Jayel Taylor, chess player and webmaster

by ChessBase
9/12/2004 – He is a budding chess player, around 1400 on the Playchess.com server. He loves reading, math, computers and sports. For almost a year now he has been running his own web site, devoted to his interests – including a special section on chess. So why was Jayel Taylor interviewed by CBS, and why are we doing a report on him here. There's a simple reason...

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Meet Jayel Taylor

Jayel is a pre-schooler, who turns five today (Happy Birthday, Jayel!!). He learned about chess as a two-year-old by sitting on his father’s lap. He also started reading at that age. “But he didn’t begin to type his name into the computer until he was about two and a half”, says mother Krystal. "Since then he just kept on typing on that computer. Now he has his own little corner of the world on the Internet" (link given below).

Jayel making his first chess moves

"Jayel and I built his website using Microsoft Front Page," says father Freddie, "I uploaded a version to his computer and he quickly learnt the ropes of web development. He types in the text himself. He doesn't use the correct fingers, but he knows where all the letters, numbers, and symbols are."

Jayel with father Freddie Taylor

Freddie Taylor (USCF 1628) believes that children learn best by spending time with their parents and being encouraged to ask questions. Jayel has certainly blossomed under this system, and he is enjoying life as a four-year-old at the same time. He is a typical pre-schooler, slightly over three feet tall, always adorned in the baseball hat of his idol, the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa. He seems just like any other four-year-old. When we asked him what he liked best in pre-school he giggled. Then, he said he loved the water table and the sand box.

Jayel has entered the chess world of Chicago, to quote Mark Twain, “extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk”. It all started when the Taylors heard about the Chicago Chess Kids club that meets under the tutelage of Milan Mitorvic each Saturday at the Edgebrook Library. Freddie took Jayel there, although he was a bit underage for the group. But he fit in nicely and has continued to come each Saturday to play and learn.

It was as part of the Chicago Chess Kids that Jayel participated in the Latin School Tournament. Three months later, in April, he played in the Joliet Open Chess Tournament. As always, his parents were there cheering him on. Earlier this year he was named Chess In Chicago’s “Chess Kid of the Month”. CIC’s Lamarr Wilson talks about Jayel’s first chess competition, the Latin School Tournament: “Jayel won 4 out of 5 games, and was very excited and pleased with his performance.” What he doesn’t mention is that the tournament is for grades K-4 and he had to petition for special permission to play because Jayel is only in pre-school!

In the near future Jayel will be going to kindergarten. Actually, since his fifth birthday falls 11 days after the state deadline, he was headed for another year of preschool. His mother Krystal felt that this was such an injustice, because Jayel was looking forward to going into kindergarten with many of his friends from the previous school year. She wrote a letter to the school board explaining Jayel's situation. The boy was interviewed by Kay Dugan of the District 109 and awarded advancement into kindergarten. "It is great to know that we live in a district that doesn't favor the rigid educational system," say his parents, "but adapts to the changing times and are willing to provide help when a family just wants the best for their child."

Jayel is currently working with his parents to design and then sell t-shirts on his website. The project, says Dad, will teach him about entrepreneurship. The money he earns will help pay for tournament entrance fees and maybe a private chess trainer down the road.

And, while he is on his computer, Jayel spends a lot of his time – between pre-school, nap time, dinner time and bedtime on the PlayChess.com server. There he goes by his own name, Jayel, and is always on the lookout for another game. But be careful, he’s mighty tough.

CBS Interview with Jayel Taylor

"If you've ever tried to learn the game you know that it is anything but kid's stuff. Well, meet the boy who calls chess, well child's play."

Freddie Taylor "He's been doing this since he was a little older than two years. I am an average chess player myself, and he would sit on my lap as a toddler, watching the game..."

"The queen can move up, down or diagonal. The king can only move one square at a time."

Mom Krystal: "He spells, he reads, he writes. He likes to do everything, he's not just a chess player."

Jayel at his computer. You will find the link to his web site at the bottom of this page.

"I think it is a good bet that in coming years Jayel will have a lot more moves to show us."

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