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May 13, 1997


'Chess Kids'

PBS, Tuesday

If after watching "Little Criminals" your faith in the next generation needs a restorative, stay tuned for this look at the contestants in the 1990 World Youth Chess tournament for Peace, in Fond du Lac, Wis., the biggest such event ever held in the United States. No computers admitted.

The documentary could have done with fewer intrusions from Lynn Hamrick, the producer, director and narrator, whose fascination with the Hungarian world champion Judit Polgar is odd, considering that on the advice of her handlers Ms. Polgar declined to talk.

But the youngsters who do talk are all winners, even the losers. An Indian boy, caught between two grandmasters arguing about his board position, says they are "making my head clumsy." What murderous instincts these boys and girls may have are directed entirely at the opposing pieces. One particularly appealing girl says chess is nice because "you can't break your legs or anything like that."

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