Relatives of Chess Masters

by Bill Wall


Agabababean, Naira (1951- )

Woman grandmaster (WGM).  Her daughter, Almira Skripchenko (born in 1976), is also a woman grandmaster.


Ahues, Carl (1883-1968)

German International Master.  His son, Herbert (1922- ) became a GM for Chess Compositions.


Akhmilovskaya, Elena (1957-2012)

Woman GM.  Her mother qualified several time for the USSR Women’s Championship


Alekhine, Alexander (1892-1946)

Former world chess champion.  His father was a wealthy landowner, a marshall of the nobility, and a member of the Duma.  His mother, Anisya Ivanova, was an heiress of an industrial fortune.  His older sister, Varvara (1889-1944), was a chess player.  His older brother, Alexei Alekhine (1888-1939) was a strong chess player.  In 1913, he fathered an illegitimate daughter. 


Ault, Robin (1941-1994)

Strong chess master who played in the US Championship.  His brother, Leslie Ault (1940- ), was a chess player and author.  In 1961, Robin Ault was US Junior Champion.  His brother, Leslie, was US Intercollegiate Champion.  The both played for Columbia University, which won the nation Intercollegiate Team Championship.


Benko, Pal (1928- )

Grandmaster.  His father was an engineer. 


Bernstein, Ossip (1882-1962)

Russian GM.  His son was President Eisenhower’s official interpreter because he spoke almost every European language.


Bisguier, Arthur (1929- )

American Grandmaster.  His cousin, IM Raymond Weinstein (1941- ), killed an 83-year old man in a nursing home with a razor in 1964.


Bolbochan, Julio (1920-1996)

Argentine GM.  His brother, Jacobo (1906-1984), was an International Master.


Bronstein, David (1924-2006)

Russian GM.  He learned chess from his grandfather.  His father, Johonon, was unfairly imprisoned for several years in the Gulag


Browne, Walter (1949- )

American Grandmaster.  He was born to an American father and an Australian mother.


Byrne, Robert (1928-2013)

American GM.  His brother, Donald (1930-1976) was an IM.


Capablanca, Jose (1888-1942)

Former world champion.  His father was an army officer in Cuba.  He had an older brother.


Christiansen, Larry (1956- )

American Grandmaster.  He learned how to play chess at age nine from his brother, James.  He has a younger brother, Scott. 


Cramling, Pia (1963)

Swedish GM.  Her brother, Dan, is an international master.


Epstein, Esther (1954- )

Woman IM.  Epstein’s brother, Shmuel, was jailed for over three years.  His crime was reading Solzhenitsyn and meeting with Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov.


Euwe, Max (1901-1981)

Former world chess champion.  He learned chess from his mother, Elizabeth.  Both parents played chess.  His mother once played in the Dutch Women’s Championship.  His father, Cornelius, was an average chess player.


Finegold, Benjamin (1969- )

American IM.  His father was a USCF expert.   His brother, Mark, is a USCF master.


Fischer, Robert (1943-2007)

Former world chess champion.  His mother, Regina Wender Fischer Pustan, was a medical doctor and had a Ph.D in hematology.  His father was Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German biophysicist.  There is some evidence that Bobby Fischer’s biological father was Paul Nemenyi, a Hungarian physicist with Jewish ancestry.  Bobby’s parents divorced in 1945 and Hans moved to Chile.  Robert’s sister, Joan, was born in Moscow in 1933.  Joan married Russell Targ, an American physicist and author.  Joan and Russell Targ had two children.  Joan died in California in 1998. 


Flohr, Salo (1908-1983)

Leading Czech chess grandmaster.  His parents were Jewish.  He and his brother were orphaned during World War I after his parents were killed in a massacre in the Ukraine. 


Hund, Barbara (1959- )

Woman Grandmaster.  She was born 13 days after her mother, Juliane, played in the 1959 German Women’s Chess Championship.  Her sister, Isabel, is also a strong chess player.


Ivanka, Maria (1950- )

Woman Grandmaster from Hungary.  Her father was a goldsmith.  Her father and two brothers played chess. 


Jarecki, John (1969- )

American chess master.  His mother, Carol Jarecki, is one of the most active international chess arbiters in the world.  His father, Richard, is a doctor.


Johner, Hans (1889-1975)

Swiss IM.  His brother, Paul (1887-1937), was a noted violinist and winner of the Swiss championship 6 times.


