KC-Conference with Judit Polgar


KC-Conference with Judit Polgar

KC-Conference with Judit Polgar for CrestBook

We’re now publishing the answers of Grandmaster Judit Polgar to the questions of chess fans posed as part of the “KC-Conference” project. This conference is the thirteenth in total since the start of the project, and the fourth with a truly international character: moreover, questions from members of the Russian KasparovChess forum and readers of the English Chess in Translation were supplemented by questions from the Spanish Ajedrez De Entrenamiento . The conference itself is being published on our site in both Russian and English, and will be published at Ajedrez De Entrenamiento in Spanish.
The material below opens with a detailed biography of Judit Polgar, followed by Sergey Shipov’s traditional essay and selected games with commentary by analysts from our site. In the main section readers will find the answers of the greatest female chess player of all time to the traditional KC-Conference questions on her personal view of chess and its prospects, her career, her chess-playing colleagues, chess politics, and chess books and journalism. Also of great interest are Judit’s thoughts on the problems of improving as a chess player, particularly at a young age, which include a description of the different aspects of the unique family system in which the Polgar sisters grew up. A separate section is devoted to Judit’s thoughts on the place of women in the fierce world of male chess. She also answers questions on her tastes and preferences in various fields of life. Finally, we’re publishing unique photographs from the private archive of this wonderful chess player.
“Prize giving ceremony in Madrid, 1994 when I won my first Category 16 tournament!”

Short Biographical Sketch

Judit Polgar was born on the 23rd July 1976 in Budapest. Unquestionably the strongest female chess player in history, she’s achieved outstanding success in men’s competitions. She can claim wins against World Champions Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand and FIDE World Champions Alexander Khalifman, Ruslan Ponomariov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov, as well as against many other leading grandmasters. She’s been awarded seven Chess Oscars, and been named “Women’s Chess Player of the 20th Century”. She lives with her husband Gusztav Font (a veterinary surgeon) and two children, Oliver and Hanna.
The Hungarian chess player became a men’s international master in 1988 and a men’s grandmaster in 1992. Her current Elo rating is 2710 (32nd in the world). Her highest rating is 2735 (July and October 2005, 8th in the world). She’s headed the female rating list since 1989.
Judit and her sisters Susan and Sofia were brought up according to a unique system worked out by their father, Laszlo, and mother, Klara, who were both teachers. The sisters didn’t go to school but were instead educated at home. As well as their general studies they worked on chess, with the older sisters also becoming strong chess players. Grandmaster Susan Polgar achieved outstanding results, and after winning a match against the Chinese player Xie Jun in 1995 she became the 8th Women’s World Champion. She now lives in the USA. Sofia Polgar is an international master and lives in Israel.
The greatest success, however, was achieved by the youngest sister – Judit. Her talent was soon evident – at six years of age she started to play in tournaments and by nine the Hungarian Chess Federation had established her rating at 2080. At seven Judit played blindfold games against masters, while at 11 she beat Grandmaster Vladimir Kovacevich in a tournament game. Judit won her first international tournament when she was nine, and at 12 and 14 she won the Boy’s World Championships in those age groups. She claimed her first prize of $1000 when she was nine, winning one of the tournaments of the New York Open.
In the Women’s Chess Olympiads of 1988 and 1990 she became an Olympic Champion as part of the Hungarian team (together with her sisters Susan and Sofia, and also Ildiko Madl), posting the best individual results (in 1988 on board two she conceded her opponents only half a point in 13 games!). After the second Olympiad win (aged 14!) Judit began to play exclusively in men’s tournaments. That decision looked natural, as already as a 12-year-old Judit had achieved a rating of 2555, which was 35 points higher than the rating of the then Women’s World Champion, Maia Chiburdanidze.
Judit was awarded the title of (men’s!) international grandmaster in 1992 at the age of 15 four months and 28 days, becoming the youngest grandmaster in the world at that point, and surpassing Bobby Fischer’s achievement by a month. In January 1996 Judit’s rating reached 2675 and she entered the World Top 10 for the first time.
She’s taken part in the official men’s World Championship qualifying cycle on a number of occasions. Back in 1993 she became the first female chess player to qualify to take part in an interzonal tournament. In the 1999 FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas she reached the quarterfinals, where she lost to the future winner, Alexander Khalifman. In 2005 she took part in the “tournament of eight” in San Luis (Argentina), finishing eighth. She narrowly lost a 6-game Candidates Match to Evgeny Bareev in Elista in 2007. At the 2009 FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk Polgar lost on tie-breaks in the third round to the future winner, Gelfand (inflicting the only defeat he suffered in the whole tournament). She finished 4th at the 2001 European Championship in Ohrid.
Polgar has won or finished among the prizes in a great number of international tournaments, including those at the highest level. Her most notable successes are winning:
the Hungarian Championship (1991), Hastings (1992), Madrid (1994 – with a 2778 performance, 1.5 points ahead of Kamsky, Bareev and Salov), Leon, Spain (1996), the US Open (1998), the Hoogeveen tournament (1998, 2001 and 2003), Bali, Indonesia (2000 – ahead of the then reigning FIDE World Champion Khalifman and his predecessor Karpov), Malmo (2000).
Among her significant successes are: the OHRA Open in Amsterdam (1989, sharing 3rd place with Gelfand), the Madrid International in Linares (1992, sharing 2nd place behind Karpov), the Reshevsky Memorial in Manhattan (1992, 2nd place), the Donner Memorial in Amsterdam (1995, 3rd place ahead of Seirawan, Khalifman, Morozevich, Salov and Shirov), Vienna (1996, sharing 3rd place with Kramnik and Leko behind Karpov, Topalov and Gelfand), Linares (1997, 5th place ahead of Ivanchuk, Short, Gelfand and Shirov – Kasparov was the winner), Dortmund (1997, 5th place ahead of the then FIDE World Champion Karpov), Wijk-aan-Zee (1998, sharing 6th place and winning a game against the overall winner Anand), Merida (2000, 2nd place behind Shirov), Linares (2001, sharing 2-6th places behind Kasparov, against whom she drew both her games).
Judit’s greatest achievement might be considered to be her second place at the Wijk aan Zee tournament in 2003 (8/13, with no losses). Only Anand finished half a point ahead of her, while a point or more behind were Kramnik, Topalov, Karpov, Ponomariov, Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Shirov and Radjabov.
On her return to chess after an extended break connected to the birth of her son Oliver, Judit played in the super-tournaments in Wijk aan Zee (2005, shared 4th place with Kramnik, Adams and Grischuk – Leko was the winner) and in Sofia (2005, shared 3rd place with Ponomariov, behind Topalov and Anand but ahead of Kramnik and Adams). After another break from chess activity due to the birth of her daughter Hanna Judit successfully appeared at the small but prestigious Essent tournament in Hoogeveen (2006, shared 1st place with Mamedyarov, winning both games against the then leader of the world rating list, Topalov), and then in Biel (2007, shared 3rd place, Carlsen was the winner). In a 6-player tournament in Vitoria, Spain, Judit shared 3rd place behind Topalov and Ponomariov and ahead of Kasimdzhanov and Karpov. Her last appearance to date at Wijk aan Zee was in 2008, when she finished in 9th place with a 50% score.
Judit has frequently represented Hungary at team events. The greatest success came in the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, when the Hungarian team won silver medals (Judit had the 3rd best result on the 2nd board, after also playing a few games on the 1st). In 1999 the Hungarian team finished 2nd at the European Team Chess Championship (Judit had the best individual result on the 2nd board). At the 2000 Olympiad the Hungarian team finished without medals, but Polgar had the best performance on the 2nd board (2772). Great interest was aroused by Judit’s rapid chess victory over Garry Kasparov in the Russia – Rest of the World match that took place in Moscow in 2002, as it was the first time in history (and not only in chess but also in other sports) that the highest rated man had lost to the highest rated woman.
She’s played in a number of high profile exhibition matches. In 1993 she won a match against former World Champion Boris Spassky 5.5:4.5. In 1995 she defeated Dutch grandmaster Jeroen Piket 6:2. In 1996 she won a match against Junior – the computer World Champion at that time. A rapid chess match in 1998 against Anatoly Karpov, who was then the official FIDE World Champion, ended with Judit winning 5:3. Another rapid chess match against Viswanathan Anand in Mainz in 2003 was a fierce struggle without a single draw and finished with Judit losing 3:5.
Judit has always taken an interest in non-classical forms of chess. She’s played a few times in the Amber Tournament in Monaco (her best result was 5th place in 1993). In 1998 she shared 1st place with Anand at the prestigious Wydra Memorial (rapid chess) in Israel. In 2007 Polgar finished 4th at the Blindfold World Cup (6 chess players took part and the winner was Bu Xiangzhi, who Judit beat). In the 2001 Rapid Chess World Cup in Cannes, France, Judit reached the semi-final, where she lost to Bareev (who lost to Kasparov in the final). In the Blitz World Championship in Israel (2006) she shared 5th place with Gelfand (the winner was Svidler).
After that period of moderate chess activity related to the birth and taking care of her two small children, 2010 marked the fully-fledged return of Judit Polgar to contemporary chess. Among her greatest successes were: winning a rapid chess exhibition tournament in Mexico (2010, winning matches against Ivanchuk and Topalov), a crushing victory in a rapid chess match against David Navara (Prague, 2010) with a score of 6:2, sharing 1st-4th (3rd on tiebreakers – there were 167 grandmasters in the tournament) at the 2011 European Championship in Aix-les-Bains, France and, finally, getting into the quarterfinals of the FIDE World Cup 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk, where after defeating such well-known grandmasters as Movsesian, the tournament’s rating favourite Karjakin and Dominguez, Judit, in what’s already become a tradition, lost to the tournament’s future winner, Svidler. The numerous fans of this wonderful chess player admire her combative and creative style of play, and don’t doubt there’s still a lot more to come.
Books and documentaries have been produced about Judit Polgar, while she recently published her own book aimed at children (with illustrations by her sister Sofia), called “Chess Playground”.
“Together with my lovely sister Sofia sightseeing in New York, 1992”

