accepted US women's chess championship (Mary Bain placed 2nd and Adele Rivero came in 3rd). In 1939, there was a 3-way tie with Mary Bain, N. May Karff and Dr. Helen Weissenstein sharing first place. While there was supposed to be a play-off, I've not been able to find anything to indicate one ever occurred. Adele Rivero did not participate that year. But in 1940, Rivero returned to the fray and won the championship by a wide margin, winning all but one of her games. The promoters seemed taken by the idea of staging a match for the 1941 championship and N. May Karff was selected (how this came about is unclear) to be Adele Rivero's challenger.

The story and games of this match can be read here: http://blog.chess.com/batgirl/karff...

Oct-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: R.I.P. Mrs.Karff.
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