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Polgar - Spassky Match

Judit Polgar5.5/10(+3 -2 =5)[games]
Boris V Spassky4.5/10(+2 -3 =5)[games] Chess Event Description
Polgar - Spassky (1993)

Negotiations for a training match between Judit Polgar and Boris Spassky began in November 1992. (1)

On November 18, Judit was informed that the match would start on January 31st, 1993. 12 games were to be played and split between Budapest, Hungary, and Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. The prize fund was to be $200,000 and the Fischer clock was to be used. The time control was 1 hour and 50 min, plus a 1 min increment per move, for the first 40 moves. Small changes were made later, with the number of games reduced to 10, all of them to be played in Budapest. (1)

Only on January 20 had it become certain that the match would indeed take place. Judit immediately asked Lev Psakhis to become her second. He accepted her proposal. Spassky's seconds were Aleksander S Nikitin and Yuri Balashov. During the opening ceremony at the Vakert Casino, Judit drew the number 13, so she got Black in the first game. The match took place in the ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel, which hosted about 1000 visitors per day. A change was made for game 10, which took place in the Beke Hotel. The winner would receive $120,000 and the loser $80,000. (1, 2)

The match was being staged by Jezdimir Vasiljevic, who had financed Fischer - Spassky (1992), and was organized by Janos Kubat. (4)

Spassky, who was turning 56 on the January 30, the day of welcoming and drawing of the lots, received a birthday cake as a present. (3) He told reporters "I am afraid of Judit", and "She is a great player, a player of the future." (3)

Judit held the first game to a draw in 39 moves, with Black in a King's Indian Defense. She declared "I gave it my best shot" and Pal Benko said "Judit was more daring, while Boris was cautious at first, but then he started taking risks." (5) In a ♕+♘ vs 2♖+♘ endgame, where Judit became active with her two ♖s, Spassky forced a perpetual check with his ♕.

In game 2, Judit took the lead with White in a Ruy Lopez after a successful King's side attack. Robert Eugene Byrne annotated the game in his column for The New York Times. (6) After the first rest day, Spassky managed to equal the score immediately in game 3. Judit had sacrificed a pawn in another KID, but did not get enough compensation. (1), p. 270

Judit again took the lead in game 4, after winning in a Ruy Lopez with White after 6 1/2 hours,(7) which was to Judit also "proof that I could win in good positional style." (1), p. 285

The games 5, 6 and 7 were hard-fought and ended in draws. In her annotations to game 7, Judit mentions that Psakhis was glad about her brave play. (1), p. 287 For game 8, Psakhis came up with a new idea in a line which had occurred in Klovans-Bandza, Novosibirsk 1986, involving a piece sacrifice. Spassky declined the sacrifice and lost, but the idea was later shown in Sherzer vs A Lesiege, 1993 (Alex Sherzer and Judit had conducted joined analysis). (1), pp. 291-293

After game 8, Judit was leading +3 -1 =4 with two rounds to go. Therefore, she needed only one draw out of the last two games. But Spassky hadn't given up the fight and came very close to a victory in game 9. Judit managed to draw the game after more than 7 hours of play, (13) winning the training match. Spassky said after the game that he had "to analyze just what went wrong in the match." (13)

Although the match was decided, Spassky won game 10 after almost 8 hours of play. Judit said "It was fascinating to see Boris fighting so hard, even though the match was lost. After all, he had not become a World Champion by chance ..." (1), p. 299. A curious coincidence occurred as both players blitzed out their opening moves in a Ruy Lopez Breyer, which had been played more often in the match already. Spassky played 11...♖e8, which could have cost the ♕, but Judit replied 12.♘f1 immediately, overlooking 12.♗xf7+ ♔xf7 13.♘g5+ ♔g8 14.♘e6. (1), p. 299


Game 1: January 31st
Game 2: February 1st
Rest day on February 2nd
Game 3: February 3rd
Game 4: February 4th
Rest days on February 5th and 6th
Game 5: February 7th
Game 6: February 9th
Game 7: February 11th
Game 8: February 12th
Rest day on February 13th
Game 9: February 14th
Game 10: February 16th

