18 APRIL 2017


David Thomas (Under-12 Champion)

Kingston, Jamaica – 18 April 2017: After seven rounds of play in the 2017 CARIFTA Chess Championships, Jamaica regained the team title which they last won in 2013, when the event was first staged in Jamaica.

In the Under 12 (Absolute) Category, the number one seed Jamaica’s Candidate Master (CM) David Thomas took the Under 12 title, after defeating fellow Jamaican Coy Wilson in the final round to top the standings with 6.5 points from seven games.

CM Leigh Sandiford of Barbados got past Jamaica’s Darren McKennis to take second place in the Under 12 Category on tiebreak over Jamaica’s Nathan Walsh, as both players ended on 6 points from their seven games. Walsh secured his 6 points with a final round win over compatriot Mikhail Bond.

Johmoi Blake

Johmoi Blake (Under-12 Girls Champion)

In the Under 12 Girls Category, Jamaica’s Johmoi Blake was declared the champion on tiebreak over Vanessa Greenidge of Barbados, after both players ended tied on 6 points. Third place went to Trinidad and Tobago’s Zara La Fleur who ended on 5.5 points.

Jamaica’s Joshua Christie had to settle for silver in the Under 16 (Absolute) Category after losing to the defending champion, Alan-Safar Ramoutar of Trinidad and Tobago in round 6. At the end of round 7, both players were tied on 6 points, however Ramoutar was declared the Champion on tiebreak, having defeated Christie in their head-to-head battle. Third place was copped by Jamaica’s Jhustice-Dimonte McDonald who secured 5.5 points from his seven games.

Alan-Safar Ramoutar

Alan-Safar Ramoutar, Trinidad & Tobago
(Under-16 Absolute Champion)

Adani Clarke

Adani Clarke, Jamaica
(Under-16 Absolute Champion)

In the Under 16 Girls Category, Jamaica’s Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Adani Clarke reigned supreme after defeating Pritika Kandamaran of Barbados to end alone atop the standings with 6 points. Despite suffering two defeats on day 3 of the Championships, top seed Taqesyah Marcos of Curacao rallied on the final day to secure two wins and second place behind Clarke. Third place was shared by Jamaicans Ashanti Blackwood and Aulani Kidd, who each ended on 4.5 points.

Sheanel Gardener

Sheanel Gardener, Jamaica
(Under-20 Girls Champion)

In the Under 20 Girls Category, top seed Sheanel Gardener of Jamaica recovered from a poor start to take the overall title with 5.5 points, after securing back-to-back victories against Tian Henry and Deidre-Ann Johnson in her two final games. Second place went to another Jamaican Akelia Donaldson on tiebreak over Nickaylah Curwin and Gabriela Cumberbatch of Barbados, after the three players ended tied on 4.5 points each.

Orlando Husbands, Barbados
(Under-20 Champion)

Despite good showings from Jamaica’s top Under 20 players, the coveted Under 20 (Absolute) Category was won for the third year in a row by Barbadian FIDE Master Orlando Husbands, who ended on 6.5 points from 7 games. Second place went to the number 2 seed Barbadian FIDE Master Yu Tien Poon who was also unbeaten with 6 points. Third place was shared by Jamaica’s Malik Curriah and Aruba’s Jomar Benschop after each player ended on 5 points.

After the overall points were tallied, Jamaica was declared the Champions at the awards ceremony which followed the final round. Second place went to Barbados and third was Trinidad and Tobago.

Ian Wilkinson accepts team trophy for Jamaican team!

Ian Wilkinson accepts team trophy for Jamaican team!

The next CARIFTA Chess Championships are scheduled to take place next year in Suriname.

The tournament was sponsored by the Knutsford Court Hotel, the Sports Development Foundation, the Kasparov Chess Foundation, the Magnificent Chess Foundation, JAMSPORTS and the Ministry of Tourism, Burger King, Craft Wicker and Things, the RJR Group and WATA.

~Ian Wilkinson, President Jamaica Chess Federation

Triple Exclam was announced to the public March 11th and the reception has been very enthusiastic. The biography of International Master Emory Tate has won some plaudits around the country and slowly making its way around the world. It has been introduced at book parties and will be featured in upcoming book signings.

The book made an appearance at the 2017 U.S. Chess Championships in St. Louis and was featured on the broadcast during the 11th round of the tournament. GM Maurice Ashley arranged the interview of author Daaim Shabazz and discussed aspects of the book.

Interview at 2017 U.S. Championship

Triple Exclam received valuable exposure and increased its profile. The book was also on display at the site of the championship where it was said a few of the participants had given it some praise. Thus far sales have been brisk and the book will make a summer tour at a few major tournaments including the Chicago Open and the World Open. Make arrangements to purchase this tribute of one of the most colorful personalities chess has ever seen!

Retail Price: $40.00
(full color, hard back)


The Chess Drum, LLC is a publisher of chess news content and literature. The organization’s website has continued to demonstrate the universality of chess by covering a variety of topics through news stories, essays, interviews, and photos since 2001. Visit The Chess Drum at and follow the beat on Facebook and Twitter!

Colas showing final position against GM Vladimir Georgiev.
Photo by Jon Winick.

FM Josh Colas has been on a mission to reach his goal as a Grandmaster of chess. He took another step over the weekend in earning his 3rd IM norm at the Clark Street GM Invitational in Chicago. He ended up with 5/9 against a tough field including Israeli GM Ilya Smirin. The event was organized by the Chicago Chess Center, held at the Avant Incorporated and sponsored by Clark Street Capital.

Colas came from St. Louis during the tail end of a successful freshman year at Webster University. He has thrived in the environment and is buoyed by his friend IM-Elect Justus Williams, who earned his final IM norm recently. Colas took a bad loss in the first round after failing miserably against Smirin’s preparation. He went undefeated in next four rounds beating GM Alexander Fishbein in the 5th. After two losses, he needed 1.5/2 for the norm, drew GM Priyadh Kannappan and proceeded to demolish GM Vladimir Georgiev in 23 moves.

Colas still needs to earn a 2400 FIDE rating to get his title conferred.

FM Josh Colas (2323-USA)
# Player ELO Nation
1 GM Ilya Smirin 2671 Israel
2 Aaskaash Meduri 2042 USA
3 FM David Peng 2270 USA
4 CM Jacob Furfine 2163 USA
5 GM Alexander Fishbein 2481 USA
6 IM Pavlo Vorontsov 2499 Ukraine
7 GM Akshat Chandra 2502 USA
8 GM Priyadharshan Kannappan 2530 India
9 GM Vladimir Georgiev 2530 Macedonia
Score: 5-4 (IM NORM)

Chicago Chess Center:
Clark Street Capital:
Avant Inc.:

# # #

Avant, Inc., is a Chicago-based company in the financial technology industry. Avant is built from a team of passionate Chicagoans looking to lower the costs and barriers of lending for consumers. In 2015, Avant was named #6 to Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies.

Clark Street Capital is a full-service bank advisory and asset disposition firm specializing in loan sales, loan due diligence and valuation, and wholesale lending. Managed by seasoned professionals with extensive “buy-side” experience, Clark Street Capital offers intrinsic knowledge and expertise on a wide range of assets from bank portfolio loans to securitized assets.

The recently-ended 2017 U.S. Championship was quite an exciting affair with Wesley So and Sabina Foisor winning their respective titles. There were quite a number of unexpected results as veterans Alexander Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian scored some crucial victories to put themselves in position to win the tournament. Akobian lost the last round to Hikaru Nakamura while Onischuk won to force a playoff with Wesley So. So went on to win the playoff and thus, his first U.S. Championship. Foisor won by a full point in an emotional outpouring months after her mother passed away suddenly.

