Mahwah NJ boy is a leading chess player and inventor. He is only 12 years old


MAHWAH – You are probably no match for 12-year-old Gary Leschinsky. His openness is quite strong, as are the rest of his movements. We can say that he is the king of his castle.

As you might have guessed from cheap word games, Gary is a chess player. Not just any chess player, he is self-taught, and within two years of his first game, he ranks 15th in the United States in his age group.

Gary Leschinsky with his chess trophies

“My mom kept talking about chess champion Garry Kasparov,” Gary said. “I didn’t know who he was, so I searched the internet for him. Then I looked for how to play.”

That’s it.

His father, Boris Leschinsky, admits his influence was limited to playing checkers, but he learned enough from the game to help Gary by moving the pieces as instructed. Gary plays blindfolded to level the playing field.

“My commitment is much less than his,” said Boris Leschinsky. “We are happy to support his passion.”

Gary now divides his time between coaching, tournaments and online games. He plays all formats, but is less fond of “blitz” games where players have three to four minutes to plan their next move.

Bernice and Mark Leschinsky watch and Father Boris helps Gary and his sister Barbara.

“There’s no time to think about it at all,” Gary said. “Now I play with a two hour time control. “

The high school student said it was “hard to find good tournaments,” but he managed to make friends while attending nearby events that are open to anyone or suited to his age and level.

“Your first tournament is really important because of the chess rating system,” Gary said. “Everyone starts at 100. A bad tournament would give you 101. I had 500 the first time.”

In six months, Gary’s rating by the American Chess Federation fell from 500 to 1,600. As of Jan. 7, it was 2,156, just 44 points from National Master status. He placed first at the New Jersey Grade 6 Championship in November.

Gary can’t explain why he’s progressed so quickly, other than a general: “I’m good at math.” Alexander Stripunsky, coach at the International Chess Academy in Glen Rock, said it was “an ability to learn quickly”.

Gary, said Stripunsky, “has always been an exceptional learner, in part because of his strong work ethic, in part because of his ability to capture the essence of the process at hand, the nature of the position.”

Fortunately for mere mortals, Gary can’t tell a good player from a bad one at the start of a game, but it’s the end of the game that separates the sheep from the goats, so to speak.

Gary Leschinsky plays 10 boards simultaneously during the CDI tournament in Mexico last November.

“It’s hard to make the final, the safety of the king, the pawn structure is pretty important,” Gary said. “Older people know better what is right and what is wrong.”

When not preoccupied with chess or school, Gary enjoys playing ping-pong, running, and promoting an invention he patented in his third grade.

“It’s called the A-Watch, short for allergy watch,” Gary said. “I have a lot of allergies and this watch is designed to detect symptoms of food allergies.” He said that when he attended parties or went out with friends and didn’t know what ingredients were in the food, the watch “has a skin sensor that detects my heartbeat, my sweating.”

The prototype is still in development and Gary is looking for collaborators to advance his idea. But Gary presented his watch as one of seven students who addressed La Ciudad de las Ideas in Mexico last November. The International Festival of Shining Minds brings together “talented people”, according to Gary, to discuss and be inspired.

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“I met President Trump’s first press secretary Sean Spicer,” Gary said. “John Gray, who wrote” Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, “Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, who explained how to be happy. My favorite was a lecture on artificial intelligence by David Cox from IBM. “

Despite all this rarefied air, the sixth-grader of Ramapo Ridge High School can still descend to earth.

“It was pretty cool,” Gary said of his trip. “I have to skip school.”

Gary is playing at the Liberty Bell Open in Philadelphia this weekend.

Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @marsha_stoltz



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