Person of day   -  19 APRIL 2024



Susan (Zsuzsa) Polgar is a member of the famous Polgar family and she is the oldest of three sisters (Sofia and Judit are the two others). The family achieved fame in the 1980s. Zsuzsa learned to play chess at the age of 4 (one of her trainers was one of the world’s leading chess players in the 1950s, grandmaster László Szabó) and by 10, she was already a national women’s master. At 12, she won the U16 women’s world championship, after which she mainly performed at men’s tournaments. Her father, Laszlo Polgar, was a chess master who trained his daughters with an individual method that devoted significant attention to chess. He set them a target: win the right to play at men’s tournaments and achieve high results there.    

In 1984, Polgar won a tournament in Varna and became an international master. Two years later, in a Hungarian tournament that traditionally brought together strong players, she split 2nd-3rdplaces. She was also successful in men’s international tournaments in Copenhagen, where she split 5th-9thplaces among 46 competitors, and Bilbao, where she defeated Ljubomir Ljubojevic and shared 5th-6thplaces with Andrei Sokolov and in Starý Smokovec, where she came 2nd-3rd, as well as other competitions. In 1987, she played against French player O. Rene, but lost 2,5:3,5 in a close contest. 

In 1991, Zsuzsa Polgar became the third female chess player to become an international grandmaster, after Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze. From the beginning of the 1990s, Zsuzsa Polgar competed for the title of strongest female player on the planet. In 1994, she split 1st-2ndplaces with Maia Chiburdanidze at the candidates’ tournament and went on to defeat her in St Petersburg 5,5:1,5. In 1996, after defeating Xie Jun 8,5:4,5 she reached her goal, becoming the eighth female world champion in chess history. 

After this, Zsuzsa married and moved to the US, where more and more people called her Susan. Due to the birth of her child, she did not defend her title in 1999 and she quit performing soon after. Later on, Susan returned and demonstrated a respectable level of performance; but at the current moment, she is focused on teaching in the US, where she has opened a chess academy and fund. The eldest sister is well-known in America- she speaks several languages, including Esperanto, gives lectures, hosts seminars and writes for a popular chess blog.