Dubai: Hungarian Judit Polgar, who is used to competing in a man’s world, is attracting attention as the lone female player in action at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championship at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
Polgar told Gulf News she does not think about whether her opponents are male or female, saying she enjoys the challenge of the game the most.
“I think of every person as an individual and he or she has to find the best way to train and develop their own abilities. Most of my life I was playing against men,” she said during the first day of the tournament on Thursday.
Polgar has clinched a place in chess history as the strongest ever female player. For the last 25 years she has been leading the female world rankings and is the only woman to have defeated ten current or former world champions — namely Magnus Carlsen, Anatoli Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman and Rustam Kasimdzhanov — in either rapid or classical chess.
Polgar hails from a family of chess players. Both of her older sisters play, with Susan a Grandmaster and Sofia an International Master. All of them scaled great heights in the game due to their father Laszlo, who believed that if children are trained early they can become specialists in their field. He apparently wanted to prove that geniuses are made, not born.
“There are many professional lady players but here nobody is playing apart from me. There is always a question on what is the reason there are less women and I think it is purely due to women not focusing on the game from a very young age,” Polgar said.
“If they could focus early and get the support from their parents, club or government, they can progress. In fact, they must focus to play the best chess and not women’s chess and then they will improve faster. Unfortunately, most of them focus only on playing in women’s chess.
“You have to belief in yourself that you are capable to do the best, at least as good as the boys.
“You have to put your goals as high as possible and only then will you improve,” added Polgar, who has written many books on chess and is on a mission to spread the game.
“I just finished my third book, which was a trilogy about my career. I set up a foundation in 2012 and through a programme in Hungary made chess become a part of the national curriculum.”