Elshan Moradiabadi embraces Sabina Foisor after she won the 2017 U.S. Women's Championship

GM Elshan Moradiabadi embraces his fiancee Sabina Foisor
after she won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Championship.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

While the overall championship had a similar field from last year, the women’s championship had a bit of intrigue with five juniors in the field. These girls were not just placeholders but took several scalps with Jennifer Yu beating 7-time champion Irina Krush, 4-time champion Anna Zatonskih and defending champion Nazi Paikidze. Maggie Feng scored +1 and beat Sabina Foisor. Carissa Yip upset Zatonskih while Apurva Virkud beat Anna Sharevich. These results practically changed the face of the tournament. Despite the loss to Feng, Foisor was able to win in style in the last round over Virkud. The women’s field seems to be where the “men’s” field was 20 years ago… dominated by a cadre of Eastern European immigrants. The tide is changing.

Women's participants playing bughouse with GM Yasser Seirawan.

Scholastic power in the house!
Yu, Yip and Feng playing bughouse with GM Yasser Seirawan
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

It has been an interesting evolution in women’s chess with the rise of the number Asians competing in the championships in the past several years. Go to any given tournament and there are about 25%-30% Asian children playing. This mirrors the success of chess on the international level in China, India and Vietnam. Top-level American chess evolved from the “Fischer Boom” products (i.e., Yasser Seirawan, Mark Diesen, Larry Christiansen, John Fedorowicz, Joel Benjamin and Michael Wilder) followed by onslaught of the Soviet emigres.

At the 2003 U.S. Championship, Alexander Shabalov made a bold prediction that Hikaru Nakamura was going to be a future champion. Photo by CCSCSL

At the 2003 U.S. Championship, Alexander Shabalov made a bold prediction that Hikaru Nakamura was going to be a future champion. Can the same be said about Jeffery Xiong? Photo by CCSCSL

After two decades of dominance, these naturalized citizens went on to train some of the the next stars emerging now. You have the many top American-made products near the top including Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Ray Robson, Sam Shankland and Daniel Naroditsky. Now Jeffrey Xiong has risen and will be a threat to make the Olympiad team in 2018. The men’s field look completely different from 25 years ago when the entire field were from the former Soviet Union. These championships were marred by endless draws.

This year four expats from eastern Europe were present Gata Kamsky (Russia), Alexander Onischuk (Ukraine), Varuzhan Akobian (Armenia) and Alexander Shabalov (Latvia). They represent the veterans of the group and have performed in stellar fashion during their careers. This competitive spirit has provided lessons for up and coming stars and in some cases, coaching. As chess becomes more diverse, we will begin to see interesting stories surface. Wesley So, a Filipino representing the U.S., is an interesting story and may combine with Caruana and Nakamura to make a run in the world championship cycle.

Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So
Photo by Chris Bauer

It appears that U.S. Chess has evolved and on the eve of Supernationals in Nashville, it seems to be headed in the right direction. This is much more impressive when you realize that Nakamura is only 29, Caruana 24 and So 23. With a pipeline of young talent coming through it appears that U.S. chess has changed literally and figuratively. Much of the talent is homegrown and U.S. chess will be a force for decades to come.

Official Site:
PGN Games (TWIC): Open, Women

Kenya Kenya Kenya

IM Rodwell Makoto
addresses students in Nairobi, Kenya

IM Rodwell Makoto is the latest Master to participate in the African Tour sponsored by the Paul Allen Foundation and organized by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and MiniChess Kenya. He follows GM Kenny Solomon who visited Kenya in February. GM Pontus Carlsson and IM Daniel Jere also conducted classes. GM Maurice Ashley will arrive in June.

At the end of the program, the masters will have conducted training sessions in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania from February to June 2017 reaching more than sixty locally based trainers. These trainers will then teach more than 1,500 children through indirect training sessions. IM Makoto, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa, arrived in Nairobi on April 6th.

According to a report at the Kasparov Chess Foundation,

Rodwell arrived at 1730 at JKIA Airport and was met by Githinji Hinga of MiniChess Kenya and Mr Joseph Atwoli. By 18:30 he was at the vibrant Motor Sports Club where he met some local players and engaged them in a few games of blitz. He played several games against some of the top Kenyan opposition and won them all easily. Eventually he decided to start giving time odds and eventually only only lost one game to Mr. Francis Ngesa, former CK Vice Chairman.

Playing a bit of blitz with the locals.

On Friday, Makoto addressed students and visited the Kenya Academy of Sports and its Director, Mr. Douglas Ratemo. On Saturday, he conducted a training session at Lotos Inn and Suites. It was a rigorous lesson plan with homework included!

A different cohort of trainees participated in this second tour as a result of the decision taken to train 36 trainees in Kenya due to the large number of applications received.

The 2nd cohort of trainees were:

  1. Robert Moseti
  2. Titus Gichuka
  3. Josphat Owila
  4. Victor Hongo
  5. Morrel Omondi
  6. Trevor Mulindi
  7. Boniface Kathurima
  8. James Sean Kang’aru
  9. Erik Oyugi
  10. Evelyn Gichuru
  11. Lucy Wanjiru
  12. Omoke Georgina Marube

His sessions covered…

  • opening, middlegame and endgame themes and drills
  • strength training
  • training techniques and resources and
  • ChessBase and computer software and useful internet links

Photos of surrounding communities… wonderful!

Making the trek through the township.

Certainly a lot different from the way other players started playing.

Makoto juggling a ball 🙂

Makoto conducts class at New Dawn Community School

Makoto did final assessments and left on the 13th in time to participate in the Easter Open in Zimbabwe. Githinja Hinga’s MiniChess Kenya branch has identified the following four partner schools to receive a donation of chess equipment and chess instruction from the new trainees:

  • Nairobi Primary School
  • Moi Avenue Primary School
  • City Primary School
  • Madaraka Primary School

Paul Allen:

Kenya Kenya Kenya

Viswanathan Anand remains one of the few world champions in history and perhaps the only sitting champion, to visit the continent of Africa. “Vishy” Anand visited South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania in the past and he will return to Africa when he visits Kenya next week for a gala dinner during the Zone 4.2 championship. He will arrive in Kenya on 21st April 2017 for a 4-day visit. These visits provide quite a boost to the continent and will certainly invigorate a beleaguered Kenyan chess community. According to,

Two gala dinners have been organised which are expected to be well attended by corporate magnates, chess players and members of the large chess loving South Indian community.

Kim Bhari, an archivist of Kenyan chess memorabilia produced a photo of John Mukabi playing Anand during the 1988 Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece. Bhari found this in the December 1997 issue of KENCHESS.


The U.S. Championship is set for its 9th edition at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. With three of the world’s top ten players, five-time champion Gata Kamsky, three-time champion Alexander Shabalov, 2006 champion Alexander Onischuk and the reigning World Junior Champion, Jeffrey Xiong, the tournament continues to get stronger. The women’s competition features defending champion, Nazi Paikidze, seven-time champion Irina Krush, four-time champion Anna Zatonskih and a cadre of young scholastic players attempting to start a new era in women’s chess.

