Queen of the king's game in Queens

by ChessBase
3/10/2004 – GM Susan Polgar's Chess Center had a gala re-opening at its spectacular new location in New York City. VIPs came from all over for the festivities and an inaugural blitz tournament, won by WGM Rusa Goletiani. Of course we were there since there was the promise of free food. Between bites we talked with the proud owner about her plans and the culture of chess development in the USA. Read on.

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Susan Polgar Chess Center re-opens bigger and better

New York City has a long and illustrious chess history, but you wouldn't know it from the current state of the game in the Big Apple. There are few places to play serious chess or receive formal instruction, particularly outside of Manhattan. A big step to change that was taken with the opening of the Polgar Chess Center in its new and improved location. It's still in Forest Hills, Queens but in a spacious new spot right on one of the busiest streets in New York, Queens Boulevard. Even more important for New Yorkers, few of whom drive, it's only a block from the subway.

Don't look for the yellow door. It's going to be repainted black and white!

Polgar is enthusiastic about bringing chess to kids and providing many kids with instruction and a place to play. She added it wouldn't be possible to run the Center without the help of so many volunteers. We asked about the difference between the chess culture in the US and her native Hungary.

"It's completely different, at least in Eastern Europe. There parents see chess as something serious, as a potential career for their kids. Here it's more like a place to drop off the kids after school. They don't know about the work and attention serious progress in chess requires."

But that doesn't mean there aren't a few promising youngsters on the premises and several top US juniors got their start and played and studied regularly at the Center's previous two locations. They'll have even more room to grow in the new spot, which Polgar says can fit up to 60 players in its four rooms. You can read more about the Center and its activities at polgarchess.com. A tidbit from Paul Truong: Polgar insisted that all the sets used in the club be solid wood, not the usual plastic. (This was wisely avoided in the kids' area, where unbreakable weighted plastic sets are used.)

The Center gives weekly lectures and holds tournaments of many different time controls, including rapid and blitz. There is also a very well-stocked chess shop with the best book selection we've seen anywhere (offline at least) on these shores. There are different membership levels to participate in the different activities and tournaments. The base adult membership is $225 per year with discounts for scholastic and senior members.

GM Susan Polgar at her new Chess Center.

There was an impromptu inaugural blitz tournament with around forty players participating. It was dominated by WGM Rusa Goletiani, a Georgian who is now a member of the US Women's Olympiad training squad. She scored a clean 6-0, including a final-round win over IM Danny Kopec. The tournament was sponsored by ChessCafe.com, Excalibur Electronics, and the Chess Hall Of Fame / Sidney Samole Chess Museum.

Kopec-Goletiani in the final round.

The winner of the first event at the new Polgar Chess Center, WGM Rusadan Goletiani.

A four-time world champion tournament director?!



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