Lisa Lane won her first US Woman's Chess Championship in 1959, amazingly only two years after being introduced to chess.
Although most authorities agree that by today's standards, she would be around an expert level, women's competitive chess, especially in America, in 1959 was still in its infancy.
Ms. Lane gained national, and even global, attention possibly more for her looks, her tenacity and her romantic drama than for her chess. Because of this her considerable natural talent is sometimes overlooked today.
In a 1962 Harper's interview with Bobby Fischer, after Ralph Ginsberg noted that Lisa Lane considered Fischer "probably the greatest chess player alive, " Fischer answered:
"That statement is accurate, but Lisa Lane really wouldn't be
in a position to know. They're all weak, all women. They're
stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know.
They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man.
There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds
to and still beat."
Fischer was probably accurate in his assessment since even the Women's World Champion was nowhere near the level of a strong Grandmaster in 1960, but with all the talk of absolutes (e.g. finding the "truth"), chess is, and probably will remain, a relative game. Relative to the best female players of the day, Lisa Lane was not quite on their level, but not so far behind either.
Here are some games where she held her own against such players as Chantal Chaude de Silans, Fenny Heemskerk and Nona Gaprindashvili -