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on December 11, 2005
A self/family bio on how the west was won, opps I mean how chess was won! Rather interesting and well written. This book is suitable for young readers as this is a toned down mellow-yellow version in many ways of Jennifer Shahade's new book also on an insight into the world of women's chess (I would rate that PG13).

The Polar sisters have done a lot for chess, helping women's self esteme and respect in a traditionally male dominated sport. However, it is a big far fetched to say the Polgar's have "Changed the Game of Chess". Influenced in a positive way yes, "Changed" no.

This book along with Shahade's book are both to be recommended!
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on December 28, 2005
I'd been looking forward to this book for some time and I can say straight away that I wasn't disappointed.

The Polgars - and Susan in particular, being the trailblazer - had to overcome many obstacles on their way to the top. It seems like a description of another world when Susan relates not being able to compete in the World Championship cycle, even though she qualified, purely because it was then known as the Men's World Championship.

I used a good number of Polgar games. They were always exciting games, usually featuring a snappy finish but I was also able to show that chess is not totally male-dominated. At that time, local chess playing girls were almost completely non-existent. Within a couple of years we had changed all that and for a while we were ahead of most counties with our achievements. The point is that without good role models, the girls would never have flourished and seeing the top-level break though of the three sisters was inspirational and influential in our own local efforts.

The opening section compromises of an autobiography by Susan, followed by a good selection of her own games and combinations, all well-annotated. Susan then covers the lives of her sisters, with plenty of anecdotes from around the chess world.

Judit made it to the top ten of the world ranking lists and recently competed in the World Championship tournament.

Sofia doesn't play very much these days, which is a pity. Her performance at Rome in 1989 shows what we are missing. If you are unfamiliar with her success at that event, go and look it up on your database now!

Four shorter chapters finish off the book. These cover a variety of subjects, including the plans for the Susan Polgar foundation and the successful rebuilding and training of the US Women's team for the 2004 Olympiad.

There's also a plethora of interesting photos, featuring not only the Polgars but also a whole host of chess luminaries, including Fischer and Kasparov.

Amazingly, the obstacles go on appearing. Following the tremendous and unprecedented success of the US Women's team at the 2004 Olympiad, the Olympiad Training Program was cancelled as politics once again moved in to spoil things.

The biographical sections make fascinating reading but I'm sure a lot of readers will be more interested in the pure chess content. Rest assured, there are plenty of terrific games here with all three sisters showing a remarkable flair for tactics.

Despite all the `mines in the road', Susan has remained incredibly optimistic regarding chess and its place in the lives of young people.

VERDICT: The inside story of a remarkable rise to chess success, against all the odds! This is an excellent and inspirational book on several levels. A good one to put on your Christmas list, methinks!
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on December 13, 2005
I like this book very much. The stories of the sisters are inspiring. They basically revoluntionized women's chess and raised it to another level. The games are also well annotated. It's a very good book overall. It's nice to hear the personal accounts of their lives and challenges.
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on December 17, 2005
I'm not much of a chess player. I don't follow chess much. The last famous chess player I read about was Bobby Fischer until this book. This is an extremely inspirational story of the three young ladies who took the chess world by storm, smashing through all barriers that were put in front of them. What an amazing feat! And by the way, the chess part is also very easy to understand, even for the novice players. I certainly can recommend this book to folks of all ages.
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on November 6, 2005
There are plenty of exciting games and combinations in this book with all three sisters showing a remarkable flair for tactics and courage.

Despite all the "road blocks", Ms. Polgar has remained incredibly optimistic regarding chess and its place in the lives of young people. She constantly promotes chess for young people and she's an excellent role model for millions of children worldwide.

MY OPPINION: The personal take of a remarkable rise to chess success, against all the odds! This is an excellent, inspirational and motivational book on many levels. This is a very good choice to put on your Christmas list!
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on November 2, 2005
I'd been looking forward to this book for some time and I can say straight away that I wasn't disappointed.

The Polgars - and Susan in particular, being the trailblazer - had to overcome many obstacles on their way to the top. It seems like a description of another world when Susan relates not being able to compete in the World Championship cycle, even though she qualified, purely because it was then known as the Men's World Championship.

