Reports | October 07, 2013 9:48

Polgar beats Short convincingly in's Death Match 18

Polgar beats Short convincingly in's Death Match 18

By virtue of winning all three segments, GM Judit Polgar cruised over GM Nigel Short in's Death Match 18 on Saturday. The final margin was 17.5-10.5, with Polgar winning especially big in the three-minute segment (6-2). The two played 28 games with only three draws. The fighting chess drew the largest online crowd for any live broadcast ever - more than 2700 fans watched simultaneously at one point.

Polgar admitted before the match that she "is not playing very much on the Internet at all." She said she was prepared though, as the server was not very different from other platforms that she has used. Despite playing Short dozens of times since the early 1990s, she had never played Short online before the Death Match.

The opening 5+1 portion did little to portend the final score as Polgar only edged Short 4-3. Despite falling behing on the clock in this and most other 5-minute games, Polgar won the initial game with methodical precision. According to live commentator GM Ben Finegold, that opening game was Polgar's best of the entire evening. The unusual placement of Black's light-squared bishop in the Ruy Lopez led to problems all game.

Short gamely fought back, winning games two and four to take his only lead of the match. The run would have been three in a row, but Polgar saved game three with good rook and pawn ending technique, and savvy pre-move usage. She was below five seconds for the final dozen moves, but the one-second increment allowed her to hold.

For the first hour and a half, Short relied almost exclusively on the English as White and Caro-Kann and French as Black. 

Polgar then fought back with a typical Death Match streak that Short could never recover from. She went on to win six of the next seven games, a string only interrupted by a draw to end the 5-minute time control.

Polgar's run lapsed into the three-minute segment, where she began to get the upper-hand on the clock. The final win of the streak was puncutated with the most spectacular move of the day. After an exchange sac to weaken Black's dark squares, Short was simply unlucky on move 13.

The natural-looking zwischenzug 13...Nc2+ seemed winning, as if White moves the king, there will be no attack (better was actually to accept the rook and leave the queens on the board). But Polgar's shot 14. Qxc2 actually secured an advantage to her! Amazingly, Black cannot adequately defend after 15. Bb5. Best may be "hiding" the queen on b2, when it would have been interesting to see how brave Polgar was feeling. 16. Rxd5+ and returning to d7 would be a repetition, or she could then head to b7. Then, after slyly castling, Black would be under severe pressure.

Instead Short played 15...Ra5 instantaneously, which allowed Polgar to regain all of her material with interest.

Short recovered to win game 12 but the deficit had grown to five games by that point. Fatigue set in at the end of the three-minute segment - both players hung mate in one at the close, then Short missed mate in one in the second one-minute game.

Short did put together some mini-runs in the bullet, winning two games in a row early then three in a row later, but he never seriously challenged Polgar in the final standings. The only issue would be who would win that portion, and Polgar won both closing games to ensure that she got the best of all three disciplines.

The close of the match saw more creative opening choices. Polgar predicted the bullet would be the most exciting for fans, and she did her best to make this true.

Short essayed both the Evans Gambit and 2. h4 in response to the Modern Defense. "It would have been pretty dull if I had stuck with the same openings," he said.

Then both played the King's Gambit as White, something Polgar has not pulled out of her briefcase since early in her career. For Polgar, that was one of her only missteps of the match, as Short's Falkbeer CounterGambit proved to be a successful response. Polgar resigned on Short's move after seeing 26...Qa3 led to an undefendable mate threat.

After the match, Short said he was very disappointed with his own play. "I played absolutely disgustingly badly," he said. "I don't want to take anything away from Judit...My chess was just dreadful, absolutely woeful." He also explained that he had been in a minor car crash earlier in the day (in Athens, Greece, where he lives), resulting in a less-than-ideal mindset. "I'm not particularly fresh," he said.

"Blitz is a question of form and energy. I had neither the form nor energy...At some point I had more or less given up." He won $250 in the loss.

Polgar took $750 for the win. The Death Match finished too late in Budapest, Hungary for Polgar to celebrate with her two children, but she said her husband would share the victory with her.


Polgar said that blitz chess was a daily activity of hers when she was younger. "I had a lot of fun, and I don't get to play a lot of blitz these days, so I was hungry for doing so," she said after the match.

The next Death Match will be Saturday, November 2 at noon Eastern (U.S. time), 9 a.m. Pacific. GM David Smerdon will take on GM Simon Williams and will once again bring every move to viewers live with commentary.

Archives of this Death Match broadcast, with GM Ben Finegold and FM Mike Klein, will be available soon on's video library.

Please note that an easy way to play through all games of this match is to go to e.g. Judit Polgar's profile page on and select the tab 'games' at the top.

