Grandmaster Chef: Judit Polgár

by Alexey Root
7/23/2020 – At her peak rating in 2005, Grandmaster Judit Polgár was ranked number 8 in the world. Although she retired from competing in August of 2014, Judit promotes chess through her Global Chess Festival and serves as Honorary FIDE Vice-President. To show appreciation for Judit on her 44th birthday, this article has a recipe for a dessert, which could serve as her birthday cake. WIM Alexey Root and her co-author WGM Sabina Foisor are former U.S. Women’s Chess Champions. | Pictured: Judit showing Shirov-Polgár (1994) to her children Oliver and Hannah | Photo: Bela Doka, 2012

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Role model

As has been documented many times by ChessBase, most recently here, Grandmaster Judit Polgár has numerous chess accomplishments. My co-author, Woman Grandmaster Sabina-Francesca Foişor, benefited from Judit’s trailblazing in chess. When Sabina began her chess career in her home country of Romania in 1994, only a handful of women held the “men’s” grandmaster title. Sabina looked to Judit Polgár and to her own mother, Cristina Foişor, for female role models of excellence in chess. Cristina and her husband Ovidiu each earned the International Master title and Sabina’s younger sister Veronica is a Woman International Master. Thus, the Foişors, like the Polgárs, are a chess-playing family.

Judit Polgar, Sophia PolgarAbout Judit as one of her role models, Sabina wrote, “Judit Polgár has been an inspiration to chess-playing girls and women around the world. She has won games against every single elite player of her time (from Karpov to Carlsen) while demonstrating tactical brilliancy similar to Alekhine, Tal, and Kasparov. Aside from being an inspiration to me as a person, her chess ideas have influenced me too. When I first defeated titled players, I surprisingly employed my g-pawn on many occasions. Thus, if I were to choose one game from Judit’s career, her impressive attack on the Black side of Sicilian against Shirov stands out without any doubt.” 

Let me (Alexey) share that I am 11 years older than Judit. Thus, I could not look to her as a role model during my first chess tournament at age 9. In 1978, the year I turned 13, Nona Gaprindashvili was the first woman to be awarded the grandmaster title. Before 1978, I’d already heard that no woman held what was then called the “men’s” grandmaster title.

However, Judit’s books and her outreach efforts—such as the Global Chess Festival which I profiled for ChessBase—have inspired my own writing and chess promotion. And my birthday (July 24, 1965) is in the same month as Judit’s (July 23, 1976). I wish my fellow Leo a Happy Birthday!

[Pictured: Judith and Sophia Polgar in Hamburg, 1989 | Photo: Frederic Friedel]

The recipe

Sabina is passionate about cooking; see her website and her Instagram. For a birthday dessert for Judit Polgár, Sabina chose a traditional Hungarian Raspberry Pastry recipe. She wrote:

I wanted to choose something sweet (for a fast and sweet win!) while reviewing this game. The good vibe was calling for a dessert recipe, especially in these trying times. Given our shared history, Romanians and Hungarians have some similar dishes. I looked for something fruity. I chose Hungarian Raspberry Pastry as it could easily be made into a birthday cake. Serve it as a cake, or as a breakfast or afternoon treat.

Hungarian Raspberry PastryIngredients

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7-8 tablespoons of raspberry preserves (Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of finely-chopped pecans or walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 300º Fahrenheit/150º Celsius.
  2. Spray with cooking spray or butter your pan. For this article, I chose a 9.5 inch glass pie plate to have it look like a cake, but ideally you may choose a 10 x 15 inch/15 x 20 cm pan.
  3. Start by gathering and measuring your ingredients to speed up the preparation.
  4. Separate the yolks from the egg whites.
  5. Soften the butter in the microwave or on the stove top.
  6. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they become foamy.
  7. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  8. In another bowl, add the butter, the sugar, the vanilla, and the egg yolks. With the same electric mixer, beat them for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture is yellow and smooth.
  9. To the yolks mixture, stir in the flour mixture and mix with a wooden or silicone spoon or your hands.
  10. Transfer to the prepared pan, crimping it into the corners. NOTE: do not panic if dough is a little crumbly. Press it on the pan firmly and cover its entire surface.
  11. Spread the raspberry preserves on the dough.
  12. Sprinkle 1 cup of the pecans/walnuts over the raspberry preserves.
  13. Spread the beaten egg whites evenly over the pecans/walnuts.
  14. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of pecans/walnuts over the egg whites.
  15. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  16. Let cool.
  17. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.

[Pictured: The dessert — just out of the oven!]

Alexey Root, Sabiano Foisor

Going over the game while enjoying the dessert

The game

Sabina annotated Alexei Shirov versus Judit Polgár, Buenos Aires 1994. Also known as ‘Polgár’s Immortal Game’, it is the last game Judit analyzes in Judit Polgár: From GM to Top Ten. In 2012, famed Hungarian photographer Bela Doka took a photo of Judit showing her children, Oliver and Hannah, the variation 27.Qxg5 Nf3#.


And Action! - How to crown positional play by tactics

There are few names which, like that of Alexei Shirov, can be associated with fantastically imaginative and tactically influenced play. Now the Latvian grandmaster is presenting a DVD on precisely that element of the game of chess. And one that is completely based on his own games.


Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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