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Sonja Graf-Stevenson
Number of games in database: 150
Years covered: 1932 to 1957

Overall record: +39 -86 =21 (33.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 4 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (23) 
    D02 D00 E00 A40 A46
 Queen's Gambit Declined (5) 
    D37 D30 D39
 Nimzo Indian (4) 
    E21 E33 E32 E34
 Grunfeld (4) 
    D90 D93 D94
 Orthodox Defense (4) 
    D51 D54 D55
 Sicilian (4) 
    B70 B29 B83
With the Black pieces:
 Queen's Gambit Declined (10) 
    D30 D37 D38
 Queen's Pawn Game (9) 
    D02 D00 D04 D01
 Ruy Lopez (7) 
    C79 C84 C77 C90 C78
 Orthodox Defense (7) 
    D51 D50 D55 D63
 Tarrasch Defense (4) 
    D32 D34
 Giuoco Piano (4) 
    C53 C50
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Graf-Stevenson vs Semmler, 1932 1-0
   Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson, 1934 0-1
   I Larsen vs Graf-Stevenson, 1939 0-1
   Graf-Stevenson vs Menchik, 1937 1-0
   Graf-Stevenson vs R Grau, 1939 1/2-1/2
   M Czerniak vs Graf-Stevenson, 1942 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Mar del Plata (1942)

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?]

Susanna (later Sonja) Graf was born and grew up in Munich, Germany, to Russian and Belarussian parents. 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 protege of Siegbert Tarrasch. By the middle 1930s she was regarded as one of the strongest female players in the world. However, her Russian background and somewhat unconventional lifestyle made her unpopular with the Nazi authorities, and in 1934 she left Germany to adopt the lifestyle of an itinerant chess professional. During the next five years she would live at different times in England, Spain, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Poland, as well as Germany.

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 women's 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 would be awarded the WIM title in 1950.

Barred from representing Germany in international competition, she was nevertheless invited to play for the women's world championship in Argentina in 1939 by FIDE; during the competition she played under a flag bearing the Spanish word "libre" ("free"). World War II broke out during the tournament, and Graf remained 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).

When former world champion Max Euwe visited Argentina in 1947, he (perhaps unintentionally) introduced Graf to a visiting American sailor and ardent chess fan, Vernon Stevenson. Later that year she married 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 1954 (scoring 8-0) and 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

Last updated: 2021-03-26 03:55:42

 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 150  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Graf-Stevenson vs Spielmann  1-0381932SimulE00 Queen's Pawn Game
2. Graf-Stevenson vs Semmler 1-0331932MnichovD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Graf-Stevenson vs Spielmann  1-0281932SimulD18 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
4. G Harum vs Graf-Stevenson  0-1271932ViennaD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
5. Graf-Stevenson vs E Mulder  ½-½351933UtrechtD02 Queen's Pawn Game
6. D P Bergema vs Graf-Stevenson  1-0311933SimulC30 King's Gambit Declined
7. E Rinsma vs Graf-Stevenson  1-0281933SimulC59 Two Knights
8. P F van Hoorn vs Graf-Stevenson  ½-½281934VAS EasterD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
9. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson 0-1301934WWCC MatchD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
10. Graf-Stevenson vs Menchik 0-1491934WWCC MatchD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson  1-0561934MatchD00 Queen's Pawn Game
12. Graf-Stevenson vs Menchik  0-1401934MatchC14 French, Classical
13. J Mieses vs Graf-Stevenson  1-0221935HastingsC26 Vienna
14. D I Croker vs Graf-Stevenson  0-1361935Margate (Premier Reserves)C55 Two Knights Defense
15. R Lean vs Graf-Stevenson  0-1201935Margate (Premier Reserves)C58 Two Knights
16. Koblents vs Graf-Stevenson 1-0331935Margate premier reserves final-AD02 Queen's Pawn Game
17. Graf-Stevenson vs A G Conde  0-1331935BCF-ch 28th Major OpenD48 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
18. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson 1-03719351935 BCF Major OpenA09 Reti Opening
19. Graf-Stevenson vs Reshevsky  0-13019351935 BCF Major OpenE60 King's Indian Defense
20. Graf-Stevenson vs C Benini  1-0521936SemmeringD02 Queen's Pawn Game
21. R Gerlecka vs Graf-Stevenson  ½-½511936SemmeringC46 Three Knights
22. C Roodzant vs Graf-Stevenson 0-1311936SemmeringD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. R Bruce vs Graf-Stevenson  ½-½551936BCF-ch 29th Major Open AD02 Queen's Pawn Game
24. Graf-Stevenson vs E Klein 1-0611936BCF-ch 29th Major Open AD39 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin, Vienna Variation
25. Menchik vs Graf-Stevenson  1-0381937wch mD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 150  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 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
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.


Apr-22-12  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.
Apr-23-12  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.

Apr-28-14  offramp: Flaming Nora! I don't fancy yours much!
Mar-01-16  waustad: Congratulations on being chosen for the chess hall of fame.
Mar-06-16  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Sonja Graf.
Dec-16-16  Swedish Logician: What an impressive woman!
The 19 page German article referred to above can also be found here and the German Chess federation gives a tribute here
Nov-19-18  Caissanist: This appears to be an English-language version of the German article referred to above: .
Mar-08-19  Jean Defuse: ...

<Sonja Graf - Un combat pour la liberté>




Mar-26-21  Caissanist: Updated link to the article given above: . This article is quite interesting and offers many details I had not seen anywhere else, I have updated her bio with a few of them.
Mar-26-21  Caissanist: Spanish-language interview with Graf, apparently from the early sixties. She blames her lopsided loss in the 1937 Menchik match on getting the flu after the first game: .
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