Chess Master Joshua Waitzkin's Illustrious Life
Born on December 4, 1976, Joshua Waitzkin, whose childhood years were portrayed in the 1993 film Searching For Bobby Fischer, has been mastering everything he lays his mind into.
As a kid, Joshua took home eight national chess championship titles. By the young age of 16, he was already an international master in chess.
How Joshua’s Family Handled His Talent
After discovering his son’s gift in chess, Fred Waitzkin was not only in shock. Still, he was also inspired to write his 1984 book, Searching For Bobby Fischer, which was an internationally acclaimed bestseller. Later in 1993, the book was turned into a movie with the same name.
Talking about his son’s talent in his 2013 interview with Scientific American, the author revealed that his son always had a passion for chess, and they bonded great through the game as well.
He confessed to not forcing him to play the after-school park games or teach him to be a competitor. But as his parents, he and his wife had to remind Joshua to study and practice.
Reminiscing those times, the proud father also mentioned that it was a team of three, and as suggested in some parts of the movie, sometimes he would push Joshua a bit too hard, at which point his wife would always push back at him.
I think we were a great team of three. Josh was the player—a one in a million talent… We loved our lives in the chess wars. Bonnie loved Josh’s chess greatly but also she brought some sanity to the table. If I pushed him too hard, she pushed back at me.
The Reason Why He Moved Away From Chess
In his 2007, NPR interview the chess prodigy revealed why he decided to take a break from chess. When the host asked Joshua whether he ever feels disappointed about his decision, he replied, saying that he absolutely did not.
Elaborating on his answer, Joshua said that he, for one believes that he has had a wonderful experience with the game, and having played chess professionally for 17 years, he has learned so much.
The chess prodigy admitted that, more than anything, chess for him was a channel for internal growth and was intrigued by the learnings that the game offered.
However, Joshua came forward saying that, after the movie's release, he gained many fans and followers lining up for autographs during his tournaments which made him distracted.
I'd be trying to compete against a world-class grandmaster and I'd be pulled into this vision of myself from the outside, and that was alienating for me, you know.
Nonetheless, the adamant learner said that he rediscovered the pure relationship he had with the game with his decision to move away from it. Joshua told NPR that he started meditating very intensely after joining martial arts, which moved him away from the purely ambitious relationship he was starting to have with chess following the multiple years of competition.
In conclusion, Joshua said that ultimately his decision made him return to his love for the game solely for internal growth, which left no room for disappointment.
His Marriage With Desiree Cifre
Talking a little about his personal life, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt tied the knot with screenwriter Desiree Cifre on April 23rd, 2010, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
The two had a ceremony when the garden was filled with Cherry blossoms, and the air was fresh of spring.
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden set-up for Joshua Waitzkin and Desiree Cifre's Wedding (Source: Crane Song Photography)
The married duo has been very successful in remaining private. However, their photographer has revealed some inside details on the couple’s dream wedding.
As described by crane song Photography, he posted pictures from the wedding and added beautiful descriptions for each photo.
The photographer, in his captions, mentions that Desiree had not seen the set-up until the moment she walked down the aisle, justifying the wonder in her eyes. The photographer also mentioned how Desiree was a gorgeous bride whose enthusiasm was infectious.
Joshua Waitzkin and Desiree Cirfe exchanging their Vows (Source: Pinterest)
After the two shared their vows beneath the cherry blossom trees, they headed inside their wedding venue, which also resonated with the cherry blossom theme.
The photographer also complimented the couple on providing their guests with beautifully unique place cards, which had blossom seed paper that the guest could plant. Another interesting thing about their place cards was a handful of annual and perennial wildflower seeds embedded in the paper.
The photographer also revealed that Tracy Renolds of Bridal Bouquet Design did the bouquets at their wedding. Accompanied by a cheery blossom-themed cake by Ana Parzych.
About His Book The Art Of Learning
In most of his interviews and his book, The Art of Learning, the prodigy has revealed that more than having a gift, his learning process and performance psychology is what helps him master his skills.
Joshua has shared multiple real-life anecdotes from his book with the readers and given out the life lessons he has learned in his book.
In his book, the World Champion in Tai Chi, Chuan revealed that as he went on with life, he realized that he wasn’t best at Tai Chi or Chess, but rather he was the best at the art of learning.
I’ve come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess, What I am best at is the art of learning.
The book takes the reader into Joshua's outstanding journey to excellence. He motivates people and gives them an outlook of how a well-thought-out- principle approach to learning is the dominant determining factor of success and failure.
Further adding, Joshua has shared with his readers how more than mere thoughts of climactic winning, skills like everyday internal growth and triggering intuitive breakthroughs are essential to master any skill.
When most people focus on their wins, the prodigy learner has focused on his failures and made his readers aware that failure is more important than wins.
Even in his NPR interview, Joshua mentioned that he remembers his losses more than his wins in life as they carry more importance for him than his wins. He revealed that his losses had been the defining moments for him, which are engraved with huge lessons and could be the greatest teachers for everyone.
In his interview, the multi-talent revealed that to succeed, one must have a long-term perspective in mind and not feel weak in the face of defeat as it is your greatest teacher.
When I think back on my life and chess and the martial arts, I've won a lot of championships… but the funny thing is that I hardly remember the wins….They brought me some glory, but they weren't really important events in my life.
But when I think back on to the big losses, they've been the defining moments. They've been the huge lessons
What Has He Been Up To Now
After his book intrigued the interest of thousands, the exemplary has been involved in motivating and training people.
According to Tim Ferriss, as of November 2016, the chess prodigy has spent his time coaching athletes and investors. Alongside the coachings, Joshua has been working on revolutionizing the education system and his aspiring interest in paddle surfing.
The Art Of Learning Project
On his quest to revolutionize the education system, Joshua founded the art of learning project to support the educators, parents, coaches, and students who aim to crave their unique paths of excellence.
The steadfast learner expressed that after he published his book, he was approached by numerous educational groups who wanted to incorporate the philosophy of the art of learning at the center of their organization. This led the revolutionary to found the JW Foundation. As part of the JW Foundation, Joshua has come up with the art of learning project.
As of now, his art of learning project is working with various public and private school systems, Youth centers, ‘gifted’ organizations, teachers and administrator groups, parent groups, educational organizations, and athletic teams and organizations to support all learners on their own journeys to excellence.
The revolutionary believes that teachers should be aware that their students should be made aware of their natural strengths and weaknesses to build their career and life around before starting with the learning process. According to Joshua, tailoring a unique growth process based on one’s natural strength and weakness will help the learners thrive in the way they are supposed to.