Official Site:
PGN Games (TWIC): Open, Women

2017 U.S. Chess Championship
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis
U.S. Overall (by FIDE Rating)
1 So, Wesley GM 2822
Minnetonka, Minnesota
2 Caruana, Fabiano GM 2817
St. Louis, Missouri
3 Nakamura, Hikaru GM 2793
New York, New York
4 Xiong, Jeffrey GM 2675
Coppell, Texas
5 Robson, Ray GM 2668
St. Louis, Missouri
6 Kamsky, Gata GM 2668
Brooklyn, New York
7 Shankland, Sam GM 2667
Orinda, California
8 Onischuk, Alex GM 2667
Lubbock, Texas
10 Akobian, Varuzhan GM 2647
North Hollywood, California
9 Naroditsky, Daniel GM 2646
Foster City, California
11 Zherebukh, Yaroslav GM 2605
St. Louis, Missouri
12 Shabalov, Alexander GM 2564
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
U.S. Women (by FIDE Rating)
1 Zatonsih, Anna IM 2451
Hartsdale, New York
2 Krush, Irina GM 2444
Brooklyn, New York
3 Paikidze, Naik IM 2369
Las Vegas, Nevada
4 Abrahamyan, Tatev WGM 2364
Glendale, California
5 Nemcova, Katerina WGM 2359
St. Louis, Missouri
6 Foisor, Sabina WGM 2272
Lubbock, Texas
7 Virkud, Apurva WFM 2262
Troy, Michigan
8 Sharevich, Anna WGM 2257
St. Louis, Missouri
9 Yip, Carrisa WFM 2234
Boston, Massachusetts
10 Yu, Jennifer WIM 2196
Ashburn, Virginia
11 Nguyen, Emily WIM 2173
Austin, Texas
12 Feng, Maggie NM 2162
Columbus, Ohio
Francisco Guadeloupe, Arbiter

Chess is poppin’ in the Windy City. Despite the negative media attention surrounding crime in the city, chess is creating positive vibes on the south side. While the Chicago groups frequents the McDonald’s on 95th and Halsted, they also host other events at the Lions Paws Martial Arts School. Daniel X Jones, a 2100-rated player and a martial arts instructor, holds periodic blitz tournaments at his dojo and in January 34 area players came out to cross swords. There is a new crew in town, but some old faces from decades past still remain.

January blitz tourney at Lion’s Paw, 7928 S. King Dr., Chicago, IL 60619

Daniel X Jones vs. IM Angelo Young

One Chicago stalwart is Marvin Dandridge who is still considered the “sheriff” on the south side. Affectionately known as “Uncle Marv,” the career social worker has been a motivating force with other hopefuls such as Tom Murphy and veteran Sam Ford. Expert Sedrick Prude also adds to the mix. IM Angelo Young played in and won the January tournament. There will be another 10-round blitz tournament at Lion’s Paw April 15th with a three-game 15-minute match between Young and Dandridge.

The tournament attracted more than 30 players and was a rousing success!

The next one…

Showing brotherly love for “ET”
by Bruce Cox

The Moon shone bright on a cold night in North Philadelphia. A lonely light cast a long shadow on the corner of 21st and Cambria, as the icy wind cut to the bone. Inside though, it was heated, as battle raged. WAR had been declared, as Philadelphia Chess Players celebrated the life and times of the preeminent Chess Master, IM Emory Tate, in the best way they knew how: in battle!!

The esteemed Dr. Daaim Shabazz, author of “The Chess Drum,” amongst many acclaimed accomplishments, “fired the first shots” with his splendid biography of IM Emory Tate, Triple Exclaim, The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior. Dr. Shabazz’s book chronicles Tate’s exploits from childhood through his eminent chess career, in which Tate toppled “Kings and Grandmasters alike”. There is an African proverb which goes: “So long as the hunter tells the tale, the Lion will remain the villain.”

Author of The Chess Artist J.C. Hallman, Glenn Umstead, Malik Rogers
and Robert Gist

Evan Cortes with copy of Triple Exclam!!!

African people have been making history “since God was a boy.” Now, more than ever, we’re beginning to write our own history in the struggle for control of our own image. The battles raged inside 21st and Cambria as eminent masters Glenn Bady, Glenn Umstead, Norman “Pete” Rogers, Robert Gist “Superman,” and Herb Carswell “The Master of Disaster,” along with preeminent chess player and promoter Gordon Houston, struggled for control of squares.

Laughter and beverage flowed like water. The food was plentiful as Bill Tate, Nigel Mitchell, Wayne Heston, Charles Leach the “Woo Mack,” and Bruce Cox “Scorpiin.” Why ‘scorpion’ with two ‘i’s?? The better to see you with! All present were making history in North Philadelphia as they were “writing it on the chessboard,” and the spirit of Emory Tate.

FM Pete Rogers was a frequent participant in gladiator battles with Tate.


Frank Johnson set out for the World Amateur Championship and found out that communicating with locals in Italy was not easy. He was also skittish about his “lamb” dinner. Such are “pain points” of traveling and this is Johnson’s third World Amateur event in Europe. Since 2009, he has run a successful Atlanta-based organization and is competing in Italy ahead of the summer camp season.

Johnson has been active posting photos and videos on Facebook following the trend of #chesstraveler Adia Onyango who was recently trekking around Thailand. He mentioned that he had a rather challenging trip, but enjoyed the train ride from Milan to Spoleto and was able to go on a walking tour once he got a good night’s rest.

You can follow Frank Johnson on his Facebook page Twitter (@chesscoach) and also view the photos and videos below! Post any comments below and wish him well!

Official Site:

Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

Jamaican Chess Federation President Ian Wilkinson has released a 10-year strategic plan in February detailing the charge forward. Included in the plan are securing a headquarters, establishing a Chess Hall-of-Fame, annual 960 chess tournaments and phasing out of local ratings for FIDE.

Ian Wilkinson (President of Jamaican Chess Federation)

Ian Wilkinson (President of Jamaican Chess Federation)

The ultimate objectives of this “Ten-Year Plan” include: making Chess much more visible and popular in Jamaica and ultimately the sport played by the most persons; developing the standard of Jamaica’s Chess players; modernizing and strengthening the administrative structure of the JCF; and increasing, significantly, Jamaica’s influence in the administration of Chess internationally.

Many of the ideas in the proposal are standard for federations, but certainly, the public relations issue may be one that is often overlooked. It is an issue larger federations, and even FIDE, struggle with. In today’s times, federations use Facebook, Twitter and other social media to post photos, video and current news, but the efforts are often disjointed and incomplete. A digital strategy is important is ensuring continuity and consistency.

Wilkinson has led Jamaica for the past decade and has injected enthusiasm and tireless leadership into a community now thriving. However, there is a recognition that the island must “plan the work and work the plan” to make way for the next generation of players rising. On forward Jamaica!

JCF 10-year plan

There is a positive initiative taking place in a city famous for its “Bulldogs” than anything else. However, University of Georgia (UGA) graduate Lemuel LeRoche has begun a new trend in Athens, Georgia with a youth empowerment program centered around chess. Laroche had the revelation after playing a game with an elderly Russian Jew in Dimona, Israel. He felt that would be the avenue that chess could break down walls of mental degradation and serve as a way to encourage youth to strive in a world where intellectual fortitude is becoming a necessity.

There are a number of chess programs that have executed similar missions for youth such as Kevin Fite’s Detroit City Chess Club, Adisa Banjoko’s Hip Hop Chess Federation, Orrin Hudson’s Besomeone, Mazi Mutafa’s Words, Beats & Life and Frank Johnson’s Others such as Salome Thomas-El have written about these lessons in his book I Choose to Stay. Maurice Ashley’s work is also well-known. There is such a need for social engagement, and each of these mentors has found a unique way to express these lessons.

“Think Before You Move”

For LeRoche, what started as one hour a month in 2002 has grown into a weekly program with 30-60 youth with themes such as “chess and pizza,” “chess and ice cream,” “chess and kayaking,” and even “chess and climbing.” There is also an emphasis on reading and scholarship. After officially starting Chess and Community in 2012, LeRoche also launched a conference designed to discuss elements of community-building and professional development. He originally planned his conference in January, but due to a snowstorm, it was canceled. With a bit of determination and serendipity, he rescheduled the event. On April 1st, Chess and Community will hold its 5th Conference with acclaimed journalist and UGA alumnae Charlyne Hunter-Gault as its keynote speaker.

