Judith Polgar

Judith Polgar

Judit Polgár is Jewish, and from Budapest. Members of her family perished in the Holocaust, and her grandmother was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

She 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 Klara educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. From the beginning, Laszlo 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."

However, chess was not taught to the exclusion of everything else. Each of them has several diplomas and speaks four to eight languages. Their father 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. Currently, as of 2011, all three have earned good incomes from chess and are married with families of their own.

The rest of Judit's family eventually emigrated (Sofia and her parents to Israel and later to Canada, Susan to New York), but she remained in Hungary and married Gusztáv Font, a veterinary surgeon from Budapest.

Trained in her early years by her sister Susan, who ultimately became Women's World Champion, Judit Polgár was a prodigy from an early age. At age five she defeated a family friend without looking at the board. After the game the friend joked, "You are good at chess, but I'm a good cook." Judit replied, "Do you cook without looking at the stove?" However, according to Susan, Judit was not the sister with the most talent, explaining "Judit was a slow starter, but very hard-working." She first defeated an International Master, Dolfi Drimer, at age 10, and a Grandmaster, Vladimir Kovacevic, at age 11.

Judit started playing in tournaments at six years old and by age nine her rating with the Hungarian Chess Federation was 2080. She was a member of the chess club in Budapest where she would get experience from master level players. In 1984 in Budapest, Sophia and Judit, at the time nine and seven years of age respectively, played two games of blindfold chess against two masters which they won. At one point, the girls complained that one of their opponents was playing too slowly and suggested a clock should be used.

In April 1986, nine-year-old Judit played in her first rated tournament in the U.S., finishing first in the unrated section of the New York Open winning $1,000. All three Polgar sisters competed. Susan, 16-years-old, competed in the grandmaster section and had a victory against GM Walter Browne and Sophia, 11-years-old, finished second in her section, but it was Judit who gathered most of the attention in the tournament. Grandmasters would drop by to watch the serious, quiet child playing. She won her first seven games before drawing the final game. Although the unrated section had many of the weaker players in the Open, it also had players of expert strength, who were foreign to the United States and had not been rated yet. Milorad Boskovic related a conversation with Judit's sixth-round opponent, a Yugoslav player he knew to be a strong expert, "He told me he took some chances in the game because he couldn't believe she was going to attack so well." Not able to speak English, her mother translated as she told a reporter her goal was to be a chess professional. When the reporter asked her if she would be world champion one day, Judit answered, "I will try."

In late 1986, ten-year-old Judit defeated 52-year-old Romanian IM Dolfi Drimer in the Adsteam Lidums International Tournament in Adelaide, Australia. Edmar Mednis said he played his best game of the tournament against Judit. "I was careful in that game," he said. "Grandmasters don't like to lose to 10-year-old girls, because then we make the front page of all the papers."

In 1988, Judit Polgar won the under-12 "Boys" section of the World Youth Chess and Peace Festival in Timisaora, Romania. In October 1988, Polgar finished first in a 10-player round-robin tournament in London, scoring 7–2, for a half point lead over Israeli GM Yair Kraidman. She and her sisters along with Ildikó Mádl, represented Hungary in the Women's section of the 1988 Chess Olympiad. The International Chess Federation would not permit the Polgars to play against men in team competitions. Hungary won the championship which was the first time it was not won by the Soviet Union. Judit played board 2 and finished the tournament with the highest score of 12½–½ to win the individual gold medal. She also won the brilliancy prize for her game against Pavlina Angelova.

In 1988, she made her first International Norm in the International B section of the New York Open and by November 1988 she was awarded the International Master title, at the time the youngest ever to have achieved the distinction. Both Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov were 14 when they were awarded the title. Polgar was 12.

Judit was asked about playing against boys instead of the girls' section of tournmanents. "These other girls are not serious about chess," she said. "I practice five or six hours a day. But they get distracted by cooking and work around the house." By age 12, she was rated 2555, which was 35 rating points ahead of the Women's World Champion Maia Chiburdanidze.

Judit's quiet and modest demeanour at the board contrasted with the intensity of her playing style. David Norwood, British GM, in recalling Judit beating him when he was an established player and she was just a child, described her as, "this cute little auburn-haired monster who crushed you." British journalist, Dominic Lawson wrote about 12-year-old Judit's "killer" eyes and how she would stare at her opponent, "The irises are so grey so dark they are almost indistinguishable from the pupils. Set against her long red hair, the effect is striking."

