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The Queen’s Gambit Deja-Vu For Hungary Chess Champ Judit Polgar

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Watching the hit Netflix present “The Queen’s Gambit” sparked deja-vu for Hungarian chess nice Judit Polgar, thought to be the sport’s best-ever feminine participant. Like the present’s fictional heroine Beth, an orphaned chess prodigy, Polgar tackled not simply opponents throughout the board however gender stereotypes within the male-dominated sport.


“I played all my life with male competitors, sometimes I was the only female player at a tournament,” she informed AFP in an interview.

Now 44, Polgar turned the youngest-ever worldwide grandmaster aged 15, breaking US legend Bobby Fischer’s report, and went on to beat a string of male world champions.

“The first grandmaster I beat was hitting his head in the elevator after the game, another defeated opponent refused to shake hands and stormed away from the board,” stated Polgar.

Similar to “The Queen’s Gambit” finale during which Beth overcomes Russian powerhouse Vasily Borgov, Polgar had her personal tussle with Russia’s Garry Kasparov, extensively thought-about the best participant in historical past.

At the 1988 Chess Olympiad, Judit, then aged 12, and her older sisters Susan and Sofia helped Hungary win the ladies’s gold, impressing the onlooking Kasparov, who was world champion on the time.

But Kasparov, who had beforehand known as Polgar a “circus puppet” and stated girls chess gamers ought to persist with having kids, dismissed the thought of a girl ever beating the world’s primary.

“Women are not capable of handling that kind of pressure, so I’m almost sure it’s impossible,” he informed Hungarian journalists then, in accordance with Polgar.

Fourteen years later, nevertheless, the Hungarian acquired her revenge, beating Kasparov in Moscow in what she known as a “historic moment”.

“I had a deja-vu feeling when watching Beth sitting opposite Borgov, tense and afraid, thinking that perhaps she could not handle it, this is what I felt against Kasparov,” she informed AFP.

– ‘Nasty seems’ –

Long since reconciled with Kasparov — who was a technical adviser on “The Queen’s Gambit” — Polgar stated she notably loved the present’s “attention to detail” though she thought-about some facets of it “unrealistic”.

Beth’s struggles with addictions to drugs and alcohol, “would make it near impossible to reach the top in modern chess,” whereas sexism is extra rife in chess than was depicted on display screen, stated Polgar.

“Girls for sure are going to be handling many more gender-based comments and nasty looks than Beth received,” she stated.

“Usually I didn’t have very ugly situations, but there were times when they said: ‘OK, she was just lucky,’ so I had to prove myself more than if I were a boy,” she added.

Polgar remembers her crowning achievement as ending second in a prestigious event within the Netherlands in 2002, forward of then world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

“That was the tournament of my life, to prove how good I can be,” she stated.

By the time Polgar retired from competitors in 2014 to concentrate on elevating her household, the Hungarian had reigned for 25 years on the prime of the ladies’s rankings and reached a peak of eighth within the general score.

But she says her intention was by no means to develop into the most effective feminine participant on this planet.

“If I had wanted just that I probably would not have stayed at number one as long as I did, my goal was going further, and being top female player was just a milestone on the way,” she stated.

– ‘More women studying’ –

Now concentrating on chess promotion and schooling, she has developed studying instruments to equip kids with chess’s artistic, strategic, logical considering and problem-solving instruments.

According to Polgar, some 40,000 Hungarian youngsters in some 500 colleges are concerned in her Chess Palace programme yearly — which she stated lays no stress on gender.

“I fight for the girls by not making differences between the boys and girls,” she stated.


And Polgar already sees that buzz round “The Queen’s Gambit” is creating greater feminine involvement within the sport.

“Parents will be influenced for sure, I hear it everywhere from bookstores to toy stores to playing sites that there are many more girls learning the game now”.

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