Sergey Shipov on Judit Polgar

Judit Polgar is the greatest female chess player of all time. She’s never been, and is unlikely ever to become, the Women’s World Champion, as that’s a goal that makes no sense. The Hungarian queen is so superior to all other women (including her sister Susan Polgar), that you can only talk about her in the context of men’s chess.
Judit has spent her whole career only playing against men and I see that as one of the reasons for her rise. The stronger your opponents, the greater the demands, and the more you have to push yourself to achieve your goal. But that factor is only third in order of importance. What comes first is still the colossal natural talent of the youngest Polgar. Her extraordinary abilities. As they say, it’s God given – and that’s that!
The second reason for her success is the unique family in which Judit grew up. The atmosphere of chess fanaticism created by Laszlo Polgar, the head of the family, and his older daughters, was the fertile soil on which the divine seed fell. The talented child had no doubt why she’d come into the world. From childhood onwards she studied with the best coaches, worked a lot and devoted herself entirely to her goal – which is why she became great.
If you created such conditions for the youngest child in millions of multiple-children families it’s by no means certain that even a single one of them would grow into a chess player… never mind a chess player of Judit Polgar’s level. She’s a phenomenon. Unique.
Judit Polgar’s mission on Earth has, by and large, already been completed – she’s successfully destroyed the remnants of male chauvinism. She’s proved that women are capable of competing with men at the very highest level. All the preconceived notions about the fundamental superiority of the stronger sex above the weaker in chess, and about an upper limit for women, have turned out to be wrong.
I’ve commented on many of Polgar’s games and I’ve never found myself bored. She always plays with great invention and is capable of seeing hidden resources in positions and posing her opponents unexpected problems.
Judit’s natural style is dynamic – she plays for complications and is always ready to sacrifice for the initiative. Her attacking potential is great and multi-faceted. However, her long stay among the elite has forced the warlike Amazon to moderate her fervour and master all the means of combat, including stubborn defence, patience and taking the psychology of her opponents into account. Of course, Polgar never became a technician on Kramnik’s level, but she was still able to grow into a player almost devoid of weaknesses. Except, perhaps, that her sense of danger isn’t at the elite level. Sometimes she gets carried away with activity, though that recklessness merely adds to the number of her fans. Bold play, shooting from the hip – what could be more beautiful in chess?
I’m endlessly amazed by the fact that getting married and giving birth to children hasn’t led to a serious lowering of Judit Polgar’s level of chess. Who could have imagined that family matters and an entirely natural lack of time and energy for preparation wouldn’t be reflected in her results? But that’s how it is.
I was there in person to see our Madonna play at the 2011 European Championship in Aix-les-Bains and also at the 2011 World Cup in Khanty-Mansisyk. It was simply incredible! Judit demonstrated colossal drive, a will to win and high class chess. Just as in her best years… though it’s still not certain which years will be considered her best.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict how Judit the grandmother will play chess. I hope many of us will live to see and appreciate that.
One way or another, after centuries have passed all of us will be registered in small print in the Great Book of Life as contemporaries of the great Polgar.
“Receiving honorary citizenship of Buenos Aires in 1994”

Selected games

Polgar – Bareev (Hastings, 1992/93) – commentary in Russian (Alexander Shershkov).
Polgar - Anand (Wijk aan Zee 1998) – commentary in English (Khalifman, Baburin).
Polgar – Anand (Dos Hermanas 1999) – commentary in Russian (Vasily Lebedev).
Polgar – Smirin (Istanbul 2000) – commentary in Russian (Alexander Shershkov).
Polgar – Fressinet (Istanbul 2000) – commentary in Russian (Andrei Terekhov).
Motylev – Polgar (Chalkidiki 2002) – commentary in Russian (Alexander Shershkov).
Polgar – Kramnik (Wijk aan Zee 2003) - commentary in English (Rogozenko).
Polgar – Svidler (Wijk aan Zee 2005) – commentary in Russian (Roman Viliavin)
Polgar – Kasimzhanov (San Luis, 2005) – commentary in Russian (Sergey Shipov).
Polgar – Bareev (Elista, m/5 2007) – commentary in Russian (Vasily Lebedev).
Gelfand – Polgar (Wijk aan Zee 2008) – commentary in Russian (Vasily Lebedev).
Polgar – Topalov (Dos Hermanas 2008) – commentary in Russian (Vasily Lebedev).
Polgar – Gelfand (Khanty-Mansiysk, m/2 2009) – commentary in Russian ( Valery Aveskulov).
Pantsulaia – Polgar (Aix les Bains, 2011) commentary in Russian (Sergey Shipov).
“A wonderful memory from Kona, Hawaii, where I won the US Open in 1998”

1. Chess

- Why do people play chess?
Because it’s a great game! :)
- Do you think chess is exhaustible?
No, chess is too complicated.
- What is modern chess ultimately – sport, science, art or something else?
In the last decade it’s become more and more sport.
Johan Kocur:
- What’s your opinion about the future of chess? Chess has entered the computer era during the last few decades, which has had a profound influence on over the board creativity. Personally I like the idea of Fischer Random or Chess960. It doesn’t seem to be making a breakthrough, though. (CiT)
I think chess has become very different in recent years with so much information and having 6 million games in the database along with different analysis engines. It’s really made chess very complicated. Actually, I think that lately the games have become much more interesting than let's say 5 years ago. A lot of them are really complicated and sharp! Really entertaining for the audience!
To be honest, I never was a big fan of Fischer-Random.
Jose Luis Sobrero:
- Do you think that the progress of programs such as Rybka, Houdini, Fritz, Robolito and others will bring an end to classical chess or, on the contrary, strengthen it? Do you envision any alternative to this, such as changing the initial position of the pieces? (AdE)
I prefer to have the chess I’ve been playing for 30 years :) It’s still interesting for me so I’m not looking to make any changes like that.
Yuan Eu Liao:
Dear Judit, First of all, I’d like to say that I saw you score 12½ out of 13 in Thessaloniki 1988. Even if you were only 12 at that moment and I was in my twenties, back then it was almost impossible not to fall in love with you! Seriously now, I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since.
- Are you optimistic about the future of chess? (CiT)
I’m generally an optimistic person, so yes, I think chess has a future! Us chess players have to think in bigger dimensions. What chess also desperately needs is a great PR team, because chess is everywhere, in films, advertising, education and art in every culture!
David Ganymar:
- What are your hopes for the game of chess in the long term? Do you like the idea of non-classical games like Fischer Random, and reduced-time chess? (CiT)
I like all the time controls – blitz, rapid and classical. Each time control has its weaknesses and from the sporting point of view it’s interesting to play with different time controls. On the other hand, I’d very much like to see us only have one type of time setting for blitz, rapid or classical, because it’s very difficult to play each tournament with a different increment and control. It can make a big difference!
- Your chess is monumental, and I respect you for doing it. Are there any other things that you think are like chess in that regard? (CiT) 
I’m happy that you like my chess! Chess is a very complete, well thought-out game, which is why people have been playing it since ancient times.
Juan Carlos:
I'm from Mexico and I send you cordial greetings. I wish you peace and good health.
- Do you think
everyone should play chess? Or is it just for some people? (AdE)
Thanks. When I played and won the tournament in Mexico City in 2010 it was an amazing experience. People really do love chess in your country!
I think it would be great if chess could get into schools and most children would have the opportunity to get to know the game at least a little, but of course being a professional isn’t for everyone.
- What can chess be compared to, and why? :)
Life. In chess I use psychology, logical thinking, preparation and such important skills as dealing with losing and winning and overcoming my own mistakes. It requires creativity, critical thinking and much more.
Adin Garrido:
- I’m a chess amateur from Colombia, or more precisely from the world capital of Vallenato... In a world dominated by men... there are rare cases of women, but very important women, who have made an impact on the history of man, including: Cleopatra, the last queen of the ancient Egypt of the Ptolemaic dynasty... Joan of Arc was a heroine, a warrior and a French saint... Marie Curie, a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize... Mother Teresa of Calcutta for her service to others ... and of course YOU, as a Sportswoman, Artist and Scientist in the universe of the 64 squares...
What do you like most in the chess universe? (AdE)
First of all, thanks very much for your nice words!
In chess the most unbelievable thing for me is that it’s a game for everybody: rich, poor, girl, boy, old, young. It’s a fantastic game which can unite people and generations!
It’s a language which you’ll find people "speak" in every country. If you reach a certain level you find a very rich world! Art, sport, logic, psychology, a battlefield, imagination, creativity not only in practical games but don’t forget either how amazing a feeling it is to compose a study, for example (unfortunately that’s not appreciated these days but it’s a fantastic part of chess!).
- How do you rate the intellectual level of modern chess professionals?
You simply can’t generalise about it, but one thing for sure is that we’re ready to learn from our mistakes, which is very important.
- Is it true that chess develops the intellect?
Chess improves thinking skills because the game itself is very complex.
Washington Luiz dos Santos:
- I would like to know if you, or any other chess player you know, links the chess aptitudes (thinking, planning, absolute patience and the pursuit of victory) to another part of their lives on the rest days. For me, they match perfectly with videogames, where the instincts of chess blitz suit so well… (CiT)
The way I grew up chess has been the main part of my life. I use my chess thinking when I do other things in life. I use my logical thinking maybe more often than I should, because life isn’t logical :)
I use my calculation skills and creativity when I’m cooking or playing with my kids. It taught me to deal with victories and defeats! I don’t play computer games :)
“Giving a simul in Central Park, New York, 1992”

2. Career

-When did you realise that chess was your destiny? Or did you simply have no choice? :)
I was 5 years old when I started to play chess. It was kind of natural because my older sisters, Susan and Sofia, were already playing, so a small sis always wants to do what the bigger ones like :)
I became very successful at a very young age and when at 12 I won the gold medal in the Olympiad it was practically obvious that chess would be the road for me!
Carlos Pujol:
I was rooting for you at the World Cup; I felt guilty when my fellow countryman Leinier Dominguez lost to you :( - Can you recall the point of no return, when you decided that you really wanted to dedicate your life to chess? (AdE)
When I realised that different people have different jobs and people asked me what I would be when I grew up. It wasn’t a question any more by the time I was in the top 50 in the world and number 1 on the women’s rankings.
- Just a simple question: what motivates you to play chess? Thank you. (CiT)
I believe motivation is one of the most important things one has to have after playing for many years. After all, I love the game and can play for enjoyment. When this year I tied for first in France at the European Championship after playing some of the greatest games of my life against Pantsulaia and Iordachescu it was a fantastic feeling again. The motivating force is playing well :)
Andrea Martin:
- I wonder what motivates you before and after a game, and what inspires you to continue playing chess? (AdE)
Before a game I have to be prepared and it’s interesting to discover the opponent’s weaknesses. It’s a challenge to get the opening preparation the way I want it. After the game a lot depends on the result and the quality of the game. After my game against Pantsulaia from the EU 2011, for example, I was walking on air. :) So the motivation is that I can play games like that which give a lot of joy not only to my fans but also to myself!
Good luck. I wish you well and hope you get into the top 10 big time! You deserve to be there and you'll make it if you put your mind to it :) I LOVE YOU!! - How do you manage to withstand the pressure during games and also motivate yourself to win? (AdE)
If you do your "homework" well you can be sure you’ll feel more relaxed. Make sure you have a walk or rest before the game because the most important thing is to be focused during the game itself! If you get tired by preparation you won’t have enough energy left for the whole game, and we all know that a single blunder can ruin all the work done beforehand!
Adin Garrido:
- If you were asked to choose the best game of your life, which would you choose and why? (AdE)
I’m very proud that I’ve played lots of nice games, some of which were great, but if I have to pick then the one against Anand in 1999 in Dos Hermanas. It was a Najdorf Sicilian and I sacrificed two pieces and kept the initiative for the whole game. I was proud of the move

