|Full name||Polgár Zsuzsanna|
|Born|| April 19, 1969
|Women's World Champion||1996-99|
|Peak rating||2577 (January 2005)|
Susan Polgar (born April 19, 1969, as Polgár Zsuzsanna and often known as Zsuzsa Polgár) is a Hungarian-born American chess Grandmaster. She is famous for having been a child prodigy at chess, for being a pioneer for women in chess, and for being an advocate for chess in education. She is an Olympic and World chess champion, a chess teacher, coach, writer and promoter and the head of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) at Webster University as well as the head coach for the 2011 and 2012 National Championship college chess teams at Texas Tech University and the 2013 and 2014 National Championship teams at Webster University. She is the oldest of the famous "Polgár sisters": Zsuzsa, Zsófia, and Judit. She was the first female to earn the grandmaster title through tournament play, and is credited with breaking a number of gender barriers in chess.
On the July 1984 FIDE Rating List, at the age of 15, she became the top-ranked woman player in the world, and remained ranked in the top three for the next 23 years. She was also the first woman in history to break the gender barrier by qualifying for the 1986 "Men's" World Championship. She was the Women's World Chess Champion from 1996 to 1999 (in Classical time control). She won the World Blitz and Rapid Championships in 1992. In October 2005, Polgar had an Elo rating of 2577, making her the second-ranked woman in the world at the time, after her sister Judit. Polgar went on to win ten Olympic medals (5 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze) and four Women's World Championships. She has not played in official competition since 2006.
In 1997, Polgar founded the Polgar Chess Center in Forest Hills, New York to give chess training to children. The Polgar Chess Center closed in 2009 following her relocation to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. In 2002 she established the Susan Polgar Foundation. During the past 12 years, her foundation has sponsored the National Invitational for Girls, National Open Championship for Boys and Girls, World Open Championship for Boys and Girls, All-Star Girl's Chess Team, NY City Mayor's Cup Invitational, Tri-State Scholastic Chess Challenge, SPICE Cup and a series of Get Smart Play Chess scholastic chess tournaments. She founded the SPICE Institute in Texas in 2007 and began coaching the Texas Tech Knight Raiders in 2007 as well. As of January 2009, she has been the Co-Chairperson of the Commission for Women's Chess for the World Chess Federation FIDE.
She was born and brought up in Budapest, Hungary, to a Hungarian Jewish family. In 1994, Polgar married computer consultant Jacob Shutzman, and moved to New York. They have two sons, Tom (born 1999) and Leeam (born 2000). She later divorced. In December 2006, she married her longtime business manager and friend, Paul Truong. She now lives in suburban St. Louis, Missouri.
Polgar and her two younger sisters, Grandmaster Judit and International Master Sofia, were part of an educational experiment carried out by their father László Polgár, who sought to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specialist subject from a very early age. "Geniuses are made, not born," was László's thesis. He and his wife Klara educated their three daughters at home, with chess as the specialist subject. In 2010, National Geographic published an hour-long documentary with Susan Polgar as the main subject. The father also taught his three daughters Esperanto. Most of her family eventually emigrated to Israel, but Susan Polgar moved to New York after marrying an American citizen in 1994. Members of the Polgar family, who are Jewish, perished in the Holocaust, and her grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz.
At age 4, Susan Polgar won her first chess tournament, the Budapest Girls' Under-11 Championship, with a 10-0 score. In 1982, at the age of 12, she won the World Under 16 (Girls) Championship. Despite restrictions on her freedom to play in international tournaments, by 1984 at age 15 Polgar had become the top-rated female chess player in the world.
In November 1986, FIDE decided to grant 100 bonus Elo rating points to all active female players except Polgar, which knocked her from the top spot in the January 1987 FIDE ratings list. The rationale was that the FIDE ratings of women were not commensurate with the ratings of the men because the women tended to play in women-only tournaments, Polgar being an exception because up to that point she had played mainly against men. The statistical evidence supporting this decision was disputed because the data on which it was based was a small subset of the available data, and Polgar and others alleged that the move was politically motivated. They said it had been contrived to displace her, a non-Soviet, from the top spot in favor of Maia Chiburdanidze, the reigning Women's World Champion.
In January 1991, Polgar became the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title in the conventional way of achieving three GM norms and a rating over 2500, though Nona Gaprindashvili was awarded the title earlier by special judgment of FIDE. In 1992, Polgar won both the Women's World Blitz and the Women's World Rapid Championship.
