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Susan Polgar


"I believe that chess makes you more responsible."

She has broken the gender barriers in chess, not only has she won 4 world titles and 5 Olympic gold medals, but she was also the first female chess player to be allowed to compete in the male World Championships. Through her Susan Polgar Foundation, she has become a worldwide ambassador for a powerful message that can more or less be summarized as follows: play chess because it will help you make decisions, strengthen your ability to think critically, manage key moments, plan for the future and cultivate perseverance; in short, it will help you to live better.


Susan Polgar was born in Budapest in 1969 to a Jewish family (her grandmother had survived Auschwitz). Her father, László Polgar, decided to go against the grain and Susan, along with sisters Judit and Sofia, were home schooled by her parents. The focus was above all on chess and Esperanto. Her father was a firm believer that a child, if trained from a very young age in a specific discipline, could attain exceptional results ("Genius is not simply born, it is created"). At age 4, Susan won in the under 11 girls' tournament in Budapest with a final score of 10-0. At 12, she took the women's under 16 world title. In 1984, at the tender age of 15, she was already the top-ranked woman in the world. She was the first woman to become a Grandmaster. In 1986 she took on the gender barrier, taking part in the men's World Championships, and 5 years later, in 1991, she became the first woman who could boast to be a "male" Grandmaster. In 1996, she took her fourth women's world championship. In 2003, she won the US Open Blitz Championship, playing against 7 Grandmasters (she would also go on to take the title the following two years). At the Chess Olympiads, she has won 5 golds, 4 silvers and a bronze (no losses in 56 matches). In 2005 in Palm Beach she broke 4 records simultaneously: most games (326 with 309 victories, 14 draws and 3 losses); most consecutive games; most games won and highest percentage of victories. In 2005, she was once again the top-ranked woman in the USA (from aged 15 on she spent 23 consecutive years in the top 3). In the same year, she promoted Chess for Peace, which also saw the involvement of Mikhail Gorbachev and Anatoly Karpov. In 2007, she received an honorary degree from Texas Tech University, where she currently teaches and runs the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE). In addition to her mother tongue, she speaks fluent Esperanto, Bulgarian, German, Russian, Spanish, English and Hebrew. As a chess journalist, she writes for Chess Life, Chess Life for Kids, ChessCafe, Chess Horizons, Georgia Chess, Chessville, Empire Chess, School Mates and Europe Echecs. She has even brought out an 11-set DVD chess course. She writes books, speaks at conferences across the world and is actively involved in social matters. After living in New York for 13 years she now resides with her family in Texas.

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