Before age 13 she had broken into the top 100 players in the world and the British Chess Magazine declared, "Judit Polgar's recent results make the performances of Fischer and Kasparov at a similar age pale by comparison. British GM Nigel Short called Judit, "one of the three or four greatest chess prodigies in history." However, not everyone was as enthusiastic and male chauvinism still existed. "She has fantastic chess talent," said Kasparov. "but she is, after all a woman. It all comes down to the imperfections of the feminine psyche. No woman can sustain a prolonged battle."

In 1989, Polgar tied with Boris Gelfand for third in the OHRA Open in Amsterdam.

By now numerous books and articles had been written about the Polgar sisters making them famous even outside of the world of chess. In 1989, American President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara met with the Polgars during their visit to Hungary.

In 1990, Judit Polgar won the Boys section of the under-14 in the World Youth Chess Festival in Fond-du-Lac, Wisconsin.

In October 1991, Judit Polgar finished with 5½–3½ points, tied for third to fifth position with Zoltán Ribli and John Nunn at a tournament in Vienna.

In December 1991, Polgar qualified as a Grandmaster by winning the Hungarian National Championship, at the time the youngest ever at 15 years, 5 months to have achieved the title. This beat Fischer's record by a month. Hungary, one of the strongest chess-playing countries, had all but one of the best players participate in that year's championship. Only Zoltan Ribli was missing. Going into the last round Polgar needed only a draw to achieve the GM title, but she won her game against GM Tibor Tolnai to win first place with 6 points in 9 games.

In 1992, she tied for second behind Anatoly Karpov at the Madrid International in Linares. She and Russian GM Vladimir Epishin finished with 5½–3½. In July 1992, she placed second in the Reshevsky Memorial in Manhattan finishing with 4 wins, 5 draws and no losses. In September 1992, Judit participated in a tournament held in Aruba in which a team of senior men's players competed against a team of top women players. The men's team consisted of Lev Polugaevsky, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Oscar Panno, Efim Geller, Borislav Ivkov and Vasily Smyslov. The women's team consisted of Judit and Zsuzsa Polgar, Pia Cramling, Maia Chiburdanidze, Ketevan Arakhamia and Alisa Galliamova. The Men won the tournament 39–33. The overall high scorer was Polugaevsky, 57 years old with Judit Polgar, 16, finishing second with 7½–4½.

Polgar then tied for first in the Hastings tournament held over New Years, 1992–93. Russian GM Evgeny Bareev, at the time ranked eighth in the world, led going into tournament's last round, but was crushed by Polgar in their individual game allowing her to share first. Immediately following the Hastings tournament, Polgar played an exhibition match in February against former World Champion, Boris Spassky. She won the match 5½–4½ and won the largest prize money to that point in her career of $110,000. Polgar also participated in the Melody Amber tournament in Monaco which featured a blindfold tournament of 12 grandmasters. Anand and Karpov finished first, Ljubojevic third, while Polgar finished in clear fourth with 6½ points from 11 rounds ahead other strong GMs such as Ivanchuk, Short, Korchnoi and her sister Susan.

In 1993, Judit Polgar became the first woman to ever qualify for a Men's Interzonal tournament. In March, she finished in a four-way tie for second place in the Budapest Zonal and then won the tiebreaking tournament. She then confirmed her status as one of the world's leading players, narrowly failing to qualify for the Candidates Tournaments at the rival FIDE and PCA Interzonal tournaments.

In the summer of 1993, Bobby Fischer stayed for a time in the Polgar 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 Polgar 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 Judit was arranged and announced to the press. However, problems ensued between Fischer and Laszlo Polgar 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, Polgar had the greatest success of her career to that point, when she won the Madrid International in Spain. Running away with the tournament, against a field which included Gata Kamsky, Evgeny Bareev, Valery Salov and Ivan Sokolov, she finished 7–2 and 1½ points ahead of the field. Her performance rating for the tournament was 2778 against an opposition rated at 2672.

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

In September 1995, Polgar finished third in a tournament in the Donner Memorial in Amsterdam, behind Jan Timman and Julio Granda Zuniga who tied for first. Scoring 7–4, finishing 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 26 year old, Jeroen Piket of the Netherlands, at the time one of the top players in Europe. Despite being closely matched in ratings, Polgar won the match 6–2.