* * *

5th Annual Chess & Community Conference
April 1st, 2017
University of Georgia (Mahler Hall – Georgia Center)
Doors Open at 9am

Chess and Community (CC) is a youth development organization that impacts and equips youth with real world hands-on experiences through mentoring, traveling and community service. CC expands students’ perspectives on life and develops them to become leaders in their communities. CC offers an array of programs to assist youth in their expansion, while working diligently to foster positive communication and interaction within the Athens community.


Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

There was lots of trash talk leading up to the Red Scorpion Blitz tournament with pundits predicting who would make it out of the four groups of four. The tournament was structured with World Cup brackets. Sixteen players were vying for glory and there was the Group of Death” featuring FM Shane Matthews, FM Warren Elliott, WIM Deborah Richards-Porter and Lucien Rowe. The first three are legendary mainstays in Jamaican chess while Rowe was looking for the upset.

The brackets featured a number of veterans and Jamaican brass including former champion Damion Davy and current national champion Shreyas Smith. National Master Dr. Kevin Brown was making a comeback after a long hiatus from the Jamaican scene. He is an alumnus of the Jamaican Olympiad teams (Novi Sad, 1990 and Manila, 1992). For a long time, he had been the only Jamaican to defeat a Grandmaster. Surprisingly, he showed decent form.

Each group would be a double round robin, but there was an interesting system of cross-pairings between brackets. After Matthews (A1) won his game against Deborah Richards-Porter, he would face runner-up Kevin Brown (B2). Meanwhile Elliott (A2) would face Myers (B1). Both Matthews and Elliott would advance into the semifinals.

In the other brackets, Damion Davy (C1) won the group and would face Malaku Lorne (D2) in a heavyweight clash. Shreyas Smith (D1) would face off with Daren Wisdom (C2). Davy and Smith advanced for the other semifinal match. Odane Hall and Peter Thomas did not show in Group B. Thus, the four remaining players would have amongst them nineteen national titles (Elliott, 8; Matthews, 7; Davy, 3; Smith, 1).

Elliott got the edge against Matthews in some spirited battles while Smith bested Davy. The eight-time champion then showed the young champion that he had not lost his fangs and could still hunt well. Smith would have to weight another day to prove his emerging status and King of Jamaica.

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

In the past 24-48 hours, the chess world has been buzzing with the news of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s resignation. The news was reported on the FIDE website, and many chess organizations ran the story as well. Literally hours after the news broke, Ilyumzhinov’s personal assistant Berik Balgabaev called it “fake news” and that no official documents had been signed.

Indeed, Ilyumzhinov stepped down from running the affairs of FIDE since December 6th, 2015, “withdrawing from any legal, financial and business operations of FIDE.” At the time, it said that he offered to “temporarily suspend his powers until the following Presidential Board.”

Translation: “Meeting of the FIDE Presidential Board. The FIDE President offers to temporarily suspend his powers until the following Presidential Board”.

The suspension was precipitated by his sanctions levied by the U.S. Department of Treasury. There was a bizarre conspiracy posited that Garry Kasparov had involvement with sanctions. Despite his withdrawing from duties of FIDE President, Ilyumzhinov appeared at events in a Presidential capacity, including the recent Women’s World Championship in Iran. The truth of the matter is that FIDE has been in limbo and is suffering from tremendous brand erosion with his sanctioning.

There has been a recent controversy that FIDE has not paid the participants of the Women’s World Championship nearly a month after Tan Zhongyi of China won the crown. On March 27th, the following news broke:

FIDE Secretary Nigel Freeman had broken the news to the public, but the question is why had FIDE reported this resignation if it did not occur. Was there a coup d’etat? Was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov putsched? On the FIDE website, there was a very short statement. It read,

At the end of the Board meeting held in Athens, Greece on the 26th March 2017, Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced his resignation from the position of FIDE President. The Presidential Board has been formally advised of this announcement and an extraordinary board meeting has been called in April.

In a response dated March 27th, Ilyumzhinov stated that the news was untrue …

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov response to his resignation

… after which Freeman recounted the events.

Nigel Freeman's response to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

This was followed by Ilyumzhinov’s reassurance to federations that he had not stepped down.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov addresses federations

These documents were found in a FIDE post titled, “Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s denial and FIDE reply.” If indeed, Ilyumzhinov uttered “I resign” three times, is this enough to tender a resignation? What is the formal procedure? Was Ilyumzhinov pressured into resigning? Is this an “unscrupulous struggle for power,” as Anatoly Karpov calls it? FIDE has become silent, but an extraordinary President Board Meeting has been called on April 10th to discuss the matter.

Ilyumzhinov blames the United States Chess Federation (U.S. Chess) for the controversy. He is apparently referring to the recent political tensions between the countries and the sanctioning months before the World Championship held in New York. In an interview with Evgeny Surov’s he stated that he is President until September 2018 when the next elections will occur. Another statement from Ilyumzhinov is forthcoming and will most likely be posted before the April meeting.

GM Maurice Ashley has been back in the media like we’ve never seen before. First he gave a candid appearance on “One on 1” segment. On display were vintage photos of a younger Ashley, but it gave a wide-ranging view of his passion and the expanse of his activities. Most of Ashley’s story is well-known. Even the cameo appearance with a street hustler last year was featured. The Brooklyn-based GM now has a mission that extends beyond the borders and will be traveling to Africa this June for another initiative.

One on 1:

“A friend of mine called me up and said, ‘I can get you a six-figure job right now working on a mutual fund. And in half a second, I thought, ‘Why would I do that?'”

Ashley also appeared in The Moth where he gave a rather poignant story of Brooklyn chess and the hardscrabble environment in the chess parks. “Slaying King George” was the 13-minute segment. He lamented on his passionate beginnings of chess and his introduction to the Black Bear School of Chess. The brutal environment was Prospect Park where the raucous scene unfolded each day. Ashley spoke of his initiation into this august group of players, but the piece centered his meeting George “Firebreather” Golden. Very description and expressive.

The Moth:

Fantastic, ‘magnificent’ product which will in time be duly recognized as a ‘magnum opus’!

~Ian Wilkinson, Jamaica Chess Federation

Retail Price: $40.00 (full color, hard back)

On March 11th, The Chess Drum announced the release of Emory Tate’s biography, Triple Exclam!!! The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior and the book has been warmly embraced by the chess community. The biography comes in the aftermath of Tate’s death October 17, 2015 when he was stricken by a heart attack during a chess tournament in California. He was 56.

Tate was an artful figure of chess throughout his playing career and enthralled fans with his charisma and signature tactical style. He also enjoyed postmortem sessions and was in his element in conducting them. The book actually transcribes two of these sessions making for colorful prose. Below are a few selections from Triple Exclam.

Introducing “Triple Exclam”

Currently, there is a 10% volume discount for quantities of five or more and a 20% discount to FIDE’s CACDEC countries (see below). Hopefully, there are CACDEC funds that will help to offset exorbitant shipping fees. Tate is not known to have visited the African continent, but had a legion of fans there as well.

Triple Exclam retails for $40.00 + shipping. The Chess Drum plans a single printing of 500 copies for Triple Exclam, so get your copy while they last!!



# # #

The Chess Drum, LLC is a publisher of chess news content and literature. The organization’s website has continued to demonstrate the universality of chess by covering a variety of topics through news stories, essays, interviews, and photos since 2001. Visit The Chess Drum at and follow the beat on Facebook and Twitter!

