Waitzkin, Josh 1976-

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Waitzkin, Josh 1976-


Born 1976, New York, NY.


E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, educator, chess champion. Chessmaster computer game, spokesman, 1997—; served as chess coach for the students of P.S. 116, New York, NY; released Chess Starts Here instructional video with Bruce Pandolfini, 1997; "Josh Waitzkin Academy" feature included in UBI Chessmaster: The Art of Learning for Nintendo DS and Chessmaster Grandmaster Edition for PC.


Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (spokesman).


National Primary Championship for chess, 1986; National Junior High Championship for chess, 1988, 1990; National Elementary Championship for chess, 1989; became National Master, 1989; Senior High Championship for chess, 1991; U.S. Cadet Championship, for chess players under sixteen years old, 1991; became International Master, 1993; U.S. Junior (Under-21) Co-Champion, 1993; U.S. Junior Championship, 1994; also won six National team championships with the Dalton School chess team; Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands Middleweight National Champion in the Restricted Step and Moving Step for five years; Bronze Medal, Push Hands World Championship, Taiwan, 2002; Gold Medal, Push Hands division of the World Kuoshu Championships, San Paolo, Brazil, 2003; won five National Championship titles in Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight divisions, National Championships, Orlando, FL, 2004; Middleweight World Championship title in Fixed Step Push Hands, named Middleweight World Co-Champion in Moving Step Push Hands, 7th Chung Hwa Cup International Tai Chi Chuan Championships, Taiwan, 2004; Houston Worldfest, The Communicator and NY Festivals, Best Instructional Video from Videographer magazine, all for Chess Starts Here.


(With father, Fred Waitzkin) Josh Waitzkin's Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies and Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Born in 1976, Josh Waitzkin started down the road to fame when he was just six years old. Walking with his mother in Washington Square Park in New York City, he saw his first chess game in action. He never made it to the monkey bars that had been the purpose of the trip to the park. Instead, he discovered a love for chess that would ultimately lead him to become an International Master and develop into the subject of a popular book and film. Waitzkin first learned to play chess from the men who played in the park, most of them street players who were not above hustling passersby, but who developed a soft spot for Waitzkin and his fascination for the game, and who were willing to share their knowledge with him. By the time he was seven years old, Waitzkin was learning the more classical form of the game, and how to play in competitions, tutored by famed chess master Bruce Pandolfini. He began to play in scholastic tournaments and was highly ranked by the age of nine. At thirteen, he earned the title National Master, having won both the National Primary School and the National Junior High Championships. Attending the prestigious Dalton School in New York City, Waitzkin also participated in the school team and led them to win the National Team Championships six times in seven years. Waitzkin's father, Fred, wrote a book about Josh's discovery of and passion for chess. The book began with Josh's first encounter in Washington Square Park and chronicled his first classes with Pandolfini, handling the increased structure applied to both his game and the atmosphere in which he learned, and followed his improvements up to his winning his first National Championship. In 1993, Paramount Pictures adapted Fred Waitzkin's book into a successful film, and that same year Josh Waitzkin earned the title of International Master, among other successes.

Waitzkin continued to play chess for several years, achieving high-ranking status and collecting tournaments wins. He eventually added martial arts to his interests, specifically Tai Chi Chuan and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Although he began studying for pleasure, by his early twenties he was competing at an international level and winning competitions regularly. Despite his successes, however, Waitzkin is still known primarily for his achievements in chess. He went on to become a spokesman for Chessmaster computer games in 1997. In addition, he has written books on both chess and the nature of competition and achievement.

Josh Waitzkin's Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies and Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion was a joint effort between Waitzkin and his father, published in 1995, and offers readers advice on playing chess based on Waitzkin's own techniques and experiences. His next effort, however, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, is a much more personal effort and chronicles his own personal experiences with success, ambition, and the learning process. Using examples from his own life, Waitzkin addresses what it takes in order to succeed, whether your goals are mental or physical. Because he reached high levels of achievement in two separate activities, one cerebral and one far more physical, Waitzkin is able to compare how he improved in each skill and the attitude that he needed to maintain in order to meet his goals and stretch his abilities. A reviewer for California Bookwatch found Waitzkin's book to be "an excellent blend of autobiography and learning insights." In a review for Publishers Weekly, a contributor remarked: "The concept of incremental progress through diligent practice of the fundamentals isn't new, but Waitzkin certainly gives it a fresh spin."



Waitzkin, Josh, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, April 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Art of Learning, p. 13.

California Bookwatch, August, 2007, review of The Art of Learning.

Premiere, August, 1993, "All the Right Moves," p. 35.

Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2007, review of The Art of Learning, p. 81.

Sports Illustrated, September 19, 1988, "My Master, My Son: For the Father of a Prodigy, Chess Is Hardly Child's Play," p. 60.

Time, August 9, 1993, "Chess's Wise Child," p. 63.


Chess Vibes Web site,http://www.chessvibes.com/ (June 23, 2007), "Remember Josh Waitzkin?"

Chess Videos Web site,http://www.chessvideos.tv/ (March 26, 2008), "Robofriven Interviews Josh Waitzkin."

Josh Waitzkin Home Page,http://www.joshwaitzkin.com (March 26, 2008).