Judit Polgar: Chess Connects Us

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Judit Polgar simul Chess Festival

Although Grandmaster Judit Polgar retired from playing top-level competitive chess in 2014, she is one of the game’s most active promoters. On October 13, 2018, the second Saturday in October and thus also National Chess Day in the United States, Judit and her sister Sofia will give a simultaneous chess exhibition (a “simul”) as part of the Global Chess Festival. Check out the Facebook page “Chess Connects Us” for more information about her simul and other exciting chess projects.

Charles Hertan - Strike Like Judit!Judit Polgar Teaches Chess (volume 1): How I Beat Fischer’s Record, the first book of Judit’s three-book-long memoir, is one of my favorite chess books. So when New In Chess mailed me a review copy of Strike Like Judit! The Winning Tactics of Chess Legend Judit Polgar, I was pleased that the book’s author, FIDE Master Charles Hertan, wrote, “Having no interest in redundancy, I strove to avoid the examples covered in her excellent memoir Judit Polgar Teaches Chess.” That is, Hertan acknowledged the excellence of Judit’s books and promised “to explore as much new territory as possible, in both the analysis and presentation” of Judit’s tactics and games.

I read Hertan’s book without a chess board, as there were well-placed diagrams within each game. Also, there are diagrams at the end of most analysis variations, so I could visualize those lines without use of a board too. However, if I wanted to see each move, I typed the names of each game’s players into an Internet search engine then clicked along the moves of that game on my laptop while reading Hertan’s commentary. For example, Hertan included two wins by Judit against Grandmaster Nigel Short, who is currently a candidate for FIDE Chess President. You can find the game below by typing “Polgar-Short Buenos Aires 2000” into your search engine. Hertan left off the first part of the game, beginning his analysis with a diagram after Black’s 35th move. Can you find what Hertan called “The shot!” that Judit played?

Hertan described 36. f6! as a “surprise blow which destroyed the opponent’s equilibrium more than his position.” I have left out some of Hertan’s comments and analysis, but include the following to give a sense of his annotating style. After Black’s 39…Rf7, which Hertan gives a question mark to, Hertan wrote, “Black should have plucked that knight [on e3] off in a heartbeat.” Hertan gives this analysis [39…Qxe3 40. Qxb7+ Kh8! 41. Qxd5 Rc8 42. Kb1 Qe2 43. Qd2, and then either 43…Qxh5 or 43…Qxd2 44. Rxd2 Kg7] showing that, had Short as Black played these moves, “White’s back-rank problems make winning seem unlikely.” However, after Black’s mistake on move 39, Judit wins in just four more moves.

If you like chess tactics and you are a fan of Judit Polgar, you will enjoy Strike Like Judit! The Winning Tactics of Chess Legend Judit Polgar.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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