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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Hungary Headlines - 28 Years Ago This Week - Judit Polgár to Take on Boris Spassky

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Budapest Week, Jan 23 - Feb 3, 1993, Page 2, Featured this Inspiring story

(Apologies re photo quailty, which makes her look like a returnee from a Soviet POW camp - not my pic. Technology then was not the best. See Judit's website for a much better photo!)

As some oldies will remember, Budapest Week, Hungary's first independent English-language weekly, began life in March, 1991. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of this astonishingly successful publication (given the conditions, financial and otherwise, of the team at the time), surviving founders are currently working on digitising the first three years of the paper.

Hence an appeal has gone out to junk-heads for old copies. (I was not a founding member merely an occasional contributor at the beginning. I am an inveterate junk collector though :))

So I've been digging around of late and found two collections. I dipped into one box this morning, and the first paper I picked up happened to be from 28 years ago this week. (See below for proof!)

The story on child-prodigy Chess Queen Judit Polgár (above) featured on page 2. It's author is Sándor Laczko, a print and radio journalist, now a veteran who is still in the business.

I thought it worthy of reproducing here as a reminder of Judit's unparalleled record in the sport, (Her sisters, Zsuzsa and Zsofi were darned good too. All three were home schooled - a concept unknown in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s.)

And as luck would have it, via a quick visit to her website, I saw that Judit had tweeted birthday wishes to Boris just three days ago.

"We had many battles and meaningful conversations. Wishing happy birthday to Boris Spassky, one of the most interesting characters in chess and former world champion!" she wrote.

While now retired from competitive chess, Judit continues to work hard at promoting the game as an educational educational tool for children in schools throughout the world, providing a unique and complex chess curriculum with special focus on cross curricular links.

UPDATE: I couldn't remember whether this match had taken place or not, so I emailed Judit to check. She has just replied: "Thx for the old article. It was a fantastic match I played and won 5,5-4.5 in Budapest at the ballroom of the Marriott. Daily 1000 visitors. It was really one of the most memorable experiences I had."

But Page 1 Politics was the Same Old Grim Stuff

This story, by Tibor Szendrei and Krisztina Fenyő , illustrates the rift in the then leading partner in the ruling coaliton, the MDF, between the centre-right Prime Minister, József Antall, and the radical right MP István Csurka. Despite the agreement mentioned in the story, Csurka would later break from the MDF to form the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP).

PM Antall, who looks far from happy in the photo, had good reason: not only was he struggling with the far right within his own party, he was also nearing the end of a long battle with cancer. He died at the end of the year.

I was about to leave it at that for this posting when, attempting to put the paper back together again, I noticed this story, by Colin Woodard, underneath the piece about Judit, at the bottom of page 2.

Really, it seems nothing has changed.

For interviews with the founders and early contributors of Budapest Week, here is a link to podcast interviews by Steve Carlson:

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