28.b3 paralysing any black counterplay. It doesn’t happen often that I can win in that style against a World Champion!
- Which move do you consider the very best you’ve ever made in your career?
That I became a chess player :).
- Which combination gave you the most satisfaction?
Shirov-Polgar, Buenos Aires 1994, in the Sicilian theme tournament. It was really amazing :)
- The best novelty you’ve played and refuted?
One of my best novelties was in the game Polgar - Berkes, Budapest 2003. The g4 move was always "my move" :)

14. g4
- Did you ever feel yourself to be a chess playing genius during a game? : )
In some of the games mentioned I felt cool :)
Carlos Pujol:
- Could you tell us what you consider your best attacking game? (AdE)
One of the best was Chernin - Polgar, New Delhi 1990.
You’re widely acknowledged as a master of combinational middlegames.
- But which “positional” game do you consider your best?
For example, Polgar - Anand, Wijk aan Zee 1998
- Which of your endgames would you single out?
One of the latest endgames I won: Polgar - Guseinov, Aix les Bains 2011 European Championship.
Martin Rodriguez:
- Which is the most brutal game you’ve ever played? (AdE)
One of my toughest games was Polgar-Kramnik, Wijk aan Zee 2003. It was long and tiring and I saved an endgame against one of the best players in the world!
- Which was your worst move? (AdE)
I like to forget the bad things and focus on the good! :)
Carlos Pujol:
- Your worst game ever? (AdE)
Even if I have one I don't want to remember it :)
Yuan Eu Liao:
- What aspects of your play do you think you should try to improve? (CiT)
There’s always a need to improve in every part of the game. The opening was never my strong suit.
Chess Fan:
- Did you ever want to trade your attacking style of chess for something more positional and strategic like that of Karpov or Kramnik? (CiT)
I appreciate the way Karpov and Kramnik play but never wanted to trade – not that we could :)  Actually Kramnik has been playing pretty sharp and entertaining chess lately!
Soviet School:
- What is your favourite time control?
Blitz is always fun! Otherwise all of them are ok, but all classical tournaments should be played at the same control. Just don’t change it in every tournament.
Armando Scharlau Pereira:
- On time controls: which do you think is closest to ideal, considering the respective forms (blitz, rapid and classical)? (AdE)
There’s no ideal.
- Which tournament do you currently consider your very greatest sporting achievement in chess?
The 2011 World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk.
You’ve played a lot of matches.
- Which was the most memorable and why?
I played against Spassky in 1993 in my home town of Budapest and won the match 5.5-4.5.
It was a great feeling to play the champion shortly after he’d had his re-match against Fischer.
The games were very interesting and full of tension, and each day we had about 1000 people in the ballroom of the hotel where the match took place. A fantastic atmosphere!
- How do you rate your performance at the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk?
I’m extremely happy with it, as it was one of my best ever results! What a fight against Dominguez! It was also memorable for me from a sporting point of view!
Jonathan Ramirez:
- We all know that at the time you gave birth to your baby you stopped playing tournaments and when you came back you found you weren’t as good at first, but then you rapidly rebounded and today we have the pleasure of seeing you again above 2700 Elo. Was it difficult for you to accept that you were in bad shape after the time you'd spent as a mother, and that you returned without the results you expect? (AdE)
It was very difficult to accept that I had worse results than before but what was much more painful was that I was playing horribly for a certain period of time. I had to find the balance in my life again – how to train and get back the motivation and ambition for chess. It’s very hard to accept for a top sports person that you fall beneath your level. But I know that in my life family is top of my list of priorities, and because chess gives me happiness and pleasure I’m still ready to compete!
- Despite starting with some low points, was it easy to rebound and get back to 2700 Elo? (AdE)
No. I had to realise that organisers and chess players kind of saw that my time had past, which was really annoying, but..... :) I was ready to start again and climb back :)
Jim Cheyne:
- You first topped 2700 on the FIDE list in January 2003, and then you did it again in September 2011. Was one of those milestones more pleasing for you than the other? If so, which one, and why? (CiT)
The first time is always more special, but this time also gave me a lot of pleasure!
Adin Garrido:
- Are you interested in being among the current top 10 players? If so, what are you doing to achieve that, and if not, why not? (AdE)
Of course I’d love to be, but for that I’d need to work on my chess much harder and for longer hours, also going to more tournaments. I’ve been doing many other chess-related activities lately, including working on a chess book.
Jason C.:
- Do you believe you can still rise to your highest potential, i.e. surpass your previous #8 ranking and/or rise above your previous record 2735 rating? (CiT)
In ratings yes, I can go higher.
Chess Fan:
- Do you have any future goals like breaking a 2750 Elo rating or any other unfulfilled chess desire? (CiT)
My main desire is to play good games which I can remember for a long time!
Angelo Piantadosi:
- As your absolute fan, can I hope that you’ll always keep fighting to conquer the World Championship title? It’s hard, I know, but I believe you can do it. At least you’re the only woman who can achieve that.(CiT)
Thank you very much for the supportive words!
- Did you ever think that the title of World Champion was within your reach? If so, what prevented you from getting there? (CiT)
I was never that close, but I did play the best and in one game I could beat anybody!
- You’ve played in World Championships and Candidates Matches, but never made it to the very top. Is your goal still to gain the World Championship title?
Dreaming :)
- You’re a good blitz player. Have you ever played on the internet?
Yes I have, but I prefer playing in real life!
- Which game has made the greatest impression on you in the last year?
One that comes to mind is Jobava-Potkin, Aix les Bains, which was a brilliant game. Nowadays there are lots of interesting games!
- Where did you most enjoy playing? Where would you like to return to?
Mexico was amazing in 2010. The enthusiasm in Latin America is unbelievable! I’m always happy to play in Spain and in Buenos Aires!
Verny Alvarado (CRC):
- How many times have you played and won the senior championship in Hungary? (AdE)
I played once and won in 1991. All the top players were competing and with that victory I broke Fischer's record and became the youngest grandmaster ever at that time!
sundararajan ganesan:
- Why don’t you visit India and play in the grandmaster tournaments organised here (your previous and only visit so far was to New Delhi, perhaps a decade ago!)?
If I got an invitation for an interesting event I’d consider it for sure. Actually, it’s already been two decades since I played in New Delhi :)
- Who helped you to achieve such success over the course of your career?
Firstly, my parents and sisters. I also had trainers and it was a long and continuous road to achieve the results I did.
Jason S:
- Do you have a current chess coach or do you prepare yourself? Who is your second during tournament play? (CiT)
I have training partners, and I’ve also worked with Almasi for many years. My husband usually accompanies me to tournaments.
- Do you have a manager, permanent coaches and seconds?
No manager. Training partners, yes.
- Are you satisfied with the number and quality of your tournament invitations?
Invitations are always welcome :).
- How established are your plans for future appearances?
- Do you plan on playing in any more tournaments this year or next? (CiT)
Daniel Silva:
- Greetings and hopefully you’ll tell us your plans and/or future projects. (AdE)
I’ll play in Gibraltar later this month. I’m working on a chess book which should be published this year. I’m also promoting the Chess in Schools program in the European Union.
- What tournaments do you plan to participate in next year? I'm from Colombia and hopefully one day you’ll come to give us a simul; I’d love to play you. (AdE)
I'd be happy to visit Columbia again!
- I just want to know whether you ever wanted to quit the game? Why? (AdE)
Adin Garrido:
- Have you been dejected at some point in your career? (AdE)
- Could you say whether you’ve ever wanted to give up chess?
Of course I’ve had periods when I’ve been very upset by my play, but to quit completely – no!
- Or if you’ve ever wished you’d never heard of the game?
“Analysing with World Champion Boris Spassky during the match played in Budapest in 1993 (I won!)”

