Grandmaster Susan Polgar had her first chess lesson in her family’s apartment in Soviet-controlled Hungary at age four. The lesson was taught by her father, child psychologist Dr. Lazlo Polgar. Dr. Polgar had a theory that any child could become a genius as long as they are taught a structured and specialized curriculum from a young age.It worked, too. By the time Susan was 12, she won her first of four Women’s World Titles.Even with all his success, Dr. Polgar struggled to introduce a streamlined version of the experiment into other homes and schools worldwide. Then, he met Joe Miccio.Miccio is a retired FDNY Firefighter who became a smoke eater after a 10-year stint in the NYPD. Between shifts, Miccio had tinkered with the chessboard and eventually invented a tool known as QuickChess, a simplified version of the game that teaches players the rules and strategies through a series of mini-games. These mini-games guide players through a progression of increasingly difficult challenges and variations, until they are fully prepared to play a traditional game of chess, which they can do on the opposite side of the board.To Miccio, QuickChess is a teaching tool that enables children to sharpen and expand their critical thinking skills.“The best way to get kids to learn is to trick them into having fun while doing it,” Miccio explained. “Kids respond when they’re challenged and entertained. Rather than another mindless shooting game, QuickChess teaches children ways to improve their minds.” Miccio met Dr. Polgar in 1993 while attending a charity chess-a-thon in New York City’s Central Park. Miccio, then a rookie firefighter, was trying to find an audience for his game, which he saw as a supplemental teaching tool.By chance, Dr. Polgar and Susan ended up watching the children in attendance play Miccio’s game.“He just kind of kept watching the kids play as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing,” Miccio laughed. “Eventually, I just asked him if he wanted a turn.”Dr. Polgar told Miccio that QuickChess was the streamlined curriculum that he had been searching for.“I had no idea what he was talking about at first,” Miccio said. “I was just excited that someone above the age of ten was realizing the potential the game had.”Now, to mark the game’s 25th anniversary, Miccio is returning to the American International Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where he first debuted the game in 1992.“I’m excited to reach a new generation of children,” Miccio explains. “To be able to reach so many more kids and their parents is really thrilling experience for me and, hopefully, for them.”Miccio, along with QuickChess, will be at the Getta 1 Games booth (#4211) on Sunday, February 19 from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.