Kevin Fite is preparing his chess players for Supernationals that is only months away. Fite coaches at University Preparatory Science and Math Middle School, but has had a hand in the development of most of the area players through the Detroit City Chess Club. He has also hosted a number of guests to provide inspiration in chess as well as in life.

Kevin Fite, Detroit City Chess Club

Recently, ran a story about the chess scene in Detroit, a city beset by a history of odious politics. A ray of sunshine has been the chess program led by Fite.

The chess team at the middle school, located inside the Michigan Science Center in Detroit’s cultural center, is the defending national champion. University Prep Science and Math Middle School’s sixth-graders won the K-6 state elementary championship Feb. 4, while the seventh- and eighth-graders won the junior high state championship a little more than a week ago. UPSM Elementary school won the Metro Detroit City League Elementary Division Jan. 14, making it the best elementary team in the area.

As with many of the fledgling programs, they are often lacking in resources and are forced to hold fundraising campaigns to compete. According to the article, Fite is at it again. “The parents always pay, but they’re just about tapped out now and we just need some help,” said Fite. The opportunity to travel to these tournaments provides the students not only with the opportunities to compete, but to gain social skills, develop life-long networks and even a chance to earn scholarships.

Fite is a mentor for the players and even a surrogate father for some. He tries to discuss with them real life issues. Being part of the chess club provides them with a positive outlet and the results are paying off. They need help to realize their talents. The goal is $55,000 to send the team in Nashville and at the time of the article, they were $17,000 short. The team is working to make this trip a reality.



Contact: Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum
P.O. Box 7663
Tallahassee, FL 32314-7663 USA
(850) 296-9494

Tallahassee, USA – 11 March 2017 – Emory Tate’s biography Triple Exclam!!! The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior has finally arrived and is available for purchase. The book details the life of one of the most colorful figures on the U.S. chess circuit. Tate’s death on October 17, 2015 brought an end to the adventurism and sense of wonderment he found in chess.

In just over a year, his biography has been published by The Chess Drum after finishing production in March 2017. Release was delayed for months by a number of technical issues. The book covers his exciting 56-year journey and life as a chess artist. His passion for chess was truly inspiring. Triple Exclam was the culmination of an intense research effort on the life of Tate.

The following blurb appears on the inside flap of the dust jacket:

ISBN-10: 0998118001
ISBN-13: 978-0998118000
Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
Publisher: The Chess Drum, LLC
Retail Price: $40.00 (full color, hard back)


In the annals of attacking chess players, International Master Emory Tate built up a collection of stunning gems. Tate also showed his passion in describing these exciting battles as if acting in a stage play. With his clear, accelerated speaking style, melodramatic portrayals, quick wit and creative word play, he intrigued audiences and showed unequivocally that chess is not merely a game to be played, but an art form to be expressed. This book details the life and games of Tate over the course of his 56 years.

His contribution to chess lies not merely in his level of play, or even his scintillating victories, but in his creation of unique ideas and inspiring dreams. Somewhere on that chess board was beauty to behold, a new story to be told, and perhaps an idea that would touch the soul. Tate told many stories, many of which would reflect an adventurous, purposeful, yet troubled life. This story is of beautiful games, life lessons, mind-boggling conflicts and celebration of a man whose contributions will live on!

The Book

Triple Exclam is a hardback, full-color edition that includes 280 pages in 12 chapters and seven appendices surveying the life of Tate. It includes 35 of his games (all annotated) and vintage photos at various stages of his life. The book also includes chapter notes and is fully-indexed. If you are not a chess-player but enjoy biographies, you will appreciate his story.

The Foreword of the book was done by GM Maurice Ashley with annotations by GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, GM Pontus Carlsson, GM Amon Simutowe, GM Kenny Solomon, IM Malcolm Pein, FM William Morrison, FM Todd Andrews, FM Jimmy Canty and National Masters Ernest Colding, Glenn Bady and Dr. Okechukwu Iwu. Two games feature transcribed annotations from Tate’s famous post-mortems. A file of the Triple Exclam games will be sent to customers.

Triple Exclam: The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior

Order Details

The highly-anticipated book can be purchased by following the Paypal button below. A Paypal account is not needed. Buying in bulk cuts per unit and mailing costs, so for groups of friends, chess clubs, and vendors seeking volume discounts (for the purchase of five or more), click here!

International rates are currently prohibitive unless ordering quantities in multiples of five (U.S. Postal Service flat rate box). The Chess Drum is looking for international distributors to make the book accessible to a wider audience. An e-book version of Triple Exclam is forthcoming.

Some customers many be skittish about ordering online. In that case, contact me at with number of copies needed and I’ll send an invoice. Mail orders are completed with money orders only. Also available for book signings. Make sure you add this handsome book to your collection!


# # #

The Chess Drum, LLC is a publisher of chess news content and literature. The organization’s website has continued to demonstrate the universality of chess by covering a variety of topics through news stories, essays, interviews, and photos since 2001. Visit The Chess Drum at and follow the beat on Facebook and Twitter!

Gambia Gambia Gambia

While the chess world has been occupied with world championship tournaments and elite players, there are many stories unfolding involving the ancient board game. There are different aspects of chess… the sporting aspect, the scientific aspect and the social aspect.

The latter is found in stories such as “Queen of Katwe,” which was based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi. These stories are often untold or overlooked because they don’t contain a sporting aspect in a high-browed game obsessed with ratings, titles and results. However, in a recent story in the McAlester Times, we learn that there are other redeeming qualities that make chess attractive.

“Chess… it can be an equalizing force.”
~Zac Smith

Zac Smith had graduated from University of Oklahoma and decided to join the Peace Corps, a U.S. government organization designed to promote humanitarian goodwill. One of the things Smith decided to take along was a chess set. His village of Kappa in rural Gambia had no electricity and no running water and was “unimaginably divorced from global culture,” said Smith.

Abdou Badjie (right), plays chess with fellow Gambians in Kappa village.
Photo by David Dishman

When he took out his set and began to show the children the board game with odd-shaped pieces, they took an interest. He learned that chess empowered people in the village. “Chess… it can be an equalizing force. The game doesn’t care if your’e old or young or male or female. I think it can provide an arena where boys and girls can compete equally in the same arena.”

Smith found a willing protege in Abdou Badjie. The 15-year old had more curiosity and Smith had set him up with a coach in St. Louis. The lessons were conducted via Skype and gave the young Gambian exposure to computers and a look at the outside world. Again… many of the lessons here are similar to Phiona Mutesi’s. Smith’s two-year tenure in Kappa will wind down in August 2017 and hopefully the tradition will continue.


2017 Women's World Chess Championship, Tehran, Iran

A new woman will be declared World Champion as the knockout tournament dwindles down to two competitors. Both Tan Zhongyi and Anna Muzychuk had trod different paths to reach the final Zhongyi survived an intense tiebreak despite being on the brink of defeat in the Armageddon game.

On the other hand, Muzychuk has waltzed through her five competitors winning every match without tiebreaks. Odds would have her as the favorite since she is higher rated and has had more rest. However, Tan has showed tremendous grit and determination without the pressure of high expectations.

Tan has beaten Sabina Foisor (USA) 1½-½, Anna Ushenina (UKR) 4½-4½ (tiebreaks), Padmini Rout (IND) 3½-2½, Ju Wenjun (CHN) 1½-½ and Dronavali Harika (IND) 5-4… formidable competition. Muzychuk defeated Amina Mezioud (ALG) 2-0, Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) 1½-½, Pham Le Thao (VIE) 2-0, Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) 1½-½ and Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) 2-0.