3. Chess players.

-Have you ever had the feeling during a game that you were playing against a genius?
On the first few occasions I played Kasparov. He has an incredible energy and you do feel kind of paralysed :) But later that disappeared and I could fight back!
- Who is your favorite chess player of all time? (AdE)
- Your favourite chess player?
There are many players I like and even players who aren’t the best sometimes play amazing ideas and games!
Yuan Eu Liao:
- Which strong chess player in history do you admire most: (a) as a player, and (b) as an overall person? (CiT)
As a chess player, Kasparov, and as a person, Lilienthal. He was always very optimistic and friendly, simply an extremely positive person. Everybody loved him!
- Who has been the best in history in your view? (CiT)
I have respect for all the champs and the good old players as well!
Jose Sarmiento:
- Who do you consider the best player the world has ever seen? (AdE)
At different times different players.
Jose Luis Sobrero:
- If you were to rank the ten best players in history, who would they be and in what order? (AdE)
- Who in your opinion was the best male world chess champion? (AdE)
- The three chess players you consider the strongest ever?
Generally I don’t really like picking a few people from history, but if I have to, then:
Fischer, Kasparov and Karpov.
- The three most talented players ever?
I’ll name one – Tal.
- And can you name those to whom you could apply the term “genius”?
Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Anand.
- Which world champion’s games do you consider closest to your own?
- Which of the great dead players would you like to play?
I like to play against people who are alive :)
- How would blitz matches between Judit Polgar and Jose Raul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine finish if those players were in top form? Please be frank and honest.
No idea.
Daniel Silva:
- If today you were given the opportunity to play any player you wanted, whether past or present, who would you want to play, and why? (AdE)
Fischer in his best times!
Redmar Damsma:
- When you were young, was there any player whose games you would study in particular? (CiT)
I’ve studied most of the champs, but Keres’ 100 Best Games had a big influence on me. I was 9 when I first studied it.
- Was there any player whose style you wanted to adopt/imitate? (CiT)
Kasparov had great King’s Indians!
- Which past players would you say have most influenced your style and still inspire you? (AdE)
I can’t pick one, and these days I can be amazed not only by tactics, but also by positional ideas.
- If I’m not mistaken you were acquainted with Fischer. Could you say something about him? Thank you.
When I met him in 1993 it was amazing to meet him in person. Unfortunately that meant I could see his paranoia and I had real pity for him :( I still appreciate his chess!
Soviet School:
- What was your experience of Bobby Fischer when he was with your family? (CiT)
Greg Capace:
- When Bobby Fischer visited you and your family in Hungary, did you or any of your sisters play any kind of chess with him? (Fischer Random or regular chess) What were the results?
Also, I loved the documentary “My Brilliant Brain” on your sister! Thanks! (CiT)
He was always busy explaining the prearranged games, which he was convinced about. I had a chance to play him only once at Fischer Chess when we were in pairs. In principle he didn’t want to play against me at all because at the time there was talk about possibly having a match between the two of us. He wanted to keep it so we’d be able to say that it was our first encounter!...
- What’s your opinion on Levon Aronian?
A very talented, bright and clever guy!
suman chatterjee:
- I want to know, in your opinion who is the most attacking player you have ever met? (CiT)
- Please tell me your view about the Indian GM Vishy Anand. (CiT)
A fantastic chess player. What a talent! He chooses openings in a very clever way and uses his energy very professionally. I like that he wants to show on the board that he’s the best....
Jay-R G. Cabbab:
- Madam Judit, who do you consider to be the strongest player among active grandmasters?  (CiT)
Carlsen, if I have to pick only one.
- A win against who is most important for you?
Carlsen :)!
- You’ve more than once met Magnus Carlsen at the board. What impression did you get of him as a chess player? Where does his strength lie?
I had the feeling that he plays chess in a very calm way. He has lots of self confidence and patience and is a huge talent. In some very simple and roughly equal positions he can win easily! At least that’s how it seems after the game.
Jose Luis Sobrero:
- What’s your opinion on the episode in Linares 1994 when you faced Kasparov, and the video shows that he let go of a piece and then ended up moving it to another square? (AdE)
Carlos Pujol:
- Do you think chess players can do something at the board they’ll never do in real life? (thinking about Kasparov’s Nd7-c5-f8) (AdE)
It was a real pity that it happened.To explain the whole story would take up too many lines.
- It seems that in a game against you Kasparov took back a move. Looking back many years later on that sensational and never publicly clarified episode what do you now feel?
I like to live for today and tomorrow. I don’t like to chew over things I can’t change.
- What do you think about Anand's performance in comparison to the other big players like Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Levon Aronian. I wonder what you think about their styles, and if you think their level is superior to that of Anand, or is it just a streak? (AdE)
You have to understand that Anand is over 40 so the main challenge he has is himself – whether he can find the motivation and sense of challenge to keep on fighting for the crown. Carlsen is extremely good in tournament chess but I’m not so sure about matches. He also doesn’t have too much experience in match play. With Aronian you never know. In the next few years he’ll still have chances of fighting for the crown. Nepomniachtchi is extremely talented but he needs to gain a lot of experience and be very focused on his goals to challenge the players mentioned above.
- What do you think about Kasparov coaching Nakamura, and how specifically might Nakamura benefit from a coach of that caliber? For example, Carlsen mentioned that Kasparov taught him how he should study chess. (AdE)
To work with such a historic player as Kasparov is something special. Even if he didn’t show concrete lines in preparation it would give the player’s self-confidence a boost. Sometimes only one small idea or sentence from Kasparov might give a lot!
Besides, his opponents might also get a little confused psychologically.
Jose Sarmiento:
Who do you consider: - The best Latin American player? (AdE)
I played the top players some years ago, Granda who’s still number 1 in Peru, Morovich from Chile, Milos from Brazil. There are youngsters coming through like Jorge Cori from Peru.
- Among today's grandmasters who seem to you to be the most talented and strongest, regardless of Elo rating? (AdE)
- Which contemporary grandmasters (for example, among the participants of the latest Tal Memorial) do you sympathise with most?
- Which young Russian players (up to 25 years old) do you think stand out? Which of them could in future compete for the World Championship?
Karjakin, but to be a champion you need many things to be there at the same time.
- Have the current young talents (Carlsen, Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, Giri, Caruana, someone else?) brought something fundamentally new to chess or do they, as has always been the case, simply play chess well?
The new generation grew up on technology, databases and analysis engines. They just see chess from a different perspective and focus much more on the sporting side of chess and being real professionals.
Bill Breidenthal:
Hungary has produced many great players in the past - Szen, Maroczy, Charousek, for example.
- Were you aware of them growing up, and did you see yourself as especially Hungarian in your understanding of chess? (CiT)
Yes, I also studied their games.
Verny Alvarado (CRC):
- What do you think of Janos Flesch? (AdE)
There are many entertaining stories about him.
- Judit, long matches have long since disappeared, but what, in your opinion, would be the outcome of a potential 24 game match for the Hungarian title between you and Peter Leko?
To be honest I’m not in favour of such a long match. It would be a match where three outcomes were possible.
- Do you consider yourself the strongest chess player in your country?
No, but one of the best! I think Leko, Almasi and myself are pretty close now.
Chess Fan:
- Who are the 3 toughest GMs you’ve ever faced and what particular problems did you have with those? (CiT)
There are many grandmasters who are extremely tough to play.
Jonathan Ramirez:
- We know that over the course of your career you’ve faced great chess players like Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Who has really been the opponent who’s caused you the most problems in a game or who’s been the rival that you who’ve felt invincible against, and why?
Juan Carlos:
- We all have someone who makes us uncomfortable when playing, someone we feel plays better than us; what player bothers you the most? (AdE)
Jay-R G. Cabbab:
- Could you please tell me the most difficult opponent you’ve played? Thank you.
Kramnik, because I’ve had many fights against him and couldn’t beat him YET :) in a classical game.
- Why do you play so unsuccessfully against Kramnik?
sean lawler:
- Why do you have such a hard time against Kramnik? (CiT)
He plays very calmly and is very well-prepared.
Adin Garrido:
- XV Univé Tournament in Hoogeveen. In the second round Vladimir Kramnik defeated you in your 20th classical game together, and you’ve never beaten him. Why is that the case, and what do you feel dealing with him before, during and after every game? (AdE)
Probably I’ll have to change tactics when I play him next.
Juan Carlos:
- Have you lost a game against a child? (AdE)
In a simul.
- Do you think a player can always keep winning? (AdE)
No, and by the way if you lose sometimes it just makes the winning taste better :)!

“With my great sisters when we were travelling together to tournaments!”

4. Chess politics

- Do you take an interest in the political and organisational aspects of chess life? Are you ever planning, like your sister Susan, to start working actively as a chess organiser or official?
I’m involved in organising a chess day in Budapest. We had it for the 5th time on November the 19th. Here’s a link: "Polgár Chess Day 2011" video I might organise more events in future.
Polgár Chess Day 2011
- How do you assess the outcome of the FIDE Presidential Election?
I don't. I hope that someday chess can have a positive image and a president we all accept and respect!
- Who did you support – Ilyumzhinov or Karpov?
I can’t vote.
- What’s your opinion on the activity of the European Chess Union (ECU), which is run by Silvio Danailov?
I hope he’ll make big steps in the EU with the Chess in Schools program.
- What’s your opinion on Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Candidates Matches?
I was surprised.
- Will you be present at the Anand-Gelfand match in Moscow next spring?
I wasn’t planning to be there. I’m sure I’ll follow it closely on the live coverage.
Armando Scharlau Pereira:
- Does something need to be done about draws without a fight? (AdE)
Yes, and I think restricting draw offers until a certain move is a good option.
- How, in your opinion, should we fight against the abundance of draws and is it necessary to fight that phenomenon?
Yes, it’s important to fight against it. Also, as chess players we have to change our attitude and make as few short draws as possible. Mainly it has to be done in tournaments outside of the world championship cycle, as there’s too much tension there.
- Did you like the Tal Memorial this year? What do you think of an elite tournament like this where almost all the games are drawn? (AdE)
- What do you think about the number of draws in tournaments like the Tal Memorial, in terms of its effect on the events? (AdE)
We have to make a distinction between a short draw and a great fighting draw, for example Aronian - Carlsen or Nepomniachtchi - Aronian. A draw is a normal result in chess but sometimes drawn games can be more interesting than decisive ones! If you at least play at an amateur level where you can also follow the moves and ideas and not only the result then you can enjoy many of the drawn games. Chess is a fight where both players would like to win and both of them want to avoid losing. To lose a game is a really bad feeling, especially seeing as you might sit there for 6 hours and the next day there’s another challenge ahead. Players don’t see only one game but also think about the next rounds. Actually, if someone can hold a worse position it might give the player almost the same feeling as if he’d won the game.
Don’t forget that it’s much easier to lose than to make a fighting draw!
Brian Chalega da Silva:
- I would like to know if you like the football score (3-1-0) system and what tiebreak system you find most reasonable: rapid matches, S-B, number of wins, …?
Thanks, Brian Chalega da Silva. São Paulo, Brasil. (CiT)
- What do you think about the “football” points system?
I believe in general that all systems have their drawbacks, but it’s very important to stick to one because then eventually it will even out. The worst thing is that there are many different systems for deciding tiebreaks. I think the most reasonable is to take the results against each other, then the number of wins (this also inspires people to play decisive games) and then the number of wins with Black.
Judit, do you share many chess players’ fears about the draw death of top-level chess due to the dominance of opening theory? If yes, then which means of fighting against that seem most effective to you:
- drawing openings by lots
- a wholesale switch to Fischer Chess
- changing the existing rules of chess (banning castling until the 20th move, and so on)
- changing the tournament point system (the football system, and so on)
- your own suggestion?
The feeling I have is that in the last few years there have been far more interesting games at the top level. I think that with the millions of games in the database, too much information and analysis engines, chess has taken a different road in many of the openings. In general, many of the players have more self confidence with all that information behind them.
I think it’s a must to have good commentary at every chess event so the audience can understand more of the situation before judging the players: the players’ preparation, the psychology of the game, the tournament situation. Chess players themselves have to share some inside info with chess lovers so they can understand more if the outcome of the battle is a draw. For example, when I played against Anand in Dortmund 1997 I’d lost a number of games in previous years and had kind of had enough. I went for a drawing line, which was very boring, it’s true, and not my thing, but losing is much worse! I stopped his winning run and in the next tournament I played against Anand I won a great game in Wijk aan Zee!
Yuan Eu Liao:
- Do you like the idea of rapid and blitz rating lists? Do you have any personal idea on modernizing chess? (CiT)
I’d support the idea of having rating lists in blitz and rapid but only if we can stick to the same time controls in every international event!
- Do you have any personal suggestions regarding the problems of cheating in chess? (CiT)
Very serious sanctions are needed and no exceptions! A playing ban lasting years and also a financial penalty are needed.
- Do you think the current champion should qualify for the title, or should it be determined by ratings, as in other sports like tennis? (AdE)
- Fans have already lost count of FIDE’s experiments. Do you consider the current system for determining the world champion to be optimal? Which system, in your view, would it be right to settle on?
- Should the World Cup be included in it as a part of the qualifying cycle?
- How should the challenger be determined – in matches or in a tournament?
- How much time should the cycle last – 2 or 3 years?
I believe it shouldn’t last too long so two years maximum for a cycle. I think generally a tournament would be more interesting with the top two playing for the crown. A simple system is needed so professionals and amateurs alike can easily follow it!
“At the Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki where I scored 12.5/13 and Hungary won gold! Left to right: myself, Susan, Sofia, Madl and team captain Janos Tompa”