In 1995, the Isle of Lewis chess club in Scotland attempted to arrange a game between Judit Polgar 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.[63] 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. Polgar won the double-round robin tournament of four GMs scoring 5 points in the 6 games and winning both her games against Short.

Kasparov touch-move controversy

At Linares, in 1994, she suffered a controversial defeat at the hands of then-world champion Garry Kasparov, the highest-rated chessplayer of all time. The tournament marked the first time the 17-year-old Polgar was invited to compete with the world's strongest players. After four games she had 2 points, which was a fair result considering she was rated third from last in the very strong tournament. In the fifth game against Kasparov, the World Champion changed his mind after making a losing move and then made another move instead.

According to chess rules, once a player has released a piece they cannot make a different move, so Kasparov should have been made to play his original move. However, Polgár did not challenge this because she says there were no witnesses and an arbiter was not around. She was also unaware at the time that the re-move was caught on tape by a television crew. The video tape showed Kasparov's fingers were free of the knight for six frames, which at 24 frames per second means 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.

At one point, Polgar reportedly confronted Kasparov in the hotel bar, saying to 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 Polgar recovered by the end of the tournament, she went into a slump over the next six rounds gaining only a half point. James Eade in Chess for Dummies commenting on the game wrote, "If even world champions break the rules, what hope do the rest of us have?"

Strongest ever

Judith Polgár is the strongest female chessplayer of all time.

The January 1996 FIDE ratings list was a landmark as Polgár's 2675 rating made her the number 10 ranked player in the world, the only woman ever to enter the world's Top Ten.

In August 1996, Polgar participated in a very strong 10–player tournament in Vienna. There was a three–way tie for first between Karpov, Topalov and Boris Gelfand and a three–way tie for fourth between Kramnik, Polgar and Peter Leko. In December 1996, Polgar played a match in São Paulo against Brazil's champion Gilbert Milos. The four games were played at 30 moves an hour with 30 minutes for the remainder of the game. Polgar won two, drew one and lost one and won $12,000 in prize money.

In February 1997, she played in the Linares "supertournament" which Kasparov won by edging out Kramnik. Polgar finished in clear fifth position in the 12-GM tournament, ahead of Anand, Ivanchuk, Gelfand and Shirov. Her result was considered exceptional considering the strength of the tournament, average 2701, and she was praised for her tactical skills in her game against Ivanchuk.

In April 1997, she played in the Dos Hermanas Chess tournament, a single-round robin category XIX event of 10 of the world's best players. She finished in sixth place with an even score of 4½–4½. In June 1997, she finished with an even score, 4½–4½, in the Madrid 10-player GM tournament won by Topalov. In July 1997, Polgar competed in the elite Dortmund International Tournament. She finished in fifth in the strong field of ten, ahead of players such as Anatoly Karpov.[96] In the tournament, she won playing with the black pieces against Veselin Topalov, at the time ranked fourth in the world. Topalov had the advantage until Polgar executed a deep positional sacrifice.

In October 1997, she tied for second in a double-round robin tournament of four grand masters in the VAM International Tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.

"There has long been a lively debate about who is the strongest player of all," wrote GM Robert Byrne in his New York Times column of Aug.26, 1997. "Prominent candidates are Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine or Emanuel Lasker. But there is no argument about the greatest female player: she is 21-year-old Judit Polgar."

In January 1998, she played in the category XVII event, the Hoogovens in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, in which 14 of the world's top grandmasters participated. She finished in the middle of the pack, tied for sixth-tenth position with Karpov, Topalov and Jeroen Piket and an even score of 6½ points in thirteen games. Polgar handed co-winner Vishwanathan Anand his only loss of the tournament.[99][100] In June 1998 in Budapest, Polgar played an eight game match of "action" chess, which is 30 minutes for the entire game, against Anatoly Karpov. She won the match 5–3 by winning two games with the remaining ending in draws. At the time Karpov was the FIDE World Champion.

In August 1998, Judit Polgar became the first woman to ever win the U.S. Open held at the Kona Surf Resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. She shared the tournament victory with GM Boris Gulko as each scored 8–1. Typical of her aggressive style was her victory against GM Georgi Kacheishvili in which she sacrificed her queen for the attack.

