Monday, October 1, 2012

On The Polgar Sisters

This week's book learning is from 'Talent is Overrated' by Geoff Colvin.

Laszlo Polgar, a Hungarian educational psychologist had a thesis - great performers are made, not born. After writing his book titled "Bring Up Genius", he publicly asked for a woman who would marry him and raise kids to test his theories. Klara, a school teacher actually agreed!

So, when their daughter Susan was 4 years old, Laszlow and Klara began teaching her chess.

(The reason behind Chess is unclear. It is believed that a combination of easy feedback and the fact that it was a heavily male dominant sport influenced Laszlo's choice.)

Soon, the younger daughters - Sophia and Judith were also put into the program. All 3 sisters were home-schooled with chess being the focus. Their family accumulated a library of 10,000 chess books!

The results were astounding. By age 17, Susan became the first woman to qualify for what was then the 'Men's world championship.' It took Chess a few years to overcome it's gender discrimination and Susan was finally crowned world champion at 21. Judith, the youngest Polgar, has gone on to become the undisputed greatest female chess player of all time. She is the game's youngest ever grandmaster at age 15 and still Women's number 1 and amongst the top 10 ten chess players in the world!

The Polgar sisters and Laszlo - Image source

I found the Polgar story simply incredible. Enough said.

Here's to practicing hard at our "art", Polgar style, this week!

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