Judit Polgár

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Judit Polgár bigraphy, stories - Chess player

Judit Polgár : biography

23 July 1976 –

Judit Polgár (born 23 July 1976) is a Hungarian chess grandmaster. She is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, the youngest person to do so until then.

Judit Polgár is currently (May 2013) ranked 52nd in the world FIDE ratings list with an Elo rating of 2696, the woman on FIDE’s Top 100 Players list, and has been ranked as high as eighth (in 2005). She has won or shared first in the chess tournaments of Hastings 1993, Madrid 1994, León 1996, U.S. Open 1998, Hoogeveen 1999, Siegman 1999, Japfa 2000, and the Najdorf Memorial 2000.

Polgár is the only woman to have won a game from a current world number one player, and has defeated nine current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Anatoli Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

Illustrative games

  • Former trainer for the Polgárs, IM Tibor Károlyi, called this the most beautiful game ever played by a woman.
  • Judit’s opponent falls for a clever trap, expecting her to play 14.Bxa8 and he would reply with 14…g4!, but she springs 14.g4!!
  • Polgár uses a novelty to break up Shirov’s pawn front and even offers to sacrifice her queen. She used only 48 minutes to win this game.
  • Polgár makes history when, for the first time ever, a woman defeats the world’s No. 1 chess player in a game.

Chess professional

"You have to be very selfish sometimes", said Polgár in speaking of the life of professional chessplayer. "If you are in a tournament, you have to think of yourself—you can’t think of your wife or children—only about yourself." When asked in 2002 if she still desired to win the world championship she said, "Chess is my profession and of course I hope to improve. But I’m not going to give up everything to become world champion; I have my life."

Polgár has said she does not have a permanent coach although she does have help from GM Lev Psakhis or GM Mihail Marin. She said she rarely uses a second and when she travels to tournaments it is usually her husband who accompanies her. Polgár said she has changed how she prepares for tournaments. "I make more use of my experience now and try to work more efficiently so that my efforts aren’t wasted", she said in 2008.

Concentrating on her two children left Polgár with little time to train and play competitively and her ranking dropped from eighth in 2005 to the mid-50s in 2009. However, as of September 2010 Polgár remained the only woman in the top 100 and still the only woman to have ever made the top 10. Comparing motherhood to playing chess, Polgár has said that a chess tournament now "feels like a vacation." When asked why she came back to chess after taking time off to care for her children, she said "I cannot live without chess! It is an integral part of my life. I enjoy the game!"

Despite being the highest-rated woman for twenty years, Polgár has never competed for the women’s world championship and in a 2011 interview was asked about this possibility. Polgár said that in the past she has never been interested in competing for it, but in recent years "the mentality of a couple of the women players has changed". Polgár said that for her to consider competing it would have to be a challenge and "if I get an extremely nice offer just to play for the title."

Polgár authored a children’s book on chess, Chess Playground. Her sister Sofia provided illustrations. In recent years, Polgár designed a chess programme for the older students of a kindergarten school in Budapest, Hungary.

In March 2013 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary Commander’s Cross with Star, the second highest award that can be made to a Hungarian civilian, "for her worldwide acknowledged life achievement as an athlete, for promoting the game of chess and for her efforts to promote the educational benefits of chess".