Polgar had tended to avoid women-only tournaments, but she abandoned this when she entered the 1993 cycle for the Women's World Championship. She was eliminated at the candidates' final match with Nana Ioseliani; after the match was drawn she lost on the drawing of lots. She became the Women's World Champion at her second attempt in 1996. Two years later, her title defense against Xie Jun of China was scheduled to take place in November 1998. However, Polgar requested a postponement because she was pregnant and FIDE had been unable to find a satisfactory sponsor. Ultimately, in 1999, a match was arranged, but under conditions to which Polgar objected - firstly because she had recently had a child, Tom, and had not had sufficient time to recuperate, and secondly because the match was to be held entirely in China, the home country of her challenger. She also wanted a significantly larger prize fund.
When Polgar refused to play under these conditions, FIDE declared that she had forfeited the title, and instead organized a match between Xie Jun and Alisa Galliamova for the Women's World Chess Championship, which was won by Xie Jun. Polgar sued in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland for monetary damages and the restoration of her title. In March 2001, the case was settled, with Polgar withdrawing her claims and FIDE agreeing to pay Polgar's attorney's fees in the amount of $25,000. Since Xie Jun had already been crowned Women's World Champion, FIDE could not restore the title to Polgar. Polgar has not participated in subsequent Women's World Championship cycles.
Susan Polgar composed her first chess problem (see diagram) at the age of four. She is considered the youngest composer of a published chess problem. Formerly, the record was held by Elliot Franklin Eichholtz.
The United States Chess Federation named Polgar "Grandmaster of the Year" in 2003, the first time a woman has won that honor. In that same year (2003), Polgar also became the first woman to win the US Open Blitz Championship, against a field which included seven grandmasters. She won that title again in 2005 and in 2006.
She helped train and played the top board for the United States women's team at the 2004 Chess Olympiad held in October in Majorca, Spain. Overall, the team won the Silver Medal, but Polgar won an individual gold medal for achieving the highest performance rating in the women's event and the highest point total. She has a total of ten Olympiad Medals: five Gold, four Silver, and one Bronze. She has played 56 games in the Olympiads, never losing a single game.
In July 2005, Polgar gave a large simultaneous exhibition in Palm Beach, Florida, breaking four world records: the largest number of simultaneous games played (326, with 309 won, 14 drawn, and 3 lost); consecutive games played (1,131); highest number of games won (1,112); and highest percentage of wins (96.93%).
In October 2005, Polgar joined former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former World Champion Anatoly Karpov in Lindsborg, Kansas to promote "Chess For Peace." There, Polgar participated in the second Clash of the Titans - Battle of the Genders match against Karpov at the same location, with Gorbachev making the first move for Karpov. The match with Karpov ended in a 3-3 tie, with each player winning two games and two draws. Their first match had taken place in September 2004. That also ended up in a 3-3 tie.
In June 2006, Polgar organized and played in the 2006 New York City Mayor's Cup, a 30-minute competition and the highest-rated double round robin tournament in US history. She finished second, behind Gata Kamsky and ahead of Alexander Onischuk, Boris Gulko, Ildar Ibragimov, and Alex Stripunsky. In July 2006, Polgar represented the US in a side event to the Football World Cup in Dresden, Germany. She easily won the event by defeating International Master Elisabeth Pähtz in the final.
In 2007, Susan Polgar signed on as the head coach for the Texas Tech Knight Raiders chess team. In 2010, she became the first woman to lead a men's Division I team to the Final Four. In April 2011, the Texas Tech Knight Raiders became the best college chess team in the nation by winning the President's Cup: The Final Four in College Chess. As the Knight Raiders coach, Polgar again broke another gender barrier as the first ever female head coach to lead a men's Division I team to the national title.
Susan Polgar and the SPICE program joined Webster University in suburban St. Louis in 2012. Webster won the 2013 Final 4 of College Chess, also known as the President's Cup. As a result, Polgar was recognized as 2012-13 College Coach of the Year by Final 4 organizer Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.
