Never give up attitude, especially in Chess Olympiad

Susan Polgar

My Chess Olympiad Records

In 1988, I played all 14 games on board 1, scoring 7 wins, 7 draws, 0 loss (75%)

In 1990, I played all 14 games on board 1, scoring 9 wins, 5 draws, 0 loss (82.1%)

In 1994, I played all 14 games on board 1, scoring 8 wins, 6 draws, 0 loss (78.6%)

In 2004, I played in 14 games on board 1, scoring 7 wins, 7 draws, 0 loss (75%)

Total Chess Olympiad stats: 56 games, 31 wins, 25 draws, 0 loss, all on board 1, never rested in any round

Total Chess Olympiad medals: 5 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze

Here are some questions I have often been asked:

Was I in trouble in any game?

Yes. But my chess philosophy is simple. If I represent my country in a team event as important as the Chess Olympiad, I have to fight as hard as humanly possible, and do everything imaginable to help my team win. I am not there to have fun. I am not there to party. I am not there to enjoy myself. I am not there for the experience. I am there for one purpose, and one purpose only, which is to represent my country the best I could to win medals.

Is there more pressure to play in the Olympiad?

Yes. If I play in an individual World Championship, I play for myself. And if I do not win, I let myself down. (In my case, I was lucky that I played in a total of 4 World Championships: Girls under 16 when I was 12, World Rapid, Blitz, and Classical Championships and I won all 4). But in a Chess Olympiad, I have the weight of my country on my shoulders so I have to fight even harder.

What advice do I have for young players participating in the Chess Olympiads?

Take it very seriously! Be proud to represent your country! But it is not enough to want to win. You have to train hard and long before the Chess Olympiad.

In my last Chess Olympiad in 2004 in Calvia, Spain, I came out of retirement after not playing a single rated game of chess for nearly 9 years. So I spent nearly 2 years before that to prepare physically, and worked on my chess non-stop. I knew that I will face young, strong, tough, energized, and motivated players. And being so rusty from not playing for so long, I had to work extra hard.

In addition, many people doubted me. I remember people telling me that I should have a low expectation since I was much older than most of my opponents, and no one can come out of retirement after nearly 9 years and play “well”.

That made me even more motivated. I hit the gym. I ran laps after laps around the track. I worked and worked on my chess. One of a few people who believed in me was my husband. He helped me train and was my chess coach. At the end, I had my best Chess Olympiad ever, scoring most total points, and having the best overall performance of the entire Women’s Chess Olympiad.

So the moral of the story is hard work does pay off. And if you want something bad enough, work hard to get it and not just talk or dream about it, and most importantly, never ever give up! Fight and give 110% of yourself.


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