Grandmaster Susan Polgar


Grandmaster Susan Polgar (born April 19, 1969 as Zsuzsanna Polgár – Also commonly known as Zsuzsa Polgar) is a Hungarian - American chess player, and one of the strongest female players in history. She was born and brought up in Budapest, Hungary and lived in New York for 13 years, in Texas for 5 years and now lives in St. Louis, MO. 

Currently she works at Webster University as the Director of SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) and as the Head Coach of the Webster Chess Team.



In August 1982, Polgar captured her first world title by winning the World Chess Championship for Girls under 16 at the age of 12.

In July 1984, despite restrictions on her freedom to play in international tournaments by the Communist government, Polgar had become the top-rated female chess player in the world.

In April 1986, Polgar broke the gender barrier by becoming the first woman in history to qualify for the “Men’s” World Chess Championship. She was not allowed to play due to her gender. Because of Polgar, the world chess federation (FIDE) eventually had to change their policy to admit women players.

In November, 1986, FIDE (with the pressure from the Soviet federation which did not want to see a non-Soviet to be ranked #1) decided to illegally grant 100 bonus ELO rating points to all active female players except Susan, knocking her out of the top spot in the January, 1987 ratings list. The rationale was that Polgar had earned her rating primarily playing against men, whereas other female chess players had deflated ratings from playing in women-only tournaments. There was no statistical evidence supporting this decision. No similar interference with ratings has occurred since.

In January 1991, Polgar broke the gender barrier again by becoming the first woman to earn the men's Grandmaster title by achieving three GM norms and rating over 2500. (Nona Gaprindashvili and Maia Chiburdanidze had earlier been awarded the title by virtue of being Women's World Champions). Susan's younger sister Judit earned the title of Grandmaster later in December 1991.


In May 1992, Polgar won the Women's World Blitz and Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship ahead of her sisters Judit and Sofia as well as many other top women players in the world.

In February 1996, Polgar won the classical Women's World Championship, her 4th World Championship title. She is the only World Champion (male or female) to win the triple-crown in chess (World Blitz, Rapid and Classical World Championships). FIDE had difficulty finding a sponsor for Polgar's title defense two years later, and ultimately arranged it in 1999 under illegal conditions in which Polgar objected to, first because she requested at least six months to recuperate and prepare after bearing her first child, and secondly because the match was to be held entirely in China, the home country of her challenger Xie Jun, which is against FIDE rules.

When Polgar refused to play under these conditions, FIDE illegally stripped her of her title. Polgar sued in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, for monetary damages and the restoration of her title. In March of 2001 the court ruled in favor of Polgar, ordering FIDE to pay Polgar $25,000 in damages. However, since a new World Champion was crowned, FIDE could not restore her title. She then retired from competitive chess to raise her two sons.

In 2003, Polgar made a come back to chess. The United States Chess Federation named Polgar "Grandmaster of the Year", the first time a woman has won that honor. In that same year (2003), Polgar also became the first woman to win the strongest US Open Blitz Championship ever, a field which included 7 grandmasters.

In October 2004, history was made again when Polgar led the United States Women's National Team at the 2004 Chess Olympiad held in October in Majorca, Spain. The US team captured the Silver medal, the first ever Women’s Olympiad medal in US history. Polgar also won two gold medals for highest performance rating in the women's event and most point scores as well as another Silver medal for second best scoring percentage on board 1. She has a total of 10 Olympiad Medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze). In addition, she has a record 56 consecutive Olympiad game scoring streak without a single loss. In fact, she has never lost a single game in the Olympiads.

In January 2005, Polgar had an Elo rating of 2577, which once again made her the number one active female player in the World and in the United States. She became the #1 female player in the world at age 15 and has remained in the top 3 for nearly 23 consecutive years.

In July 2005, Polgar broke four international records at a single match played in Palm Beach, Florida, including: largest numbers of simultaneous games played (326, with 309 won, 14 drawn and 3 lost); most consecutive games played (1,131); highest number of games won; and highest percentage of wins (96.93%).

In August 2005, Polgar won her 2nd US Open Blitz title in Phoenix, Arizona.

In October 2005, Polgar joined former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and 7-time World Champion Anatoly Karpov in Lindsborg, Kansas to promote "Chess for Peace". This event made headline news around the world. Polgar also participated in the second Clash of the Titans - Battle of the Genders match against Karpov at the same venue, with Gorbachev making the first move for Karpov. The match ended in a 3-3 tie with each player winning 2 games and 2 draws. Their first match took place in September 2004. That also ended up in a 3-3 tie.

In June 2006, Polgar organized and played in the 2006 NY City Mayor's Cup, the highest rated double RR tournament in US history. She finished 2nd, ½ point behind Gata Kamsky and ahead of the reigning US Champion Alex Onischuk, Boris Gulko, Ildar Ibragimov and Alex Stripunsky.

In July 2006, Polgar represented the US in the Women's World Chess Cup in Dresden, Germany. She captured the Women's World Chess Cup by defeating German IM Elizabeth Pahtz in the final. Polgar’s score was 7 wins, 4 draws and no loss. This was the first ever Women’s World Chess Cup for the United States

In August 2006, Polgar won her 3rd US Open Blitz Championships (2003, 2005, 2006 – she didn't play in 2004) in Oak Brook, IL by 2 points ahead of the field. She was also named by the United States Chess Federation Scholastic Chess Council as the first ever “Scholastic Chess Ambassador”.

6/2007 - 6/2012, Head Coach of the Texas Tech #1 ranked and National Championship teams and Director of SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) at Texas Tech University


Currently, Director of SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) at Webster University (starting June 2012) and Head Coach of the Webster University #1 ranked team in the nation (starting 6/2012)