Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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The Chess Champions on the Airplane

July 28, 2011

No music in Paris last night for me as I had to get up early to fly to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend. I am hoping for music this weekend, obviously, but Budapest can be very tricky on the jam, open mic front. However, I have a little blog story I just had to tell, as it was an extraordinary coincidence.

During this trip I will be stay at the home of a friend of mine, a chess International Master, who once trained my son to play chess, but who also once trained Judit Polgar, the No. 1 woman chess player in the world. Polgar is so strong that no other woman has come close to her rating and performance in the last decade or so. She also has two sisters who are Grand Masters, like her, but not as strong. I once interviewed Polgar on the telephone for a story in the International Herald Tribune, but I never met her.

A few years ago, I also met through my friend the trainer, the man who is now Hungary’s No. 1 rated player, and 19th in the world at the moment. His name is Zoltan Almasi, and he is also, it turns out, a fan of Formula One motor racing. A few years ago I gave him a tour of the paddock in Budapest and I wrote a story about that visit by Almasi on my site.

Boarding the airplane in Paris this morning I recognized Almasi standing at the check-in and we boarded together. He was returning from a team tournament in China where he played with the Hungarian national chess team in a world teams championship. He then told me that Polgar was on the same flight.

It then turned out that the two of them were sitting in the row of seats directly in front of mine on the airplane! So we chatted away for a while before and after the flight.

Talk about a coincidence! Unfortunately, however, they could not tell me of any place to play my music in Budapest this weekend.

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