Sarwer has had his share of ups and downs in life
He had dropped off the radar for many years after making a big splash in the world of scholastic chess by winning the U-10 World Chess Championship in 1986, but I did find some information on him a few years ago when I went looking, wondering whatever happened to the boy on whom the "evil chess player" persona in the hit film "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was based. Poor kid - cast as a stereotype!
I didn't find much of any information about him back then (early to mid 2000's) but what I did find had nothing in it about poker. He had his own business, as I recall and was living in Europe - Germany, I thought (he resides in Poland, and may have been at the time too, and I just mis-remembered). I remember checking the USCF website and at the time he was still listed as a playing member from Michigan! Well, it was either Jeff Sarwer, or someone with the same name... A few years later, more information about JS began appearing on the internet.
|Jeff Sarwer today.|
Here is Sarwer's website - which is not the website (or does not have the information in it) that I found years ago. The videoclip at the beginning is fascinating and gives the back-story to Sarwer's younger life. His introduction to the video is touchingly ironic. Just remember, Jeff, not everyone is under 20 and 20 years ago does not seem like long ago and far away... Oy!
I think he could have been world champion. But, like Josh Waiztkin, he moved on to other things. Now you can find lots of information on Jeff S. on the internet, including interviews and photographs. He's no longer in hiding, from himself, or from the world. He played in a chess tournament in 2007(Malbork) and did quite well, tying for second place. (See Chess Life Online interview with Jen Shahade - good stuff and reveals, starkly, some facts from those traumatic childhood years, including a stint in a foster home, although it sounds more like an institution than a home -- not clear on that.) So, he proved to himself that he still has the chess magic. I don't know if JS ever played on ICC (Internet Chess Club), and if he did, whether he still does. If he does play these days, it's for pure love of the game, and nothing more. Really, what does he have to prove to anyone, chess-wise, or in any other-wise? Not a thing.
Wikipedia info on Sarwer.
Games of Jeff Sarwer.
Poker Icons signs Jeff Sarwer.
Best wishes to you, Jeff Sarwer, and to your sister, Julia. By the way, at those 1986 World Chess Championships, Julia, a chess talent in her own right, won the Girls' U-10 title.
Try a search under "Julia Sarwer chess" and you come up with - not much. Most of the articles are about Jeff and Julia is mentioned in passing. I did find this very disturbing series of posts from 1994, purporting to set forth contents from an article co-authored by Julia Sarwer and Gillian Sadinsky in The Kingston Whig Standard on May 9, 1992. We know enough now of past abuses in such systems all around the world, including in my own hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so I won't deny that these posts may be truth.
As I gather from reading what Jeff has said in various interviews, grown-up Julia, like grown-up Jeff, is very happy. She has a family of her own now and has a passion for writing. Good luck with that, Julia. I've had a love affair with writing for years. I joke that I came out of the womb with a book in one hand - and not told before - a pen and notebook in the other. With the advent of the internet, I can vent my passion for writing for anyone who is interested to read it, in this blog, and in articles written at Goddesschess, and during a year's stint as a columnist at Chessville.com on women's chess - but none of my half-finished novels started during my passionate 20's will ever see the light of day, and thank Goddess for that :) Let's just say I'm no Jane Austen...
Some commentary on Julia appeared in this article by Dr. Lynn T. Goldsmith on female child prodigies - date of publication not given but it may be 1987. It is a fascinating paper, and contains a brief section on girl prodigies in chess. Julia Sarwer was featured, along with the three Polgar sisters. Hmmm, where have I heard that name before...