In October 1998, Polgar won the VAM four-grandmaster tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands by 1½ points over Jan Timman. In November 1998, Polgar played in the Wydra Memorial Rapid chess tournament in Israel. She tied for first with Viswanathan Anand as both scored 11½ out of the 14 games. Anand won the tournament in a tie-break game over Polgar.

In the two years since Polgar 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, Polgar participated in the four-player GM section of the VAM Chess tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. Jan Timman lead early in the tournament, but Polgar 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, Polgar 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. Judit 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, Polgar 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, Polgar, Khalifman, Karpov and Gilberto Milos were tied, but Polgar won her game over Braziliam GM Milos while Khalifman and Karpov played against each other in a draw. Polgar 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 Malmo, 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.[115] 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, Judit Polgar finished 10/13 for the second highest points total of any player in the Olympiad[116] and a rated performance level of 2772.

In August 2000, Judit Polgar married Hungarian veterinary surgeon Gusztáv Font.

In late February and early March 2001, Polgar played in the elite Linares double-round 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, Polgar, Karpov, Shirov, Grischuk and Leko all finished with 4½ for second and last position. However, Polgar 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 semi-finals 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 semi-final 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, Polgar 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, Judit Polgar 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 Polgar proceeded with a line which Kasparov has used himself. Polgar 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 Judit Polgar as a "circus puppet" and asserted that women chess players should stick to having children. Polgar called the game, "One of the most remarkable moments of my career." Polgar thus became one of 73 players who have beaten Kasparov. The game was historic as not only the first time in chess history a female player beat the world's #1 player in competitive play, it was the first time in any sport that the No.1 ranked male player has lost to the No.1 ranked female player.

In October and November 2002, Polgar alternated with Peter Leko 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 was considered key to Hungary's silver medal as the veteran of the team and provided fighting spirit. 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, Polgar 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, Polgar 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 Polgar'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. Polgar admitted to "enjoying herself" by the end of the game.

In April 2003, Polgar 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 Peter Leko.

In June 2003, Polgar 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, Polgar 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, Polgar won the 4–grandmaster Essent tournament in Hoogeveen, Netherlands. In one of her games against Karpov, he blundered, allowing Polgar to utilize a famous, ancient sacrifice first employed by Emanuel Lasker against Bauer in 1889.

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 number one ranked women's player again.

Polgár returned to chess at the prestigious Corus chess tournament on January 15, 2005. The tournament, which was now considered by some as the most important in Europe, was won by fellow Hungarian Peter Leko while Polgar 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.[147] 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. Polgar "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, Polgar pushed the eventual tournament winner and world champion to a seven hour marathon before succumbing.

She did not play at the 2006 Linares tournament because she was pregnant again. On July 6, 2006, she gave birth to a girl, Hanna.

Polgar participitated in the FIDE world blitz championship September 5–7, 2006 in Rishon Le Zion, Israel. Blitz chess is played with each player having only 5 minutes for all moves. The round-robin tournament of 16 of some of the strongest players in the world, concluded with Alexander Grischuk finally edging out Peter Svidler in a tie-break to win the tournament. Polgar finished tied for fifth/sixth place, winning $5,625 for the three-day tournament. Judit tied with Boris Gelfand with 9½ points and won her individual game against Viswanathan Anand, at the time the world's #2 player.

In October 2006, Polgár scored another excellent result: tied for first place in the Essent Chess Tournament, Hoogeveen, Holland. She scored 4½ out of 6 in a double round-robin tournament that included two wins against the world's top-rated player, Veselin Topalov. In December 2006, Polgar played a six-game match of blindfold rapid chess against former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov. Topalov won the match 3½–2½ with two wins to Polgar's one. Nearly 1,000 spectators attended the event.

In May–June 2007 she played in the Candidates Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007. She was eliminated in the first round, losing 3½-2½ to Evgeny Bareev. Some chess pundits said she was unprepared for the tournament and appeared affected by the fact that she'd played less chess in the last three years to concentrate on her two children. However, she was still credited with the most beautiful attack of the tournament in her fifth game victory.

In July 2007, Polgar played in the Biel Chess Festival which was won by 16-year-old Magnus Carlsen. Polgar finished the 9 round tournament at 5–4 in a four-way tie for third to sixth place. A highlight game for her was actually a draw. Polgar was playing an endgame of knight against knight and two connected passed pawns of Alexander Grischuk, but she was able to eliminate both pawns.

