Polgar: Battle of the Gender matches between chess champs
Published: Sunday, February 15, 2009
The question of the week is has there ever been a chess match between World Chess Champions of opposite gender, something similar to the Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King tennis match back in the ’70s?
The answer is yes. On Sept. 20-21, 2003, the 30th anniversary of the King vs. Riggs tennis match, which took place at the Houston Astrodome, I played two Battle of the Gender matches against two of the top American Grandmasters Boris Gulko (first SPICE Cup participant and former USSR and U.S. champion) and Alex Stripunsky (former U.S. Open and Grand Prix Champion). I won both matches by the score of 2-0.
A year later, on Sept. 18-19, 2004, I participated in a historic Clash of Titans – Battle of the Gender six-game match against Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, seven-time World Chess champion, the man who succeeded Bobby Fischer as champion.
Dr. Mikhail Korenman and my husband, Paul, worked together over many months to make this wonderful project occur. The state of Kansas and the host city of Lindsborg, Kansas, were also involved. Everyone from the mayor, the chamber of commerce and local businesses, lent a hand to put on a spectacular show, one of the best I have ever seen.
On Saturday morning, Sept. 18, the town threw a magnificent King and Queen Chess parade. Thousands of people watched or participated and more than 200 youngsters and their parents marched down Main Street.
It was truly a spectacle that will forever be a part of chess history. This was an incredible moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.
After two days of tough competition, the exciting and entertaining match ended in a 3-3 tie.
Rapid Chess 25 minutes + 5-second increment
Game 1: Polgar 1/2-1/2 Karpov
Game 2 Karpov 1-0 Polgar
Fischer Random 15 minutes + 0 increment
Game 3: Polgar 1 – 0 Karpov
Game 4: Karpov 1 – 0 Polgar
Blitz Chess 5 minutes + 0 increment
Game 5: Karpov 1/2 – 1/2 Polgar
Game 6: Polgar 1 – 0 Karpov
Every game of the match was hard fought with no easy draws. In most cases, I pushed very hard to win by sacrificing material. In some games, I overextended and it backfired.
Even though I usually play a more positional game, I wanted to treat the fans to something thrilling. In the meantime, true to his incredible style, Anatoly played calmly throughout the match. He deflected my attacks and tried to squeeze out small advantages and take advantage of any weakness.
In the end, the fans were treated to many wonderful and exciting games. We gave our all to the Clash of the Titans and the fans truly appreciated our efforts. We received a long standing ovation at the conclusion of each game.
This is something that has no equal in any other sport. Only in chess can a Battle of the Genders exist on an equal footing. It is not easy for women athletes in other sports to compete evenly against a male competitor. However, in chess, many strong female players are now able to defeat male grandmasters in any given game.
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– GM Susan Polgar