Detroit and Chicago have a close relationship with both being home to hard-working migrants from the south in search of hope and opportunity. The Midwest was the destination for many Blacks due to the abundance of factory jobs in the steel mills, foundry, and stock yards. The determination to find good paying jobs required a disciplined, strong will and has been the trademark of the strong “Midwestern work ethic.” This strength carried over into competitive activities such as sports and entertainment.

FM James Canty IIIDaniel X Jones

FM James Canty III vs. CM Daniel X Jones
Photos by Nathan Kelly

In weeks leading up to both Danny X Jones and James Canty agreed to a 10-game blitz battle in Chicago. Social media was in a frenzy. and several cities started to discuss the prospects of an intercity competition. Both cities have a very proud history of sports, and just a few decades ago, the two cities fought some of the most brutal battles in professional basketball. There was a build-up complete with trash talk reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls rivalry in the 80s and 90s.

Detroit vs. Chicago

The two cities have developed a fierce but respectful rivalry over the years.

This past weekend saw another battle involving the two cities. The rivalry would now extend to the chess board. There was a pregame video complete with interviews and both players expressed respect for the other, but claimed that they would be victorious. One problem… only one could be right. So who would it be??? There was an undercard with two Experts Aderemi Adekola taking on Aakaash Meduri locking horns. Those games were not shown live, but here is the opening ceremony with Roger Hickman offering inspiring remarks.


That score ended 4-1 in the best of seven games with Remi coming out on top. Now… all the hype built up on the main card. Daniel X Jones taking on FIDE Master James Canty. Jones was the co-winner of the under-2100 section of the 2017 Chicago Open, and co-winner of the 2nd Emory Tate Memorial two weeks ago. Canty’s claim to fame is winning 2nd place and $20,000 in the 2014 Millionaire Chess under-2350 section. The Detroit native received notoriety for his feats in the local media.

After two weeks of banter in social media, the tension was thick as both of the players gave their pre-match impressions to Nathan Kelly. “Canty Cash” stepped out of the van looking like a UFC fighter and said he was ready for the bout. Daniel “The Baby-Faced Assassin” looked like he was going to a business meeting also offered words of supreme confidence. Ironically, that same nickname was Isiah Thomas who played for the Detroit Pistons and a main rival to the Chicago Bulls.

Now… let’s get it on!

Main Event: Canty vs. Jones

Interviews by Nathan Kelly, video production by Louie Green

That was just the first game! What a ride!! After that, there was more. In the five-minute games, Jones won the second in a rook ending and in the third he mounted a counterattack after being slightly worse and chased Canty’s king at the edge of the board where it was mated. Canty got his first win of the match, but couldn’t avoid losing the 5th game giving Jones a 3½-1½ edge in the first segment.

Daniel X Jones vs. FM James Canty III

In the three-minute segment, Canty won the first in a fierce time scramble with Jones pressing for a win. In the melee, Canty claimed a forfeit win with three-tenths of a second left pulling the overall match back to within one. In the second game, Canty was pressing with a passed b-pawn, but then lost the thread allowing a fortress. After blacks’ …Kh2, Jones played g4+ after which Canty committed an illegal move by leaving his king in check.

Daniel X Jones vs. FM James Canty III

In the last three minute game, a feverish pace resulted as seconds wound down. A volley of checks was given. and it still appeared to be unclear. Canty decided to press ahead and ended up getting rook skewered on the a-file and resigned. The win gave Jones the decisive result. The final match score was 5½-2½ (3½-1½ and 2-1). There was an applause by the spectators, and both players were given praise for their battling spirit.

Watch the action of games 6-8 below.

There was a press conference after the match where questions were posed to the two competitors. The described their strategies in the match. Jones stated that he steered away from main lines Sicilian and wanted to simply get a game to play. Canty was asked about the competition that he faces in Detroit and stated there are limitations because there isn’t the consistency in attendance. So Canty took a six-hour bus ride to play a blitz match. Chicago blitzers were very appreciative.

Both were asked what it takes to excel. Canty offered an intense study of tactics while Jones talked about learning to evaluated positions. Lastly, there was the debate about the role that blitz plays popularizing chess. Both believe blitz should be moved to the forefront. This created a vigorous debate on Facebook, and it’s just beginning. Many cities have all weighed in with well-heeled blitz players looking to get into the action.

Press Conference

Video production by Nathan Kelly and Louie Green

2017 Blitz Battle
Saturday, June 17th, 2017
Lion’s Paw Chess & Martial Arts Academy, Chicago, Illinois

CM Daniel Jones (Chicago) vs. FM James Canty III (Detroit)


Videos by Johnnie Strapp

Kudos to the Chicago Chess Blitzers for organizing and supporting an exciting event. In particular, thanks to Roger Hickman, Nathan Kelly, Louie Green, Johnnie Strapp, Chase Ford and of course Daniel Jones for helping to host the event.


The chess season is in full swing and in the heat of summer, chess players typically look to play in fun tournaments. The Chess Educators International Open is such a tournament in one of America’s vacation capitals, Orlando, Florida! The 5-round tournament has a possible prize fund of $10,000 (based on 160 entries) and serves as a perfect warm-up to the World Open tournament beginning on the June 29th. This tournament will be held at the Park Inn Resort and Conference Center Orlando by Radisson, a complex in close proximity to all Disney activities. It will be a guaranteed fun time!

June 23-25, 2017 – A Five (5) Round USCF and FIDE rated event in all sections! $10,000 prize fund, based on 160 paid entries, with $7,000 minimum guaranteed!


