Chess in the City
By Susan Polgar in collaboration with Paul Truong
I recently received an invitation from the New York City Department of Parks
and Recreation to join Grandmaster Lev Alburt in playing a Human Live Chess
event in Central Park on Saturday, October 2, 2004. I jumped on it immediately
because of a few reasons. First of all, it is a pleasure and honor for me to
compete against Lev, a prolific chess author and one of the nicest Grandmasters
you could ever meet. Secondly, it is an opportunity to help US Chess by promoting
the game to the public especially young children.
Chess, the game of choice for America’s good men
Chess players everywhere! But where is the sun?
Our event was part of the 4th Annual Chess-in-the-Parks Rapid Open.
Even though it looked like it would rain all day, more than 450 participants
showed up for this wonderful event and the weather cooperated with us all the
way until late afternoon. There were thousands of other spectators surrounding
the chess tournament all day. The event was held right by the Bethesda Fountain,
one of the most beautiful and most visible spots in Central Park.
Black, White, Asian, old or young, everyone speaks the same language:
Players and spectators all enjoying the intensity of the game
Children can play a mean game of chess too
The event was a complete success and I hope that the city will continue to
support chess for many years to come. I am working with the New York City Department
of Parks and Recreation and New York City Sports Commissioner office to have
many other spectacular events for chess next year.
GM Lev Alburt, organizer Ed Feldman and me
At around 1 PM, the players took a break to participate in a human chess event.
Lev and I would play a 15 minute game. After each of our move, the human chess
piece would make the same move on a giant board.
Live Human Chess. GM Alburt and I are on the stage battling it out
First move by GM Alburt 1.d4 as Ed Feldman looks on
And the kids execute the same moves on the human chessboard
The coin toss was made by the event organizer Ed Feldman. I lost the coin
toss and Lev chose White. Below is our very interesting game:
GM Lev Alburt – GM Susan Polgar
New York Central Park, October 2, 2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 dxc4. Now the game has transposed
to Queen’s Gambit Accepted. 4.Nc3 e6. Also 4…a6
and 4…c5 are common. 5.Qa4+. More ambitious is 5.e4.
5…Nbd7 6.e4 c5. Another possible continuation is 6…a6.
7.d5! exd5 8.e5.
8...b5! This is an improvement over a game I played ten
years ago. Back in 1994, I played 8…d4 against Vladimir Kramnik (Monaco
rapid). But my opponent found a brilliant way to continue the attack and got
a winning position after 9.Bxc4 dxc3 10.exf6 Qxf6 11.Bg5 Qg6 (after 11...Qc6
12.0–0–0!! Qxa4 13.Rhe1+ leads to a win: 13...Be7 14.Rxe7+ Kf8
15.Rxf7+ Kg8 16.Rfxd7+ Qxc4 17.Rd8+ Kf7 18.Ne5+) 12.0–0 f6 13.Rad1 c2
14.Rd2 fxg5 15.Ne5 Qf5 16.Nxd7 Bxd7 17.Rxd7 Qxd7 18.Bb5 and the rest should
be easy although I managed to drag things out until move 118!
9.Qxb5 After 9.Nxb5 Ne4. Black is fine. 9...Rb8.
With the Pawn sacrifice Black gains time to activate the Rook. 10.Qa4
d4. An important counterattack on the White Knight. 11.exf6.
Black is better after 11.Nb5 Nd5 12.Bxc4 N5b6. 11...dxc3 12.Bxc4!
A nice move!
12...Rb4! The right move! If 12...cxb2? White has a winning
combination with 13.Bxf7+! Kxf7 14.Ng5+ Kxf6 (14...Kg6 15.Qe4+) 15.Qc6+! Kf5
16.Qe6 checkmate! 13.Qd1. The other interesting option was
13.Qc2 Nxf6 14.b3! Be6 15.0–0 (15.Bxe6 Re4+) 15...Bxc4 16.bxc4 Be7 as
the Miles-Karpov (Biel 1990) game continued, with a balanced position. 13...gxf6.
Of course 13...Rxc4 was not possible because of the fork with 14.Qe2+. White
has the advantage after 13...Qxf6 14.Bg5 Qd6 15.Qe2+ Be7 16.Rd1 Rxb2 17.Qe3
or 13...Nxf6 14.Bxf7+ Ke7 15.Qxd8+ Kxd8 16.bxc3. 14.b3. White
to protect the Bishop on c4 as well defend against cxb2.
14...Ne5. The Black King is stuck in the middle so it is
desirable for Black to try to trade pieces and especially Queens. 15.Qxd8+
Kxd8 16.Nxe5 fxe5.
Now that the fireworks are over, all White needs to do to win a Pawn back.
17.Bg5+. Probably more precise than 17.Bxf7. 17...Be7
18.0–0–0+ Ke8 19.Bxe7 Kxe7 20.Rhe1 f6.
21.f4. Using the pin along the e-file. Also after 21.Kc2
Be6 the position is equal. 21...Be6 22.fxe5 Bxc4 23.exf6+ Kxf6 24.bxc4
Rxc4. Black is still a Pawn up, but that advantage is only symbolic.
And I offered a draw, which was accepted right away. ½–½
Mr. Benepe, the Commissioner of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation arrived
at around 2:30 PM to speak to the participants and the spectators. During his
speech, he talked about the tremendous benefits of chess that we all know about.
He kept on motivating the young players to stay in chess and enjoy the beauty
of this game. As I mentioned in the beginning of this column, chess is booming
and more and more people are recognizing this fact. It is wonderful to see
so much support for chess. Thank you Ed Feldman for organizing this wonderful
event and special thanks to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for
Commissioner Benepe, GM Lev Alburt, organizer Ed Feldman and me
The kids are ready! Can we start already? We want to play!
The trumpet guy from the NYC Philharmonic helping out with audio effects!
He was good!
New York Governor Pataki and Chess
On Wednesday, September 29, 2004, I was invited to meet New York Governor
George E. Pataki at the Governor's Office in Manhattan along with Michael Khodarkovsky
and Paul Truong. Unfortunately, none of the members of the Women’s Olympiad
Team was able to make it due to schedule conflict. The Governor was extremely
busy meeting one group after another. But he made special time to meet us.
The Governor has Hungarian ancestry. His Grandparents immigrated to the United
States from Hungary. In 1956, as an 11-year old boy, he recalls watching the
unfolding events of the Hungarian Revolution with his father. This dramatic
experience was the first in a long chain of events that helped shape his philosophy
on the role of government -- a philosophy that is similar to that of the Governor's
personal hero, Theodore Roosevelt. He is very proud of his heritage. One of
his aids said that he jumps on any chance he gets to travel to Hungary.
The Hungarian connection
From time to time, the Governor and I conversed in Hungarian. He stated that
he knew of me since I was four years old when I won the Budapest Girl's under
11 Championship with a 10-0 score. He complimented me on my work to promote
chess among young people in the United States. I was very surprised that the
Governor knows so much about my chess career and the Susan Polgar Foundation.
The Governor is also very familiar with the Susan Polgar National Invitational
for Girls. The Governor said that he thinks the event is a great idea and he
agrees that chess is a wonderful game and it can really help so many children.
The governor first learned chess from his father when he was a young boy. He
told me to call him personally if he could be of any help with my chess projects.
I presented the Governor a 2004-2005 U.S. Women’s Olympiad Calendar
and a Hungarian book about my sisters and me.
I believe it can be a big boost for chess in New York as well as across America
to have this kind of support. Before departing, the Governor wished the 2004
US Women’s Olympiad Team, sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation,
all the best and hoped that the team can bring home the Gold for the United
All pictures provided by Paul Truong