There will be four classical games with 40 moves in first 90 minutes and then 30m+30s. In the event of a equal score, the tiebreak will consist of two-game matches two rapid 25m+10s, two blitz 10m+10s, two blitz 5m+3s and one Armageddon will decide the match.

2017 Women’s World Chess Championship
February 10th-March 4th, 2017 (Tehran, Iran)
FINAL (Tan Zhongyi vs. Anna Muzychuk)
Drum Coverage
| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 |
| Semifinals | Finals |

Official Website:
Live Games:
All PGN Games (TWIC):

GM Carlsson conducting simultaneous exhibition at East Park Mall in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo by Yofoso Chess League.

Pontus Carlsson is currently in Zambia as part of the Chess Masters in Africa tour. On February 25th, he posted on his Facebook page,

Yesterday giving a simul against 25 players at the big East Park mall. 21 wins and 4 draws but tough games! Very impressed by 8-year old Candidate Master Kennedy Shane who held the draw. The boy deserves a sponsor! Big Thanks! to East Park Mall, president Mr Nshikokola, chairman Mr Katebe and IM Andrew Kayonde for organising it and to the Paul Allen Foundation & Kasparov Chess Foundation that brought me here!

Carlsson conducting his first sessions in Botswana

According to a press release on the KCFA, Carlsson spent his first week in Gaborone, Botswana conducting training for the selected trainers and also “participated in a number of school visits and exhibition events.” Apparently Zambia, Rwanda and Namibia are on the list as the Swedish national makes his first tour of the continent.

Originally born in Colombia, South America, he has represented Sweden in the Olympiad and in the European Team Championships, but is currently based in the Czech Republic. He is thrilled at the opportunity and a chance to make an impact.

Paul Allen:

The Paul Allen Foundation in collaboration with the Kasparov Chess Foundation for Africa is currently conducting its “Chess Masters for Africa Tour,” with a number of icon players including GMs Maurice Ashley (USA), Pontus Carlsson (Sweden) and Kenny Solomon (South Africa). The tour will cover six countries and last until June.

GM Solomon unloading equipment for the Kenyan session.

Session in progress in Rwanda.

Solomon has been to Kenya, Botswana and recently in Rwanda. Carlsson held training sessions in Botswana and Namibia. More than sixty trainers are expected to complete the training. Maurice Ashley will also participate at the tail end. The countries involved in the training sessions are: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. The session will run from February until June 2017.

Paul Allen:

Chess enthusiasts and supporters,

Throughout the “Black History Month” of February we celebrated the accomplishments of people of African descent, particularly those in the U.S. For 16 years, The Chess Drum has been recording the history of a population segment that is largely unknown or unappreciated in the world of chess. I have written thousands of articles for this website, with a number being featured during Black History Month. There was even a 3-part series in 2015 (#1, #2, #3).

There are several reasons that there remains little international notoriety of chess accomplishments in the Black community. Much of it has to do with the discipline of chess itself and the manner of how information is handled. One of the objectives of The Chess Drum is to demonstrate the universality of chess by highlighting the accomplishments of a segment that has received scant mention in history.

The importance of this effort will prove that chess has broad appeal and shows how inclusive the activity is. It is certainly important to show this attraction. Thus, it becomes apparent that the compilation of diverse segments of chess serves a noble purpose.

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

# # #

Creating Black History in Chess

The documentation of one’s history is one of the singularly most important tasks of a social entity. It places events in a context and presents key points of progress along the timeline. Furthermore, it gives successors a source of inspiration and sets the stage for the accomplishment of future feats. Typically, one who is a student of history has broader, enriched perspective over one who does not have such a historical context.

Marcus Garvey

There are many instances in chess world where the history of African Diaspora isn’t known because of missing data. There are thousands of pools of information. Some are filed away in cabinets, a single folder, or in someone’s storage locker. When surviving relatives sort through the belongings of the deceased, they may not know the value of sheets of paper with a strange notation on them and discard them.

Old photos and magazines are a treasure trove of information, but remain dormant and beautiful stories remain untold. In the past, there had been little effort made to compile data with the idea of making it a comprehensive history. The Chess Drum has attempted to do this in the last 16 years. The point is there are ways in which we can preserve key moments. Following are some of the challenges:


Firstly, there is a lack of consistency in the quality of information that can be accessed. Apart from a few sources, there is no concerted effort to preserve the history of Black chess through photos, videos, and other documentation. Even the amateur photos can be brought to life to tell a story. Jerry Bibuld did an excellent service to catalog many figures in the Diaspora, and his work resides in the Schaumburg Center in Harlem.

Maurice Ashley and William Morrison. Copyright © 1996, Jerome Bibuld.

Classic photo of Maurice Ashley and William Morrison
Copyright © 1996, Jerome Bibuld

One other problem is that many players fail in preserving their games, annotating their thoughts and publishing them. This became a shock as I spoke with a number of master-level players who have neglected to keep their game scores. I have discovered on occasion that players do not even write down opponent’s names and other details. It severely damages the integrity of the game and its historical importance. Chess players of the African Diaspora have to take more care in preserving game materials and records.

Sharing of information is encouraged, and if possible, in formats that can be readily processed. The days of sending in games in Microsoft Word or plain text files are a thing of the past. It doesn’t mean that people should not submit photos of poor quality or hand-written scans of old games. Sometimes you have to submit what you have, but in today’s time, there are tools that make information quality much better. Everyone has a phone with a camera, and the technology is quite good.

Social Media Abyss

Secondly, the issue of publishing in chess content has exploded, and micro-communities have grown. Well… that’s a good thing Daaim. Certainly. In today’s chess world there are many social media outlets. These tools have decentralized information and have made it easier than ever to share chess literature and content. Correspondents have started using social media as a primary platform. The mindset is if one posts on Facebook to several groups, that is enough and everyone will see it.

The Chess Drum (2001)

Admittedly, if you are relying on visits to your website and blog without the use of social media, content does not have maximum visibility. However, archiving such information becomes exceeding difficult since Facebook information is not accessible via a search engine and requires a “public” setting to view content. This is a fact that many may miss. There is a need for a more consistent pipeline for conveying information to those permanent chess news outlets and platforms seeking to cover news of the Diaspora.

Historical Accuracy

Thirdly, the accuracy of information is an issue. As mentioned earlier there is a problem with completeness of information, but it also becomes harder to ensure its accuracy. While news travels quickly in this information age, so do mistakes and omissions. Social media is replete with misinformation. Also, there are many errors in crediting quotes, attributing opening novelties, and even who took particular photos. There are also instances where game scores are in error.

The final move in the memorable Tate-Yudasin game is recorded as 36.Qh6 in databases and in a Chess Life analysis by IM Jack Peters. According to bystanders and Tate himself, the move was 36.Qg5! The initial Qh6 error has been replicated in databases and takes some of the luster off the effort.

For example, the well-known Tate-Yudasin game has as the last move 36.Qh6 when in actuality the move was 36.Qg5! It is unclear how this happened, but the error lives on. At The Chess Drum, information is obtained from public and private sources, but in some cases, the information provided is sometimes incomplete or riddled with inaccuracies.

The idea of presenting accurate information has to take precedence over any other factor. Also, if readers find an error in a story, they should alert the source so that other media sources do not replicate it. Many times errors are repeated, and they are ultimately taken as fact. Users of content often neglect to credit photographs as items are copied and used without proper citation. It then becomes difficult to know the source in case the user needs to obtain a better copy, or provide the credit.

“If you don’t like the history of your people,
build a glorious history that will
make your people proud when others read it.”


