Why Judit Polgar was not on the ratings list

1/14/2005 – Our report on the FIDE rankings of January 1st 2005 brought consternation and distress to a large number of readers. Where was Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in the history of the game? Should she not have been in the top ten of all players? We did a bit of research and can, with great pleasure, tell you the full reason.

This article is about the omission of GM Judit Polgar, the strongest female player (by far) in the history of chess, and one of the top ten players of any gender in the game, from the latest FIDE rating list. We start by explaining why she was left out (inactivity); and in the second part why she was inactive in chess.

Seldom has a report on our news service have elicited so many letters as the one on the Jan. 1st rating list. "I'm surprised that you did not mention the fact that Judit Polgar is not on the latest FIDE list, as she is rated 2728 and should be in the top ten," wrote Daniel Wigley of Florida, USA, as did over a hundred others. The webmaster of the Judit Polgar Fan Club said he had heard it was due to "inactivity", but reminded us that Bobby Fischer as well as Gata Kamsky remained on FIDE rating list for many years even though they had stopped playing altogether.

Well, we contacted FIDE and got a message from Casto Abundo, who is in charge of the ratings program (and who has, might we add, enhanced it tremendously in the last few years). Casto reminded us that Judit Polgar, naturally, was still on the rating list, just not in the list of the top 100 players. A search on the FIDE site will quickly retrieve her:

Judit Polgar on the general FIDE rating list

Judit is, however, considered inactive for the ranking of top players in accordance with FIDE Handbook Rating Regulations B.02 article 9.2.3d below:

9.23 Inactive players are not included on the list but nonetheless are considered rated at their most recent published rating for rating and title result purposes.

9.2.3a Players are considered to commence inactivity if they play fewer than 4 rated games in a one year period.

9.2.3b Inactive players are shown on the next 7 rating lists after starting being considered inactive. Their names are then flagged as inactive in the alphabetical section of the rating list and removed from the national federation's lists which would contain only the list of active players (GA '98).

9.2.3c A player regains his activity if he plays at least 4 rated games in a one year period and he is then listed on the next list.

9.2.3d For the purposes of the FIDE rating list ranking of top players, a player who is inactive over a 12 months period of inactivity on the rating list will no longer appear on the top list.

Therefore, Judit remains on the FIDE rating list, but not in the Top Players' Ranking Lists for now. This is a relatively new regulation and did not apply when Fischer and Kamsky became inactive. This is what the World Chess Rankings would look like if Judit were included:

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Day
1 Kasparov, Garry g RUS 2804 16 1963-04-13
2 Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2786 11 1969-12-11
3 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2757 0 1975-03-15
4 Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2754 14 1975-06-25
5 Leko, Peter g HUN 2749 14 1979-09-08
6 Morozevich, Alexander g RUS 2741 21 1977-07-18
7 Adams, Michael g ENG 2741 20 1971-11-17
8 Svidler, Peter g RUS 2735 19 1976-06-17
9 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2728 0 1976-07-23
10 Bacrot, Etienne g FRA 2715 5 1983-01-22

Starting on Saturday Judit will be playing in the Wijk aan Zee Super-GM tournament in Holland, which means she will be most certainly included in the next FIDE Top Rankings.

My name is Oliver

We now come to the very pleasant second part of this report: the reason for Judit's one-year absence from tournament chess. It was the birth of her first child, Oliver, on August 10th 2004 in Budapest. Oliver was 4.25 kilos (9.37 pounds) in weight at birth. Here are some pictures from the family album.


Mother and child, soon after the birth


Oliver starting to take a real interest in the people around him


What is the lady doing? Why the lights? What is a "camera"?


Better than chess: mother and child in their Budapest apartment

The above pictures were provided to us by Tímea Jaksa, 31, born in Szeged, married with two children. Tímea studied English at the University of Miskolc and then Human Resource Management at the University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration. "For the last ten years I don’t go anywhere without my camera," she tells us. " The best about taking pictures it the reaction of people when they see my work. Once I saw a mother cry when she saw the pictures I took of her son’s wedding. That is probably why my favourite theme are people, especially women and children. I know it does not sound special but they do look special!"

The picture of Tímea herself (right) was taken by her eight-year-old son Áron. Tímea Jaksa can be contacted under the email address jaksa01 (at) axelero.hu.

The following pictures were sent to us by Paul Truong, who visited the family recently in Budapest.


The entire Polgar family: Susan and Judit (standing), Sofia, mother Klara, father László and a gleeful baby Oliver


One happy family in Budapest


Susan with her new nephew


They left my mommy off the rating list??


The famous Polgar sisters, Sofia, Susan and Judit, each of whom has written history in women's chess (in case you have forgotten: in 1989 Sofia, the least famous of the Polgar sisters, scored 8.5 out of nine in the Rome Open, with a rating performance of 2928)


And here is a picture of the three sisters twenty years ago (Judit's on the left)

While we are at it, here are some pictures of Budapest, where the Polgar sisters were born and raised. Today only Judit lives there. Susan lives in New York and Sofia in Israel. Both are married and have children of their own.


The city of Budapest, separated by the Danube into Buda and Pest


The famous Chain Bridge across the Danube


The historical Houses of Parliament, built in 1904 on the banks of the river


Looking down the river at night


The Buda Castle, lit up beautifully


A historical monument


A vendor with – what else? – chess sets


Leaving Budapest – a shot from the sky

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