What are we to think of the strikingly anti-elitist 1926 declaration by Emanuel Lasker, who
reigned as world chess champion for almost 27 years?

“Take any boy,” he said, “any boy fairly intelligent and fairly healthy, and you can make a
chess prodigy of him – or any other sort of prodigy.”

In more recent years, a similar point of view was expounded by Hungarian pedagogue Laszlo
Polgar: Let children follow their natural interests, he said, and their possibilities are

An astonishing result is the achievement of his three daughters, the chess-playing Polgar
sisters: Judit, for years ranked among the top 10 in the world; Susan, a former women’s world
champion; and Sofia, an International Master.

My view is that Lasker and Polgar describe an essential of achievement but fail to encompass the
sometimes critical role of DNA or genius.

I can think of several children whom I’ve observed who immediately towered among their peers.
Their innate grasp of the game was astonishing.

The inimitable precociousness of Paul Morphy, Jose Capablanca and Samuel Reshevsky, among
others, reminds us that genius – though rare – is a real phenomenon.

Shelby Lyman is a Basic Chess Features columnist.


Beginner’s corner

Hint explanation:

Penetrate with the king.

Solution to Beginner’s corner:

1. Be3! (attacks a second pawn). If Kd6, 2. Kf5 wins the g-pawn. If 1. Kf6, 2. Kd5 gets the


How the masters play

Below is a win by Hikaru Nakamura against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov from the World Blitz
Championship in Moscow.



Black resigns