Additionally, the tournament is offering a rebate for registrations and room reservations if they are made by June 19th. Get a $20 Rebate for your registration when you register before June 19th and a $50 rebate towards your first official hotel room night with a minimum of three (3) nights. Send a copy of your hotel reservation to for this rebate.

Chief Tournament Director ANTD Steve Lampkins, USA.
Chief Organizer of the Tournament: IO Beatriz Marinello, USA

Organizer: Beatriz Marinello
Telephone: 917-553-4522


Each city has its chess history. There are even genres within chess history. One of the most captivating (and overlooked) aspects of its history is street chess. Out of this community comes the life and dreams of every chess player to make a name for his or herself. The venues… barber shops, beaches, coffee shops, bars, parks, basements, street curbs and even alleys. Toe-to-toe, mortal combat, no-holds-barred fighting on the 64 squares. Perhaps there needs to be a catalog of these stories because it shows the psychological impact that chess on society. Granted many of these players don’t follow chess news and may not know the top-level players, but perhaps have as much passion for the game than anyone else. There is something much deeper in playing the game.

Even though I know the players are not thinking about it in these terms, but as a child psychiatrist, I know that issues that are important in a person’s life very often get expressed in games they play… and the games get played over and over and over again.

~Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing

Over the years, The Chess Drum has presented some of these stories such as the famous New York’s Washington Square Park, DC’s Dupont Circle, Chicago’s Harper Court and San Francisco’s Market Street to name a few. These conspicuous places were the venues to cut your teeth on… a theater, a pit and a classroom all in one.

National Master Kofi Tatum
Photo Kofi Tatum (LinkedIn)

Kofi Tatum of Los Angeles has recently released a video titled, “Snapping Pieces” about the chess scene in the “City of Angels.” It is a raw look at the testimonies of various personalities, but more importantly, it explains the cultural importance that chess has in the community in vibrant fashion. Many of the cities mentioned earlier have developed vibrant communities with a social hierarchy, rules and a sense of familial ties. The Los Angeles chess scene has long had a presence since the days of IM Stephen Muhammad at the Santa Monica chess park. The tradition continues!

“Snapping Pieces” is a 47-minute documentary culminating in the Equinox blitz tournament featuring more than 20 players (including one Master and three Experts). Tatum gives an overview:

The event was held sometime around September of 2006. It offered a 1st place prize of 1,000 dollars. As well as several other prizes, from 1st all the way down to about 7th place or so. There was even a prize for best female player. Which I believe was one by the ever talented, former women’s state champion, Collette McGruder.

There is also a cameo appearance by the late and great Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing, who authored a landmark book, The Isis Papers. She sees parallels between battles waged over the board and battles waged against social oppression.

I see when the people are playing the game very vigorously. In many settings, but in your setting in Los Angeles, where Black men are playing this game… I think that they’re playing out the warfare that is racism/white supremacy. Sometimes that warfare is playing out in terms of police brutality, or driving while Black or walking while Black. Even though I now the players are not thinking about it in these terms, but as a child psychiatrist, I know that issues that are important in a person’s life very often get expressed in games they play… and the games get played over and over and over again.

Whether one agrees with Cress Theory of Color Confrontation, it is undeniable that there exists certain dualities in society based on a number of demographic and social factors. Chess allows one to articulate the hopes and dreams and even allows one to externalize social problems and use chess as a way to solve them. This documentary is an ode to the lessons learned from chess. Great job!

Video by Kofi Tatum


On the campus of University of Cape Town

There are many ways to describe the African continent. Some know it as the “Cradle of Civilization” and by others as the “Dark Continent.” Rest assured, this massive land mass has a complicated history, but its complexity may be softened by the sheer diversity and beauty. Each time I travel to Africa, I get a different perspective since there is so much to absorb.

My recent trip to Africa would cover five countries in two weeks. This may not seem like enough time to become immersed in the daily hustle and bustle. However as you will see in the following photos, Africa’s biodiversity is vast and thus you don’t have to search far and wide to see it. It is truly a photographer’s haven. I marveled at the panoramic views worthy of a National Geographic photo spread. However, I was hoping to compete with their photographers.

The two-week trip was part of a faculty tour hosted by the Center for International Business, Education and Research (CIBER). Its purpose is to exposure university faculty to the international business environments of different countries for the instructional purposes. This trip was hosted by the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore B-School. I was the only professor from Florida A&M University (FAMU).

South Africa

The initiative is funded by the Department of Education to further internationalization of university curricula. This would be my 5th CIBERT trip and 3rd (with the organization) to Africa. This would be my 4th trip to South Africa and 2nd with Michael Shealy. This time my group stayed in the Commodore Hotel which was within walking distance to the mall. I visited the area back in 2006, and not much had changed. I did find a very nice smoothie shop with an adjoining health food store.

CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.
All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)

Arrival, Commodore Hotel, Waterfront area and mall, wellness health food store

Before my CIBER group got into our itinerary, I took a cab ride to Table Top Mountain. I missed going back in 2006, and my other two trips were to Johannesburg. This is a must see and here is what I saw…

…and breath-taking shots!

CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.
All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)

Table Top Mountain (21 photos)

Many tourists come to Africa for such sites, but I was also there to interact and engage with local professionals and academics. We visited the University of Cape Town which was located next door to the Commodore. On my first trip to South Africa, I stayed in their hotel. We met with the Director of the Graduate School of Business Dr. Mills Soko, a very dynamic figure who spoke candidly about his freedom-fighting background, the current state of South Africa and his vision for the business program.

