The game of Chess is very popular in Hungary which is evident by its rank in the Professional Chess playing countries. FIDE (Fédération internationale des échecs) ranks Hungary 5th after Russia, Ukraine, China and France, respectively. The interest of the general population of Hungary in the game of Chess is mainly the result of the influence of the Soviet Union. Amid a horde of Grandmasters, one remarkable name belongs to Zoltán Almási. He is a Hungarian Grandmaster of chess currently ranked 3rd among the Hungarian Chess players. Almasi was born on August 29, 1976 and started playing professional chess in 1990 at the age of 14. Three years later, he grabbed the prestigious Grandmaster title in 1993 at the age of 17. Almasi is adept at opening the game with Sicilian if he is playing with White pieces while with black he prefers the trusted Ruy Lopez opening.
In his long shining career of 24 years, the year 1993 proved to be a turning point. It is the year he became both the Grandmaster of chess and the U-18 World Junior Champion. This extraordinary success catapulted his career onto a flurry of successes afterwards. Almasi has won seven Hungarian Championships (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2008). The win in the Krynica Zonal Tournament 1.4 qualified him for the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament, which was to be held in 1999. In the tournament he reached the third round only to lose to Michael Adams. In 2004, he reached the fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Championship where he lost 2-0 to Rustam Kasimdzhanov who went on to eventually win the tournament. In the year 2005 Zoltán Almási won the 3rd Marx Gyorgy event with 6.5/10 points which was his biggest win of the year. In 2008 he won the 50th Reggio Emilia Tournament 2007/08 with 6.0/9 points and having finished undefeated.
In the year 2009, this modest chess player from Hungary crossed the 2700 line, a feat only a handful has ever achieved. Next year he won the European Rapid Championship (2010) without any loss. In the same year his strong result in the European Individual Championships (2010) qualified him for the World Cup (2011) where he easily defeated Essam El Gindy of Egypt in the first round losing against Romanian Grandmaster Mircea Parligras. Since 1994, he has represented Hungary in every Olympiad winning team silver in 2002 and individual silver in 2010. In 2013, he won the annual Capablanca Memorial.
Ratings and Ranking:
Zoltán Almási’s rating has varied wildly over his career but, in 2011 he briefly managed to be placed among the top twenty chess players in the world. In approximately 1000 professional games, he managed to earn a 2693 FIDE rating in standard format. In the rapid and blitz game formats he is not yet rated. His rank among all the players in the world is 56th while among active players he is ranked 53rd. He is a fine player, but he is largely overshadowed by his younger compatriots Judit Polgar and Peter Leko but he still has years to outdo them.