Sofia Polgar – Amazing Artist, Dangerous Tactician – 2

by Frederic Friedel
11/27/2023 – Sofia Polgar's new book is instructive and informative. It is also generously illustrated, with acrylic on canvas paintings by the author. It is published by Russell Enterprises, and makes for an ideal Christmas gift. We have known Sofia since she was a very young girl, and tell you about that in part two of our review 0150 which also includes some of the paintings from the book.

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Here's part one of this book review

It quotes the forewords of Sofia's sisters, ex- women's world champion Zsuzsa Polgar and the strongest female chess player of all time, Judit Polgar. In addidion we quote Sofia's introduction, and give you a sample of the chess positions and games in the book. 

Here we bring you a small sample of the pictures that are in the book. 

"Time Flies", 2017, acrylic on canvas. Caption: "Time is an eternal subject for everyone from philosophers and scientists to artists and children who are fascinated with the idea of time travel. It is your move! I invite the observer of this artwork to think about what time means to you?!"

"Karpov - Kasparov Match", 2023: Memories of sitting on the floor with my sisters, learning chess from our heroes on black & white television.

"The King is Down", 2008: Bobby Fischer was and always will be a hero and inspiration for chessplayers. In this artwork I was seeking to capture the conflicting sides of Fischer’s complex personality: a genius-mad mind, the lonely celebrity, the champion in chess and a loser in life.

This is a painting entitled "Blindfold Chess Memories", 2022. The caption: "Judit and I played countless games in the Sicilian, even with our backs to the board. We were calling out the moves and Dad was making them on the board. On the right side of the painting, a memory of the “Kartotek” the hard work of endless nights of my parents, to make a chess database of index cards. And then the computers appeared..."

Sofia, the artist, here in France in 1994. Her book also includes drawings, like this one here:

On a personal note

By Frederic Friedel

I first met the Polgar family forty years ago, in Budapest in 1983. I went over to their flat to talk to Zsuzsa, who was the 14-year-old rising star of women's chess. I was introduced to László Polgar, the father who had initiated the chess boom in the family, his wife Klara, who speaks many languages (including all of those I speak), and two little girls, the younger sisters of Zsuzsa.

Susan (as we call Zsuzsa) with her little sisters, who are clearly interested in chess

It was during the World Microcomputer Chess Championship I invited Susan to play a game against one of the strongest chess programs in the world at the time. "Let my sisters play," she said.

Sofia, at the age of eight, playing against Mephisto, one of the strongest computers at the time. She and Judit crushed it, as well as the Fidelity computer that went on to win the Word Micro.

Some years later the four Polgar ladies (Klara and her daughters) visited my home south of Hamburg. It was a lovely summer in 1989, and the two younger sisters Judit and Sofia...

...spent much time in a hammock in the garden, reading Hungarian teeny magazines...

... or watching TV from the floor of our living room.

In 1999 Sofia – with my enthusiastic approval – married Yona Kosashvili. He is the head of the orthopedics department at Beilinson Hospital, and also an Israeli chess grandmaster. 

Yona and Sofia have two sons: Alon, who is in his last year of studies for physiotherapy, and Yoav, who is in his third year of studies in mechanical engineering, both at Tel Aviv University. Alon and Yoav are (of course) strong chess players.

Sofia's book makes for a wonderful Christmas present, one you'll enjoy for months to follow.


1 Introduction
2 Family Background
3 Basic Chess Lessons
4 Watch Your Back!
5 Sicilian Madness and Youth Championships
6 King’s Gambit
7 Attack on the Seventh Rank
8 Olympic Experience
9 Open Files and Diagonals
10 Going After the King
11 Miracle in Rome
12 Chess and Friends

You can get it from Amazon, and from chess dealers worldwide. If you want something really special, you can order it from Schach Niggemann, who has a limited number of luxury hard cover copies signed by Sofia.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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