|Joshua Waitzkin (born December 4, 1976, New York City) was a child-prodigy chess player who won the U.S. Junior Chess championship in 1993 and 1994.|
He began playing the game at the age of six, having discovered it while wandering through Washington Square Park in New York City. It was there, while playing blitz chess with the hustlers, that he was "discovered" by Bruce Pandolfini, a chess author and teacher, who later took Waitzkin under his wing for a number of years.
The first master he ever defeated was Edward Frumkin, in a game featuring a remarkable sacrifice of Waitzkin´s queen and rook. Waitzkin was only ten years old at the time.
At 11, he was one of two children to draw with World Champion Garry Kasparov in an exhibition game where Kasparov played simultaneously against 59 youngsters. Two years later, he earned the title of National Master, and at 16 became an International Master.
Despite this early promise, Waitzkin has not yet gained the Grandmaster title. In the January 2004 FIDE rankings, he had an Elo rating of 2464, though is listed as inactive, with no rated games in 2003 or 2004. This may be due to his recent focus on the martial art Tai Chi Chuan, in which he is a four-time, and the current, national Tai Chi Chuan push hands champion.
Nevertheless he remains a well-known and popular chess figure, largely owing to Paramount Pictures´ 1993 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, directed by Steven Zaillian. The script for this film was based on a 1993 book by Joshua"s father, Fred: Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess.
Joshua himself is the author of Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies and Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion (1995). He is also the spokesperson for the Chessmaster computer game series, and is featured in the game giving advice and game analysis.
Josh is also active in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
- "The most important thing I believe I´ve learned [from chess] is the idea of when you have an opportunity, a gift, whatever it is, you take advantage of it."