5. Books, journalism and the internet

Redmar Damsma:
- I would like to know what your favourite chess book is. (CiT)
Judit, could you tell us:
- Which was your favourite chess book in your childhood?
I loved Keres’ 100 Best Games, Rook Endings by Levenfish and Smyslov and Dvoretsky's endgame book. Endgames are very important for all levels. Also “Learn from the Legends” by M. Marin. You can always learn a lot from books where players analyse the games themselves!
- Do you read chess literature nowadays?
Mainly chess magazines like New in Chess.
Verny Alvarado (CRC):
- As a child and/or adolescent, what tactics book attracted your attention and left an imprint on you? (AdE)
I used the Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations.  I’d solve tactical puzzles in different chess magazines, and there’s also a book called Attacking Manual.
дикий муцио:
- Which five chess books would you take with you on a long journey?
A book from a good player analysing his own games (for example, Gelfand’s My Memorable Games) , endgame books and a collection of studies.
Your “Chess Playground” manual was recently released.
- Are you planning to write another chess book? If yes, then what sort of book will it be – a manual, a game collection, a philosophic tract or something else?
In Hungarian there’s already Chess Playground 2. I’m still working on THE chess book where I’ll cover my games and build up in an educational way through my own games. I’m working a lot on that. Hope you like it :)!
Mike Schwartz:
Hi, Judit. You and Michael Adams are my two favorite players. Even though you have very different styles, you both have a direct and simple way of playing that almost makes it look easy. So of course I bought the book of your games, “Judit Polgar: The Princess of Chess” by Tibor Karyoli and I’m enjoying your games very much.
Thank you!
- My question is, do you plan on releasing a games collection soon with your own annotations? That would really be something. Don’t deprive us of your insights into attacking play! :)
It’s going to be published this year but it’s still under "construction" :) There will certainly be many things people don’t yet know about my chess :)
Washington Luiz dos Santos:
- Will there be any book with your classic (and fantastic) games in the future? The world of chess needs games like those you’ve played… (CiT)
Actually it’s been very interesting working on the book. I enjoy it very much but it takes up lots of my time :)
Judit, a few questions that are traditional for our conferences:
- How do you rate the level of contemporary chess journalism? Are there, for example, genres or publications which you feel are lacking?
Talking more about the personal insights of the players would interest me. Why do they change an opening system, the way Kramnik switched to e4? How do they find the motivation? How can you recharge before the next tournament if there are only a few days in between two events? Why do they walk so much during a game? It would be good to somehow find a language where players are also happy to express their feelings. For example, Svidler is always very open, which is great!
If the players could share more with chess enthusiasts then those people would also understand us more. I feel we need to bridge the gap between grandmasters and amateurs and for that we need help from journalists. They should be interested in us!
- Do you read chess publications? If yes, then which?
New in Chess, Schach and online ones like Chess Today and more.
- Do people approach you to ask you to write something or comment on games? Do you more often agree or decline?
I do it only if I consider the game I’ve played one I’m happy with.
- Which authors (both chess journalists and professional commentators) do you rate?
I don’t want to start a list because there are quite a lot and I’m sure I’d leave someone out.
- What’s the most stupid thing that a journalist has invented about you?
There’s been quite a lot but I’m sure the stupidest is still to come :)
Dear Judit, Natalia Pogonina and I (Peter Zhdanov) have been longstanding fans of your talent. We wish you future creative success and that playing chess brings you happiness!
- At the same time, unfortunately, there’s very little information about you in the media at the moment, about what you’re doing, where you’re planning to play and so on. Of course, running a blog could take up a lot of energy, but perhaps it would make sense to have a Twitter account? I’ve seen two accounts which represent themselves as Judit Polgar, but they don’t look authentic. If one of them is nevertheless genuine then could you please confirm?
Thank you!
I’ll soon have an updated website: www.juditpolgar.com My Twitter account is: GMJuditPolgar and I’m on Facebook as: Judit Polgar Official
A selfish question. :)   
- Do you think there’s any point in having commentary by a Class A player on games by grandmasters in modern conditions (with engines, opening libraries and so on)?
Well, I think you should try and see what feelings it gives you if you analyse with an engine and what experience you get if a grandmaster commentates with his own ideas.
For me, I get much more pleasure if I can discuss a position with a human. Of course, objectively we might easily blunder but then it’s a discussion and I’m not sure that it’s always only the final result that counts. The road is also important!

“The Polgar family”

6. Formative years

- From what age onwards is it best to start playing chess?
I started when I was 5. If you want your child to be professional try it at that age and again every 2-4 months if it didn’t catch him/her at first. It might happen that he or she doesn’t like it at first, which was how it was with Magnus Carlsen, but look what’s happened since :)
I think for every child it’s nice to try it out, and it’s also a great educational game!
- If you can recall how you were taught chess what was the most important thing?
The enthusiasm of my parents.
- Do you know of any new modern methods for teaching chess that would be as effective as the one that was used in your education?
It’s very important if your child loves the game that he /she should feel you appreciate that and support him!
- How would you yourself teach children to play chess?
Start with the pieces one by one and play games on the board as in the book I wrote with my sister Sofia, The Chess Playground. It’s important to teach in a playful way!
- What are the basics from which to start chess training for kids and what could be some of the steps for progression? Do you have any high level overview of how to achieve that? (CiT)
The first thing is to learn how the pieces move, then the rules, the board with its names (for those who can read) tactics and endgames, puzzles, puzzles and puzzles. They can play against adults or children but they need to build up self confidence.Usually kids quit because they lose!
Jim Cheyne:
I’ve started a chess club at my elementary school (K-5) where I teach music. We have 73 members from a student population of 600. This is a brand new club (as of September). Some are complete beginners, some know how to castle queenside, and some have heard about capturing en passant.
- Do you have a recommended curriculum for an academic setting for this age group? (CiT)
I don’t yet deal with these things, but my sister Susan might be able to help you. Check out her blog or you can also get more information at: "Chess in Schools and Communities"
- Do you think chess should be a mandatory part of education for all children? (CiT)
I believe chess helps in education, so the answer is yes, I support it very much!
Martin Rodriguez:
- If you had to give a first chess class for children aged 6 years and under how would you begin? (AdE)
Start with the board and introduce them to the pieces. First will be how the rook moves.
Palmeros Enrique:
- How did you end up with a love of chess? (AdE)
Both my sisters were playing and the most natural thing was for me to do the same. Success is always the best incentive! My parents made me love it in the beginning.
- What do you recommend for instilling a love of chess in young children? (AdE)
Show them your enthusiasm!
Eneo Sanchez:
Dear Master Judit. Congratulations on your success in chess.
- Could you tell me how to find methods for teaching chess to children from 4 to 5 years old and what website would you recommend? (AdE)
"Chess in Schools and Communities"  - they’ve got experience. I have a book which can help, "Chess Playground", and there are many more. The most important thing is to have a teacher who loves the game! There’s also a Hungarian site: Sakk-Ovi . Unfortunately, it’s only in Hungarian for now, but you might be able to look around and get some ideas.
Eduardo Aguilar:
- Your father showed that geniuses are made. In his experience of children aged 5 to 12 how many hours per week should they study and train chess at each age? (AdE)
By the age of 9 when I won my first international event in New York I was playing for about 5-6 hours a day.
- When should a child get to play with strong players (what level of play)? (AdE)
It’s important for a child to win a lot of games! To build self-confidence.
- Losses are very hard, especially for children. What should we do before and after every game? Which defeat was hardest to recover from? How did you do that? (AdE)
It’s very important not to put pressure on a child. Make sure that she/he feels that whatever happens it’s not the end of the world. If they cry after a loss that’s normal, as adults also hate to lose. If they win a game you should make them feel very proud but make sure they know the next game will be another challenge.
Jose Sarmiento:
- Master, do you consider there to be a great difference between pedagogical chess and competitive chess? (AdE)
Chess in schools is about using chess as a tool to think better, to approach things from different angles, to problem-solve and so on. If you go swimming twice weekly that’s healthy but you won’t become an Olympic champ that way.
- Can one lead to the other? How and why? (AdE)
After you see that your child loves chess you have to do it daily and then increase the hours a day, go to tournaments etc.
- If chess is implemented in schools as a mandatory subject, what are the advantages and benefits to society in general? (AdE)
Chess is a language. Chess doesn’t make any distinction between a girl and a boy. Religion doesn’t make a difference, nor whether you’re rich or poor. You can also socialise with your parents and grandparents. Chess teaches you critical thinking, the ability to focus, logic, how to think ahead, a respect both for rules and for your opponent – and there are many more ways in which chess helps children and society.
- Is your government much to blame for the lack of "new" Polgar Sisters in your country? (AdE)
No. It depends on the kids and the parents.
Cesar Monroy:
Hi Judit, I’ve just organised the first chess educational congress in Colombia along with Leontxo Garcia and I’d like to know what you think about scholastic chess. I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to the 2nd congress in November 2012. Regards. (AdE)
Thank you very much for the invitation! I look forward to hearing from you about the next congress! I’m sure it was a big success with Garcia. He’s very well-prepared in chess!
- What was your father’s influence on your professional performance? (AdE)
In the beginning he taught me and later he was our manager. He taught me to be enthusiastic and give 100%.
- What, roughly, was the famous Polgar method? (AdE)
Focussing on chess and working a lot in a loving family atmosphere.
Carlos Pujol:
- I’m very curious about which methods your parents used to teach all three of you, and what was different with you: was it because the teaching procedures got better and you were the fortunate one, the recipient who benefitted from all the past experience? (AdE)
First of all we’re different characters and of course the circumstances were different. My parents were gaining experience and, last but not least, my sisters helped me a lot.
Soviet School:
- Were you trained in any different ways to your sisters? (CiT)
No, but my father was always looking for tournaments which were at my level. He was more aware of the importance of success as the best thing to build self-confidence.
- In connection with the unprecedented success of your parents in bringing up professionals of the very highest level, do you think their methods are universal and merit being applied universally, or were they nevertheless absolutely individual and only for your family?
It worked for my family. I believe if a child is enthusiastic and the parents are extremely supportive then something very good will come out of it. In my family, education and being successful were priorities.
The famous mathematician Norbert Wiener once wrote a book entitled “Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth”. In his opinion it wasn’t so good to be a prodigy, as the subsequent “incorporation” of such children into adult life is often accompanied by certain difficulties both psychological and social.
- Did you and your sisters have such difficulties?
Not really. We travelled a lot and socialised while travelling.
- What do you think about the early chess development of children – is it beneficial or not? In particular, is it necessary to have World and European Championships for the U8, U10 and so on categories? I’ve got in mind not the use of chess /emas an aid for the training of a child’s intellect, but a purely sporting approach.
I think if the kid likes it then why not, but pushing a child because the parent would like the child to fulfil his/her dream isn’t good. On the other hand, while travelling and competing kids get experience in accepting losses and handling success, and also of socialising with other kids. By competing you also learn to be responsible and be yourself. All of that can be useful in adulthood.
- Have you read Alexandra Kosteniuk’s “How I became a Grandmaster at 14”? If yes, then how similar were Alexandra’s training methods to those of you and your sisters? Did your parents ever meet and exchange experience?
I haven’t read her book.
Yuan Eu Liao:
- Do you have any slight regret regarding the way you and your sisters were brought up by your parents? (CiT)
I don't. I know from raising my own kids how difficult it is. Parents always do their best, but maybe from the other side it doesn’t always seem that way!
Fadi Qassis:
 I appreciate your enrichment of the chess database.
- What is the best advice you think a chess trainer needs, and what are the best tools in order to teach chess to 7-10 year old kids? (CiT)
To make kids love the game! Try to preserve a child’s enthusiasm!
Tell stories and show different kinds of tactical puzzles. You can teach them to see positions blindfold, which will be an exceptional experience for a child – realising that he/she is able to do something like that! Endgames and studies can be very nice and entertaining, and also get them to create their own puzzles. Let them be the teacher for a short time :)!
Tasos Bouletsis:
- Do you think talent, hard work and good coaches are the recipe for success? Which is more important? (CiT)
Well, if you have those three then wow, go for it!
- Will you teach your children chess? Would you like them to become professional chess players?
They know the moves and we play games on the chessboard but I doubt they’ll become professionals.
- Are you planning on teaching chess seriously to your children?
Professionally, not really, unless they turn out to be really serious about it.
Noah Spaulding:
- How often do you speak to your sisters? (CiT)
Usually weekly at least.
Carlos Pujol:
- I admire Susan’s work, promoting chess here in the US and worldwide, and I’ve read some statements where she expresses great admiration for you. I’m sorry if this is very intimate: how is the relationship between you and your sisters? (AdE)
Very good! And extremely good! :) I’m happy to have them as my sisters! :)
WinPooh:A couple of “family” questions: - Do you often get to meet up with your sisters in a family atmosphere? Do you play chess against each other?
We’re able to meet so rarely that chess isn’t our priority :)
- Your sister Sofia didn’t achieve such great chess success as you and Susan did. How do you explain that – her being less inclined towards chess, different training methods in her childhood, or coincidence?
She has a different character. She was very talented and had a fantastic result in Rome 1989 [in that men’s round-robin tournament, where Dolmatov, Razuvaev, Chernin, Suba and Palatnik all took part, Sofia scored 8.5/9 with a 2735 rating, which was extremely high for that time – Ed.] but pretty early on I was achieving even bigger successes, so she was a little overshadowed.
Carlos Pujol:
- What happened to Sofia? Did she like chess? Does she have other interests besides chess? Why didn’t she become a GM, like Susan and you? (AdE)
She wasn’t as motivated. Since she studied graphic design and loves drawing we’ve produced two children’s books together lately – The Chess Playground I and II. She has two sons.
Peter Anderson:
- Your sister Susan has stated that you achieved a higher standard at chess than her and Sofia because you worked hardest at the game. Do you agree with this? (CiT)
As the youngest I already had the easiest road but yes, I also believe I was the most ambitious of the three of us.
- Also, is it obvious to you which of you had the most natural talent, or is it simply impossible to tell? (CiT)
People say it was me.
Noah Spaulding:
You are obviously the most accomplished of the Polgar sisters.
- Do you feel any pressure because you are the only one still competing? (CiT)
- What’s your opinion of the film “My Brilliant Brain: Make Me A Genius”?
 Judit, in an earlier KC-Conference Boris Gelfand said: “There are players at the very highest level who from their first steps in chess solved combinations – and only that! I think that’s how it was for Polgar and Mamedyarov. They have an incredibly well-developed combinational vision, and they’ll have it all their lives”.
- Is Gelfand right to assume your chess education was almost totally focussed on tactics? Or did your style become highly tactical because of personal choice/temperament and/or because that was the area where your talent was greatest? (CiT)
It’s true that tactics were at the center of the training – we solved combinations and lots of studies as well. The endgame was also something important, which I’m very thankful for!
- More generally, in your later career did you regret anything about that education? (e.g. a lack of training in openings, positional play, endings) (CiT)
Opening, yes. From time to time I’d struggle in my opening preparation when I played against the very top.
“Analysis after the game against Kasparov in Linares 2001. It was a great fighting game”