I used a good number of Polgar games. They were always exciting games, usually featuring a snappy finish but I was also able to show that chess is not totally male-dominated. At that time, local chess playing girls were almost completely non-existent. Within a couple of years we had changed all that and for a while we were ahead of most counties with our achievements. The point is that without good role models, the girls would never have flourished and seeing the top-level break though of the three sisters was inspirational and influential in our own local efforts.

The opening section compromises of an autobiography by Susan, followed by a good selection of her own games and combinations, all well-annotated. Susan then covers the lives of her sisters, with plenty of anecdotes from around the chess world.

Judit made it to the top ten of the world ranking lists and recently competed in the World Championship tournament.

Sofia doesn't play very much these days, which is a pity. Her performance at Rome in 1989 shows what we are missing. If you are unfamiliar with her success at that event, go and look it up on your database now!

Four shorter chapters finish off the book. These cover a variety of subjects, including the plans for the Susan Polgar foundation and the successful rebuilding and training of the US Women's team for the 2004 Olympiad.

There's also a plethora of interesting photos, featuring not only the Polgars but also a whole host of chess luminaries, including Fischer and Kasparov.

Amazingly, the obstacles go on appearing. Following the tremendous and unprecedented success of the US Women's team at the 2004 Olympiad, the Olympiad Training Program was cancelled as politics once again moved in to spoil things.

The biographical sections make fascinating reading but I'm sure a lot of readers will be more interested in the pure chess content. Rest assured, there are plenty of terrific games here with all three sisters showing a remarkable flair for tactics.

Despite all the `mines in the road', Susan has remained incredibly optimistic regarding chess and its place in the lives of young people.

VERDICT: The inside story of a remarkable rise to chess success, against all the odds! This is an excellent and inspirational book on several levels. A good one to put on your Christmas list, methinks!
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on November 21, 2005
Chess was once a relatively simple game. One of the early American GM-level players (possibly even the world's champion player at the time), Paul Morphy, continually tried to deny he was a "professional chess player". In the 1860s this was akin to being a professional gambler or mountebank.

Today... things are a little different, as chess is regarded as "a world-class professional sport". This in turn drags along a lot of baggage. Chess is often used these days as a political and feminist platform, and the gossip and innuendo has, in many cases, exceeded the actual interest in the tournaments and games. This deeply saddens me, because playing the game has nothing to do with one's politics, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. The pieces do not care who is moving them; only the end result matters.

Breaking Through is a biography written in a slightly unusual way. Part of it consists of the personal stories of the Polgar sisters, and their many difficulties in playing chess in what was (and still is to some degree) a sport dominated by narrow-minded individuals. Part of it is a set of annotated chess games.

The biographies are a pleasure to read, although there are spots which could've used a bit more editing. Much of the focus is on the difficulties the sisters experienced in playing chess during the 80s and 90s, and the challenges in preparing for matches and the matches themselves. Very little space is wasted on "gossip and innuendo". It's interesting, yet it manages to avoid sharing a lot of irrelevant personal details.

I've enjoyed playing through the chess games, which are annotated on much the same level as Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move. Each move is explained in easy-to-understand terms, and I think anyone who's played more than a few games will have no difficulty following along.

In short, it's an instructional book masquerading as a biography. Given that the book is about chess players, I think Susan's doing the right thing by focusing on the chess and ignoring the nonsense. It's always tempting to descend to the level of the ignorant masses; this accomplishes nothing in the long run.
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on December 15, 2005
I received this book for my birthday. I must admit that I didn't know much about the Polgar family until I read this book. Their stories are quite fascinating. What are the chances of producing 3 world-class chess playing sisters in one family? I don't think this has ever happened before in chess or any other sport. The other nice thing is to be able to understand their own personal thoughts and account of what they went through during their careers. It's a very enjoyable read, a mild and classy book.
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on October 24, 2005
I'm a big fan of Ms. Polgar. She's the ideal role model for young people, especially girls. She leads by her accomplishments, words and actions. This is an essential book for female players of all ages. I'm also a proud participant of the 2nd annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls thanks to her encouragement and support.
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on December 15, 2005
The three sisters really made a big impact for chess, especially women. Before there were Annika Sorenstam, Jeanetter Lee, the Williams sisters or even Twisted Sisters, there were the Polgar sisters making waves in the chess world. Susan and Judit took turn to occupy the #1 women's ranking in the world for more than 20 straight years since 1984/85, an amazing feat. This book talks about what they had to go through, their struggles, their triumphs. It's a very moving book. Go Polgar sisters!
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