Karff, Mona May Ratner (1914-1998)

7-time winner of the US Women’s Chess Championship.  Her father, Aviv Ratner, was a wealthy land-owner, who taught her how to play chess at the age of 9. 


Kasparov, Garry (1963- )

Former world chess champion.  He was originally named Garik Weinstein (Veinshtein).   He was the son of a Jewish engineer, Kim Veinshtein, who died when Garry was 7.  His mother is Klara Kasparyan, whose Russian name is Kasparov. 


Koltanowski, George (1903-2000)

Grandmaster (emeritus).  He learned the game while watching his father play his older brother.


Korneev, Oleg (1969- )

Chess Grandmaster.  He is married to WGM Tatiana Kononenko.


Kotov, Alexander (1913-1981)

Russian Grandmaster.  His father, Alexander Yegorovich Kotov, was a mechanic in an arms factory, and had 10 children.  Alexander was the youngest and only 4 children survived into adulthood.


Kubbel, Leonid (1891-1942)

One of the greatest Russian chess composers.  His brothers, Avrid (1889-1938) and Yevgeny (1893-1942) were also famous chess composers.


Lasker, Emanuel (1868-1941)

Former world champion.  His father, Adolf, was a Jewish cantor in a synagogue.  His mother was Rosalie Israelssohn.  His brother, Berthold (1860-1928) was a chess hustler in Berlin in the early 1880s.  He was a medical doctor.  Berthold married Else Schuler (1869-1945), a famous poet, writer, and artist.  Berthold and Else were married from 1894 to 1903.  Emanuel’s sister died in a Nazi gas chamber.   IM Edward Lasker (1885-1981) was a seventh cousin to Emanuel.


Maric, Alisa (1970)

Woman Grandmaster.  Her twin sister, Marjana, is also a Woman Grandmaster.  They are the only two twin grandmasters in history.


Menchik, Vera (1906-1944)

Former world women’s chess champion.  Her father was Czech and her mother was British.  Her sister, Olga (1908-1944), was also a strong chess master.  In 1927, Vera won the London ladies’ chess championship.  Olga took 2nd place. 


Morphy, Paul (1837-1884)

One of the strongest chess players of all time.  His father’s (Alonzo) nationality was Spanish, but he was of Irish origin.  He was a lawyer, served as a Louisina state legislator, attorney general, and Supreme Court Justice.  His mother, Louise Le Carpentier, was French.  She was the musically-talented daughter of a prominent French Creole family.  Paul had two sisters, Mahrina (born in 1830), and Helena (born in 1839).  His uncle, Ernest (1807-1874), was a strong player.


Najdorf, Miguel (1910-1997)

Polish-Argentine Grandmaster of Jewish origin.  He lost his wife, child, father, mother, and four brothers during the Holocaust. 


Nakamura, Hikaru (1987- )

American Grandmaster.  He was born to a Japanese father and American mother.  He was coached by his stepfather, FIDE Master Sunil Weeramantry.  His brother, Asuka, is a strong master.


Nimzowitsch, Aron (1886-1935)

One of the strongest players in the world.  He was a son of a Danish department store keeper who taught Aron to play chess.


Pachman, Ludek (1924-2003)

Grandmaster.  His brother, Vladimir, was a grandmaster in chess composition.


Paulsen, Louis (1833-1891)

American master.  His sister, Amalie, was a strong player.  His father taught chess to Louis, his two older brothers, and his two sisters.  His brother, Wilfried, was a strong master.


Penrose, Jonathan (1933- )

English GM (emeritus).  His father, Lionel, was a distinguished medical doctor, psychiatrist,geneticist, mathematician, and chess problem composer.  His mother, Margaret, was a medical doctor.  His brother, Roger (1931- ), was knighted in 1994 for services to mathematics and science.  Roger is a mathematician, physicist, and author.  His brother, Oliver, is also a distinguished mathematician.


Philidor, Francois-Andre Danican (1726-1795)

Best chess player of the 18th century.  His father, Andre (1647-1730), was the royal music librarian who had 20 children (three wives).    Andre was 79 and his wife was in her twenties when FAD Philidor was born.  Philidor belonged to a family which had been connected for three generations with the band of the Chapel-Royal in Versailles.


Polgar, Judit (1976- )

Grandmaster and considered the greatest woman chess player ever.  The family comes from a Jewish background in Budapest.  Members of her family died in the Holocaust.  Her grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz.  Her father, Laszlo, and her mother, Klara, educated the family at home


Portisch, Lajos (1937- )

Hungarian Grandmaster.  His brother, Ferenc (1939- ) is an International Master.


