The life of a Chess prodigy: Josh Waitzkin – Chess Special
When it comes to chess, there are several legends who have amazed the world by their intelligent play.
Some of the first names that come mind include Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Paul Morphy. Among such top notch chess players is another name which has delighted the world with its unique skill. In this article, we are going to introduce you to Josh Waitzkin,
an international chess master of exceptional aptitude.
Waitzkin is an American chess player who was born in 1976. He discovered the world of chess early in his life and became a prodigy in the sport. As the story goes, Waitzkin was visiting New York City’s Washington Square Park accompanied by his mother, when
he stumbled upon a group of people playing chess. Waitzkin was immediately captivated with what he would later call the ‘black and white jungle’. Waitzkin was six at the time.
The child prodigy started frequenting the park where the street hustlers educated Waitzkin in their style of chess. This lay the seed for what was to become the trademark Waitzkin moves: aggressive and intuitive.
Josh comments on his early chess years in the following words, “My first teachers were street players, guys who would hustle you, get in your head, break you down mentally before they did it over the board.”
At the age of seven, the young chess player was spotted by Bruce Pandolfini. To his credit, Padolfini has several chess books and the title of being a chess teacher and coach to many chess players, Waitzkin among them.
From then on, the development of Waitzkin’s professional chess career began. At the age of nine, he was able to win a number of national championships. Next year, Waitzkin was up against a master. Edward Frumkin suffered a defeat by a ten year old player
when Waitzkin sacrificed his queen as well as a rook, only to make a checkmate in six moves. The title of national master was attained by Waitzkin when he was 13 years of age, while at age 16, he was an international chess master.
Apart from chess, he has involved himself in other sports too. He excels in the world of martial arts as well. Waitzkin is skilled in Tai Chi Chuan and Jiu Jitsu, which is a Brazilian form of martial arts. Consequently, the accomplished chess player also
showed his mastery in Tai Chi Chuan by becoming the national champion in the middleweight category. It did not stop there, Waitzkin went on to achieve various titles in the sport of martial arts.
According to Waitzkin, there is a unique similarity between chess and martial, which has acted as the driving force behind his pursuit of excellence in both the fields.
“I love the play between the conscious and unconscious minds in the creative moment, and for me chess and the martial arts are both about developing a rich working relationship with your intuition,” Waitzkin said in while giving an interview to Adisa Banjoko.
Waitzkin also indulges in writing. Among his most famous books are the following names: the art of learning and attacking chess, the latter being the first book that Waitzkin ever wrote. His writings focus on psychology and learning. Both of them are important
pillars to success in the field of chess as well as martial arts. Waitzkin’s vocals can be heard in the background of the largest computer chess program of this age, which is known as the chessmaster.
Waitzkin’s recent achievements include the formation of the JW foundation, which is of an educational nature. It targets the children and helps them make use of their capabilities in the best possible manner.