It is a little-known fact that Budapest is one of the chess world’s international hubs. But in truth, players from all around the globe travel here to train and compete. When Bobby Fischer – widely regarded as the best chess player in history – decided to go into hiding, he did so in Budapest, where he could remain among a passionate chess community.
It was in Budapest that Fischer met the Polgár sisters: Judit, Zsófia, and Zsuzsa (who now goes by Susan). It is known that Fischer took an interest in the girls and their training, coaching them in their formative years (though it should be noted that the Polgár sisters were already quite famous by the time Fischer came along). The strongest – and youngest – player was Judit. Her accomplishments are extensive: at age 15 she was the youngest grandmaster in chess history, beating Bobby Fischer to the distinction by one month. As the widely acknowledged best female player in the history of chess, Judit Polgár has beaten most of the field of male players as well and, at one point, was one of the top 10 players in the world – the highest ranking a female player has achieved to date. To cap off her accomplishments, in 2002 she beat Garry Kasparov – one of the last grandmasters to face and fall to the “striking” girl from Hungary.
To further the tradition of siblings in chess, there are the Gara sisters: Ticia and Anita. Anita, for her part, has won the Hungarian Chess Champion title three times, and is a yet another Hungarian female grandmaster. Younger sister Ticia won the countrywide championship twice, and continues to be one of the top 100 female chess players in the world. Both, it is fair to say, are photogenic enough to star as themselves in the film of their lives.
Perhaps the most up-and-coming player in recent years is Anna Rudolf, who won over Ticia Gara in the 2008 Hungarian Women’s Championships held in Szeged. When the then 20-year-old defeated top male players in the French Vandoeuvre Open, Rudolf became the center of a controversy that saw her grandmaster male competitors accusing her of receiving chess moves via a transmitter in her lip balm. Her bag was searched but nothing was found aside from the accessories of somebody who doesn’t mind looking good while they clean up the floor with the competition. Though the Polgár sisters broke down many of the gender barriers in Hungarian and international chess (Judit only plays in gender-inclusive tournaments) it is possible that even now the male chess world is not ready for the intelligence and beauty of what Hungary’s chess community has to offer.