Mike Klein's picture
Author: Mike Klein


Zeblakop's picture

Judit ... my sister ... great job!!

french fries1's picture Zeb, she's my sister too :P (capa fans are here ) congrat judith :)

Ivanov's picture

Ok, so this site is now the same as, time to find another place to roam. Dumb down process started.... sad but true. Only remaining on the horizon are Chessbase, Chessdom, TWIC....

English Breakfast's picture

Thought you had retired from chess?

Peter Doggers's picture

Don't draw conclusions too quickly, Ivanov. The content of ChessVibes will not be exactly the same as's, until I say so! But this article, about two legends in chess, fits here too I believe. I don't think you'll read about it on the sites you mention.

Ivanov's picture

Ok, but it is going there and I do not like it! And I have a feeling this has been so for a while: little content lately, mostly by Mike (who is also chess com) and not really paying attention to top chess. Sounds "chesscommy" to me. Again, sad.

Chess Fan's picture

Thank you Peter. I trust now you would maintain the same "Dutch" standards with your independence. I will continue to come here everyday.
Appreciate your directly answering Ivanov, which you do from time to time.

Donald Trump's picture

"I played completely awful, dreadful, horrendous, pathetic, unbelievably bad, and someone dinged my car yesterday which caused my sensitive mind to completely lose balance...not to take anything away from Judit of course" - the always classy Nigel Short, making Nakamura seem tactful.

Jorge 's picture

She can use the old phrase by her sister:

I have never beaten a completely healthy man! - Susan Polgar

Chess Fan's picture

Ha Ha!
I think the Polgar sisters also have a point to prove against people like Nigel Short who once famously said that women are not hardwired to be intelligent to play chess well (close to the exact quote).

English Breakfast's picture

Polgar may be the exception that proves the rule.

Gabriel's picture

I expected more from Nigel, both in the chess results and also in his condescending comments after it.
Btw, I agree with Peters. This is exciting news you won't read at Chessbase, etc. May be a new modality is born out of these blitz matches, bringing potentially huge public for the game.
I am also a bit astounded by this result. Nigel plays at Chessbase thousands of blitz games, everyday you can find him there. Now Judith comes out from inactivity and simply crushes him. Amazing!

Anonymous's picture

Blitz is not chess.

Chess Fan's picture

I get the British arrogance, but I used to like Nigel Short. But he did not seem nice at the Edmonton chess festival to me as a fan. If I am not fair to him, I am sorry. His chess play has been good only to win in Canada, Greece, Africa, maybe South America, and probably agree with Garry Kasparov all the time.

Anonymous's picture

Peter will regret this move and recreate ChessVibes later, just wait and see.

Anonymous's picture

One can only hope. The marketing machine has hereby started to pollute the best chess site on the web. I do hope for a phoenix-like scenario, but I am not counting on it. I could not wait for Peter to return from his break, when Mike took over for a month or so, just to get the old ChessVibes feel back. Now it seems it may never, and that is a sad thing, when quality, independance and brilliance , which Chessvibes possessed in heaps, go to waste by financial motives. I am sad to see ChessVibes go. It has been my daily morning paper on the chess world. I will miss it. Thank you Peter , for your stellar work on this site, I hope you can keep quality control over whatever is going to happen at RIP ChessVibes.

Toonces the Driving Cat's picture

Oh the sad old ladies crying over the end of Chessvibes! If you want to be free of the stink of financial incentives I suggest you stick to chess blogs by patzers that get 10 page views a month.

Anonymous's picture

Well, if only sad old ladies care about quality, maybe you should start talking to them more, might better your life. I have nothing against financial incentives, but when financial incentives corrupt quality and brilliance, in my world, that is a bad thing.

Toonces the Driving Cat's picture

Brilliance? Let's tone down the hyperbole. We are talking about a chess news site, not Wittgenstein.
And it's not like Chessvibes has turned into an RSS reader for the cesspool that is the forums. A match between Polgar and Short is viable news. So I would advise the old ladies to calm down and don't delete your bookmark just yet.

europatzer's picture

Nigel has spent the $250 on a case of Greek plonk ..

he doesn't like losing to the girlies

Greco's picture

I strongly reject your statement sir!! We have perfectly good wines...and wifes when it comes to Nigel Short!!!

Anonymous's picture

Jutka manhandled Nigel!?!!
Oh dear...

