Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jeff Sarwer - Josh Waitzkin, National Primary Championship 1986

I was rereading parts of Josh Waitzkin's very interesting book The Art of Learning, and I became fascinated by the story of Jeff Sarwer who is described as a chess prodigy, living a vagabond existence on the streets of New York with his lovely sister and manic depressive father. According to Josh, during the famous National Championship tournament of 1986 (immortalized in the book and film Searching for Bobby Fischer), Sarwer slept in his father's car each night. The game he played with Waitzkin is actually quite interesting and much better than the film itself portrays. I got the score from Jeff Sarwer's website, where you can learn what happened to that phenom of 20 years ago. Be sure to check out the fascinating video footage from his chess prodigy years. His sister is apparently working on a memoir of their childhoods titled Silent Conversations, which is certainly one book I look forward to reading.


Blogger katar said...

wow, having read AoL and after watching the Sarwer video, it seems Waitzkin's characterization was not far off.

Sat Sep 22, 02:48:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

This is Victor Rosas from West Orange C.C.. A close friend of mine past away I was wondering If you could do a posting here in your site with a game of his as an honor for him from me. He was the one who taught me how to play chess. In fact, I could do the analysis for you. Let me know, thank you.

Tue Sep 25, 08:40:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

katar --

I disagree. I think Waitzkin's view of Sarwer was colored by the animosity he felt toward him during their youth (and possibly Pandolfini's negative opinion of his training?). Sarwer, then and now, certainly didn't come across as the psychotically-arrogant "chess machine" with the cold, domineering father that I would have expected from Waitzkin's book (and even more from the Hollywoodized movie of his father's memoir). Actually, what struck me about Jeff was how normal (i.e. mentally-balanced) and happy he seemed/seems...his behavior while playing chess seemed more like kids my daughter's age with video games.

P.S.: I think his story would make a pretty good film, too.

Tue Aug 04, 01:58:00 AM EDT  

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