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“As a girl, you can perform just as well intellectually as men”- Chess Legend Judit Polgár on Success

Hungary Today 2021.03.12.

“My parents were very brave in the way they raised me. They started on a path that, well, can hardly be called ordinary,” says chess grandmaster Judit Polgár in a short film presented by the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of Hungary Today. The video introduces the Hungarian pioneer of the game who is regarded as the greatest female chess player of all time. The short film is part of a series that introduces ten exceptional Hungarians, who through their skills and hard work, also made names for themselves abroad.

Things are the way they are. But how we look at things, with what attitude and humility we approach them- that depends on us. And this is in very large part the secret to success,”

highlights Judit Polgár at the beginning of the video.

It is undeniable that Judit knows what success is. At the age of 12 as part of the Hungarian women’s chess team, she played a key role in winning a gold medal at the 1988 Thessaloniki Chess Olympiad, ending a long-lasting Soviet hegemony. Just three years later she managed to become the youngest chess grandmaster, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer.

Chess: Hungarian Legend Rejects British Master's Rude Remarks On Women
Chess: Hungarian Legend Rejects British Master's Rude Remarks On Women

The world’s most successful female player, now retired, Judit Polgár told Reuters that her career was proof that British chess master Nigel Short was wrong when he claimed women were inferior at the game. Nigel Short has made a bad opening gambit by saying that, insists the former Hungarian grandmaster, who has defeated Short eight times to […]Continue reading

She is also, to this day, the only woman ranked in the top ten chess players of the world. During her career, Judit defeated many masters of chess, current or former world champions including Magnus Carlsen, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, and Boris Spassky.

As one of the few women in a game dominated by men, she also showed the world that the perception that one’s gender is an important indicator of the ability to play chess does not hold true.

This man-woman issue was a constant topic around me and my sisters,”

Judit Polgár recalls in the short film.

Despite the sharp gender divide at the time, Judit refused to participate in women’s tournaments, preferring to compete against men instead.

In the clip, she compares her family to a startup company: people

…who devoted every minute, ounce of patience and thought, putting everything on the line.”

Knowing the family’s story, the analogy may not sound so strange after all. Judit and her two sisters were part of an educational experiment carried out by their parents, both teachers. Their father, László Polgár wanted to prove that any healthy child – if taught early and intensively- is capable of great things. The three daughters who all became pioneers of the game are the living proof of his theory.

Chess Supremo Judit Polgár Preparing Kids for Guinness World Record
Chess Supremo Judit Polgár Preparing Kids for Guinness World Record

Hungarian chess grandmaster Judit Polgár has announced the world’s largest online chess event of all time on the website chesskid.com, and hopes to set a new Guinness world record by teaming up to set the record for the world’s largest online chess tournament. Polgár, who topped the women’s world ranking for 25 years and triumphed […]Continue reading

In 2014, Judit decided to retire from competitive chess. But the board game is still a defining part of her life. She is the head coach of the Hungarian men’s national team, and has authored several children’s book on the game. She gives lectures, and is a commentator for major tournaments.

She also launched the prestigious Global Chess Festival in 2007, which aims to bring the beauty of chess to millions each year.

The Global Chess Festival is Facing a New Frontier
The Global Chess Festival is Facing a New Frontier

With the popularity of chess growing to astronomical heights, key figures and long-term rivals Judit Polgár and Garry Kasparov are set to discuss the future of the sport and how it can be leveraged as a tool for education in a historic talk streamed online on October 10 as part of the Global Chess Festival, […]Continue reading

Judit has even developed ’Chess Palace,’ her own chess program for students. It was integrated into the Hungarian National Curriculum and made the Educational Chess subject available in elementary schools.

In recognition of her life’s work and achievements, she received the Order of Saint Stephen, the highest state order of Hungary in 2015.

You can watch the short film about Judit Polgár with English subtitle here:

Featured photo by Balázs Mohai/MTI