University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business

Dr. Mills Soko, Director of the Graduate School of Business
at University of Cape Town

FAMU’s Daaim Shabazz with Teddy Taylor, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa
and FAMU alumnus!

2017 FDIB Africa Program Participants at University of Stellenbosch

We also visited Gordon’s Bay Township Middle School full of enthusiastic students were treated to songs by the school choir and even engaged in a soccer match! No photos of that since I was playing. The stop at the University of Stellenbosch was also nice as we got a chance to walk the campus a bit. We also visited the home of U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Teddy Taylor who I found out was a FAMU alumni!

One of the highlights was the trek to the Cape of Good Hope. The route is overlooked several cliffs and gorges and is a photographers haven. Boulders Park was the home of the penguins, and the Cape of Good Hope is a popular tourist stop. However, instead of climbing to the top of the tower, I decided to walk the trail of jagged rocks all the way to the Cape. It takes about 30-40 minutes but can be quite intimidating with fierce winds and the cliff only two meters to your left.

CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.
All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)

University of Cape Town (24 photos)
Gordon’s Bay Township & University of Stellenbosch (52 photos)
Boulders Park, Cape of Good Hope, Clarmont Chess Club (64 photos)

In general, I always seek out the chess community while in foreign countries, and I was able to contact Reuben Salimu whom I know from Facebook and who runs African Chess Cafe website and Claremont Chess Club. After an impromptu blitz tournament, I presented a copy of my book, Triple Exclam: The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior.

I did meet (and lose to) a young Seth-Riley Adams who uncorked a nice Nd5 shot! Sadly, this would be my only chess in Africa. It’s interesting since both contacts in Zambia and Botswana were too far away from my locations. The purpose of the rest of this article is to show you the beauty of the African continent. It’s a nice place for a tournament!

Playing Charles De Villiers at the Claremont Chess Club in Capetown

Reuben Salimu receiving a copy of my book “Triple Exclam”
at Claremont Chess Club, Cape Town, South Africa


As we boarded the plane in Cape Town, I was excited at the prospects of seeing the famous natural wonder at the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. I had only seen videos and photos of the famous Victoria Falls, initially in Basil Davidson’s eight-part documentary “Africa.” It is a must-see when visiting the region.

Aerial shot of Victoria Falls

Hours later, I would finally get my chance. As we soared over Livingstone, Zambia I could see the ominous presence of Victoria Falls. With my Samsung Galaxy 7, I took some shots of “Vic Falls” and could not imagine a site more impressive. I learned later that there was helicopter ride over the Falls. While I decided not to take that excursion, I saw the falls from practically every other angle. What was so impressive was the power of the water tumbling down into the gorge into the Zambezi river! I learned that this was high season for the Falls and later in the year you can walk across. Hard to imagine such a powerful force going into hibernation.

CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.
All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)

This was my first view of the falls, but I was not prepared to cross the bridge. The next day, I got a plastic parka, swimming trunks and flip-flops and set out to view the falls again. This time I crossed the bridge under a sheet of water from the falls and then took a trek to view different angles. What exhilaration! After that I took a 30-minute trek to bottom of the gorge known as the “Boiling Pot.”

With my flip-flops, I carefully navigated the rough downward slope and jagged rocks because one miscalculation would mean a trip to the hospital. Definitely. It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes and you have to be in reasonably good shape. Also take your time and plant your feet before proceeding. On the bright side, the climb up less treacherous than the climb down, but more tiring.

Victoria Falls Bridge from Zambian side. Nice!

Descending down into the “Boiling Pot” gorge. Its quite steep and very jagged rocks. Nature can be unforgiving.

The Boiling Pot… beautiful view of Zambezi River and Victoria Falls Bridge!

Soaked from the falls and sweaty from the descent, but it was all worthy it!
Watch video!


On the next day, a group of us planned to walk across the bridge to the Zimbabwe side of the Victoria Falls. It was longer than I expected and I had on my flip-flops again. Bad decision. We would walk for hours and flip-flops are not made for long walks. On the way back, I thought my Achilles tendons were going to snap. Instead of visiting the falls again, a group of us decided to visit the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwe side and have lunch and shop. It turned out to be a pleasant walk. I even saw a sign “Dead Slow,” a term not used in the U.S. That must mean really, really slow!

Along the way, we saw hawkers selling the famous “Zim notes,” or the hyper-inflated Zimbabwean currency. They were selling in dominations of millions, billions, and even trillions. I walked away with several currency notes to show my students. You can buy them off of eBay, but to say you got them in Zimbabwe adds a bit more authenticity.

The overhead view of the “Boiling Pot.” It was the previous day that I stood on the rocks below.

Zimbabwean view of the Victoria Falls Bridge
Yes… we walked quite a distance!

Squash just dropped a new album! Check out “Ngikulindile”. Very nice! 🙂

Livingstone, Zambia (30 photos)
Victoria Falls and Boiling Pot (18 photos)
Zambia-Zimbabwe (23 photos)


Now onto our next adventure. We would leave Livingstone invigorated by nature’s power and the beautiful accommodations at Avani. We would drive 90 minutes to Kasane, Botswana to visit the Chobe National Park. The drive gave us an opportunity to view Zambian people, the landscape and the “hustle and bustle.”

