Tag Archives: Grandmaster

Jew of the Week: Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar – Best Chess Player of All Time?

Zsuzsanna Polg├ír (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: Samuel Reshevsky

Chess Prodigy Shmuel Reshevsky

Szmul Rzeszewski (1911-1992) was born near Lodz, Poland. By age 8 he was easily defeating skilled adults in the game of chess. In 1920, his family moved to the U.S., where the nine year old Reshevsky was supporting his family financially through his earnings playing in chess tournaments. In 1922, he was the youngest ever to compete in the New York Masters Tournament. This caught the ire of the government, since Reshevsky was not attending school. Thus, he gave up chess for 7 years while he zoomed through his formal education (and became, officially, an accountant). Reshevsky returned to chess and immediately won the US Open Chess Championship. He would win the championship an amazing 8 more times in his life. He still holds the record for most championship matches (21), most games played (269) and most games won (127). He was equally successful globally, winning his first international tournament in England in 1935, and receiving the title of International Grandmaster in 1950. Following this, Reshevsky won an 8-game match billed as the “Championship of the Free World”. Most famously was a 16-game match with rising star Bobby Fischer in 1961. Reshevsky would win many more awards over his career, and participated in a record 11 World Championships, defeating 7 world champions. Reshevsky also wrote several popular books on chess. Perhaps most impressively, he was a fully-observant Orthodox Jew, studied Torah every day, and never played a match on Shabbat. He once considered retirement and asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe for advice. The Rebbe suggested to keep playing, for it was a great Kiddush Hashem – sanctification of God. In the Jewish community of Crown Heights where he lived, he would always be known as “Shmulik der vunderkind”.

Words of the Week

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu