Joshua Waitzkin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joshua Waitzkin
Joshua Waitzkin.jpg
Joshua Waitzkin, 2005
CountryUnited States
Born (1976-12-04) December 4, 1976 (age 43)
New York City
TitleInternational Master
FIDE rating2464 (January 2020)
Peak Elo rating2480 (July 1998)[1]

Joshua Waitzkin (born December 4, 1976) is an American chess player, martial arts competitor, and author. As a child, he was recognized as a prodigy, and won the U.S. Junior Chess championship in 1993 and 1994. The film Searching for Bobby Fischer is based on his early life.

Early life and education[edit]

Waitzkin first noticed the game of chess being played while walking with his mother in New York City's Washington Square Park at the age of six. At age seven, Waitzkin began studying the game with his first formal teacher Bruce Pandolfini.[2] During his years as a student at Dalton he led the school to win seven national team championships between the third and ninth grades, in addition to his eight individual titles. In 1999, Waitzkin enrolled at Columbia University, where he studied philosophy.[3][4]

The first master Waitzkin defeated was Edward Frumkin, in a game featuring a sacrifice of Waitzkin's queen and rook in exchange for a checkmate six moves later. Waitzkin was ten years old at the time.[5] At age 11, he and fellow prodigy K. K. Karanja were the only two children to draw with World Champion Garry Kasparov in an exhibition game where Kasparov played simultaneously against 59 youngsters.[6][7] Five years later, he earned the title of National Master, and at age 16 became an International Master.[6]

Waitzkin has not played in a US Chess Federation tournament since 1999,[8] and his last FIDE tournament was before 2000.[9]

Film portrayal[edit]

The script for Paramount Pictures' 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer was based on a 1988 book by Waitzkin's father, Fred Waitzkin: Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess. Waitzkin makes a cameo in the film, in a scene in the last quarter of the movie (at 1:21:51) where his father is watching a young Josh play Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne) from a bench. The real Waitzkin can be seen wearing a green/gray coat over a white shirt and standing behind a boy in a black sweatshirt who is playing chess right next to the film's version of Waitzkin.[10][better source needed]


Waitzkin is the author of two books: Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies, Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion (1995) and The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance (2008), an autobiographical discussion of the learning process and performance psychology drawn from Waitzkin's experiences in both chess and the martial arts.[11] He is also the spokesperson for the Chessmaster video game series, and is featured in the game giving advice and game analysis.[12][13]

Martial arts[edit]

As a young adult, Waitzkin's focus shifted to the martial art Aikido. He holds several US national medals and a 2004 world champion title in the competitive sport of Taiji Push Hands (Taiji Tui Shou).[14] Waitzkin also became a championship coach, leading Grandmaster William C. C. Chen's US Push Hands Team to several titles at the Tai Chi World Cup in Taiwan, guiding teammates Jan Lucanus and Jan C. Childress to their world titles.[15] Waitzkin is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under world champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenomenon Marcelo Garcia.[16][17] Waitzkin is the co-founder of and The Marcelo Garcia Academy, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school located in New York City.

Personal life[edit]

On April 23, 2010, Waitzkin married Desiree Cifre,[18] a screenwriter and former contestant on The Amazing Race.


  1. ^ "Joshua Waitzkin - Chess Games".
  2. ^ Josh Waitzkin: The Art of Learning (videotape) (News feature segment). ABCNews NOW: Perspectives with JuJu Chang. ABC News. n.d. Event occurs at 2:36–3:49.
  3. ^ "Notable Alumni".
  4. ^ Waitzkin, Fred (2017). Searching for Bobby Fischer: A Father's Story of Love and Ambition. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781504043038.
  5. ^ Waitzkin's game against Frumkin
  6. ^ a b Bio - Josh Waitzkin
  7. ^ Maura Reynolds, "Pupils No Match for Kasparov, Even Simultaneously", The New York Times, February 23, 1988
  8. ^ "USCF membership info". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  9. ^ "Waitzkin FIDE card". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Tim Ferriss (November 27, 2016). "The Tim Ferriss Show:#204: Tools of Titans: Josh Waitzkin Distilled" (Podcast). Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Art of Learning Project". Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Rocky Citro, "The Old Josh Waitzkin Chessmaster Tutorials", We Learn Chess, March 14, 2016
  14. ^ "Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning. Chess and Martial Arts". Shows Waitzkin's championship round at Chung Hwa Tai Chi World Cup 2004. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  15. ^ "Jan Lucanus vs. Chen Chi-Cheng Fixed Step Push Hands Championship Match ICMAC Orlando, FL 2005". Josh Waitzkin coaches Jan Lucanus' victory over Jiu jitsu World Champ. World Push Hands. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  16. ^ "Josh Waitzkin Interview | On the Mat | Worlds Largest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi and No Gi Belt Database". On the Mat. January 25, 2008. Archived from the original on November 29, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  17. ^ "Josh Waitzkin interview « Another neijia blog". May 2, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  18. ^ "Wedding Under the Cherry Blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2012.

External links[edit]