In an illustrious chess career that had an amazing amount of challenges, Susan Polgar overcame countless odds to achieve the pinnacle in her sport. Now she has taken the time to create this time capsule that highlights 10 moments that reflect enriching memories of her career.
Even though I had qualified to be the youngest woman grandmaster in history at the age of 12, my sight was set on the “men’s” grandmaster title, which I achieved in 1991. I became the first woman in history to break this major gender barrier. This made a very big impact for women’s chess, paving the way for other women to follow including my younger sister Judit a year later.
This was simply an incredible moment for my sisters and me as well as for my native Hungary. We captured the Gold medal, ending the Soviet dominance in Women’s Olympiads. The Soviet women have won the Gold in every Olympiad that they participated in prior to 1988.
Winning the 1996 Women’s World Championship was very special. This title gave me the triple crown in chess (Rapid, Blitz and Classical World Championships) and it silenced all the doubters who said that I could not play against women, only against men.
In a span of 96 hours, I captured 2 World Championships which gave me two of the three legs needed to win the Triple Crown! In the World Blitz Championship, I scored 22½ points in 26 grueling games, all in one day! In the World Rapid Championship, I scored an undefeated 12 points in 15 games. These two events demonstrated true skills, mental toughness, physical endurance and raw nerves.
At the age of 15, I became the #1 ranked woman player in the world. My rating at that time was the highest of any woman in history.
In 1986 I became the first woman in history to qualify for the “Men’s” World Championship cycle. This was a historic moment for me as well as for women’s chess.
Returning two years later to the Olympics to win the gold again was extra sweet. We came away with back-to-back gold medals, finishing ahead of the Soviets for the second straight time.
Another milestone was winning the 1981 World Championship for girls under 16 at the age of 12. The first world championship will always be special.
When I first started to play chess at the age of 4, no one could ever predict what the future would hold for me. But when I won the Budapest Championship for Girls under 11 with a perfect 10-0 score, my life was changed forever. To do this at the tender age of 4 against other girls who were almost three times my age was something I will never forget.
Another memorable moment for me was meeting the chess legend Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest world champion’s in history.