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?

[pgn]1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 a6 10.O-O-O Nxd4 11.Bxd4 O-O 12.Bxc5 Nxc5 13.Qd4 b6 14.Kb1 Bb7 15.Bd3 Rc8 16.Rhe1 Qc7 17.g4 f6 18.f5 Nxd3 19.cxd3 exf5 20.gxf5 fxe5 21.Rxe5 Qc5 22.Qg4 b5 23.d4 Qd6 24.h4 Rc7 25.Re6 Qd8 26.Rf1 Rcf7 27.Re5 b4 28.Nd1 a5 29.Ne3 Kh8 30.h5 a4 31.Qg2 b3 32.a3 Qh4 33.Rd1 h6 34.Qe2 Rc7 35.Qb5 Re7 36.f6 Rxe5 37.fxg7+ Kxg7 38.dxe5 Qe4+ 39.Ka1 Rf7 40.Rg1+ Kh7 41.Ng4 Bc6 42.Qxc6 Qxg4 43.Qg6+ 1-0[/pgn]

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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