As we got closer to the border, an amazing scene unfolded. There was a long line of trucks carrying various types of cargo. As Zambia is one of the world’s largest producer of copper, there were trucks lined up with sheets of the metal stacked on their beds. It was a plain look at the daily business cycle of Africa. There is a method to the madness, so to speak. It is common for the driver to wait days to clear his load! Then there were the “fixers” with large wads of cash hoping to get hired by someone need to help sort out paperwork with the proper fees.

When we got to the dock, Zambian hawkers were selling all types of wooden crafts. They were not overly aggressive but certainly wanted to get the last bit of foreign currency before we decided to spend it in Botswana. We boarded the speed boats to get across the Zambezi River… just 750 meters. It is in this spot that four countries meet: Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

The trucks we saw coming in would cross via Kazungula ferry. For us, we piled into several speed boats, and within 15 minutes, we were across the river in Botswana. Many years ago at a chess tournament in Chicago, I met a Botswana chess coach named Oscar Mayisela. We became friends and kept in contact through mail. I told that I would one day visit his country. I kept my promise!

Since my Canon 80D was left in Johannesburg, I had to get by with my Samsung Galaxy 7 camera. The confusion came when they told me I had to check my carry-on bag due to its size. It was a back pack and there was plenty of room on the plane. Unfortunately, I thought they would check it all the way through Zambia, but I later learned that I had to go all the way to baggage claim and get it. It was a disappointment because one of the reasons I bought a brand new camera was for the Botswana tours. However, I must give a shameless plug to Samsung for making such great cameras. You will soon see what is possible. Here are some of my shots from the boat tour and land tour.

First on the boat…

…then next day on land!

So… I did OK with my cell phone but decided to go on a special photography outing where I was supplied with my own… Canon 80D! Yep. It’s the same camera I have except it has a wide telephoto lens. I will spare the details and present these full blast!

Malachite Kingfisher

Monitor Lizard

Pied Kingfisher

Baboons eating a piece of fruit as offspring watches


Cape Buffalo eating while elephants come to join the party

Life and death… there is even beauty in a dead tree

Chobe boat tour (43 photos)
Chobe land tour (29 photos)
Chobe photography tour (32 photos)


Me and FAMU colleague Dr. Annette Jackson
at the University of Swaziland

Last stop was Swaziland, a country encapsulated by South Africa, but with a unique character. Ruled by King Mswati III, an absolute monarch who has 13 wives, the small country is relatively poor but has an unbelievably well-developed road infrastructure. The landscape is dotted with mountainous terrain and winding roads, but the most redeeming quality of the small country is its people. Fortunately, we were able to visit the University of Swaziland where my FAMU colleague Dr. Annette Jackson is a Fulbright Professor. She attended a CIBER trip a few years back and was so inspired that she applied for the Fulbright fellowship.

While we did not have access to the natural landmarks, we visited a number of small businesses, small market sponsored by the Taiwanese and even the U.S. Embassy. One of the most interesting visits was to CONOCO, a Coca-Cola company that makes the syrup concentrate that the bottlers make into the fizzy stuff. What appears to be a very simple process is actually quite complicated. We were able to take a tour of the factory floor, but not allowed to take any photos.

There are intricate multilevel steps to make the trademark syrup, but perhaps the most amazing fact is that one container makes about 20,000 liters of the product. Also impressive was the variety of syrups available for the different drinks. With a little bit of calculation, it is evident that the amount of profit for the bottlers is tremendous! Back in 2010, I visited a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Nairobi, Kenya and saw how the product was made from the syrup. Quite a marvelous exercise in chemistry. The resulting drink has captivated billions around the globe.

Beautiful baskets from “Gone Rural” shop

One of the hundreds of stunning candles being made in
the Swazi Candles Craft Centre

Another remarkable thing about Swaziland is the incredible amount of talented artisans. I saw some of the most stunning baskets, glass art and candle-making in my life. These are products you’d see in places like World Market or retail stores featuring exotic imports. We also got to see an inspiring dance performance at a replica of a village. It was a poignant look at the hierarchical rules of the community including polygamous arrangements and line of succession.

So here is the last batch of photos. They illustrate the vision of society showing the determination and hope of a people… looking for something better each day.

In conclusion, I traveled to five African countries in two weeks. It was at a breakneck pace, but I was able to take perhaps hundreds of photos to document this trip. More importantly, I will be able to share them with my students, family and friends. So you may ask, “What is the ‘Chess Lens’ Daaim?” Apart from being able to get both “Africa” and “Chess” in the title for searching purposes, I believe it is clear to say that I viewed Africa with a very strategic eye. I tried to capture the authenticity, the beauty, and the character while leaving enough for curiosity to explore further. As for my chess audience, if you were patient enough to get through the entire article, you may be inspired to travel to Africa, enjoy its natural beauty, and play some chess there!


Swaziland (125 photos)


The 2nd Emory Tate Memorial took place at the Lion’s Den Chess and Martial Arts Academy in Chicago on a gorgeous summer day. There was excitement building up for the tournament along with the buzz of the pending match between Daniel X Jones and FM James Canty. Excitement for chess is high these days on the south side of Chicago. Unfortunately, the turnout was not as large as expected. Initially, eight players registered with Zambia’s Kela Kaulule being the top seed. Twelve players in total participated. Gwayne Lambert won last year’s event of 14 players.