Anonymous's picture

Did anyone check what was in Judit shoes??

french fries1's picture on those GM Ivanov shoes? lol :) ahaha

S3's picture

Nobody dares to open the smell of her socks.

play960's picture

Really sorry I missed this. Is there a link to the video?

slymnlts's picture

So, as the result of this 'death' match, should I be assuming that Nigel is dead and lying buried somewhere around London? Couldn't you guys pick up better, more humane titles for chess matches/games? The phrases/words commonly used in chess can sound very violent occasionally, like "drawing the first blood", like "there was blood all over the boards" etc... And now 'Death' match? (I know it is a title picked up but how easy and convenient it can be for the western part of the world to use such violent words - but for those who have grown up witnessing violence every day such words can be startling to hear in the first place. But for a westerner? Violence is what a western kid sees (and does) in computer games or movies at best, and analogies on chess sound very exciting after all, right?)
Dear Peter, maybe you are thinking this match fits pretty well into the chessvibes we know, but this type of titles/promotions etc. is not something I have been used to. I have come to visit this website for the last five or six years almost daily because I liked the independent journalism and genuine love for chess here, coming with a certain touch of seriousness. I know things will not change (of course you will not lose your enthusiasm now because you are with but still I am saying...

Inertia's picture

The one thing I will miss most, above all is the true freedom of speech here. Like them or not, S3, Tomas Oliver, and the likes bring a lot of life to this community. While they might be more extreme in some of their opinions, I find myself always interested in the debates that ensue.

I play on, and it's not a bad site. But I think one of the biggest draws to Chessvibes was the anonymity it gave people. If people were out of line with verbal swearing, it was censored, but beyond that, I think it was fair.

On, you can't even comment unless you are paying money. Forget the fact that you can no longer post under an alias. You can't even express opinions without paying cash.

While I've enjoyed the news coverage here for the past several years, there are other sites that also provide coverage of mostly the same content. So I find the news of the merge saddening. Not because I dislike But I view them as more of a corporation, and Chessvibes as a privately owned business. is more money driven, so they will look to pressure people into spending money to do things such as posting, or viewing all their content.

In the end, it's just business. And while I understand the reasoning behind it, I won't be spending any of my cash to voice my opinions. Rather, I will just frequent other news sites that allow true freedom of speech. I'll miss you T.O. and S3. Stay controversial. Even though I don't always agree with you guys, it's nice to get views outside the norm. Hope to see you guys elsewhere.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Since I am personally addressed, I hope a little personal stuff and some self-promotion is OK. If I indeed have to pay to comment on, I won't do it - actually I still rather dream about making a little money from chess writing (not comments, but other stuff). If you can read German, I am also an occasional author at and where my 'light' writing style included remarks as "Nakamura (at the Paris GP) had a bit more luck than the chess police normally allows".

Maybe I am "outside the norm", noone has to agree with me all the time - some may always disagree, which is also OK unless they automatically disagree just because I wrote it and don't really bother to read. What's the norm? Is praise for certain players, even if it goes over the top, has facts that are at best selective and insults to other players, "the norm" and perfectly fine?
As to anonymity, I am "semi-anonymous": those who know me personally know who I am, for others it doesn't have added value (I am not a GM, a well-known journalist or anything like that) - my full name was, for example, mentioned in Peter Doggers' acknowledgements when he announced the Chessvibes/ breaking news.

On the article itself: I also find it a bit over the top, terms like "death match" and general writing style - this doesn't mean that the topic itself isn't newsworthy. Here I can understand Nigel Short - if the level of play was bad (e.g. missing several mates in one) one can say so. BTW "I never beat a healthy opponent" seems to be originally from Tartakower, like many other aphorisms e.g. "No game was ever won by resigning." (check the Wikipedia page on him)

idratherplay960's picture

Jeez some of these comments sound like when kids in my old high school you used to complain that their favorite musician "Sold out" because they signed with a newer bigger record label. Damn anyone who dares make more money for their is the devil for letting people play free and only pay if they wish to have extra features. How dare they provide really cool blitz dream matches for us viewers for free and then call them "Death matches", a silly creative play on the notion, albeit it borrowed from MTV. I grew up dodging bullets in Grand Theft Auto and Halo in America, don't they realize such sensationalism would bring to mind horrible memories of running out of lives on my latest Call of Duty campaign ?!

Inertia's picture

I don't think you read the part about not hating Nor did you understand the content of the post. Keep in mind, Mr. "idratherplay960" your comments wouldn't be possible on that site without a subscription. Nor would your anonymity.

ML78's picture

What you say is not correct. Subscription to is free (you pay only to get access to videos etc). You pick a nickname, like here. So you don't have to pay to post comments, and you keep your anonymity if you want.

J's picture

I'm a member at It's not that bad. Some features require a paid subscription, but posting comments isn't one of them. Also, there are a lot of good articles on various facets of the game written by strong players. You may not like the site, which is fine, but at least be accurate in your criticisms.
Oh, and I watched the Death Match live, with my free account. Replay videos require a paid subscription though.

Soviet School's picture

It is very interesting that Polgar beat Short so clearly at blitz, it was not so long a go that Short nearly drew a blitz match with Kasparov. Garry won with black in 2 knights in last round.

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