Rego Park chess champ brings in tournament

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Chess champion Susan Polgar, 32, of Rego Park is bringing a major tournament to the borough.

"Mayor's Cup 2001" will be held June 18-26 at the Elmhurst Hospital auditorium, 79-01 Broadway. Play starts at 4:30 p.m. most days and admission is free. There will be Internet coverage after games and possibly during play as well.

"This is the first ever such event in the history of Queens," Polgar told Qguide. Mayor Giuliani is tentatively scheduled to be present June 26 to give out the cash awards, medals and the Mayor's Trophy to the overall winner.

Included in the field are four international grandmasters, five international masters and one FIDE master. FIDE, a French acronym, is the group that governs chess.

There are three young representatives from the metro area. Thirteen-year-old Hikaru Nakamura of White Plains is the youngest American ever to earn the title of International Master. He was born in Osaka; Japan and came to the United States when he was 2.

Irina Krush, 17, of Brooklyn won the 1999 U. S. Women's Championship She started playing at age 5 when she emigrated from with her parents from the Ukraine. Dmitry Schneider from Westchester won the Marshall Club Championship in 1999 and the Pan American Under 16 tournament in Brazil in 2000.

Susan Polgar's odyssey began at age 4 in her native Hungary when she discovered a chess set in her family's apartment. Only a few months later, she won the Under 11 Championship of Budapest. Under her father's tutelage she became the highest-ranked junior in the world at age 15, and in 1991 became the first female to achieve the rank of Grandmaster. Her two younger sisters also took up the game and achieved great success in their own right.

Polgar's progress was hindered by the Hungarian authorities who would not permit her to travel outside the country or compete in tourneys against men. Ultimately she won this battle, too, and in 1996 defeated the Chinese champion, Xie Jun, to annex the women's title.

Her sister Judith, 24, still lives in Hungary and is ranked 19th in the world among players of both sexes. Her rating of 2658 is the highest ever achieved by a woman; she says she could never have gained such success without Susan's triumph over the Hungarian officials.

The other sibling, Sofia, 26, an international master, is married and living in Israel.

Susan's husband, Jacob Shutzman, is a computer consultant. In March 1999, Susan gave birth to her son, Tom, and FIDE ordered her to defend her title against Xie Jun in China - for half the usual prize money. Polgar insisted she needed more time to prepare and could not accept these conditions. FIDE ultimately declared Xie Jun the women's champion when she defeated the Russian, Galliamova.

Polgar filed a lawsuit against FIDE, and the International Court agreed that FIDE was wrong in not granting Susan more time and awarded her a small cash stipend. But it was not possible for her to recoup the title since so much time had elapsed (Xie Jun had won again in a knockout event held in 2000).

Last November, Susan gave birth to her second son, Leeam. "It means 'I have a nation' in Hebrew," she said. Tom, now 2, may some day be a chess wizard like his mother - he already knows how to set up the pieces at the start of the game.

Susan runs the Polgar Chess Center at 97-09 64th Road in Rego Park. At 6 p.m. June 17, Grandmaster Yehuda Gruenfeld, one of the Mayor's Cup players, plans to l take on up to 20 people simultaneously.

For more information about the club or the upcoming Mayor's Cup, visit the website, or call Polgar at (212) 252-4612.

Reach Qguide writer Donald Singer by e-mail at, or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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