In October 2007, Polgar played in the Blindfold World Cup in Bilbao, Spain. Polgar finished in fourth place of the six players with three wins, four losses, and three draws. The tournament was won by Bu Xiangzhi of China, whose only loss was to Polgar.

In November 2007, she took part in Chess Champions League - Playing for a Better World in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain a tournament to raise funds for equipment for a Hospital in Mbuji-Mayi, Congo. Polgar finished tied for third in the strong six-player tournament and handed tournament winner Veselin Topalov his only loss.

In January 2008 she competed in the strong Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament, scoring a respectable 6/13 and tied 9–11 in the 14 player tournament. In November 2008, Polgar had a terrible result in The World Chess Blitz Championship in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan, finished last of the 16 players with only 2½ points. In November 2008, Polgár played the number 2 board for the Hungarian open ("men's") team in the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, finishing 3½/8.

In November 2009, Polgar participated in the FIDE World Cup at Khanty Mansisyk in Siberia. Polgar made it to the third round of the knockout tournament until she was eliminated by tournament winner Boris Gelfand. She handed Gelfand his only loss of the tournament.

In March 2010, Polgar played a four-game match against GM Gregory Kaidanov at Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was required that each game begin with the Sicilian Defense. The match was drawn with each player wining two games.

In April 2010, Polgar played an eight-game rapid chess match against Czech GM David Navara which was part of the ČEZ Chess Trophy 2010 festival of the Prague Chess Society. Despite being younger, 25 to Polgar's 33 years, and higher rated, 2708 to Polgar's 2682, Navara was crushed by Polgar who won the match 6-2.

Polgar participated in the rapid chess tournament of the Presidential Chess Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan from April 29 to May 1, 2010. She finished with one win, two losses and four draws, tied for fifth–sixth position in the eight-player round robin. The tournament finished with a three-way tie for first with the winner, Kramnik being decided by Elo over Mamedyarov and Kamsky.

In June 2010, it was reported Polgar is assisting GM Zoltán Almási in training for the Olympiad.

In September and October 2010, Polgar played 3rd board for the Hungarian Men's team in the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The team finished in fourth place losing the Bronze medal to Israel on tie-break. Playing more in 2010 than in recent years, Polgar finished fourth overall among Board three players with a 6/10 score. Highlight for the Hungarian Men's team was a 5th round victory over Russia I.

In November 2010, Polgar won the four-player rapid tournament which was held to celebrate the National University of Mexico's 100th anniversary. Polgar won a close opening match against Vassily Ivanchuk. She then crushed Veselin Topalov, a former world champion and ranked No. 1 in the world in 2009, 3½-½ to win the tournament.

Playing style

While having a solid understanding of positional play, Judit 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 as teenager, Polgar has been credited with contributing to the popularity of the opening variation King's Bishop's Gambit. Polgar prefers aggressive openings like the Sicilian, but she has also said her opening choices will also depend upon her trainer.

Jennifer Shahade, writer and two-time American women's chess champion, gave as one of the reasons women play more aggressive chess than men may be due to the influence of Polgar as a role model. Describing an individual encounter with Polgár, former US 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."

Judit Polgár has spoken of appreciating the psychological aspect of chess. She has stated preferring to learn an opponent's style so she can play intentionally against him rather than playing "objective" chess. In her 2002 victory over Kasparov, she deliberately chose a line Kasparov used against Vladimir Kramnik, employing the strategy of forcing the opponent to "play against himself". Kramnik's response was inadequate and he soon found himself in an inferior position. In an interview regarding playing against computers she said, "Chess is 30 to 40% psychology. You don't have this when you play a computer. I can't confuse it."

Chess professional

Polgar has said she does not have a permanent coach although she does have help, notably GM Lev Psakhis. Polgar 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.

"You have to be very selfish sometimes," said Polgar 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."

Concentrating on her two children left Polgar with little time to train and play competitively and her rating dropped from eighth in 2005 to the mid-50s in 2009. However, as of September 2010 Polgar remained the only woman in the top 100 and still the only woman to have ever made the top 10. 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!"

View Judit Polgár's Games

Posted: Sun 05 Dec 2010


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