7. Improvement

- My question is, what do you consider essential and what not, chess-training-wise? (AdE)
Endgames and middlegames are essential. What’s not so important for a long time is to use the analysis engines!
- Can a common amateur reach the IM title just by playing tournaments? (AdE)
If you study in between the tournaments and analyse your games while also being critical of yourself, then yes!
- Could you tell us how you prepare for an upcoming game?
Before the game I have to check my opponent’s repertoire and then focus on my opening choice and revise my notes.
- How do you think during a game? Do you have a particular method of thinking?
One of the most important things in chess, but also I believe in life, is to be able to sort out the important moments from the not so important ones. In a game of chess as well you have maybe two critical moments which decide the course of a game. I try to focus on those moments.
- Do you know any effective method of raising your level when you’ve got a rating of 2000?
Well, I passed that some time ago :) There can be many problems while you’re playing in tournaments. If you’re a time trouble player then just avoiding that will give you better results.
Do you have enough self-confidence? When you go to play a game be ready for the fight!
Chesswise learn from the champions’ books and try to understand the ideas behind the moves. If you understand ideas better then you’ll be able to use them in practice too!
- Here on the internet we have a plethora of info about how to go about improving at chess. I’d like your opinion on how to construct a plan for someone who’s tired to the bone of their lack of progress and is willing to bring everything to the table in order to make master. In short, I’m looking for the opposite of an easy, steady process method of study. I need a program that is tough, demanding and efficient. Help would be greatly appreciated. (CiT)
Get books where there are tactical tests and solve studies. If you’d like tough examples then just pick any book by Dvoretsky! You’ll improve – just be patient!
Peter Anderson:
- What methods do you use to prepare these days, and how is your time split between studying different things, e.g. your previous games, general opening preparation, specific preparation for specific opponents, middlegame practice and endgame study? (CiT)
Working on the opening most of the time touches on the middlegame. I also work on endgames.
- Do you think it's possible for absolutely ordinary people with no chance of playing chess for a living to at least combine chess with their normal jobs without causing problems with other activities? Do you believe that a person playing chess as a hobby alongside their regular work can shine, at least as a good amateur? (AdE)
As a good amateur, for sure, if you’re happy playing chess of course, and if your partner supports you it also helps a lot!
Armando Scharlau Pereira:
- What are the steps to becoming a chess master? (AdE)
Enthusiasm and daily practice!
- Is it possible to get better without a coach? (AdE)
Yes, but then set up a program for yourself with things like which books you want to read .Of course it’s easier with a coach.
Antonio Torralba:
- I’d like to know your recommendation for improving day by day. With an amateur level, about 1800 Elo, and a certain age, how could I develop? Endgames rather than openings? (AdE)
Endgames will give you a lot of understanding!
Jose Luis Sobrero:
- What do you recommend as study material for advanced players between 2100 and 2400 with respect to tactics, strategy, endgames and other topics? (AdE)
Around 2400 openings start to be more important than before.
Jonathan Ramirez:
- For someone wishing to acquire mastery and an Elo of 2400, what books do you recommend studying in an almost mandatory fashion? (AdE)
The classics.
- And how many hours a day should be devoted to achieving this? (AdE)
Juan David Ramirez:
- How long will it take to get a GM norm if I train daily? (AdE)
There are too many questions, including: what do you do during the training, and how many tournaments do you play? How focussed are you on chess? Do you really want to achieve it or is it something it would be nice to achieve? It takes a different length of time for everybody.
 First of all thank you very much. Seeing you play and replaying your games is something amazing. No words can describe it :) You’re an inspiration to every girl as a person and of course as a player :)
- What advice would you give to a 22-year-old woman with approximately a 2000 Elo level, who wants to make progress? (AdE)
Work on the game daily for at least an hour. Increase your self-confidence. Concentrate during games. It makes a difference!
Martha Reyes:
- How many hours a day do you spend studying chess? (AdE)
Noah Spaulding:
- How long do your study chess daily? (CiT)
In my best times it was 8-10 hours. Now on days when I have training it’s 5-7 but I’m not able to do that every day.
 Let’s say you have to play a game starting at 14:00 and lasting, let’s assume, 4-5 hours or more. Assuming it’s not a professional secret I’d like to know the following:
- How, approximately, does your tournament regime look like on that day. When do you go to sleep the previous night, when do you get up, when and what/how much do you eat, walk etc.? (CiT)
My routine is approximately as follows: before a late breakfast I do some gymnastics, then I start to prepare which will be for 2-3 hours, then I relax a bit before the game. After the game I might walk a little if I’ve got time after dinner and try to arrange my thoughts for my next game in a relaxed mood.
- Also could you give some advice about energy (eating + drinking) during the game, in order to keep one’s brain working, plus – do you use yoga for concentration at any moment during the game, including before it starts – or any other way of improving concentration? (CiT)
Concentration is something that’s kind of natural for me. I started to play chess when I was 5, but of course it’s something that has to be improved all the time!
Marcin Tymrakiewicz:
- How would you describe your thinking process/ technique during the game? Is there a cognitive algorithm you use? (CiT)
- Could you describe the structure of your thoughts during a game? Do you support making a move with verbalizing your thoughts inside your head? Does it resemble a quiet internal dialogue? Or maybe it’s instead intuitive? (CiT)
My thinking is visual.
- When planning what to play do you look for the best move or the best move against a particular opponent? (CiT)
 Let’s assume there are a few equivalently good moves.
- Do you have a general method of resolving that problem (for example, if there’s an attacking continuation or a prophylactic one you always choose the attacking one) or does it all depend on the concrete situation?
First the best move but when there are different equally good moves I already start to take my opponent into account as well.
- To what degree (if at all) does the tournament situation influence the decisions you take?
On rare occasions it does.
- What role do you allot to psychology in chess?
A very big part of chess is psychology, mostly before the game in the preparation process.
- Could you advise me how best to train and get better at tactics; it very often happens that a game is strategically won but I spend so much time on tactics due to my lack of confidence over which is the best move or in my eagerness to catch the tactical details of a position (should I keep attacking or use prophylaxis) that I lose the game on time. What should I do? (AdE)
If you’ve got a very good position don’t complicate things. Look for an option where you give your opponent the least chance to get away. Just stop your opponent’s plan and if you do that 1-2 times in a row your opponent might collapse and make mistakes.
- In the middlegame do you move according to what your opponent does or do you have a plan from the very opening? (AdE)
Chess is played by two people, so I have a plan but always have to look at what my opponent has in mind. By stopping me from doing something he might give me new possibilities!
- When solving exercises in 3 or 4 moves, is it best to solve them in the book or to put the problem on the board? (AdE)
It’s always better to work on the board, especially for amateurs. You remember the ideas better, understand them better and make sure you can calculate lines accurately!
Teodardo Hevia Saieh:
- What are the dos and don’ts when training my young daughters (they know how to move the pieces already), so they can grow up to be competitive players? (AdE)
If they like the game take them to a club to play with other kids. If they want to compete I’d strongly recommend increasing the chess training to daily!
- What should be done in health terms to deal with the pressure and stress that it takes to be a competitive chess player? (AdE)
 For kids the parents, and the coach if the kid has one, should support them in every way. Never scream or yell at a kid because they’ve lost! Losing and winning are part of the game! You can’t play chess if you’re afraid!
- Do you get nervous before games, and if so how do you fight against that?
I think it’s very natural to get nervous. I’ve usually got concerns about a specific thing in the opening which might worry me. I have to be relaxed and balanced emotionally and then I can concentrate on the moves during the game. Then things will be ok.
- How do you deal emotionally with losses in chess?
It depends in what way I lost, but losing is never fun!
Twenty years ago you held training sessions with Lev Polugaevsky.
- Looking back, could you say what those encounters gave you, perhaps not only in purely chess terms?
It was very useful for me. I remember very well, for example, the way he explained opposite-coloured bishop middlegames and endgames. He was a very serious player so even in a few days I could learn important things from him.
Armando Scharlau Pereira:
- Do you think fast games are beneficial to someone who’s learning? (AdE)
If you take them a little bit seriously, then yes, and test out your opening ideas in blitz!
Виталий В.
- Do you think it’s helpful for a chess player with an Elo rating of 1900 to play bullet chess? Does that develop intuition?
Bullet chess is too fast. That’s only for fun.
- Judit, I once saw a book by your father in a book shop, with a lot of chess puzzles on a board of non-traditional dimensions and form. It seems there were also some “fairy-tale” puzzles there. Was that material used in your chess education? What’s your own opinion on chess composition? Do you create puzzles and studies?
My father wrote a very good book which is used all over the world: CHESS: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games. For many years now he’s been creating a new form of chess called Star Chess. You can check it out at: http://www.polgarstarchess.com/
- Apart from Fischer Chess have you ever played any other chess variants?
I’m a fan of chess :)!
- What about Chinese chess, syogi, Go?
I’m not familiar with those games.
“Visiting Botswana together with my husband Gusztav”

