The Polgar Chess Center
By Justin Michael Jenkins

Home and training center to the historic 2004 Silver Medalist Olympic Woman’s chess team, the Polgar Chess Center began its roots on Saunders Street in Rego Park. The club is the end result of a dream that Susan had as a child. “Owning a chess center was a childhood dream of mine. I love chess and from my 30 plus years of experience, I discovered that chess can help children of all ages do better in school as well as develop many important life skills. Research around the world has supported my belief. That is why my chess center serves as a training ground for countless children since 1997. “It is like a community service that benefits the surrounding area in a worthwhile way,” states Susan.

The club has members from the age of 4 to over 70. Most of these members are from New York but some even come from out of state and many players from around the world have visited the club. “It is amazing that people from all ethnic groups, social backgrounds, genders, ages, and religions, etc. come to my club to play and learn. That is what I hope to do: unite people through chess”, states Susan. A year ago, the center moved to a much larger space in a prime location filled with boards and instructional books at 103-10 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills. “This is an excellent club; it’s not that formal,” said Grandmaster Alexander Stripunsky, 34, co-winner of the 2005 U.S. championship, who, like Polgar and other chess masters, resides in Forest Hills.

Polgar is enthusiastic about bringing chess to everyone and providing instruction and a place to play. She added it wouldn’t be possible to run the Center without the help of so many volunteers. When asked about the difference between the chess culture in the US and her native Hungary, she responds, “It’s completely different, at least in Eastern Europe. There parents see chess as something serious, as a potential career for their kids. Here it’s more like a place to drop off the kids after school. They don’t know about the work and attention serious progress in chess requires.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few promising youngsters on the premises and several top US juniors got their start and played and studied regularly at the Center’s previous two locations. They’ll have even more room to grow in the new spot, which Polgar says can fit up to 60 players in its four rooms.

Polgar insisted that all the sets used in the club be solid wood, not the usual plastic. (This was wisely avoided in the kids’ area, where unbreakable weighted plastic sets are used.) The Center gives weekly lectures and holds tournaments of many different time controls, including rapid and blitz. There is also a very well-stocked chess shop with the best book selection we’ve seen anywhere (offline at least) on these shores. There are different membership levels to participate in the different activities and tournaments.

Here is more information about the Polgar Chess Center.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar