The Polgar Challenge for young stars kicks off Thursday

by ChessBase
4/5/2021 – Chess legends Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik have joined forces with Play Magnus Group to launch a new elite online tour designed to support rising young players and advance gender equality in the sport. The first event, dubbed the Polgar Challenge, kicks off on April 8. The lineups of Team Polgar and Team Kramnik have been revealed.

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Young stars coached by legends

Press release by the Play Magnus Group

The Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour is a chance for some young stars to take centre stage, and it starts this Thursday, April 8, with the Polgar Challenge. There are 20 players, 10 male (Under 18) and 10 female (Under 25).

The Polgar Challenge is one of four challenges in which each player faces all 19 other players once at rapid chess – 10 minutes per player per game, with a 5-second increment after each move. The prize fund is $15,000, with $3,000 for the winner, who also gets a place on the next Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event, starting April 24. The best eight players in the four Challenges qualify for the $40,000 knockout final. 

That’s not all, however, as the players are also split into two teams, Team Polgar and Team Kramnik, and their points will also be tallied for their teams. The winning team at the end of the tour will get to travel to Dubai, where Magnus Carlsen is set to play his 5th World Championship match this November.  

The games start at 16:00 CEST on April 8, with five rounds on the first three days and four on the last.

Team Polgar

Average age: 18
Average rating: 2520

Player Country Age Rating
Nihal Sarin India 16 2620
Awonder Liang United States 17 2592
Vincent Keymer Germany 16 2591
Gukesh D India 14 2578
Sarasadat Khademalsharieh Iran 24 2494
Volodar Murzin Russia 14 2478
Polina Shuvalova Russia 20 2476
Zhansaya Abdumalik Kazakhstan 21 2472
Zhu Jiner China 18 2459
Gunay Mammadzada Azerbaijan 20 2443

Each team not only has a captain, but three coaches who will help the players over the course of the 5-month tour. Surya Ganguly, Ju Wenjun and Arthur Kogan will be helping the members of Team Polgar.

  • 6-time Indian Champion Surya Ganguly has worked on Team Anand for World Chess Championship matches and should have some invaluable advice for his players.
  • Ju Wenjun is the reigning Women’s World Chess Champion and together with Judit Polgar, Hou Yifan and Anna Muzychuk means that the Tour features no less than four of the five women ever to cross the 2600 rating barrier (Humpy Koneru was the fifth). 
  • Ukrainian-born, Israeli Grandmaster Arthur Kogan currently lives in Spain and his students similarly span the globe. They include perhaps the biggest rising star in Russian chess, male or female, Polina Shuvalova, who in 2019 won both the U18 and U20 World Youth Championships and in 2020 fell just short of winning the Russian Championship after reaching a playoff against Aleksandra Goryachkina. 

Team Kramnik

Average age: 17.6
Average rating: 2505.4

Player Country Age Rating
Nodirbek Abdusattorov Uzbekistan 16 2627
Praggnanandhaa India 15 2608
Jonas Bjerre Denmark 16 2550
Leon Mendonca India 15 2549
Lei Tingjie China 24 2505
Dinara Saduakassova Kazakhstan 24 2500
Christopher Yoo United States 14 2455
Olga Badelka Belarus 18 2433
Carissa Yip United States 17 2430
Nurgyul Salimova Bulgaria 17 2397

The stellar trio of Hou Yifan, Boris Gelfand and Anna Muzychuk will be coaching the members of Team Kramnik.

  • Women’s no. 1 and former Women’s World Chess Champion Hou Yifan is currently working as a Professor in Shenzhen after completing a degree at Oxford University, but her focus remains chess and she now has a chance to pass on some of her vast experience – the 27-year-old first won the world title at 16.  
  • 52-year-old Boris Gelfand is a legend as a player, having come within rapid tiebreaks of winning the World Chess Championship from Vishy Anand, and has now built a reputation as the one of the best chess authors and coaches. 
  • Anna Muzychuk was taught to play chess by her parents at the age of two and together with her sister Mariya went on to win almost everything you could win in women’s chess, including the World Junior Championship and Rapid and Blitz world titles.


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