Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars

by Sabina Shalar
Chess Life and Review Magazine, March, 1973, Page 155

How did it start, and when?

It was almost a year ago. Mother was giving a recital (she is a professional violinist) at a gathering arranged by Father, who is her staunchest fan. Their guest of honor was their dear friend, Svetozar Gligoric.

Adrian Jovanovic, left, and his brother Oliver. Adrian is 4 years old. Oliver is 6. (Photo by John Sarar)

When the recital was over and a lively discussion was in progress, the question was raised: How old is it necessary to be before one is able to produce something which will give pleasure to others? A parallel to chess was drawn and Grandmaster Gligoric said "the earlier the better."

Father, a lover of chess, was inspired. From that moment, for little Adrian Jovanovic, then 3 years old, and his brother Oliver, then 5, the world of chess began to unfold. Their father, New York chess amateur Svetozar Jovanovic, began to teach them slowly - first the movement of the pieces, then a little more, a little every day as time would permit.

Came October and the children's father found himself helping to organize the chess section at P.S. 187 in Manhattan, where Oliver is a 1st grader. Naturally, he wanted his little boy to play in the school championship, but children in grades 1-4 were not allowed to participate, so that left Oliver out. But little Adrian, only 4 and not even in kindergarten, was permitted to play as a guest.

To avenge his brother, he beat them all! He beat 15 children in the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades to become champion of P.S. 187 at the age of 4!

Then, in December, Oliver's father asked him if he would like to play in the Greater New York Lower Elementary School Championship. Oliver could hardly conceal his excitement. Now it was his turn to shine.

In the tournament, out of 160 children in grades 1 through 4, Oliver was the only 1st grader to reach the finals. There he held his own quite remarkably, losing only to the 4th-grade champion and the 4th grade runner-up. With seven wins, little Oliver came away triumphantly carrying his coveted trophy: Best First Grader of Greater New York.

It can be done. Mothers and fathers of America: Where are you?

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