Judit Polgár

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Judit Polgár : biography

23 July 1976 –

In the two years since Polgár became the first woman to ever break into the top 10, her rating had dropped. Although she was in the top 20, this had the effect of her being invited less frequently to the strongest tournaments.

In October 1999, Polgár participated in the four-player GM section of the VAM Chess tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. Jan Timman lead early in the tournament, but Polgár staged a comeback scoring 3 points in the last 4 games to share first place. Anatoly Karpov finished in third and Darmen Sadvakasov last.

In January 2000, Polgár had, for her, a disappointing result in a tournament in Pamplona, Spain, which was won by Nigel Short. She finished with only 4 points from 9 games, tied for 6–7 place with Jan Timman, who had also played below his rating. Polgár had another disappointing result later in the month in the category XVIII tournament in Corus Wijk aan Zee which was won by Kasparov. She did not win her first game until the 11th round and finished with 5 points in 13 games, tied with Victor Korchnoi for 11–12 position among the fourteen GMs. However, in the European Teams Championship in Batumi, Georgia, also in January, she won the gold medal playing Board 2, scoring 6½–2½.

In April and May 2000, Polgár won one of the strongest tournaments ever held in Asia. The Japfa Classic in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, was a category XVI event of 10 players in which included Alexander Khalifman–at the time FIDE world champion– and Anatoly Karpov–his predecessor. Going into the last round four players, Polgár, Khalifman, Karpov and Gilberto Milos were tied, but Polgár won her game over Braziliam GM Milos while Khalifman and Karpov played against each other in a draw. Polgár finished clear first with 6½–2½, winning the $20,000 first place prize money. At the end of May, she won the Sigeman & Company International Tournament in Malmö, Sweden. She finished the four-player double round-robin tournament scoring 4 points, with Jan Timman at 3½ with Ulf Andersson and Tiger Hillarp-Persson finishing in that order. In June 2000, she played in the GM Tournament Mérida, State of Yucatán, finishing in second place a half point behind Alexei Shirov. In September 2000, she shared first place in the Najdorf Chess Festival with Viktor Bologan, ahead of Nigel Short and Anatoly Karpov. In October and November, she represented Hungary playing board 3 in the 34th Chess Olympiad. While the Hungarian team narrowly missed winning the Bronze medal, Polgár finished 10/13 for the second highest points total of any player in the Olympiad and a rated performance level of 2772.

In late February and early March 2001, Polgár played in the elite Linares double round-robin invitational of six of the world’s strongest players. The tournament was Kasparov’s triumph as he scored 7½ points in 10 games. The other five participants, Polgár, Karpov, Shirov, Grischuk and Lékó all finished with 4½ for second and last position. However, Polgár drew both her games with Kasparov, the first time in her career she had done this under tournament time controls. In March 2001, she reached the semifinals of the World Cup rapid play tournament in Cannes. She made it to the final four from the 16 grandmasters in the tournament. She lost the semifinal match to Evgeny Bareev, who in turn lost to Kasparov. In a quarterfinal playoff blitz game, she forced Joël Lautier, France’s strongest player, to resign in 12 moves when she won his queen which resulted in the audience of several hundred bursting into applause. In June 2001, Polgár finished fourth in the European Championship in Ohrid, Macedonia, a 13-round Swiss-system tournament of 143 Grandmasters and 38 IMs. In October 2001, she tied for first with GM Loek van Wely in the Essent Tourney in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.

Making history

In September 2002, in the Russia versus the Rest of the World Match, Polgár finally defeated Garry Kasparov in a game. The tournament was played under rapid rules with 25 minutes per game and a 10 second bonus per move. She won the game with exceptional positional play. Kasparov with black chose the Berlin Defence instead of his usual Sicilian and Polgár proceeded with a line which Kasparov has used himself. Polgár was able to attack with her rooks on Kasparov’s king which was still in the centre of the board and when he was two pawns down, Kasparov resigned. The game helped the World team win the match 52–48. Upon resigning, Kasparov immediately left by a passageway barred to journalists and photographers. Kasparov had once described Polgár as a "circus puppet" and asserted that women chess players should stick to having children. Polgár called the game, "One of the most remarkable moments of my career." Polgár thus became one of the players who have beaten Kasparov. The game was historic as it was the first time in chess history that a female player beat the world’s No. 1 player in competitive play.