JJ WALSH may be twice the age of his daily chess puzzle, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in The Irish Times, but he is adamant the game isn’t over yet.
His target is to beat the record of cryptic crossword genius Derek Crozier, who died in 2010, 57 years after the first Crosaire was published in the newspaper, the 80-year-old chess wizard declared yesterday.
Mr Walsh has compiled more than 12,000 chess puzzles and personally responds to all queries from his followers.
“I keep the mind active and the old brain is still alert. There’s a hard core always trying to beat it and I get a lot of feedback.”
He ensures continuing mental fitness by keeping up to date on developments in the chess world and completing crossword and sudoku puzzles daily. He is also a keen painter.
The chess puzzle began as a weekly feature in The Irish Times in 1955, and has been published daily since September 1972, after games involving chess legend Bobby Fischer attracted worldwide interest.
Britain’s Chess magazine has described the Walsh puzzle as one of the longest continuous features of its kind in the world. Mr Walsh prepares the puzzles on his computer and has never missed a day.
His chess-playing career included several appearances at the Hastings congress between 1950 and 1965, and three appearances for Ireland at Olympiads.
The native Dubliner has always been close to The Irish Times, having worked, until 1976, in his father’s pharmacy beside the newspaper’s old offices on Westmoreland Street.