Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1

How I Beat Fischer’s Record

Judit Polgar

Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
Quality Chess
384 pages (hardcover)

Every fan of chess has heard of Judit Polgar, who has (by a huge margin) been the number one ranked female player in the world since 1988. I won’t go into the many accolades given to this fine young woman, but I will say something about her chess style, which is aggressive, energetic, and exciting. Her games have appeared in every chess magazine, and also in many books. But I longed for a book devoted to her games that was written by Judit herself. Now we have it.

Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1 is the first in a series of books devoted to her best games. Each book covers a certain period of her chess career, and this one takes us from the early 1980s to 1991 when (at the age of 15) she earned her grandmaster title and beat Fischer’s record by one month, thus becoming, at that time, the youngest grandmaster ever.

Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1 offers the reader a look at how her skills improved year by year, the lessons learned that helped her make that improvement, and give us deeply annotated, very personal notes which illustrate the processes that ultimately propelled her to greatness. Clearly, this book can and should be looked at as a course in chess improvement.

But there’s actually much more. Copious, very rich prose tells the tale of her life, and that same kind of rich, personal prose makes her notes to the games as energetic and interesting as the moves themselves. I should also add that lots of wonderful photographs add to the book’s charm.

The following chapter titles make it clear that this book was meant to be seriously instructive:

1 Tricks
2 Mating Net
3 Trapping the Queen
4 Zwischenzug
5 Tales with an Unexpected End
6 Improving Piece Placement
7 Pawn Play
8 Piece Domination
9 A Lead in Development
10 Attacking the Uncastled King
11 The Art of Simplifying & elements of Endgame Technique
12 Attacking without Queens
13 Decisive Games
14 Memorable Games
15 Amsterdam 1989 OHRA Tournament Diary
Records and Results
Game Index
Name Index

Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1 is a great book that’s fun to read and instructive too. I’ve recently had to get rid of 2000 books from my chess collection due to lack of space (I still have 3000 left!), but the Judit Polgar Teaches Chess series will be permanent fixtures in my library.

Highly recommended!