Imagine a 13-year-old girl, beautiful, well-mannered, cute as
pie and 2417 Elo points strong. One who would make any pageant mom whither
away in raw jealousy. Or any soccer
mom for that matter.
Kateryna Lahno, 2417 and climbing
Well meet Kateryna Lahno, who has been spotted giving
big, ugly grandmasters a sound thrashing in over-the-boad play.
You don't believe that last one? Well ask GM Efimenko
Zahar (2599), Areshchenko Alexander (2546), Malakhatko Vadim (2503), Shtyrenkov
Veniamen (2449), who all lost to the girl. Or ask the pride of other GMs
whom she held to draws. Or the host of IMs who got half a point less than
that out of their encounters.
Kateryna's FIDE rating on April 1st, 2003 was 2417. She
fulfilled her women's GM norm last April, when she was exactly 12 years,
4 months, 2 days, breaking the previous record held by Judit Polgar.
Kateryna is of course the world's youngest women's GM
and a classical child
prodigy in chess. She was is the reigning world under 10 champion
until 1999 and the European under 14 champion until 2001.
And yes, that is Kateryna's Elo progress over the past
three years on the left.
At the current time Kateryna only plays in male (unrestricted) chess tournaments.
It is her declared goal to reach the same level of excellence as her role model
Judit Polgar and then to outstrip her. She also wants to prove to men
that woman are in no way inferior, especially in a mental sport like chess.
Her latest success: In May 2003 Kateryna played in a Category VIII tournament
in Alushta (Ukraine). She collected 7.5 points in 13 rounds and ended fifth
in the tournament.
Ponomariov on Lahno
Ponomariov is a celebrated chess prodigy in his own right, having completed
his final GM norm at the age of 14 years, 0 months, 17 days. After winning the
title of FIDE world champion last year he was asked in an interview
about the prospects of his potential rivals.
Ponomariov: Certainly we must consider Sergey Karjakin, but we also
have some very talented girls. Kateryna Lahno, who is the same age as Sergey,
has already won world championship and European titles in her age groups.
Kateryna loves the chess struggle and will fight ferociously to achieve success.
Just take a look at how she played in played in the
blitz tournament with Viktor Korchnoi. It was like fire, the speed of movement
of her hands. She was the first player who was able to stop Korchnoi's series
of victories. Korchnoi began the tournament with five straight victories. Then
he faced Lahno.
He got nothing out of the opening and offered her a draw. Can you imagine his
surprise when the little girl refused and played on instead. She did this by
picking up a queen to indicate that she intended to promote and win. Korchnoi
survived and the game ended in a draw. All this happened in Kramatorsk on January
24, 2001 when Kateryna was only 11 years old.
More chess talent at one table than in entire countries. Sergey Karjakin, Elo
2556, and Kateryna Lahno, Elo 2417. Both are 13 years old, Sergey is sixteen
Our thanks to A. V. Momot or the Regional Donetsk Chess Club
and Alexander Martynkov for the pictures and links.