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Q & A: Susan polgar

women's world chess champion

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Chess -- it's not just a man's game anymore, and, ladies, you have Susan Polgar to thank.

Polgar paved the way for women in the once male-dominated game. In 1986, she broke the gender barrier by qualifying for the Men's World Championship. Then, in 1991, she earned the Men's Grandmaster title, the highest honor in chess.

Last weekend, Polgar was in Memphis to teach and demonstrate simultaneous games at Lausanne Collegiate Schools' chess camp. Since chess instills discipline, focus, and critical-thinking skills in its players, we couldn't let the opportunity pass without learning from a Grandmaster. -- By Bianca Phillips

Flyer: What was it like when you achieved the Men's Grandmaster title?Polgar: I felt really motivated to get there and prove that women are just as capable as men in chess and basically anything that requires thinking. I was very proud.

When did you first become interested in chess?I started when I was about 4. A few months later, I had my first big success winning the championship in Budapest for girls under age 11. I won all of my games, 10 out of 10.

didn't you break a Guinness World Record recently?I had to walk over nine miles while playing 1,131 games over 16 hours of time. I broke four different records. The main record was to play 326 different opponents simultaneously. The other record was playing 1,131 consecutive games, some against the same opponent. The other two records related to the score.

Do you still play every day?I still prepare when I play a big tournament or exhibition.

How does chess relate to everyday life?Chess can teach you responsibility. When you make a move, you have to plan ahead and consider opponents' moves, just like in life. When it's a rainy day, take an umbrella. The more you get into chess, the more you discover logic and discipline and not rushing through decisions.

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