Last September, Susan Polgar had just accomplished another historic milestone in chess. Seven time World Champion Anatoly Karpov and four time champion Susan Polgar engaged in the Clash of the Titans – Battle of two World Champions in Lindsborg, Kansas. These are two of the greatest World Chess Champions of modern time. This was the first ever officially sanctioned match between a male and female World Champion.
Since the early to mid 1980’s, the Polgar sisters have revolutionized chess for women. After a long absent from the chess scene to have a family, Susan Polgar is now back to continue her legacy. She has accomplished many historic feats such as becoming the first woman to qualify for the men’s world championship as well as being the first woman to earn the men’s grandmaster title. In the past few years, Susan has decided to change her focus from being a world-class player to a world-class ambassador to chess. She has been working hard to find ways to help chess in America, her new homeland.
On the night before their monumental match, the two World Champions were treated to a special reception at the home of Mr. Ronald Rolander, Mayor of the city of Lindsborg. On Saturday morning, September 18, 2004, the town of Lindsborg threw a magnificent King and Queen chess parade, headed by the two World Champions Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar, followed GM Shulman, IM Charbonneau (Canadian Champion), IM Krush (former US Women’s Champion), and IM Zatonskih (2-time Ukrainian Women’s Champion).
Then, the two World Champions took time to pose with all the participants of the Champions Cup tournament. After that, they headed across the street to the City Hall for an official press conference. Reporters asked many questions ranging from how Susan Polgar started in chess, her plans as an ambassador for the game, especially young girls, to how the first Karpov chess school in the US was opened in Lindsborg and if he has plans to open more.
When asked what chess can do for young girls, Susan’s eyes immediately lit up. She enthusiastically said that it can give them the valuable self esteem and self confidence and chess can also help young players do better in school. As we all know, research after research have decisively proven that children who play chess do much better in school than the children who are not exposed to chess. It is so wonderful to see that legendary World Champions like Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar have all given so much of their time to promote chess for young people.
When asked about the two Fischer Random chess games in support their fellow World Champion Bobby Fischer, Karpov said that Fischer has done so much for the chess world and he is a great champion. He thinks Fischer Random chess is quite interesting. He also thinks that Fischer should be left alone and be allowed to live out his life in peace. This is also the same sentiment from Susan Polgar. They both agreed that there are two sides to Bobby Fischer and we should honor his great chess accomplishment.
At the end, even though the score was 3-3, the fans were treated to many wonderful and exciting games. Two of the greatest World Champions ever gave their all to the Clash of the Titans and the fans truly appreciated their efforts. They gave the two World Champions a long standing round of applaud. This is a feat that has no equal in any other sport. Only in chess can a Battle of the Gender exist in an equal footing. I cannot even fathom the idea of Serena or Venus Williams or Annika Sorenstam holding their own against their top male counterpart.
This was actually quite an amazing result for Susan Polgar since she has not played a single public over the board game again world-class competition since her last game in the 1996 World Championship. She proved that she has not really lost a beat even though she has shifted her chess focus in the past 8 years. Approximately a year ago on September 20-21, 2003, Susan Polgar played two similar officially rated Battle of the Gender matches against two of the top American Grandmasters Boris Gulko and Alexander Stripunsky. They were also a quick time control matches. The final result was 4-0 in favor of Susan Polgar over the other two male Grandmasters.
Even being in her mid thirties and being a full time devoted mother to 2 young sons while working hard as a premier chess author in addition to running a full time chess center and chess school, Susan still defies all odds by competing on the top level while giving her all to promoting and revolutionizing US Chess. She is truly an inspiration to women everywhere. As she often said, there is nothing a woman can’t do if she puts her mind and effort to it. I fully agree. Next up for Polgar will be her match against U.S. Champ Hikaru Nakamaura.
Anatoly Karpov – Susan Polgar
Clash of the Titans – Game 2, 18.09.2004 (Rapid G/25 +5)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bxc5 Nc6 10.Nf3 b6 11.Be3 Nd7 12.0-0-0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6 14.c5 Bxf1 15.Rhxf1 Nxc5 16.Bxc5 bxc5 17.Kc2 e6 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.Rb1 c4 20.Rb7 Rc8 21.g3 a5 22.a4 h6 23.Rb5 f5 24.Nd2 fxe4 25.Nxe4 Kg7 26.Rc5 Ne7 27.Rxa5 Nd5 28.Ra7+ Kg8 29.Ra6 Re8 30.a5 g5 31.Rc6 Ra8 32.a6 Kf7 33.Nc5 Ne7 34.Rxe6 Rc8 35.a7 Ra8 36.Ra6 Nc8 37.Rc6 Nxa7 38.Ra6 Ke7 39.Na4 Kf8 40.Nb2 Ke7 41.Nxc4 1-0.
Special thanks to Paul troung for his reporting of this event.
E. “Doc” Smith is a former Rhode Island Amateur Champion, and has won divisional titles in the U.S. Amateur Team Championships for Brown University as well as the Rhode Island Chess League Championships.