Fourthly, there has to be great care on how media presents information. As the consumption of information has become more decentralized, social media has given everyone a platform to post a variety of information. However, there is a sort of careless nature in how information is presented in social media. Games often lack a back story and articles may consist of two or three sentences with a few photos.

Sometimes there are photos posted with no captions or indications of who the subjects are. It appears that these posts are merely for sharing rather than documenting. It is preferable if a context is given. Names, dates, venue, city and other details are needed. Fortunately for the chess community, much of the chess software has the capability to embed diagrams, annotations and other details about the game. These insights are invaluable.

“And as we gazed at Morphy, with his fine, open countenance, brunette hue, marvelous delicacy of fibre, bright, clear eyes, and elongated submaxillary bone, a keen suspicion entered our ethnological department that we were not the only Carthaginian in the room. It might only be one drop, perhaps two, God only knows how they got there but surely, beside the Tria mulattin who at present writes, there was also a Hekata-mulattin in that room!”

James McCune Smith speaking about the legendary Paul Morphy
“CHESS” published in The National Era, September 29, 1859
Volume XIII, Number 665, page 153

Community Support

Last but not least, there is lukewarm support for media sources that have the most vested interest in archiving Black history. The Chess Drum remains as one of the primary sources of chess information for the African Diaspora. Black news media organizations have always struggled for legitimacy and support. It is unfortunate that even some of the personalities covered extensively on this site will provide links to articles they’ve been featured in, but strangely, The Chess Drum isn’t featured at all.

In some instances, the chess player may view one short article from non-chess mass media as more valuable. There can certainly be an argument made that a national publication will attract more general readers than a chess-oriented site. In the mind of the player, it is a great accomplishment to be in the national news because it shows wider acceptance. This is understandable, but it is a rather short-sighted view. One must realize that the New York Times, USA Today, the Guardian is not going to make the article anything more than a news item.

Articles in non-chess media are a necessity to provide valuable chess exposure, but the African Diaspora must chronicle its chess history.

While national media may have a wider general readership, media sites targeting a demographic (i.e., The Chess Drum) have the objective of expressly highlighting accomplishments and at some point make it part of a documented historical archive or literary compilation. If you want to learn about chess players of African descent, do you go to a large media organization that may have handful of articles about the subject or one with tens of thousands of items? They both have their values, but play decidedly different roles.

Some of the most valuable contributions to The Chess Drum have come from people from outside the African Diaspora. This tournament item was sent to me by Jim Kulbacki who lives in Wyoming. It came from a Polish chess magazine from 1967 Polanica-Zdroj tournament and featured Afro-Cuban Rogelio Ortega (center).

So what does this mean? The Black history of chess is developing, and we have to work hard to build it. If you don’t like the history of your people, build a glorious history that will make your people proud when others read it. We have to take more interest in documenting chess activities in the Diaspora. Graham Jurgensen of South Africa has done a creditable job at documenting activities around the continent. It is a valuable resource of data.

In the very near future, The Chess Drum will continue to compile literary content on the history of Black chess. After amassing tens of thousands of pages of chess literature, it is time to make one of the biggest contributions to Black history. It is time to make this history part of a general history of chess, and it is up to our community to do it.


2017 Women’s World Chess Championship
February 10th-March 4th, 2017 (Tehran, Iran)
Match Scores (Semifinals)
1 Tan Zhongyi
Dronavalli, H
2 Muzychuk, A
Kosteniuk, A
Drum Coverage
| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 |
| Semifinals | Finals |

Tan Zhongyi
Photo by David Llada

The first game of the semifinal matches began with a bang. Two Asian competitors faced off and in the other match were players from two European chess powers. Dronavali Harika and Tan Zhongyi (with surnames first) started off calmly, but it appeared the Indian played too cautiously with her Nimzo-Indian. Essaying a solid setup, the Indian player played 14…Ng4!? The move looks like a one move cheap shot as it threatened 15…Bxf3 and 16…Qxh2 mate, but the idea was to force white to commit to playing h3 and weaken the kingside a bit.

Dronavali seemed to wander with 20….Qa6 and the queen and Tan grabbed more space. While white had a weak pawn structure, black had a flexible formation and few worried, but after 23.Qg4, white’s intentions were clear. They repeated moves twice, but the Chinese continued to forge ahead with the ambitious 26.Re4. Even though this move is apparently dubious, it has psychological value. Engines don’t like it, but they have no emotions. It is certainly a menacing move.

Tan Zhonyi vs. Dronavali Harika, 1-0

Tan Zhonyi on the attack with 35.Qf3 against Dronavali Harika
Photo by David Llada

Tan ended the game smartly with the picturesque 44.Rxh6!

The black queen kept flailing away on the queenside, not fully appreciating the pending trouble. Before Dronavali realized her peril, she had to scurry the queen with 33…Qh7, literally guarding the king. It wasn’t enough. Tan played 34.Rf4, and at this point, the Indian knew she was in grave danger. She tried to solve her problems tactically, with 36…Nd7, hoping for 37.Rxf7 Qb1+! 38.Kh2 Nxe5 when 39.Rf8+ Kh7!-+ However, the Chinese player maintained the pressure. Finally, the black queen became entombed the white rooks, and the finishing blow came with 44.Rxh6! Dronavali resigned and must win to continue her historic quest.

Tan-Dronavali (Annotations by WGM Swati Ghate)

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk is the reigning women’s blitz and rapid champion and is trying to win the classical. She would repeat the feat of Magnus Carlsen who held three such titles at once. The Ukrainian did not get off to a good start, and it appeared she would have problems holding the position. Alexandra Kosteniuk got a favorable position out of the opening but no decisive advantage. Both players made some inaccuracies as time pressure loomed, but Kosteniuk missed a few knockout blows such as 32.Bxg7, 33.Bc5 and 34.Be3!

Nevertheless white had a pawn edge (after 41.Nxe6!) to go along with a queenside majority. Inexplicably, Kosteniuk continued to make mistakes. On 56.Ne5?? Muzychuk found 56…Ng5! and now the tide turned. With the devastating Rxe5 threat, white had to cede a pawn. After 57.Rb3 Nxh3+ 58.Kh2 Nxf2! black is up a pawn. Muzychuk pocketed another pawn after Kosteniuk played 60.Qb2? She probably was still in shock at the turn of events. The game ended swiftly after 64…Rf1 as white would suffer massive losses after 65.Kh1 Qe6! Kosteniuk will have to rebound to keep Russia’s hope alive for a championship.

Games from WWCC2017 (Round 5, Game 1)

Today’s games were must-win situations for both Dronavali and Kosteniuk. There were two Siclians today as Dronavali-Tan was a Rossolimi and Muzychuk-Kosteniuk was Sicilian Taimanov. Incidentally, Dronavali turned the position in a type of Ruy Lopez structure, but Tan overextended on the queenside and dropped a pawn. Tan sacrificed a pawn for counterplay, but Dronavali returned the pawn.

Fatigue must be setting in because Tan dropped another pawn after 40.Nxa5 and white was now clearly winning. Suddenly the Indian player launched at attack after 50.h5 gxh5 51.Qc1 (or 51.Qc7!), but the game got a bit murky. Dronavali missed mate after 56…f5?? For example, 56.Qe7+! Kxc8 57.Bd3! White still carried the advantage but needed the services of her passed pawn.

The queens came off, and black had to sacrifice her pieces to stop the white pawns setting the stage for another bishop and knight mate. It may be the first time in awhile that we’ve seen two in one tournament. Dronavali showed some poor technique in executing the maneuver and allowed the king to escape a few times before getting the right formation and delivering the mate. As in Stefanova-Buska, the mate was not allowed.