8. Openings

Francisco Javier Molina:
- How important is learning openings and defenses for a chess player? (AdE)
Openings are important but in the beginning you have to focus more on middlegames and endgames!
- What if in a game of chess one of the players knows all the fashionable opening lines and defenses, and the other doesn’t. Is the one who knows them bound to win? (AdE)
Openings can be important and you can gain an advantage but certainly up to 2500 it’s not the most important part of the game. If you know the openings reasonably well then in the middlegame and endgame you’ll always get chances!
- Do you think White can no longer fight for an edge after 1.e4 e5?
It’s very difficult, especially if Black plays only for a draw.
- e4 or d4?
So far e4 :)
Philip Feeley:
- What openings as White and Black do you favour and why? (CiT)
Generally I was always a big fan of the Sicilian for both colours!
- Which ones do you recommend a non-expert to play in order to get a playable position and not end up with too many weaknesses in the middle game? (CiT)
The Ruy Lopez is good, with lots of options.
Juan David Ramirez:
- What do you consider the most solid opening for White? (AdE)
1.Nf3, g3, Bg2, d3.
- In your view what is the best defense against 1.e4 and 1.d4? (AdE)
There’s no such a thing as the best as it depends on your style. If you can’t decide take a look at a lot of games from different opening by good players and then you might find something you like!
- The King's Indian Defense is my favorite defense. What's yours? What kind of defense do you prefer and why? (AdE)
The King's Indian is great and I’ve won many nice games there.To play the King’s Indian you have to like tactics a lot! :)
- Are the following openings correct:
- the Scandinavian Defence
- the Orangutan (1.b4)
- Larsen’s Opening (1.b3)
Those openings aren’t for very ambitious players. That’s for sure.
“Encountering a wild elephant in Botswana near to the Ocavango River. An amazing experience!”

9. Women in chess and beyond

- Who do you feel you are – who are you, in your view, first and foremost? To what degree have you managed to express yourself in that regard?
A happy person!
Carlos Ayala:
- How would you describe yourself? (AdE)
A strong personality.
Adin Garrido:
- Many of the elite players in their commentaries talk about "playing like Judit Polgar". It’s surely a compliment... How do you play? (AdE)
When someone says "playing like Judit Polgar" it means going for sharp tactics and a king hunt :)
Martin Rodriguez:
- As the women's number one in chess, what legacy will you leave for future generations? (AdE)
You can achieve your dreams as a woman as well!
- Is it a matter of principle that you don’t play in events for the title of Women’s World Champion or might you one day take an interest in that?
I was raised by my parents to compete in the open section, because that way I could improve better. It was also because it was my parents’ belief that a woman can achieve the same as men if they compete in the same circumstances. In the last decade quite a few women have appeared who are real professionals with strong grandmaster coaches, and who play well. Never say never :)
sundararajan ganesan:
- When will you take part in the Women’s World Chess Championship? (CiT)
Judit Wins:
 Greetings GM Judit Polgar. You’re the best female chess player ever and a top-10 best chess player.
- Will you win the Women’s Chess Championship for us fans? We all enjoy your play and would certainly like to see you win. (CiT)
Thanks, maybe one day, but not in the near future..
Francisco Calderon:
- Have you ever played a "feminine" tournament? (AdE)
On a few occasions, like twice at the 1988 and 1990 Olympiads and also in the Under 16 Girls in 1986 [As a 10-year-old – Ed.].
- Is it possible that in future you’ll take part in women’s tournaments?
I’m not planning on it.
 - Judit, can you honestly say that you’re not even slightly interested in the title of Women’s World Champion?
At the moment I’m not interested, sorry.
- Have you ever thought about again playing against women, for example a friendly match against the Women’s World Champion or something like that, or doesn’t women’s chess interest you at all now?
What do you mean friendly? :)
Noah Spauldingimg:
You have stayed away from women only tournaments while girls only tournaments in the US have been encouraged to get more girls involved in chess.
- What is your reasoning for not competing in women only tournaments? Especially for the World Champion spot? (CiT)
I was brought up to look for challenges and the men’s events were much stronger. Playing in the open section is much more interesting.
If I’ve lived my life with that attitude why should I change now?
Hou Yifan is the undisputed female champion.
- Do you believe that one day she’ll have your rating and be in your position in the elite group? (AdE)
Peter Anderson:
- Do you think any of the current women’s elite can equal or surpass your achievements? How long do you think it will be before another woman reaches the world’s top 100 or even the top 10? (CiT)
I believe Hou Yifan has the biggest chance not only because she’s very good but also because she’s young, which counts for a lot!
- And have you ever played Hou Yifan? (AdE)
No, I’ve never played her.
- Is it possible that in future you’ll play a match against Hou Yifan?
Everything’s possible.
Jason S:
- Would you agree to a match vs. Hou if the money was right? (CiT)
With big prize money I would consider it.
- Might a match against Hou Yifan be of interest to you?
I’d treat such a match as playing against a 2600 grandmaster.
- How do you rate her play and potential?
It’s clear she hasn’t reached her peak yet.
Yuan Eu Liao:
The current Women’s Grand Prix Tournaments are great as are the other women’s tournaments and Championship Cycle, but they simply prevent the best female players from facing stronger male opponents in other tournaments. If the best female players keep themselves in the comfort zone of those tournaments, I think none of them will reach the next level (2700). But who (besides you) wouldn’t want to fight for the Women’s World Championship, defend her title, and win the prizes from the Woman’s Grand Prix Tournaments? And so there isn’t much time left for other mixed tournaments.
- What should FIDE and the National Federations do to help further advance the level of women’s chess?
- Do you have any suggestions? (CiT)
If a woman would like to reach the highest level then she should play in tournaments where she can learn. Focus on improving your chess.
Tasos Bouletsis:
- Is it true that young girls are almost equally as strong as young boys but after the age of 14-16 they start to diverge and fall behind? (CiT)
Yes, I believe so, and maybe it starts earlier, from 12-14.
Frits Fritschy:
 There seems to be a ‘glass ceiling’ of 2600 Elo points for women players (you excluded!). They can be at the top of the junior lists before they get to 15-16, and then they fail to break through. The male juniors that were their equals around that age keep on progressing and ‘easily’ go on to at least 2650. This is more a feeling, I must admit, than backed up by statistics, but look at Lahno, Koneru, Hou (and numerous other girls): between 16 and 22 most other (male) players are progressing and they are not.
- What do you think is the reason for this? (CiT)
Boys start focusing and girls get other interests as well.
There’s no separate business just for women, and no women’s science, while the physical and psychological load in those spheres is no less than in chess, but women’s results in comparison to men are much higher than in chess.
- Is women’s chess necessary? Doesn’t it lower the motivation of female chess players?
Yes, it does.
Dear Judit, no chess player in history has achieved what you’ve accomplished. You’ve maintained your place in the male world elite and often beaten some of them, so my question is:
- Why do women seem less interested in chess? Based on your overall assessment, because apparently you’ve demonstrated that women can have the same virtuosity or talent as the best men ... (AdE)
First of all, it’s a very difficult question.
I think it’s partly a social issue. Girls lose interest in their teenage years because they like to plan their life more than boys. Chess isn’t a stable lifestyle. Being a chess player is like being a sportsman and/or an artist. For that you need dedication and a love for it.
One day talking with a friend she asked me why I always play so well against her, and I said jokingly that if a man plays against a woman the man is motivated because they never want to lose to a woman. It’s a somewhat controversial question, but what do you think about it? (AdE)
- Is it tough for you with men? :)
Frits Fritschy:
I have the impression that women were always more than welcome in the predominantly male chess world, although they sometimes get the welcome of an alien. Of course there’s the well-known exception of the Grumpy Old Grandmaster.
- What are your experiences? (CiT)
In the beginning when I was a little girl and started to beat adults they weren’t very happy to see me around :) Later on in the late 90s the male players respected me and called me their colleague.
Anders B. Iversen:
- In my view the future of chess lies entirely in recruiting more girls and women to the game. Do you think we will soon have more women playing at the very top level? Do you see any candidates now? What does it take to have more world elite women players? (CiT)
The goal should be for girls also to reach the very top and then they’ll reach higher, for sure!
Jose Luis Sobrero:
- Why do you think it is that female chess players, apart from you, haven’t become part of the elite above 2700? Is it a matter of probability because there are more men who play? (AdE)
It’s true that less than 5% of all FIDE-rated players are women, so that’s also a reason.
- Judit, do have the ambition of becoming Men’s World Champion?
I’m realistic, so I keep my dreams :)
- Which features of your character were the most important for achieving the success you have?
Fighting spirit, talent, ambition, looking for challenges, love for the game and a positive attitude.
- Are you a maximalist by nature?
Kind of, yes :)
- What does it mean to have a champion’s character? Do you have a champion’s character? And what about Hou Yifan? And Anand?
A champion's character means that when under pressure you don’t collapse but instead it motivates you. Also, when you’re having a bad period in your career you’re able to recover and punch back :)!
My questions are on the topic of men and women in chess.
There’s a light-hearted joke – 10 seconds in a woman’s brain: “…well and the right shoe is too tight… I need to pare the fingernail on my little finger… I’m curious, are swallows really unable to take off from the ground?... at half five I need to pick up the clothes from the laundry… it’s strange that he hasn’t phoned…”
– But what does a chess playing female grandmaster think about during a game? :) Are you visited by extraneous thoughts? How deeply do you concentrate and immerse yourself in the position? Is it easy to distract you during a game (by noise, for example)?
I focus on chess during the game, but apart from the position other thoughts can cross my mind. I think the same happens with men. It’s not normally easy to distract me.
- Does a man with a 2500 rating play better than a woman with a 2500 rating? If so, in what way? Or is there no difference?
There might be a difference in the way they think, but they’re both 2500 players.
- How do male grandmasters behave after a game when you beat them? For example, do they agree to analyse the game?
Yes, of course.
- Would you play differently against women than you do against men? Or do you only play against pieces?
I’d prepare specially for my opponent, but I prepare against every player and look for his or her weaknesses.
Frits Fritschy:
 One of the reasons given that female chess players can’t get to the top is that they have children and have to look after them. I’ve always wondered whether male chess players never have children…
What do you think, is it just to do with the imperfect distribution of tasks in the relationships women chess players have? (CiT)
I think it’s normal for a man also to change when a child arrives in the family, but for women it’s still different, especially if you have a job that involves travelling away from home.
Jason C.:
- Do you feel motherhood has so far inhibited or delayed you from reaching your full chess potential? (CiT)
I’m very happy to have had children. In that way my life became more complete.
- Do you believe female chess players have a disadvantage vs. men in this sense, since to a greater extent than male players, female players (such as yourself) tend to take time off from chess to raise their children? (CiT)
Generally speaking, I believe women should get almost to the top before having children (after all, chess is a sport and in other sports I believe it’s the same). After having children the lifestyle a chess player has is much harder.
Yuan Eu Liao:
- If you were a man, and didn’t have to be the mother of two babies, do you think that at this moment you would still be among the top 10? (CiT)
That might have been the case, but I don’t regret that I’m a woman!
- What's your opinion of the fact that the male half of the chess army considered and considers you to be a “sex symbol” of the chess world?!
- Do you watch your figure? I’ve got in mind a diet or exercise not for health reasons but exclusively to maintain your looks. And do you think that women should watch their figures? And men?
Yes, generally it’s important, but mainly to feel good about yourself!
- What do you think about modern feminism? Are women discriminated against nowadays? Have you cooperated with feminist organisations? Have they approached you with proposals to make a speech, write an article and so on?
I’m not a feminist just because I beat the guys! :)
- There’s a hypothesis that nowadays in certain fields women are significantly behind men not because of direct discrimination or physiological differences but because of the unconscious expectations of others influencing emotional development and various goals and values. You and your sisters as well as some female mathematicians are seen as examples confirming the hypothesis: your unique family shielded you from the normal social pressure and therefore you were able to fulfil the natural potential of a normal woman.
- Does that strike you as true? Do you and your sisters see something in your character, feelings and so on that distinguishes you, all three of you, from the majority of women?
I feel very lucky to have grown up in a family where my parents were fighting for what they were fighting: that “A woman can achieve the same as a man”. I was also able to show it in practice!
- Are chess and love compatible, or is it complicated? (AdE)
Chess and love are great together! :)
- What chess love stories do you know? (AdE)
Quite some.
- Is it better if your partner knows about chess, or not? (AdE)
Think of human values not professional ones!
-Imagine you’re a judge at a beauty contest for players of 2500 Elo and above. Who would you award the first prize for women? And for men?
There are other people who would die to vote in such a contest :) But I’m not one of them.
“Together with my great coach and friend Lev Psakhis and on the right Garry Kasparov in Linares”

