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.
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.
Ruslan 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 days younger.
Our thanks to A. V. Momot or the Regional Donetsk Chess Club
and Alexander Martynkov for the pictures and links.