Judit Polgár


Judit Polgár : biography

23 July 1976 –

In the summer of 1993, Bobby Fischer stayed for a time in the Polgár household. He had been living in seclusion in Yugoslavia due to an arrest warrant issued by the United States for violating the U.N. blockade of Yugoslavia with his 1992 match against Spassky, and for tax evasion. Susan Polgár met Bobby with her family and persuaded him to come out of hiding "in a cramped hotel room in a small Yugoslavian village". During his stay, he played many games of Fischer Random Chess and helped the sisters analyse their games. Susan said, while he was friendly on a personal level and recalled mostly pleasant moments as their guest, there were conflicts due to his political views. On the suggestion of a friend of Fischer, a match of blitz chess between Fischer and Polgár was arranged and announced to the press. However, problems ensued between Fischer and László Polgár and Fischer cancelled the match, saying to a friend on whether the match would take place, "No, they’re Jewish."

In the summer of 1994, Polgár had the greatest success of her career to that point, when she won the Madrid International in Spain. Against a field which included Gata Kamsky, Evgeny Bareev, Valery Salov and Ivan Sokolov, she finished 7–2 and 1½ points ahead of second place. Her performance rating for the tournament was 2778 against an opposition rated at 2672.

In October 1994, she played in a tournament in Buenos Aires which was a tribute to an ailing Polugaevsky. Eight grandmasters, all considered contenders for the world championship: Karpov, Anand, Salov, Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Shirov, Ljubojević and Polgár. The tournament was unusual as Black in each game was required to play a Sicilian Defence, since Polugaevsky was considered the all-time authority on the opening. This was to Polgár’s advantage as it was her favourite. Against the elite competition she finished tied for third with Ivanchuk.

In September 1995, Polgár finished third with a score of 7-4 in the Donner Memorial in Amsterdam, behind Jan Timman and Julio Granda Zuniga, who tied for first, and ahead of Yasser Seirawan, Alexander Khuzman, Alexey Shirov, Alexander Khalifman, Alexander Morozevich and Valery Salov. She secured a clear third place with a 21-move win over Shirov in her last game. In the Antillean island of Aruba in November 1995, she played in a friendly match against Jeroen Piket of the Netherlands, at the time one of the top players in Europe. Despite being closely matched in ratings, Polgár won the match 6–2.

In 1995, the Isle of Lewis chess club in Scotland attempted to arrange a game between Polgár and Nigel Short in which the famous Lewis chessmen would be used. The Lewis chessmen is a chess set carved in the 12th century. However, the British Museum refused to release the set despite assurances that the players would wear gloves. Scottish member of parliament Calum MacDonald pointed out that the set would be safe, especially as chess was not a contact sport. In the end, the Museum allowed the chess set to be displayed at the Isle of Lewis festival tournament, but they were not used in any games. Polgár won the double round-robin tournament of four GMs, scoring five points in the six games and winning both her games against Short.

Kasparov touch-move controversy

At Linares 1994, Polgár suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of then-world champion Garry Kasparov. The tournament marked the first time the 17-year-old Polgár was invited to compete with the world’s strongest players. After four games she had two points, which was a fair result considering she was rated third from last in the very strong event. Matched with Kasparov in the fifth round, the World Champion changed his mind after making a move and then made another move instead. note: Berry, himself a Fide Master and International Arbiter, describes the incident "Mr. Kasparov picked up his knight at d7 and placed it on c5. "Touch move" requires a player to move a touched piece, but the move is not over until the hand leaves the piece. Seeing that 37.Bb7–c6 would be bad for Black, Mr. Kasparov instead put the knight on f8. However, the way Miss Polgár saw it, Mr. Kasparov’s hand did leave the piece on c5. Accounts diverge from there. We do know that Spanish TV recorded the game and that there were several spectators, some of whom thought that Mr. Kasparov removed his hand from the knight at c5. (According to chess rules, once a player has released a piece, he cannot make a different move. So Kasparov should have been required to play his original move.) Polgár said she did not challenge this, explaining afterwards, "I was playing the World Champion and didn’t want to cause unpleasantness during my first invitation to such an important event. I was also afraid that if my complaint was overruled I would be penalized on the clock when we were in time pressure." She was unaware at the time that the re-move was caught on tape by a television crew: the videotape showed Kasparov’s fingers were free of the knight for six frames (meaning, at 24 frames per second, Kasparov had released the piece for ¼ of a second). The tournament director was criticised for not forfeiting Kasparov when the videotape evidence was made available to him. note: Quoting from article, "During round 5 of the Linares tournament (March 1), World Champion Gary Kasparov started to move his knight from d7 to c5, but reconsidered and played the knight to f8." At one point Polgár reportedly confronted Kasparov in the hotel bar, asking him, "How could you do this to me?" Kasparov told reporters that his conscience was clear, as he was not aware of his hand leaving the piece. Although Polgár recovered by the end of the tournament, she went into a slump over the next six rounds, gaining only half a point. In Chess for Dummies, James Eade commented on the game, writing, "If even world champions break the rules, what hope do the rest of us have?"