Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:00 pm
Updated: 11:59 am, Thu Jan 24, 2013.
Polgar credits her parents for her success, saying they shielded her from society’s then-prevailing sentiments, sacrificed vacations and hard-earned money to pay for chess coaches, and instilled in her the belief that all people are born with equal ability and potential. “They told me that if I had the passion and put in the hours of work, then I should be as good as any man.”
After giving birth to her first child in 1999, Polgar retired from competitive play. But she came out of retirement in 2003 to achieve a few remaining goals, namely: for all children to benefit from playing chess, to use chess as a tool to improve education, to attract more women to the game and to raise its popularity in America. The next year, Polgar joined the U.S Women’s national chess team, winning two personal gold medals and helping the U.S. team secure the silver medal in the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Spain.
Since then, Polgar has patiently built the foundation to attain her goals. She won the Women’s Chess Cup for the U.S in 2006, set a few international chess records, and developed the top-ranked college chess team in the nation, moving the program to St. Louis seven months ago. Webster University is one of few colleges offering full or partial college scholarships for chess players. Currently, there are 14 students under the Grandmaster’s wing at Webster. “That’s pretty good—after being in St. Louis for only one summer.”