Laia Carabantes, a resident of Monzón, was waiting this Saturday for the moment to approach one of the people she admires the most, the only woman who has managed to be among the ten best chess players in the world, Judit Polgar. When her turn came, the 15-year-old from Huesca asked her to sign one of her bedside books, where some of the Hungarian player’s most extraordinary games are analyzed, who came to beat eight world champions, from Karpov to Spassky, Kasparov or Topalov.
“It was amazing,” said the young woman from Huesca, who has just been crowned Aragon Under-16 Women’s Champion. And it is that Polgar was Polgar, a close and affable woman. In fact, he asked him about his daily training hours and advised him to work on finals, showing him on his own mobile how to follow some of his lessons online.
The meeting did not take place in Madrid or Barcelona. The best player in the history of chess and the first to achieve the title of International Master is this weekend in the small town of Alcubiere (The Monegros). So far it has come with the aim of support a tournament that seeks to promote the benefits of chess and foster encounters between fans and world-class legends. After fifteen editions, the list of guests is huge: Anatoly Karpov, Boris Spassky, Francisco Vallejo, Veselin Topalov, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Ruslan Ponomariov… and two other women, Yifan Hou and Anna Muzychuk.
As soon as he entered the stage of the village hall, Polgar received the sustained and sustained applause of the hundred or so registered for the XVth International Chess Tournament of Alcubierre. There, he will return late this Saturday for the award ceremony and tomorrow, Sunday, it will hold an exhibition of simultaneous games. During her visit, the player listened more than she spoke. Another registrant, 11-year-old Olivia García, was asked what she likes most about chess. “It helps me focus,” she replied, marveling at the “unforgettable” experience.
The vast majority of tournament registrants were aware of Judit Polgar’s particular career. Her story is the same or more cinematic than the one told in the popular “Lady’s Gambit” series. Unlike her protagonist, who was an orphan, the Hungarian assures that she had the best environment to become a successful player. Her parents homeschooled her, along with her two sisters, in an effort to prove that geniuses are not born but made. And, in his opinion, “they got it,” he said. All three have achieved great successes in sport and on a personal level, they are “happy and balanced” people, despite the opposition of the community to the method chosen by their parents.
After her retirement in 2014, Polgar dedicated herself to promoting the values of chess, which, as she indicated, find their maximum expression in small tournaments like the one held in Alcubierre. “I think it is very positive that the tradition of chess is preserved and valued beyond the big cities. In fact, I believe that it is more complicated to organize a small event than a large one, and moreover, I believe that the true values of chess are more relevant in the first”, he underlined.
“There are very few activities that have so much social value at such a low cost and can also be practiced by any type of person, i.e. regardless of race, gender, social status , etc.,” he added. Polgar is also an advocate of the educational value of chess. “As it is a game, it is a very accessible type of language for boys and girls, which transmits values that they can apply in their daily lives such as logic, strategy or decision-making”.when they practice it in front of each other, they work on mutual respect, respect for the rules, they learn to lose and to winthey develop a fighting spirit and learn to manage their own emotions,” he said.
Explaining the lack of women in the chess elite, the player turned her gaze to education and the social model. According to her, society expects different things from a boy than from a girl. “And if the goal is different, so will education,” he stressed. Moreover, as you recalled, they also do not start from the same situation, since there are countries in which having a daughter is a disadvantage even from a financial point of view. To explain it, he made a metaphor with chess itself. “If a pawn does very well and reaches the eighth rank, it can become a queen, but it started as a pawn”. And it is that, as he pointed out, the boys no longer need to go through this first section. They are already born as ladies and therefore, with a better situation and good expectations.
The tournament is organized by the Town Hall of Alcubierre, with the collaboration of the Region of Los Monegros, Ibercaja and the Aragonese Chess Federation.