Zambia’s Kela Kay Kaulule

Kaulule has been in Chicago the last month visiting a relative and has been adjusting to the U.S. chess scene. While stating that he played “badly” in the Chicago Open, he scored a respectable 4.5/7 in the under-2300 section. The Zambian native was challenged by the second-seeded Daniel X Jones. Jones, a third-degree black belt and owner of the martial arts studio, has been a positive force on the southside for mentoring his students and for promoting both chess and martial arts.

Jones, who is married with three children, told The Chess Drum that the recent buzz in Chicago chess is certainly helping to lift the profile of the game. “I love the ideas Maurice Ashley put on the table, and I want to partake in revolutionizing chess. So much so that chess “professionals” can be devoted and make a living full time,” said Jones. The Tate Memorials have certainly been a boost, but of course, the groundswell is still in its formative stages on the southside.

Tom Murphy (2085) with an optimistic glance against George David (1752)

Stephen Faulkner of Louisville, Kentucky

The tournament had a number of visitors including a local master, Marvin Dandridge. Some came from long distances to participate. Stephen Faulkner drove four hours from Louisville, Kentucky to be a part of chess movement and also to meet some of his chess contemporaries.

There were some very tense moments in the tournament including the second round showdown between Kaulule (2240) and Jones (2074). Jones, playing black, won a pawn right out of the opening and seemed to be holding his advantage throughout the middlegame.

In the second round marquee matchup Kaulule-Jones, black sacrificed a piece for a dangerous passed pawn. After …Nd4, white has to proceed with caution since Kf2?? would lose to c1(Q)! What to do?

The game’s intensity ratcheted up as the Zambian was fighting to hold the position. Interestingly, it was discovered that Kaulule missed an opportunity to simplify matters earlier and end up a full piece! As it turned out, the game got complicated, and white had to return the piece and fought to draw the position. Great battle!

In the third round, Jones-Murphy and Ford-Kaulule were going to be grueling battles and would most likely set the stage for who would take the top positions. Jones prevailed over Murphy while Kaulule was in a pitched battle with Chicago’s blitz legend, Sam Ford (1929).

Sam Ford (left) on the move and possibly examining e5! He didn’t play it, but it would have led to dynamic complications.

Ford went astray at a critical moment and Kaulule’s victory moved him into joint first with Jones and Tim Donnahue (1915) with 2.5/3. Before the last round, lunch was served and there was presentation of Triple Exclam, the Emory Tate biography written by Daaim Shabazz. In last year’s inaugural event the book was in the production phase. The book was officially released to the public in March.

Shabazz spent time recounting key moments in Emory’s life as well as some of the highlights of the book. There was a bit of nostalgia in giving tribute to one of the most colorful and artful figures in America’s chess history. The recurring theme was Emory’s contribution of chess as an art form and his eagerness to show its infinite beauty.

Angelo Armistead came to the tournament to get his signed copy! Both Armistead and Shabazz competed in tournaments together back in the 80s. Armistead is one day older!

In the final round, Jones would face Donnahue who had beaten Madison Loftis and William Cuevas. Kaulule would play Murphy who was trying to recover from a tough loss in the previous round to Jones. Tension was thick in the air, and there were spectators milling around the boards.

Things heated up in the final round as National Master Marvin Dandridge (standing left) looked on intently. Tom Murphy faced Kela Kaulule and Daniel Jones took on Tim Donnahue.

Tension was thick!

Both Jones and Kaulule were able to prevail in tough games to tie for first place with 3.5/4. There was a little matter of the tiebreaks, but both received trophies as joint champions. It was a great event, but the number of participants was below expectations. On the eve of the opening of the new club, there has to be sustained support to keep the activity going on the southside. The memorial tournament hopes to be bigger and better next year and will most likely be in the new location. Thanks to Daniel X Jones for hosting the event, Nathan Kelly and Edwin Walker for directing, and Roger Hickman who provided sponsorship.

Kela Kaulule and Daniel X Jones receive trophies from tournament director, Nathan Kelly (right). Sam Ford looks on.


2nd Emory Tate Memorial
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Lion’s Paw Chess and Martial Arts Academy
7928 S. King Dr., Chicago, Illinois
Final Results
No. Name Rating pts. 1 2 3 4
1 Kaulule,Kela 2240 3.5 W12 D2 W5 W4
2 Jones, Daniel 2074 3.5 W8 D1 W4 W3
3 Donnahue, Tim 1915 2.5 -H- W8 W10 L2
4 Murphy, Thomas D 2085 2.0 W7 W10 L2 L1
5 Ford, Sam 1929 2.0 L10 W11 L1 W8
6 Faulkner, Stephen 1775 2.0 -U- -U- W11 W10
7 David, George 1752 1.0 L4 L9 L8 W11
8 Loftis, Madison 1654 1.0 L2 L3 W7 L5
9 Kelly,Nathan 1367 1.0 -U- W7 -U- -U-
10 Cuevas, William 1235 1.0 W5 L4 L3 L6
11 Hocker, Finis 715 0.5 -H- L5 L6 L7
12 Winick, JD 1795 0.0 L1 -U- -U- -U-

Photos by Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum


GM Pontus Carlsson facing off against Kennedy Shane in Lusaka, Zambia.

During Pontus Carlsson’s trip to Zambia, he excitedly told me about an 8- year old player who had held a draw against him in a simul. He said, “The small boy that drew me in the simul is a coming star with the right training. I think his name was Kennedy Shane. He has the skills, the strength and the interest. He forced me to play another game today and it was another draw.”