Here is a brilliancy which Polgar won at age 16:
Zsuzsa Polgar-Hardicsay, Hungarian Team Championship 1985 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.Bf4 a6 8.e4 Bg7 9.Qa4+ Bd7 10.Qb3 Bg4?! 11.Qxb7 Bxf3 Hardicsay had won a game a few months before after 12.gxf3 Nh5, when Black has good compensation for the sacrificed pawn after either 13.Be3 Nd7 or 13.Bg3 Nxg3 14.hxg3 Nd7. 12.Qxa8! Nxe4 13.Rc1! This was a theoretical novelty; Black had been thought to be better after 13.Nxe4 Bxe4. 13...Bd4 After 13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Be4 15.f3 Bf5 16.g4, Black would have no good retreat for his bishop, e.g. 16...Bd7 17.Bxd6. 14.Rc2 Nxf2?! 14...Nxc3 15.gxf3! also leaves White with a large advantage. 15.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 16.Kxf2 Bg4 (see diagram) 17.Bb5+! axb5 18.Re1+ Kf8 If 18...Kd7, 19.Qb7+ Qc7 20.Re7+! wins the queen. 19.Bh6+ Kg8 (see diagram) 20.Re7! Paralyzing Black and stopping any counterplay with ...Qh4+. The rook is immune because 20...Qxe7 21.Qxb8+ forces mate. 20...Bd7 21.Qxb8! Qxb8 22.Ne4! 1-0 Although Black is up a queen for a knight, he cannot stop 23.Nf6#.
The Susan Polgar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation established in 2002 and supported by charitable donations. "The mission of the Susan Polgar Foundation is to promote chess, with all its educational, social, and competitive benefits throughout the United States, for young people of all ages, especially girls."
On May 12, 2007, Polgar was the undergraduate commencement speaker at Texas Tech University. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree. On the same day, as reported on the LubbockOnline website, it was announced that she would become the coach of the Texas Tech chess team and would be the director of the new Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE). In 2008, SPICE announced a $320,000 pledge from a private donor, for TTU chess scholarships over the next five years.
In 2007 Texas Tech and Susan Polgar hosted the first SPICE Cup which has since become the highest rated international round robin chess tournament held in the United States. The SPICE Cup draws tens of millions of viewers worldwide, who are able to follow the event online. In October 2010, the SPICE Cup became the highest rated international invitational chess tournament in US History. In 2008, the SPICE Cup rated category 15. It jumped to category 16 in 2009. SPICE Cup 2010 rated category 16 (2631 average FIDE rating). For 2011 the SPICE Cup has a preliminary two 2700+ player for the first time with negotiations in process with four or five other similarly ranked players, and will potentially rate 17/18.
Polgar has written several books, often in conjunction with Paul Truong, her business manager and (later) husband:
Polgar is also a chess journalist, with columns in Chess Life, Chess Life for Kids, ChessCafe, Chess Horizons, Georgia Chess, Chessville, Empire Chess, School Mates, Europe Echecs, etc., and she publishes a blog titled Chess Daily News with daily updates about chess news and daily chess exercise problems. She has released a series of 14 instructional chess DVDs.
She was briefly a member of the executive board of the United States Chess Federation from 2007 to 2009; however, a lawsuit instigated by the defeated candidate led to political infighting and extended litigation, and resulted in a settlement whereby Polgar severed her affiliation with the USCF and is now a "playing non-member".
In December 2006, she announced that she would run for election to the executive board of the United States Chess Federation. Polgar, Randy Bauer, and Paul Truong - three of four of Polgar's slate - were elected to four-year terms. She was elected as the first ever chairman of the USCF.
On October 2, 2007, one of the candidates for the Executive Board position, who had been defeated by Susan Polgar, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2007 election, alleging misconduct. Polgar denied any wrongdoing. Polgar and Truong filed suit against the USCF, who counter-sued them, with both sides issuing a variety of allegations. The suit alleging election campaign misconduct was ultimately dismissed by the court.
On January 15, 2008, four Board members issued a statement which requested Susan Polgar's husband step down from his position on the Board for "neglecting his fiduciary duties" through not providing an affirmative defense to the lawsuit. This was not, however, an official vote of the Executive Board. Polgar subsequently published a statement asserting that the Board members who voted in favor of this request made a number of misrepresentations.
On August 7, 2009, the Executive Board of the USCF rescinded the membership of Polgar and her husband, and they appealed to the Board of Delegates of the USCF. On August 8, 2009, the Delegates of the USCF ratified the previous year's actions of the Executive Board with respect to the litigation. In a closed Executive Session, the Delegates upheld the membership revocations. The lawsuits were all settled in 2010, with Polgar and Truong severing all affiliation with the USCF (though both can still play in USCF events under "Playing Non-Member Status"); the USCF's court costs of $131,000 were paid out by its insurer and it had to pay Polgar's attorney fees of $39,000.
As of January 2009, Polgar has held the title of Co-Chairperson of the Board of the Commission for Women's Chess for FIDE, the World Chess Federation.
In 2012, she moved with members of her top collegiate chess team to Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 2014, Polgar was awarded the Furman Symeon medal, which is given annually to the best chess coach who works with both male and female players. This made her the first coach from America to earn one of the top six coach medals and also the first woman to ever be recognized by FIDE with a top coaching medal.