Purdy, Cecil (1906-1979)

Former world correspondence chess champion.    His father-in-law, Spencer Crakenthorp, won the Austalian championship twice.  His son, John (born in 1935), was a former junior champion of Australia.  His daughter, Diana, was a keen chessplayer.  She married leading New Zealand chessplayer Frank Hutchings in 1960.


Reti, Richard (1889-1929)

One of the strongest chess players in the world.  Richard’s brother, Rudolph (1885-1957), was a famous musical analyst, composer, and pianist.


Rousseau, Eugene (1810-1870)

Strong chess master who settled in New Orleans.  He was a distant cousin of Jean Jacques Rousseau.


Sandrin, Albert (1923-2004)

American blind master.  His brother, Angelo, was also a chess master.  In 1961, they both tied for 1st place in the Michigan Open.



Seirawan, Yasser

Grandmaster.  His father was Arab and his mother an English nurse. 


Shabalov, Alexander (1967- )


Skripchenko, Almira (1976- )

French Woman Grandmaster (WGM).  Her mother is WGM Naira Agabababean.  Her father, Fedor, was a chess coach. 


Smyslov, Vasily Vasiliyevich (1921-2010)

Former world chess champion.  His father, Vasily Osipovich Smyslov, was a strong master who once defeated Alexander Alekhine in a tournament in 1912.  His father taught him chess.


Spassky, Boris (1937- )

Former world chess champion.  His sister, Irena, has been the USSR women’s checker (droughts) champion several times. 


Staunton, Howard (1810-1874)

World’s strongest chess player in the 1840s.  He is reputed to have been the illegitimate son of Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle, but there is little evidence to support this claim. 


Steiner, Lajos (1903-1975)

International chess master.  He was one of four children of Bernat Steiner, mathematics teacher, and his wife, Cecilia Schwarz, both of whom were Jewish.  His elder brother Endre was also a strong chess player.  Lajos’ father and brother were to die in Nazi concentration camps. 


Steinitz, William (Wilhelm) (1836-1900)

Former world chess champion.  He claimed he was the 13th of 13 children, which may not be true.  His parents were Jewish.  His father was a Talmadic scholar and tailor.  He was the 9th child.  Four more children were born after Wilhelm, but they all died in childhood. 


Tal, Mikhail (1936-1992)

Former world chess champion.  His father was a medical doctor.  Mikhail learned chess from his cousin and his father


Thomas, George Alan (1881-1972)

Former British chess champion.  His mother, Lady Edith Thomas, was the winner of the first British women’s chess championship at Hastings in 1895.  He became “Sir George” when he succeeded his father, Sir George Sidney Meade Thomas, as the 7th Baronet in 1918.  A baronet is above a knight, but below a baron.  It is a hereditary title.  The title is passed down to the eldest son.


Timman, Jan (1951- )

Dutch Grandmaster.  His brother, Anton (Ton) Peter Timman (born in 1948), is a master.


Unzicker, Wolfgang (1925-2006)

German Grandmaster.  He learned chess from his father, who was a high school teacher. 


Velimirovic, Dragoljub (1942- )

Yugoslavian grandmaster.  His mother, Jovanka Velimirovic (1910-1972), was Yugoslavia’s first woman chess champion.


Vidmar, Milan (1885-1962)

Grandmaster.  His brother, Josip (1895-1992) was a politician, literary critic, essayist, and translator. His son, Milan Vidmar Jr. (1909-1980) was an International Master and an electrical engineer. 


Webb, Simon (1949-2005)

British IM.  He was stabbed at least 20 times and murdered by his 25-year-old son in his 5th floor Stockholm apartment.  After the attack, his son tried to commit suicide by driving at high speed into a bus stop.


Whitehead, Jay (1961- )

American IM.  His brother, Paul (1960- ), is a chess master that took 1st place at the 1978 American Open.


Wojtkiewicz, Aleksander (1963-2006)

Grandmaster.  His father was Polish and his mother, Tamara, was Russian.  He had a son, Yosef, with Laima Domarkaite, a Lithuanian.


Yanofsky, Daniel Abraham (Abe) (1925-2000)

Canadian Grandmaster.  His Jewish father taught him chess.  His brother, Harry, was also a master


Zukertort, Johannes (1842-1888)

Zukertort said that his mother was the Baroness Krzyzanovska.