Reports | November 19, 2012 16:33

Polgar Chess Festival (UPDATED)

For famous chess sisters, over four thousand enthusiastic visitors at the EU Polgar Chess Festival (16-17 of November).

Report and photos by Robert Szegfi courtesy of

Budapest - They are the most famous sisters in chess: Susan, former women's world champion, Judit, strongest female player that has ever lived, and Sofi, who has scored world record performaces in her chess career. They live in the US, Hungary and Israel, but got together in Budapest for a big chess festival. Over four thousand visitors attended, and were well entertained.

As the program was very well balanced between the more intimate actual game of chess and, for the general audience more entertaining show elements, most people decided to stay for almost the entire day with the world’s most famous sisters of the sport, Judit Polgar, Susan Polgar, and Sofia Polgar. The Festival was under the patronage of Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission, and was supported by the European Commission Representation in Hungary.

Judit Polgar simul

At one of the pick events, Judit Polgar, as an ambassador of Chess in School program adopted by the European Parliament, gave a 27 board simultaneous game to children representing the 27 nations of the EU. At the press conference, the world's N°1 female chess player also announced that from 2013 chess is going to be part of the National Curriculum in Hungary as an alternative subject in elementary schools and high schools. Judit also develops a chess student’s book and teacher’s handbook series to ensure the success of the program.

The show elements at the festival included live chess dance choreography, an amazing escape by David Merlini an escape artist setting himself free and hanging from the ceiling to play a blitz game with Susan Polgar, and also the debut of the rapidly growing hybrid sport, chessboxing in Hungary, with Mihaly Kotai WBF/IBO middleweight world boxing champion.

Polgar chess festival

The closing of the programs was a 100 board simul, given by the Polgar sisters, to celebrities, athletes, artists, scientists, businessmen, politicians and fans. The celebrity guests included George Soros, Bessel Kok, Alisa Maric, Serbian minister of sports and youth and  Roland Garros winner Andrea Temesvari, world famous conductor Ivan Fischer, a number of Ambassadors to Hungary (Serbia, Israel, Sweden and Canada), and countless other people from the world of sports, theatre, politics, business, and media, etc. many of them flying to Hungary just to be able play a game against the Polgar sisters.

The notion that chess is not attractive to the media is simply wrong. It can be so exciting if it is done right as thousands of people showed up to be a part of this wonderful annual event.

After the festival the famous sisters of chess just take off to different directions of the world again, to carry on with their life. Susan flies back the US as she has a lot of job to be done at her department at Webster University. Sofia also heads home back to Israel to continue the work with the school program of the Judit Polgar Foundation. While Judit has to face the toughest ride of the three, as after organizing the chess festival, in the next couple of days she has to compete with the world N°1 chess player, Magnus Carlsen at two different tournaments in a row. First, at the Grand Fiesta Unam in Mexico, then at the London Chess Classic.

UPDATE 21-Nov:

The festival organizers have uploaded this "official video", which is worth a look:

Editors's picture
Author: Editors


Jimmy's picture

Why 4 sisters? Did I miss one?

hansie's picture

Exactly! Who's the mysterious fourth one?

Macauley Peterson's picture

Typo, corrected. Thx.

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