It is no surprise that Zambians are some of the most talented players in Africa and have produced a cadre of decent masters including Amon Simutowe, the first GM in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kennedy’s breakthrough may be ahead as he attempts to gain international exposure at the Commonwealth Championship in Dehli, India.

Unfortunately, funding is scarce and there are efforts to raise funds for the budding star. SK Dhillon of Canada has begun a gofundme campaign to raise funding and currently donors have contributed one-third of the targeted US$3500. Mulenga Cliff Mulenga has made this appeal,

On behalf of Yofoso Chess Academy, I wish to sincerely thank everyone for the donations, as we have managed to exceed a tenth our our target. We also want everyone for helping spread the word out there. With this effort, exhited in the coming days, our young Chess player will hedge closer to participating in the 2017 Commonwealth Chess Championship! Together we can!!!

Kennedy is from the YOFOSO Academy in Lusaka, Zambia and the Under-9 African Schools Champion and Africa’s youngest titled chess player ever.


The Chicago Chess Blitzers community will host the 2nd Emory Tate Memorial on June 10th, 2017 at Daniel Jones’ Lion’s Paw Chess Academy on the city’s south side. Last year’s inaugural event was surprisingly won by Gwayne Lambert. Given the excitement generated from the Chicago Open, the club hopes to draw a larger crowd than last year’s event.

The chess community has gained momentum in the last year and will soon open a location on the south side. The upcoming tournament is expecting a larger turnout than last year’s. The event will include a book-signing for Triple Exclam, the biography of Emory Tate and a brief talk by it’s author, Daaim Shabazz. The festivities will start at 10am.

Emory Andrew Tate, Jr. is a hero in the annals of chess history. Daring, brash and unapologetically rebellious he gave a type of energy to chess that was rarely expressed by a master-level player. Tate, a quintessential chess performer, passed away last year October 17, 2015 and left behind a memorable legacy (death, obituary, funeral). We will celebrate him through his games and the edible memories he left behind.

2nd Annual Emory Tate Open
Hosted by Chicago Chess Blitzers

Lion’s Paw Karate & Chess Academy
7928 S King Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60619
Saturday, June 10th at 10:00AM CDT

To download PDF flyer click here!

YouTube (Nathan Kelly):

* * *

Nathan Kelly displaying Triple Exclam in Chicago McDonalds on 95th Halsted

Nathan Kelly displaying Triple Exclam
in Chicago McDonald’s on 95th Halsted.

IM Farai Mandizha (ZIM) vs. IM Emory Tate (USA)

Video by Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum)


A total of 984 players showed up at the 2017 Chicago Open causing the organizers to scramble to arrange proper space. Having been edged out by a wedding, the tournament converted a skittles room into a playing hall and certainly created initial chaos, but the tournament was able to adjust. There was still the problem of repairing sections because people did not report their results on time and/or withdrawing from the tournament.

Site of Chicago Open

The field is not a strong as in previous years, but has a cadre of young players from university and scholastic programs. The game has continued to get younger as the top sections are dominated by young players looking for scalps and norms. The question may be why did this tournament break records for attendance, but only attracted one player over 2600? Interesting question. It’s peak time for chess and players have options, but it is apparent that Chicago is an appealing place for tournament play. Perhaps, higher-rated players are tired of losing ELO points to the young scholastic sharks in the field… and there are many!

GM Samuel Sevian (left) kept the lead throughout and nudged GM Illia Nyzhnyk to win the 2017 edition. Photos by Daaim Shabazz

Samuel Sevian came into the competition seeded 4th behind Grandmasters Illia Nyzhnyk, Vladimir Belous and Andrey Stukopin. Cagey veterans such as the legendary James Tarjan, the ever-dangerous Alexander Shabalov entered the fray. New GMs such as Ruifeng Li and Akshat Chandra would make a run. IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti of Idaho, just graduated from UCLA, landed a position at Google, and at the age of 18, would see if he could test his mettle. FMs Josh Colas and Justus Williams of Webster University were looking for ELO points to try to confirm their IM titles. Everyone had their own motives.

FM Josh Colas (right) lost against GM Vladimir Georgiev,
but scored a respectable 5.5/9.

IM Luke Harmon-Velotti (center) scored his second GM norm
a few weeks after graduating from UCLA at age 18.

IM Awonder Liang scored his 3rd and final GM norm.

Sevian actually held the lead for the entire tournament with his torrid pace of 6.5/7. He beat a surging Harmon-Vellotti in round 7 to cement his lead over the field by one point. He closed out the tournament with draws with Nyzhnyk and Josh Friedel, who both scored 7/9 along with IM Michael Brown. On 6.5/9 were GMs Vladimir Belous, Andrey Stukopin, Eugene Perelshteyn and IMs Awonder Liang and Daniel Gurevich.

GM John Fedorowicz analyzed games of participants.
Photos by Daaim Shabazz

GM norms were notched by Brown, Liang and Harmon-Velotti. This will be Liang’s final GM norm. For IM norms, Matthew Larson, Robert Perez, Sam Schmakel and Aaron Grabinsky all had strong performances with 5.5/9.

Daniel X Jones
(under-2100 co-champion)
Photos by Daaim Shabazz

In the under-2300 FM Andrew Hubbard won clear 1st with 6.5/7 followed by Zhaoqi Li with 6/7. Li, a recent immigrant, is only on record as playing in one U.S. tournament ten years ago with a provisional rating of 1798. This performance gives him a provisional rating of 2483 from 14 games! In the under-2100 section, both Roderick Scarlett of New York and Daniel X Jones from Chicago split $7500 1st place with 6/7. The under-1900 had a five-way tie for 1st with 6/9. All the class sections were won with 6.5/7… (under-1700) Christopher Autera-Polzin, (under-1500) Anatole Sullivan, (under-1300) Ivan Mitkov and (under-1000) Edward Li.

