Judit Polgár

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Judit Polgár : biography

23 July 1976 –

In October and November 2002, Polgár alternated with Péter Lékó between first and second board for Hungary in the 35th Chess Olympiad. While not having the stunning performance as she had in the 2000 Olympiad, she helped Hungary attain the silver medal for the event. While the Hungarians had the best won–loss record of the tournament as a team and lost only a single game of the 56 they played, they had won most of their matches by 2½–1½ scores, while the Russian team won gold as they piled up the points. However, Hungary gave the gold-winning Russian team its only defeat. Always the crowd-pleaser, Polgár roused the hall in her fourth round game against Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with a brilliant 12.Nxf7 drawing his king into the center of the board.

By early 2003, Polgár had worked her way back into the top 10 rated players in the world. In 2003, Polgár scored one of her best results: an undefeated clear second place in the Category 19 Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, just a half-point behind future World Champion Viswanathan Anand, and a full point ahead of then-world champion Vladimir Kramnik. One of the highlight games of the tournament was Polgár’s fourth round crushing victory over Anatoly Karpov. She played a novelty in the opening which she devised over the board. The game lasted 33 moves with Karpov down two pawns and his king exposed. Polgár admitted to "enjoying herself" by the end of the game. In April 2003, Polgár finished second in The Hunguest Hotels Super Tournament in Budapest behind Nigel Short. She appeared headed for a first place victory in the tournament, but lost her game against compatriot Péter Lékó. note: Larry Evans refers to Polgár, "Hungary’s Judith Polgár, 26, the strongest female in history" In June 2003, Polgár finished tied for third with Boris Gelfand, in the Enghien-les-Bains International Tournament in France, scoring 5½–3½, behind Evgeny Bareev who won the tournament and GM Michael Adams. In August 2003, Polgár played an eight-game rapid chess match in Mainz, Germany against Viswanathan Anand, billed as the "Battle of the Sexes". After six games each player had won three games. Anand won the final two games to win the match. In October 2003, Polgár won the 4–grandmaster Essent tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. In one of her games against Karpov, he blundered, allowing Polgár to utilize a famous, ancient sacrifice first employed by Emanuel Lasker against Bauer in 1889.

Combining family and chess

In 2004, Polgár took some time off from chess to give birth to her son, Olivér. She was consequently considered inactive and not listed on the January 2005 FIDE rating list. Her sister Susan reactivated her playing status during this period, and temporarily became the world’s No. 1 ranked women’s player again.

Polgár returned to chess at the prestigious Corus chess tournament on 15 January 2005. The tournament, which was now considered by some as the most important in Europe, was won by fellow Hungarian Péter Lékó while Polgár scored 7/13 to tie for fourth with Alexander Grischuk, Michael Adams and Kramnik. She was therefore relisted in the April 2005 FIDE rating list, gaining a few rating points for her better-than-par performance at Corus. In May she also had a better-than-par performance at a strong tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, finishing third. This brought her to her highest ever rating, 2735, in the July 2005 FIDE list and enabled her to retain her spot as the eighth ranked player in the world.

In September 2005, Polgár once again made history as she became the first woman to play for a World Championship, at the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. However, she had a rare disappointing performance, coming last out of the eight competitors. Polgár "was unrecognizable in her first-round encounter with Viswanathan Anand", wrote GM Robert Byrne in his New York Times column, "making more errors than she normally would in a dozen games." However, in her game against Veselin Topalov, Polgár pushed the eventual tournament winner and world champion to a seven-hour marathon before succumbing.