Person of day - 23 JULY 2023
The Polgars are a celebrated chess family, with Susan, Judit and Sofia well-known in the chess world. They were raised by their mother Clara, a teacher born in Zakarpatye who graduated from Uzhgorod University. They were taught chess according to a unique system devised by their father, Laslo Polgar- a psychologist and pedagogue.
Susan became an international grandmaster among women, Sofia became an international master, but it was Judit who achieved the most. At the age of 14, she became world champion among both boys and girls and she became a grandmaster at 15 years, 4 months and 28 days. At that moment, she was the youngest grandmaster in chess history, overtaking Robert Fischer by a month. From the start of her career and at her father’s insistence, she played in exclusively male tournaments.
In this, she followed the steps of the first female world champion- Vera Menchik. But before Judit, no woman managed to achieve such results against men. From 1990 onwards, she has played against the leading grandmasters of the world as an equal.
In 1991, Judit became the champion of Hungary. Success at tournaments followed soon after, as she won male tournaments in Hastings in 1992, Madrid in 1994, Hoogoven in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and Jakarta in 2000. At a large tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 2003, she came second, behind Vishy Anand. Judit is a particularly dangerous opponent in rapid chess, having beaten both Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. In 2002, she played for Team World, which defeated the Russian team in Moscow.
Judit plays with an aggressive style, has a feel for decisive moments and never loses a chance to take the initiative. “She is a killer who feels checkmate 20 moves in advance”, said Nigel Short, an English grandmaster who has suffered regularly at Judit’s hands. Polgar has not only beaten multiple leading grandmasters, but also played in male world championships (both knockout and round-robin ones), as well as candidates’ tournaments and World Cups. Judit Polgar’s cumulative results have few analogies in history.
After she had two kids which prompted a short hiatus in her career, she returned and began to play very well once again, though not as often as her many fans wanted her to perform. At the 2014 Olympiad in Tromso, Judit Polgar won silver with the Hungarian men’s team. She announced her intention to quit soon after. This was her second medal at men’s Olympiads- her first was in 2002 in Bled. Furthermore, she has two Olympic golds, which she won with Hungary’s women’s team- in 1988 and 1990.
After finishing her career, Judit Polgar did not take long to find work- she was offered the job of captain for the Hungary’s men’s team. At the 2015 European team championship, the Hungarian team won bronze under her leadership.