Judit Polgár

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Judit Polgár : biography

23 July 1976 –

Personal life

Members of Polgár’s family perished in the Holocaust, and her grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp.Forbes

In August 2000, Polgár married Hungarian veterinary surgeon Gusztáv Font. They have two children, a boy named Oliver and a girl named Hanna. While Judit remained in Hungary, the rest of her family eventually emigrated: Sofia and her parents to Israel and later to Canada, and Susan to the United States.

Early life

Polgár was born on 23 July 1976 in Budapest, to a Hungarian Jewish family.Breaking Through: How the Polgar Sisters Changed the Game of Chess, (Everyman Chess 2005), Susan Polgar, page 14 Polgár and her two older sisters, Grandmaster Susan and International Master Sofia, were part of an educational experiment carried out by their father László Polgár, in an attempt to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age. "Geniuses are made, not born", was László’s thesis. He and his wife Klára educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. László also taught his three daughters the international language Esperanto. They received resistance from Hungarian authorities as home-schooling was not a "socialist" approach. They also received criticism at the time from some western commentators for depriving the sisters of a normal childhood. However, by most reports the girls appeared happy and well-adjusted.

Traditionally, chess has been a male-dominated activity, and women are often seen as weaker players; thus advancing the idea of a Women’s World Champion. However, from the beginning, László was against the idea that his daughters had to participate in female-only events. "Women are able to achieve results similar, in fields of intellectual activities, to that of men," he wrote. "Chess is a form of intellectual activity, so this applies to chess. Accordingly, we reject any kind of discrimination in this respect." This put the Polgárs in conflict with the Hungarian Chess Federation of the day, whose policy was for women to play in women-only tournaments. Polgár’s older sister, Susan, first fought the bureaucracy by playing in men’s tournaments and refusing to play in women’s tournaments. Susan Polgár, when she was a 15-year-old International Master, said in 1985 that it was due to this conflict that she had not been awarded the Grandmaster title despite having made the norm eleven times.

Playing style

While having a solid understanding of positional play, Polgár excels in tactics and is known for an aggressive playing style, striving to maximize the initiative and actively pursuing complications. The former World Champion Garry Kasparov wrote that, based upon her games, "if to ‘play like a girl’ meant anything in chess, it would mean relentless aggression." In her youth, she was especially popular with the fans due to her willingness to employ wild gambits and attacks. As a teenager, Polgár has been credited with contributing to the popularity of the opening variation King’s Bishop’s Gambit. Polgár prefers aggressive openings, playing 1.e4 as White and the Sicilian or King’s Indian Defence with black, but she has also said her opening choices will also depend upon her trainer. Jennifer Shahade, writer and two-time U.S. women’s chess champion, suggested that the influence of Polgár as a role model may be one of the reasons women play more aggressive chess than men. Describing an individual encounter with Polgár, former U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin said, "It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She is a tiger at the chessboard. She absolutely has a killer instinct. You make one mistake and she goes right for the throat."

Polgár is especially adept at faster time controls. When she was still a youth, Der Spiegel wrote of her, "her tactical thunderstorms during blitz games have confounded many opponents, who are rated higher."