Tag Archives: Budapest

Jew of the Week: Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar – Best Chess Player of All Time?

Zsuzsanna Polgár (b. 1969) was born in Budapest, Hungary, the eldest of the famous Polgar sisters who were raised by their father as an “educational experiment” designed to prove that “geniuses are made, not born”. Polgar’s parents home-schooled her, focusing especially on chess. By the age of 4, Polgar won her first chess tournament. In the same year, she composed a novel chess problem, making her the youngest chess composer of all time. By 12, she was the world under-16 champion. At 15, she was the world’s top-rated female chess player. Breaking the gender barrier, Polgar insisted on playing against men. In 1991, she became the first female Grandmaster of chess, and in 1992, the first ever chess player (male or female) that won all 3 types of chess world championships. Among her many other accolades, she was undefeated in 56 Chess Olympiad games, winning 10 medals. Stunningly, she has set a world record by simultaneously playing 326 games (309 of which she won!) She also holds the world record for most games played (1131) and most games won (1112). Polgar was part of the “Chess for Peace” movement, and started the charitable Susan Polgar Foundation. If that’s not impressive enough, she is a writer, too, regularly contributing to various magazines, and has written 6 books. Though most of her family now lives in Israel, Susan remains in the United States and continues to serve on the World Chess Federation.

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Words of the Week

Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because there was idolatry, promiscuity and murder. But the Second Temple, at which time they were occupied in Torah, mitzvot and charity, why was it destroyed? Because there was baseless hatred between them.
– Talmud, Yoma 9b

Jew of the Week: Paul Erdős

Greatest Mathematician in History

Math Extraordinaire Paul Erdos

Paul Erdős (1913-1996) was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Jewish mathematicians from whom he inherited his gift. By age three, Erdos was able to instantly calculate the amount of seconds a person had lived. In 1930, he was allowed into university despite Hungary’s restrictions on Jewish students. After becoming a mathematics professor, he was forced to flee European anti-Semitism and came to teach at Princeton University. By 1956 he was so well-known that his native Hungary gave him a free pass to enter and exit the country as he pleased, despite Hungary’s position behind the Iron Curtain. Erdős would go on to publish more papers on mathematics than any other human in history. He wrote 1,525 math articles in his life, collaborating with 511 people (he was a strong proponent of group work). Unmarried and without children, he was a wandering mathematician, travelling the globe with all his possessions in a single suitcase. He donated every award and prize he received. Erdos wished his epitaph to say: “I’ve finally stopped getting dumber.”

Words of the Week

Old age is a virtue and a blessing… It is true that a 20-year-old can dance the night away while his grandmother tires after a few minutes. But man was not created to dance for hours on end. Man was created to make life on earth purer, brighter and holier than it was before he came on the scene… In this regard, a person’s value and productivity only increases with age… The institution of ‘retirement’, which pushes million of men and women to the sidelines of society each year, is a tragic waste of human life and resources.
– The Lubavitcher Rebbe