A chat with Judit Polgar

by Albert Silver
3/9/2012 – In spite of a schedule that had her on the run from morning until late at night, including two tournaments, a lecture, a book signing, and a large simul, Judit Polgar found time for a short interview in between rounds, in which she talked about her visit to Brazil, her tournament preparation, her family, Hou Yifan, and more. Don't miss this chat with Judit Polgar.

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A chat with Judit Polgar

By Albert Silver


In spite of a grueling three days, Judit fit me in after lunch before the eighth round

Albert Silver – This is your second time to Brazil. What are your impressions of it? Has it changed a lot?

Judit Polgar – I can’t compare occasions as the last time was in 1996 in São Paulo, but I have very good memories of that time. I played a rapid match with Gilberto Milos which I won 2.5-1.5. We played in a theatre. I travelled with my parents and Sofia for about a week as well. Here, it has been roughly a one-week trip as well. I visited schools, which was interesting. I was nice to see so many children holding my book, which was a special feeling, and was very nice. It’s always nice to see that in Latin America chess is popular and parents ask about it. Here I noticed there are many more club players than other places I visit, and I realized this unfortunately after facing them in my simul, and then seeing them again here at the open. I am not used to giving simuls against 38 players. The place is very pleasant, our host is kind, and it’s nice to be here.

What did you think of the Festa da Uva?

Well, it could be from any place in the world in that it is very professionally organized. It was interesting to play in the glass box at the entrance. It was kind of a show for me, and it was nice to be in the tournament. Of course we could hear most of the music (Ed: the exposition area had a DJ playing dance music through the loudspeakers all day long). The music was very good though, which was very nice. Well, it was great to see at the entrance people hugging each other and having a fun time. From this point of view it was unique.

You grew up very closely with your sisters travelling constantly together. What’s it like now, as you live on three different continents. Sofia is living in Israel, you live in Hungary, and Susan lives in Texas. Is it difficult to deal with this change? Do you get to see each other as often as you’d like?

In the beginning it was difficult. I was twelve years old when I started to travel alone, without my sister, and only with my mother. Then it felt unusual to be alone, and was kind of uncomfortable. Before the game we would prepare together, and after we would go over it. Then again, by now it would be strange to have them around, but of course I would love to see them more.  Still, with the way we ended up so far from each other, we are lucky we have the internet, with Skype and everything else. This way we can stay in touch, but of course it isn’t the same as if we lived in the same country.

Do you have a coach or second to help prepare for tournaments? Have you ever had one?

I had one. From time to time I have had training partners, and for many years, Psakhis would accompany me to some tournaments and conduct training sessions. Now for many years I have been working with Almasi as well as some other people.

Who do you see as your successor, the next female player to break 2700. Would you consider Hou Yifan as a candidate?

Well, seriously, I think Hou YIfan is the only one. First of all, she is pretty young, she is ambitious, the background is behind her as it should be. The government supports her, so she is probably the only one who has the potential to reach 2700 in the long term.

After your game against Hou Yifan at Gibraltar, you played against Maria Muzychuk. I recall reading on your Twitter that you were very upset to have been forced to play the endgame to the end, even though you were clearly won.

Yes, it was a post-game impression or feeling that I wrote on my Twitter and Facebook. Somehow I felt that the last two moves especially were somehow going too far, since I was six years old when I learned that endgame. I don’t often play open events, and I was not happy about having to play this kind of position after fighting five to six hours.

There are some players, such as Ponomariov and Nakamura , who have the reputation of sometimes pushing the game to the bitter end. How is this different?

I don’t know. I admit I sometimes play positions that other players would have thought should have been resigned a few moves earlier, but this game had that effect on me. I felt that my opponent didn’t really care about it anymore, there were no tricks left at this point, and this had been going on for the last ten moves already.

From here, where will you be going?

I’ll go home for a day then I’m going to visit my sister in the States.

Just a family visit, or do you have any events scheduled there?

I’ll visit my sister’s university and meet the players there, but mostly it is because Susan’s son will turn thirteen, and there will be his birthday party and Barmitzvah.

How wonderful. And what is your next tournament? When can we expect to see you play again?

Well, I will play in the Olympiad for sure.

How about the European Championship?

Not this time as it clashes with my schedule and would come right after or during my visit to the US.

Thank you very much.

For more on Judit Polgar, see her Facebook page as well as her official website.

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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