Never been afraid to play with the big boys
The winner of four Women’s Chess World Championships lives in Queens, and she’s making moves to try to get more girls to break into this male dominated world.
NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed this report. Susan Polgar has competed successfully against some of the greatest chess masters in history, but her greatest joy is playing with young girls like 6-year-old Evelyn Gotlieb.
“The parents of the girls are so happy,” says Polgar. “I get so much feedback on how it helps their daughters’ life, their education, their self-esteem, their mood. They are excited about something.
“Who knew the Queen of Chess was from Queens? The Olympic gold medalist and winner of four World Championships runs the Polgar Chess Center in Forest Hills.
The kids who study there are living proof that you are never too young to learn how to play.
“The king can go forward and sideways,” says Agatha Latek, a 5-year-old chess player.
About 65 students roughly between the ages of 5 and 10 get tips from the Hungarian-born Grand Master. Zina Gotlieb says chess is having a positive effect on her daughter Evelyn, who is in the first grade.
“She doesn’t like to lose, and she’s more patient,” says Gotlieb. “She pays attention when she plays.
“Susan Polgar started her chess club in Forest Hills 10 years ago. When she was a kid, she says she was the only girl in the chess club. Now she’s determined to make sure that all girls feel welcome playing the game.
“It still is male dominated,” she says, “So many times girls hear, ‘That’s not for girls. You can’t do that.’ And I think chess is a wonderful thing to do to prove that there is no physical strength needed. It’s a mental activity, and girls should do it and can do it.
“Polgar has never been afraid to play with the big boys. One might call her the Tiger Woods of chess.
She started playing chess when she was just 4-years-old. She is the author of several books and she has many DVD’s which instruct people, both young and old, on how to control the center.
She hopes to teach young ladies her mantra: to win with grace and lose with dignity.
– Cheryl Wills