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Monday, May 28, 2007

A Conversation With Josh Waitzkin

GM Gregory Kaidanov, left, and IM Josh Waitzkin

Photo: www.joshwaitzkin.com

I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Josh Waitzkin today, and I found him to be as articulate and animated in person as he is in his writing. I'll plan on elaborating more on our discussion in my upcoming ChessCafe Scholastic Chess column, but here are a few tidbits of what he had to say:

  • Regarding a possible return to competitive chess: "If I feel the love, the desire, I'll do it. I feel I'll be much stronger if I do come back."
  • Concerning his current plans: After winning eight chess championships and thirteen Push Hands martial arts championships, he is working on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with his sights set on the 2010 or 2011 World Championship.
  • Will there be another movie about him, this time regarding his martial arts exploits? Josh says that he's already been approached by two different filmmakers and says, "I'll listen. I'm open to talking about it."

As you may know, Josh has been intimately involved with the Chessmaster programs for about ten years now. If you have Chessmaster 10, take a look at the Josh Waitzkin Academy and click on the "Psychology of Competition" button. You'll find an entire series covering many of the same topics he discusses in his new book The Art of Learning. Included among them is an intense game against his teacher GM Gregory Kaidanov, one of the foremost chess teachers in the U.S.

If you haven't yet seen his book The Art of Learning, pick up a copy. He's a very entertaining writer - I found the descriptions of his Push Hands matches (even practice sessions) absolutely riveting. My palms were sweating while reading about his world championship matches at the end of the book. More importantly, he pours out his heart in getting across his philosophy of learning, which might be summed up by this quote attributed to basketball legend Bobby Knight: "Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."

To see all of our Josh Waitzkin posts, click here.

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