Karff dominated United States. women"s chess in the 1940s and early 1950s and had an extended career. Sometime after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, her family moved to Tel-Aviv, in what was then Palestine. Because of her natural ability, she started playing in tournaments in Tel-Aviv and developed into a strong player.
In the 1930s, she moved to Boston.
When FIDE established titles in 1950, Mona May Karff was one of four American women to receive the title of Woman International Master. Karff, along with Gisela Kahn Gresser and Mary Bain, dominated United States. women"s chess in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Mona May Karff was a private person. Besides being a driving force in women"s chess, she was a shrewd stock investor who was worth a small fortune.
She spoke eight languages fluently and traveled extensively.
As a lover of the arts, she spent a good portion of her fortune on modern art She died in Manhattan on January 10, 1998.