Judit Polgár

Judit Polgár (born 1976) is a chess player from Hungary.

Judit Polgár

  • Polgár broke the age record when she, at the tender age of 12, became one of the top-100 players on the FIDE ratings list. This happened in January 1989.
  • In 1991, she earned the title Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, thus breaking Bobby Fischer´s 1958 record for youngest Grandmaster. (Fischer was 15 years and 6 months when he became a GM.)
  • Polgár became one of the top-10 FIDE rated players in 1996, when she was just 20 years old.
  • Polgár peaked at spot #8 in the FIDE ratings list in 2004.
  • Polgár is the only woman to have surpassed 2700 Elo. In 2005, she reached a peak rating of 2735.

Polgár announced her retirement from competitive chess in 2014. The following year, she became captain and head coach for the Hungarian national men´s chess team. Polgár has received the Hungary´s highest decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary

Examples of notable wins

Polgár has won or shared first place in many prestigious chess tournaments, including:

  • Hastings 1993
  • Madrid 1994
  • León 1996
  • U.S. Open 1998
  • Hoogeveen 1999
  • Sigeman & Co 2000
  • Japfa 2000
  • Najdorf Memorial 2000

Polgár has defeated eleven current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Magnus Carlsen, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov

World Chess Championship

Polgár is so far the only woman who has been a serious candidate for the World Chess Championship, and she participated in 2005.

Playing style

Polgár is known for her aggressive playing style, where she strives to take the initiative and actively pursues complications. She is also very skilled at blitz games.

In her youth, she became a spectator favourite for her willingness to carry out wild gambits and attacks.

Garry Kasparov wrote, based upon Polgár´s playing-style, that ””if to ‘play like a girl’ meant anything in chess, it would mean relentless aggression”.

After losing a rapid game to Polgár in 2002, Kasparov noted that “The Polgárs showed that there are no inherent limitations to their aptitude—an idea that many male players refused to accept until they had unceremoniously been crushed by a twelve-year-old with a ponytail.” Earlier in life, Kasparov has been more doubtful about Polgár´s ability, stating that ”She has fantastic chess talent, but she is, after all, a woman. It all comes down to the imperfections of the feminine psyche. No woman can sustain a prolonged battle.”


Judit Polgár was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1976. Her family is Hungarian-Jewish, and Judit was the youngest of three sisters. Her father László Polgár taught his tree daughters to play chess at an early age, and all three became skilled chess players. Susan is a Grandmaster and Sofia is an International Master.

László and his wife Klara educated their daughters at home, and the curriculum included plenty of chess and Esperanto.

László was against the idea of his daughters playing in female-only chess tournaments. “Women are able to achieve results similar, in fields of intellectual activities, to that of men,” he wrote. “Chess is a form of intellectual activity, so this applies to chess. Accordingly, we reject any kind of discrimination in this respect.”

The policy of the Hungarian Chess Federation at the time was for girls and women to only play in female-only chess tournaments, and the Polgár family encountered a lot of resistance. In 1985, when Susan was a 15-year-old International Master, she spoke out about how she had not been awarded the Grandmaster title despite having made the norm eleven times. She had refused to play in women´s tournaments and had been forced to fight hard against the bureaucracy to be allowed to play in men´s tournaments.