Anna Muzychuk vs. Alexandra Kosteniuk, 1-0

Anna Muzychuk and Alexandra Kosteniuk prepare to play with an inspiring background. Photo by David Llada

In the Muzychuk-Kosteniuk game, the Russia misplayed the opening and there followed a Maroczy Bind set. Kosteniuk played the speculative 6…Bc5 instead of 6…Bb4 and never got close to equalizing after 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8. With only a draw needed, white swapped queens and there was no hope to win for black. In fact, white was better with an advantage in space and the two bishops. It was simply a smooth win for Muzychuk as she closed the match and will try to win the “Triple Crown” in the finals.

Games from WWCC2017 (Round 5, Game 2)

The tiebreaks between Dronavali and Tan were epic. There were three occasions where a win was needed to stave off elimination and it and was delivered. The first game was a complete disaster and Tan simply had not focused and was demolished in 17 moves. The simply 12.Qh4! wins a pawn as black’s knights are in awkward positions. The ensuing attack looked like something out of a blitz game in a coffee house.

In the second rapid game, Dronavali appeared to be heading toward a draw and thus, advancing to the finals. The game evolved into a knight ending with have to be treated with care. Some opine that they are more like pawn ending in that tempos are extremely crucial. There were a number of missed opportunities as the Indian was trying to avoid getting into zugzwang. However, there were a comedy of errors made between moves 40-50 with 49…Kb5?? being ultimate. After that, white picked off pawns and use her a- and h-pawns with great effect. Unfortunately, minor pieces can’t effectively defend both sides of the board and Tan had leveled the score.

In the ten-minute games, the game was mostly equal until Dronavali got her pieces tangled up when trying to shield her exposed king. White’s 54.Qe3 required 54…Re7 when Ng6 would cover everything. However, 54…Qf5?? was played and 55.Nd3 wins a piece. Fatigue was certainly becoming a factor. Tan finished the game with a cute mating sequence. So Dronavali had to win again.

In the Lowental variation, the Indian was not playing the most testing lines and Tan got comfortable equality. Dronavali sacrificed her queen for a rook and bishop believing she could gang up on black’s weakened pawns. It appeared that the active queen was more than capable of disrupting the coordination of the pieces. Nevertheless, the position was dynamically equal until Tan began wandering her queen around the board flailing at secured targets.

After 61…Qe5+ Dronavali got her break! On 66.e5! Qg6?? the tide had turned. White basically shouldered the queen away and started advancing both the b- and e-pawns. The checking queen chased the white king to no avail and Dronavali had equalized again!! Amazing comeback!

Comparatively speaking, the two 5-minutes games were uneventful and they were drawn. It is uncertain why Dronavali kept trying the Lowenthal when she was not getting an advantage. The Armageddon game would the last of a tense and thrilling match. Both players were completely exhausted as the level of play was deteriorating. In the coin toss, Tan got the choice and chose black and four minutes. This mean white had to win the game. Since Dronavali had not shown anything with white, it was a prudent choice.

Either 57.Qf5+! or 59.Qf5+! would have sealed the win since white will force a trade of queens after a check on the dark square and then Qh4.

This time the game started 1.Nf3 and went into a type of King’s Indian Attack. Tan actually dropped a pawn with 31…Nhf6 32.Nfxe5. The problem was that white had to win. Tan made a few mistakes in assessing the situation and thought that the queen ending would easily be drawn. She actually blundered with 54…Qh3 when 55.exf6+ Kxf6 56.Qe5+ wins.

After black’s 56…Kf7, Dronavali panicked and played 57.Qe1?? Black even repeated the losing position meaning she was encouraging white to find the winning plan. She didn’t find 57. Qf5+! or 59.Qf5+! which leads to a trade of queens on the h4-square. Play was fast and furious with white trying to break through. She had another chance, but was running dangerously low on time.

On 66.Qd6+, black repeated moves twice so on 68…Kf7, white should play 69.Qe6+ and forcing a trade of queens on the h4-square as in the previous line. After 20 more moves both had taken pawns and tried to race passed pawns to the queening square. However, both queens on an open board were defending and attacking, neutralizing. Dronvali queened. Tan queened. In the final position, it would have been drawn, but the Indian GM had lost on time.

Dronavali was distraught after the match feeling that she had let her country down. Not at all. She played every match until tiebreak and deliever a bishop and knight mate in 162-move game and staved off elimination a number of times. Her performance was truly courageous. Viswanthan Anand had also tweeted words of support.

Games from WWCC2017 (Round 5, Tiebreaks)

Official Website:
Live Games:
All PGN Games (TWIC):

Justus Williams, Webster University
Photo by Paul Truong (SPICE)

FIDE Master Justus Williams has had an interesting ride in his chess career. Coming from Bronx, New York, he became a National Master at 12, starred in “Brooklyn Castle” in 2013, won the Junior Open back later in the same year along with many state titles. Apart from his scholastic success (including championships in K6, K8, K12, Cadet), he is now completing his freshman year as an International Relations/Economics major at Webster University.

Chess Life (July 2012)

Last weekend earned his third and final International Master (IM) norm after tying for first place with FM Joel Banawa at the St. Louis Winter IM Invitational. Both scored 6.5/9 and Banawa earned a norm as well. A graduate of the Bronx School of Science and Technology, he earned his 1st norm at North American Youth Chess Championship, his second norm at the North American Youth Chess Championship, and is only required to get his FIDE rating over 2400 to have the title conferred.

Justus has long had the idea of becoming a Grandmaster, and his goal is within reach at Webster University. He won a scholarship to attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), but chose Webster as a place to pursue his dream. He has appeared on TMZ and car commercials, but now has his eye on a lofty goal of becoming a Grandmaster. Webster’s SPICE organization has been a force in shaping his play and Susan Polgar told The Chess Drum that Justus has been proactive in improving his play and the results have paid off. They certainly have.

Webster University’s New York “Dream Team” FM Justus Williams, Shawn Swindell, FM Josh Colas at 2016 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

New Yorkers FM Justus Williams, Shawn Swindell, FM Josh Colas of Webster University at the 2016 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Justus’ last norm received lots of congratulatory remarks and certainly a bit of celebration by his grandmother Pamela “Nana” Ballard and his mother Latisha Ballard-Williams. While St. Louis may be called the “capital city” of chess in America, New York can certainly put up a strong argument on the talent it has produced. Justus has made his presence felt in St. Louis and hopefully the Grandmaster title remains in his sights.

Congratulations Justus!

Official Website:
Results (USCF):

2017 St. Louis Winter IM Invitational
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Final Standings (Overall)
Rank Name Fed. Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1 FM Banawa, Joel USA 2370 x 1  ½  ½  0  1  ½  1  1  1  6.5
2 FM Williams, Justus D USA 2333 0  x 1  ½  1  ½  1  1  1  ½  6.5
3 FM Gauri, Shankar IND 2306 ½  0  x ½  1  1  ½  ½  ½  ½  5.0
4 FM Colas, Joshua USA 2317 ½  ½  ½  x 1  0  ½  1  ½  0  4.5
5 Grabinsky, Aaron USA 2372 1  0  0  0  x 0  1  0  1  1  4.0
6 IM Neimer, Vitaly ISR 2356 0  ½  0  1  1  x ½  0  ½  ½  4.0
7 IM Young, Angelo PHI 2295 ½  0  ½  ½  0  ½  x ½  ½  1  4.0
8 IM Brooks, Michael A USA 2384 0  0  ½  0  1  1  ½  x 0  ½  3.5
9 FM Hua, Lefong CAN 2333 0  0  ½  ½  0  ½  ½  1  x ½  3.5
10 FM Eckert, Doug D. USA 2135 0  ½  ½  1  0  ½  0  ½  ½  x 3.5
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