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Polgar = 1 0 1 = = = 1 = 0 5.5 Spassky = 0 1 0 = = = 0 = 1 4.5

Video provided by Judit Polgar:


(1) Judit Polgar, Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 2 - From GM to Top Ten, Quality Chess, 2013, pages 260 to 299.
(2) Press reports have mixed claims either supporting Judit's information, or reporting $110,000 for the winner and $90,000 for the loser, e. g. Tidskrift för Schack, 03/1993,

The dates of the rounds were deduced from (1) and the following contemporaneous reports:

(3) Eva Kekes, Associated Press, 1993.01.30,
(4) Alex Bandy, Associated Press, 1993.02.01,
(5) Alex Bandy, The Daily Gazette, 1993.02.01,
(6) Robert Byrne, The New York Times, 1993.02.07,
(7) Alex Bandy, Associated Press, 1993.02.04,
(8) The New York Times, 1993.02.05,
(9) The New York Times, 1993.02.10,
(10) Neues Deutschland, 1993.02.11,
(11) The New York Times, 1993.02.12,
(12) The New York Times, 1993.02.13, 1993,
(13) Alex Bandy, Associated Press, 1993.02.14,
(14) The New York Times, 1993.02.15,
(15) The New York Times, 1993.02.17,

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs J Polgar ½-½391993Polgar - SpasskyE81 King's Indian, Samisch
2. J Polgar vs Spassky 1-0401993Polgar - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
3. Spassky vs J Polgar 1-0461993Polgar - SpasskyE75 King's Indian, Averbakh, Main line
4. J Polgar vs Spassky 1-0651993Polgar - SpasskyC60 Ruy Lopez
5. Spassky vs J Polgar  ½-½341993Polgar - SpasskyE71 King's Indian, Makagonov System (5.h3)
6. J Polgar vs Spassky  ½-½431993Polgar - SpasskyC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
7. Spassky vs J Polgar  ½-½231993Polgar - SpasskyE81 King's Indian, Samisch
8. J Polgar vs Spassky 1-0421993Polgar - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
9. Spassky vs J Polgar ½-½561993Polgar - SpasskyE81 King's Indian, Samisch
10. J Polgar vs Spassky 0-1631993Polgar - SpasskyC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-03-14  davide2013: At page 260 of her book: From GM to top Ten, Miss Polgar writes that Lev Psakhis was her second. While above they say Polugaevsky. Maybe someone should try to clarify which of the two? I believe Polgar is correct, because she says that she phoned to Lev Psakhis in Israel, I don't believe Polugaevsky lived in Israel.
Mar-03-14  Olavi: In New in Chess 2/1993, Nikitin says Psakhis.
Mar-04-14  Karpova: I expanded the Intro a bit and added short descriptions of the games. Suggestions are welcome, as usual.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Incredible that there should be such a huge $200,000 prize fund for such a short and - if I may be so bold - minor match. And that was over twenty years ago!

Nowadays $200,000 must be trillions and trillions and trillions of stotinki! Enough to buy every turnip on the planet!

Mar-04-14  Karpova: Well, Spassky was a former World Champion and had just been in the news with Fischer-Spassky (1992) (prize fund $5,000,000), while Judit was a teenage prodigy who was back then the youngest player ever to become a GM. Furthermore, she was already clearly the highest rated female chessplayer, close to 2600 - - so it would clearly not be a one-sided affair and was advertised as a battle of the sexes. Considering the hype around the Polgar sisters, and Judit especially, this is may not be so surprising.
Jan-19-17  John Abraham: Fischer deciding to come out of retirement ironically probably financially helped Spassky more than himself, considering this match was funded by the same people who backed that one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: $200,000 for a <10 game match>! And that is over 25 years ago.

I reckon that is the highest prize fund for any ~10 game chess match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <$200,000 for a <10 game match>! And that is over 25 years ago>

And the participants weren’t top 50 on the rating list.

Jun-06-20  Allanur: The organisers wanted to organise a match between Bobby Fischer and Judit Polgar, thesides even came to an agreement.

I read some soyrces stating Fischer later withdrew, stating "they are Jews."

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