PGN Games:


On the plane to Africa reading “Active Pieces: Practical Advice from America’s Most Relentless Tournament Player” by IM Jay Bonin

While on my 15-hour flight for a four-country African tour (actually five), I read through Jay Bonin’s Active Pieces: Practical Advice from America’s Most Relentless Tournament Player, a book about his chess career. I don’t do many book reviews, but seeing that I just wrote Triple Exclam, I wanted to see how this book was put together. Bonin professes to be another product of the “Fischer Boom” and through his games tells quite a number of nostalgic stories about the New York chess scene. In my opinion, “The Big Apple” can still argue that it is the “Mecca of Chess” in America.

The book has a rather straightforward, but effective format and is very readable. One of the first things I enjoyed about the book was the variety of recognizable names of opponents. Given Bonin’s activity, it is not a surprise that he has played practically everyone who has ever played in New York since 1972. I easily recognized the household names, friends of mine, as well as some of the players long forgotten. It is rare to have a book with such diverse games. I was surprised to learn that he had played opponents hundreds of times! Of course, a player who average 400-500 games a year (and at his peak going up to 700-800) is going to have regular “customers.”

IM Jay Bonin
Photo by New York Masters

The book is laid out into nine chapters with the last being a compilation of tactical puzzles of various games. The good thing about this (and perhaps I could’ve used this idea) was to present the entire game in the solutions and giving a diagram at the critical position. It’s a way to see how the position unfolded and more importantly, presents more games.

I have never played Bonin, but remember meeting him briefly during my only trip to the Marshall Chess Club several years back. He is a rather unassuming and unpretentious man, but certainly, his passion for chess totally consumes him and spills over onto the board. In this book, he coins some words in his lingo. Who can forget that he prefers endgame maneuvers featuring his “Bonin Knights”?

The games in each chapter center around a theme. The first chapter “Keep It Complicated, Stupid” is advice to ensure that you give your opponent (especially lower-rated) enough opportunities to go wrong. Given Bonin’s proclivity to venture into unique positions he can steer, many of the games were lessons of positional chess.

“If a grandmaster offers you a draw,
whatever you do, don’t take it!”

~IM Jay Bonin

In Chapter 2, “Oh No – Not You Again,” Bonin goes into the psychology of playing the same player multiple times. He also shares his daily routine and how he prepares for tournaments. What approach should one take when facing the same opponent three or four times in a week, and sometimes with the same color? “Should I switch it up, or do I risk repeating the same opening variation?” he inquires. Nowadays, chess databases make this a constant issue. His three games (in two weeks) with Ted Belanoff are interesting.

Chapter 3 gives some interesting, yet controversial advice. “If a grandmaster offers you a draw, whatever you do, don’t take it!” Now Jay… is this so?? Ironically, he gives a loss to legendary Romanian Grandmaster Florin Gheorghiu as a case in point. The only issue I have is that we didn’t see the game. He also offers a couple following tips in the chapter: (1) offer a draw after making a capture and (2) never accept a draw offer from a GM. Interesting. I like the first piece of advice better. 🙂

Chapter 4 “That’s No Way to Treat a Lady” is an ode to the idea of when to trade queens. Bonin favors queenless games and knights over bishops.

Swapping the ladies early decreases the chances of falling into a mating attack; it can create psychological discomfort for my opponent who may not have been expecting a queenless middlegame; and it allows me to steer the game towards my favorite types of ending more quickly without too much risk.

So one may ask, how does the jibe with chapter 1?? Is there a way to strive to trade queens, yet keeping the game complicated? Indeed!

Unlike other game compilations, Bonin does not try to pretend that his games are slugfests filled with mating patterns and kamikaze attacks. His examples are simplistic and very instructive… including his treatment of the Smith-Morra Gambit against Michael Shapiro. There are even games with two familiar names to readers of The Chess Drum: Stephen Muhammad and Jamaica’s Russel Porter (see above). All provide some practical advice about the importance of understanding endgame structures; an idea lost on many class players and even Masters!

While exchanging queens may increase drawing chances, Chapter 6 “The Endgame” gives an idea of how to avoid lifeless symmetrical games. Here is a pearl of wisdom from Bonin:

My approach to Swiss System tournament is not glamourous: I do not seek to win any brilliancy prizes to spring theoretical novelties on my unsuspecting opponents – I leave this style of play to the chess youth who have infinitely more energy for study and memorization than I do. Instead, I focus on grinding out queenless middlegame and drawish endings for hours on end until my opponent cracks, one by one. Please note, I am not suggesting that I am particular talented in the endgame or that I am the second coming of Capablanca – I consider myself unworthy to even shine his shoes – it’s just that in my career as a chess player I have noticed that most tournament players are so incredibly inept at handling endgame positions that it is infinitely easier to rush towards an equal ending where they have plenty of subtle errors to discover on their own, than it is to try to out-calculate them in a complex middlegame where I may be unpleasantly surprised by a cunning opponent who is more familiar with a particular position than me.