10. Life

- Which period of your life do you consider to have been the happiest?
Juan Carlos:
- What do you like most in life? And what do you dislike in life? (AdE)
I like humor and dislike what power does to people.
Carlos Pujol:
- Can you, as a professional, separate personal relationships and chess competition? (AdE)
Eduardo Aguilar:
- Dear Judit, I’d like you to comment on your most difficult moment in chess. How did you address it?
The end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 in Wijk aan Zee. I was pretty upset about the results and how I was playing.
- Please could you share your happiest moment in chess and in your personal life with us? (AdE)
I’ve had many happy moments in chess like the first Olympiad I took part in in 1988 or victory against Boris Spassky in 93. Of course all the victories are special! I’ve had many happy moments and periods in my personal life too!
- In your view does chess understanding, the ability to immediately grasp the essence of a position, somehow affect the character of taking decisions in other spheres, in everyday life, for example in bringing up children, in talking to your friends and family, in resolving various everyday problems? How does it help and how does it hinder?
Yes, in principle if you make quick decisions on the chessboard then you tend to have the same approach to other things as well, if you’ve got that self-confidence.
- If possible could you say a little about your children? Do you follow any sort of system when bringing them up and educating them?
No special system, but languages have had priority so far.
- Can you cook and do you enjoy it?
I like to cook but I don’t do it every day.
- What kind of cuisine and, perhaps, individual dishes do you prefer?
I’ve been travelling all my life and it’s influenced my taste in cooking as well as in other things.
- Could you tell us whether you have chess-themed dreams?
Very rarely.
- How many languages do you know?
I speak English, Russian and Spanish.
Carlos Pujol:
- Do you still speak Esperanto? Was it a failed experiment or not? :) (AdE)
I did learn it and spoke but due to not practicing it for more than 15 years I’ve forgotten it :(
- What portion of time do you now speak Hungarian and English?
I live in Hungary, so at least 70%
- Which language do you think in?
The one I’m talking in at the time.
- During a game do you think in any language or do you think exclusively in terms of positions, images and so on?
My thinking’s visual, I believe.
You speak very good Russian.
- Is the credit for that due to your mother, who was born in the USSR, or was it talking to Russian-speaking players and reading Russian chess literature that helped you to learn the language?
Firstly, it was my mother. Also for a short time I went to a Russian-speaking kindergarten. Later on it was by having Russian-speaking trainers.
Three more traditional, banal and hackneyed questions
- Your tastes in fiction?
- In music?
- In films?
Generally I like all kinds of films and I’ve always loved comedies. In music I like classical but also lots of softer music like Tina Turner, Chris de Burgh, Barbra Streisand. It’s a long list....
I really like the theatre!
- Your favourite films, cinema actors and actresses?
One of my favorite movies is the "The Scent of a Woman".
Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, and many more.
- Three (music) albums you’d “take with you to a desert island”?
Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” and something from Tina Turner.
- Do you like Nabokov as a writer? What’s your opinion on his novel “The Luzhin Defence”?
I like the “Luzhin Defence”.
- Do you like Russian literature in general?
Unfortunately I’m not a big reader. Hopefully in the coming years!
- Have you read Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita”
Not yet.
- Have you ever played any sports other than chess?
I was pretty good at table tennis. Once I even got into the last 32 in the Under 12 section.
- Do you follow anything as a fan?
Мастер Икс:
- A united Europe is a very, very good thing, also for sportsmen. Do you think that happy state will last?
I don't want to get involved in politics as people won’t use my anwers the way I mean them anyway.
Foreigners have a lot of stereotypes about Russia: bears feeding on vodka, pancakes and the bark of birch trees; peasants in Karakul hats launching themselves with pitchforks at trains in astonishment and fear; the year-round winter and so on.
-What is Russia associated with for you?
Matrushkas and cold.
Angel Morelli:
Dear Judit, first of all, thanks for your kindness and sympathy. I was fortunate to chat with you for one minute during your visit to Argentina and you autographed a board for my daughter Giuliana. She’s very happy with your board. Greetings. Thank you.
- What do you like most about our country? (AdE)
The attitude of the people. I can sense they enjoy life!
- Do you plan a future visit to Spain, and Barcelona in particular? (AdE)
I like Spain very much, so I hope to visit again!
Eneo Sanchez:
- How can we go about inviting you to visit Nicaragua, in Central America? (AdE)
I’d love to go there with my family. You can send me a message on Facebook.
Juan Carlos:
- Would you like to come to Mexico to show your talent? (AdE)
I’d be happy to visit Mexico again!
“Sitting at the famous Fischer-Spassky chessboard in Reykjavik in 1988 ”

11. Another dimension

- If a time machine existed would you like to change anything in your life? To correct some mistake?
I know that I’ve made some mistakes but I also accept the consequences.
Imagine you’ve got a second past – meaning you’ve lived another life but not instead of the one you had, but in addition; as if there were two twin sisters who lived for 35 years apart, perhaps in different families and in different countries, but now they’ve become one person – you.
- Which “second past” would you like to have had? Perhaps precisely the same one, or one differing in one or two details, or something else entirely? Or a few such pasts?
Living the same way would be boring so why not go on different routes :)
Juan Carlos:
- Do you think you have super-powers? Or do you simply play chess very well? (AdE)
What’s a super-power? For me a super-power could mean taking advantage of power ...and that’s something I don’t like at all.
I like to have a good influence, for example by helping people and promoting chess. :)
Carlos Pujol:
- Science fiction: You live in a (parallel?) world where chess was never invented, and you’re not Laszlo Polgar’s daughter. What other thing would you like to do in your life? (AdE)
Photographer? Artist or painter? I don't know, really. :)
Washington Luiz dos Santos:
- Why do most ads always show the board in the “wrong position”, with a black square to the right of the players? It’s amused me for a while, almost like a hobby… (CiT)
To be honest it really annoys me as although I know nobody cares it shows no respect in my eyes.
I liked the "The Luzhin Defence" very much. There everything was on the right square!
“Skiing in Canada together with Gusztav and our son Oliver”

12. In conclusion…

- Were the questions you were asked here interesting?
Thank you for all your questions. Yes, they were interesting and some were also very strange and unusual, but I’m happy that I got a picture of what chess enthusiasts are interested in. It took me many hours to answer them and I hope most people got a response to their question! Obviously everyone's most interested in my professional career, and I can tell you I've still got a lot of motivation for the game. At the same time, I feel more and more responsibility to give something back. At the moment I'm working on material for a new chess in schools curriculum.
You'll soon be able to find more details on my website, and on my official facebook page. Please keep your love for the game and tell your friends that CHESS is a great game! It’s my favourite, anyway :)
Eduardo Caurapan:
Hello Master, I’m 9 years old. I'm from Chile and I’d like to ask you so many things but I’ll just say thank you for showing me the fascinating world of CHESS. (AdE)
Thank you very much for your comment!
Peter Visser:
Hi Judit!
Best wishes. We all love you! Keep going. (CiT)
“Together with my mother Klara, son Oliver and daughter Hanna at the 2011 Santa Claus party :)”
The following people took part in the preparation of this conference: Valery Adzhiev (Valchess), Stanislav Phiseysky (phisey), Carlos Pujol (Ajedrez de Entrenamiento) and Colin McGourty (mishanp – Chess in Translation) Translation of questions into English and editing of Judit Polgar’s replies in English – Colin McGourty. Translation of questions from Spanish into English – Carlos Pujol. Translation of questions and answers from English and editing of the Russian text – Valery Adzhiev. The chess fragments were the responsibility of Vasily Lebedev (vasa).The layout by Alexander Walov (Kit).

KC-Conference with Judit Polgar (in Russian)

Other KC-conferences in English

KC-Conference with Levon Aronian: Part 1
KC-Conference with Levon Aronian: Part 2

KC-Conference with Ruslan Ponomariov:Part 1
KC-Conference with Ruslan Ponomariov: Part 2

KC-Conference with Peter Svidler: Part 1
KC-Conference with Peter Svidler: Part 2

KC-Conference with Alexander Khalifman: Part 1
KC-Conference with Alexander Khalifman: Part 2
KC-Conference with Alexander Khalifman: Part 3

KC-Conference with Alexei Shirov

KC-Conference with Alexander Grischuk

KC-Conference with Michal Krasenkow

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