The Sack of Rome. Magistrale di Roma, 1989.
Genserico sacking Rome in the year 455. Picture of Karl Briullov between 1833 and 1836

The Sack of Rome. Magistrale di Roma, 1989.

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The Sack of Rome is the name that was given to Zsofia Polgar's (Zsófia Polgár) achievement in the 1989 Rome tournament, in which she made a performance of 2900 points of elo rating, with 8.5 points out of 9, With only 14 years old! With this, she broke the performance record since the elo rating existed, a record that Kramnik surpassed years later in the 1992 Olympics, at the age of 16.

cover of New in chess, with sofia polgar. third polgar sister lashes out in rome
New in Chess No 2 of 1989 cover, with Zsofia
Young vladimir kramnik in 1989
Vladimir Kramnik (13 years old) in 1989, when Zsofia was Sacking Rome. image: YouTube, A game of chess

Does not remind you of the last Beth Harmon tournament in Queen's Gambit series? But Zsofia had only 14 years old!

(You can read about historical sacks of Rome in Wikipedia)

In the words of Zsofia Polgar,

In my chess career the most memorable achievement was the 'Magistrale di Roma' in 1989. This event is a record in chess history as compared to any other open chess tournament, due to my performance rating of over 2900. Most chess magazines worldwide had my photo on the front page with such titles as "The Sack of Rome" or "Miracle in Rome". I was only a fourteen year-old little girl upon arrival in Rome with a rating below 2300. Many of my opponents were respected grandmasters, three or four times my age.

And the most "miraculous" thing is not that he won 8.5 points out of 9, but that she beat up to 4 Grandmasters! The only one who saved the honor was GM Dolmatov in the last round.

Zsofia also comments:

The funny thing is, I didn't even realize how good I was doing until after the seventh round! It was a good thing I played move by move, game by game without thinking of the result or who was sitting on the other side of the board. Never before or after this tournament have I come close to such a performance.

Inside chess cover, with Sofia Polgar, the trophy, and the headline
Inside Chess' cover. April 17, 1989.

La portada de la revista ochoxocho, con sofia
ochoxocho cover

The games:

Let's see the games. I'm going to comment only 3 (one, whole and two, the last moves), and another comes with Zsofia's comments (the one from Chernin, round 5)

Rounds 1 and 2:

The first two rounds he faced two players without elo rating, the first was outmatched and the second had his chances of winning but was mated in 1. Here you have 2 puzzles, one from each game. The first one is easy

And this combination is the one that Cardinali did not see in round 2. This is a difficult one.

Round 3:

After two "easy" wins, here comes her first "victim" of relevance in this tournament. Except for a moment when she was somewhat worse, she dominated her opponent to the end.

Round 4:

So... 3 games, 3 wins!

Of this game I highlight this ending, where an inaccuracy of D'Amore allows Zsofia to win easily.

Round 5:

This is one of Zsofia Polgar's 10 favorite games. Here is the game with her comments. You can see them in her web, but i copy/paste them here  

Great game!

Round 6:

Again an attack game, in which after a GM error, Zsofia prevails with precision.

This is the combination:

Next games are for you to analyze if you want

Round 7:

A difficult game, with attacks with opposite castles, in which after many complications Mrdja made a serious mistake in the end and lost.

Round 8:

Difficult (and long) game, where Zsofía was outmatched in the opening, but she managed to defend herself well and little by little she got better.

Round 9:

And the last game was even, and ended in a quick draw.

I hope you liked it, and enjoy the Sack of Rome games, by Zsofia Polgar, The real Beth Harmon!

Beth Harmon, main character of Queen's gambit series.
Beth Harmon
Sisters Sofia, Judit and Susan Polgar in central park, new york
Zsofia, Judit and Susan Polgar. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Judit, Susan, Sofia and his father, Laszlo Polgar.
Judit, Zsuzsa, Zsófia and his father, László Polgár. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

@GSerper has a article about this tournament:

Bibliography: Zsofia Polgar's website

This is the translation of my post "El saqueo de Roma (Magistrale de Roma, 1989)", but with more photos

PS: I don't know if write Zsófia, Sophia, Sofia...  She signs as Sofia, and her web is sofiapolgar... so... maybe is better to write Sofia.

As always, if you see any mistake, tell me, no problem

For more posts in english:

How to Play with the Bishop Pair?

To sack or not?

How To Improve Your Chess Visualization?

Typical Sacrifice Bxe6!

My Memorable Games I. Aronian-Popov. Aeroflot Open (2005)

Please, Do Not Bother the Hippo


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