Alas, he proved this in his win against a young Josh Colas on page 131. In Chapter 7, “Rope-A-Dope,” he advises that when playing young players, steer the game into endings since it is a phase where they are the weakest. Practically every young player in the New York area has to go through Bonin and certainly Colas, now an IM-elect, learned quite a bit from the wily veteran. It’s hard to fathom Bonin’s activity over the years, and I can only imagine the stories that he has to tell. While this is not a total compilation of his experiences, it provides insights to his passion.

“When facing young players, I always steer the contest into and ending because they usually struggle in that phase of the game.”
~IM Jay Bonin

Bonin beat some very notable names including Larry Christiansen, Gata Kamsky and legendary figures such as Sammy Reshevsky, Robert Byrne, Lev Alburt and Anthony Miles. With such a handsome collection of wins over GMs, the inevitable questions of norms will arise. Of course, it is the same question asked of Emory Tate who scored approximately 100 wins over GMs. Bonin did not mention the earning of any norms, but the fact is GM norms are extremely hard to earn on the American circuit.

In Chapter 8, “Beating Grandmasters,” here is an exciting encounter with a 16-year old Hikaru Nakamura. You’ll have to get the book to get the full annotations, but there are a few given.

I learned a great deal from Active Pieces. You don’t have to be a top-level GM to write a useful book. In fact, some of the most useful advice can come from the non-professional ranks. While Bonin doesn’t pretend to be Mark Dvoretsky, his advice is certainly practical and applicable to tournament play.

Finally, Bonin gives another treat with 100 tactical puzzles. These are not going to be the dashing sacrifices leading to mate in 10, but there are some “clean hits.” The sheer variety of games and opponents make this chapter quite a treasure! The book is not without a few errors here and there, but of course, it is hard to imagine a “perfect book” in chess. I learned this in writing Triple Exclam. The best editing occurs after you’ve already published the piece!

One issue is that Bonin could not display all games to completion which (I presume) was due to the games being in faster time control. It is a minor detail, but certainly would help to show how he closed the deal in some of the games. In the puzzle section, he could have added variations of the winning lines since there is no way to tell if the best defense was played.

All in all, it’s a good read and a tribute to a legendary figure of New York chess. Support a living legend!

Active Pieces: Practical Advice from America’s Most Relentless Tournament Player
Authors: IM Jay Bonin and Greg Kenner
Publisher: Mongoose Press (Boston, MA)
List Price: $24.95 (softback), $11.99 (Kindle)
Amazon Listing:


Cape Town is one of the places that one must see when visiting South Africa. It has a complicated history, but also has a charm that is comparable to that of any other well-developed city. During my trip I visited the Claremont Chess Club and met with Reuben Salimu and other club members. I will provide a more extensive report later.

Reuben Salimu and Daaim Shabazz

Reuben Salimu and Daaim Shabazz

Front Row : Basil Adams, Spiwe Baloyi, Seth-Riley Adams, Cosmas Mairosi Back Row: Dione Goredema, Reuben Salimu, Nkuna Mchuchisi, Charles De Villiers


Robin Samson has been running the DC Girls Chess Club for several years and has brought the joys of chess to girls and young women. On April 15th, she hosted the 2017 DC Girls Citywide Tournament with a 1st prize of $1,000. Amanda Loseff of the Alice Deal School won the prize and will represent Washington, DC in the All Girls Nationals in July.

Amanda Lossef accepts 1st prize check from Robin Samson

The striking image of this event was that the girls seemed to enjoy themselves and were not tethered to worrying about the clock… since they did not use them! About 50 players participated in the event. Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation, Pepco, City First Bank, The Black Benefactors Giving Circle, The African American Womens Giving Circle, Think Ahead Chess, The DC Chess Center were sponsors of the event. There were a cadre of volunteers, parents & friends in DC area who helped make this event a success.

Chess Girls DC (Facebook):

Support DC Girls Chess!

Is this Irene Sukandar the top woman player from Indonesia??? 🙂

Not the 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 variation? 🙂 Bernard Parham would love this!

All photos courtesy of DC Girls Chess


Club Capablanca will be one of the venues featured in the documentary. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

In January, Karney Hatch contacted The Chess Drum about a documentary he was filming on chess in Cuba. He had read the blog posts on the Drum here and here from the 2012 visit. The filmmaker mentioned that he was still casting for the project and had enlisted the help of Claudia Muñoz.

The Texas Tech freshman delighted in the film and told The Chess Drum, “The Texas Tech Chess Team will be competing in two different competitions in Cuba and I will get to be apart of it,” said Muñoz. A very popular chess player in social media circles, Muñoz will also have her coach Alexander Onischuk and teammates at Texas Tech to play a part in the feature. On the Indiegogo fundraising page, it reads:

The film will be a character-driven adventure story about a group of foreigners visiting Cuba for the first time, while at the same time diving into the back stories of the Cuban chess players as well. In the process, we’ll get a slice-of-life look at life in Cuba in 2017 through the eyes of both Cubans and outsiders.

Cuba is a chess “wonderland” with tremendous support by the government and society in general. The 1966 Olympiad was famously held at the Habana Libre Hotel. At that tournament, Bobby Fischer scored 15/17 and photos from that tournament are still displayed throughout the hotel. Chess reverberates throughout the entire society and can be found played on the streets, in back yards, on the front porches and in shops. Artistic chess motifs dot the country.

Hatch seeks to examine the vibrant chess culture of Cuba and the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Cuba since the thawing of relations under the Obama administration. He is currently conducting a fundraising campaign to reach an $11,000 mark. Below is a short video about the project.



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.


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