We have lost another legend, a sage, a walking library, legal scholar and an avowed chess enthusiast. George Neves Leighton has passed away on June 6, 2018 at the age of 105 at Veteran’s Hospital in his home state of Massachusetts. The cause was pneumonia. He practiced law in the state of Illinois until the age of 96 and provided legal counsel until age 99. The Cook County Courthouse (26th California) in Chicago is named after him.

The Honorable George Neves Leighton
October 12, 1912 – June 6, 2018

As a teen, I saw Judge George Leighton on a number of occasions competing in Chicago-area tournaments. While I did not know of his history in detail, I knew he was a judge. I would later learn through a friend Attorney Darryl Porter (whose father was also a judge) that he remembered them getting together for chess meet-ups. Leighton was very active and frequently traveled for major tournaments. He stopped his regular activity in 1997 and his last tournament of record was 2002 U.S. Masters. In the 80s he eclipsed the 2000 rating barrier and was very proud of his win over strong Russian master FM Leonid Kaushansky. Leighton was 69 at the time of the game and I remember seeing his comments about the encounter. Here is that game with a back story in the April-May 1982 issue of Illinois Chess Bulletin:

“Leonid Kaushansky lost his round one game vs. Judge George Leighton and then withdrew — his second disappointing tourney in a row. The judge has achieved an Expert’s rating after years of aiming in that direction and if recent results are any indication, should race through that category — and catch the 2200 magic number.”

Leighton looks on as chess organizer Richard Verber (left) and Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley launch a chess promotion.

Richard Verber, a large-than-life chess icon (literally), had so much regard for Leighton that he would jokingly threaten chess players that he would get the accomplished judge to rule against them. A very stately man with his signature eye glasses, he was a renaissance man who fought many battles in life and many over the chess board. According Tim Redman’s September 2011 interview with him Chess Life (pp. 26-29), Leighton revealed that he learned chess from Mary Hayden, the operator of a local boys’ club.

Besides his love of chess and law, Leighton was a family man and married Virginia Berry Quivers of Washington, DC. They raised two daughters, Virginia Anne Reynolds and Barbara Whitfield. His wife preceded him in death in 1992 after nearly 50 years in marriage. They were blessed with five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The Life & Times of Judge George Leighton

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on October 12, 1912, George was born George Neves Leitão. His parents, Anna Silva Garcia and Antonio Neves Leitão, Cape Verdean immigrants from the coast of Africa and had six other children. A bit of trivia… the name “Leighton” was suggested by his teacher who asserted that she could not (or perhaps did not want to) pronounce “Leitão” which is Portuguese. His parents agreed.

Young George actually left school before the 7th grade to take a job on an oil tanker in the Dutch West Indies. After years of working to help the family, he applied to the prestigious Howard University. After an initial rejection, was actually accepted as an “unclassified student” without a high school diploma. He was aided by a $200.00 scholarship won in an essay contest. Leighton performed in stellar fashion at Howard, was also a Lucy Moten fellow and graduated June 7, 1940 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and magna cum laude.

During his time at Howard University, Leighton pledged and was initiated into the Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. on May 2, 1938. In an interview, he recounted the importance of the organization in his establishing a network for his eventual success. One person who befriended him was Leroy Woodson, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. It was Woodson who recommended him for the position of the Assistant to the Dean of Men. This gave Leighton free housing and tuition and gave him access to influential people at Howard. Unfortunately, he lost touch with Woodson after graduation, but there’s more to that story later.

George Leighton, World War II veteran

After a sparkling academic experience at Howard, Leighton entered Harvard Law School based on the strength of his academic record. Two years into his studies he was called to serve in World War II and enlisted in 1942. Army units were still segregated and the “Colored” units were often given some of the most dangerous missions. Leighton served in the 93rd Infantry Division. His son-in-law Robert Whitfield stated,

“Whenever we’d talk, he said he wanted to be buried at Arlington. I said I would look into it. He used to marvel nothing happened to him during the war. Bullets would fly by. He felt God was with him. He was never injured and everyone around him was being shot.”

Leighton was stationed in the Pacific Theater where achieved the rank of Captain was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Service Metal and a Bronze Star. In an interview with members of his fraternity, he recalled an interesting story. While still in the Pacific region he received an order to return to the U.S. While at the Army base in Philippines, Leighton was told by the Major that he had no official transport for him, but he could go into the tent to see a gentleman who could arrange his travel back to the states. When he entered the tent, who did he see? Leroy Woodson! This was to drive home the point of the powerful friendship that he had made at Howard.

Leighton with members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Leighton returned to the U.S. where he was discharged returned to Harvard on October 24, 1945 and graduated with and LLB degree on November 25, 1946. He passed the Massachusetts Bar (1946), but less than two weeks later moved to Chicago and was admitted to the Bar of the State of Illinois (1947) where here would embark on an esteemed legal career. In 1951, Leighton helped to establish McCoy, Ming and Leighton, a predominantly-Black law firm in the Chicago area.

He made his mark in several civil rights cases including that of Harvey Clark who sought to rent an apartment for his family in the White enclave of Cicero. He successfully argued the case, but he was targeted after a fierce round of protests which including the apartment building being burned down. Riots ensued. All allegations and charges of inciting a disturbance against Leighton were dropped. Legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall intervened on his behalf.

In 1964, he became Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County (1964-1969) and began teaching a course at John Marshall Law School. After his stint in the circuit court, he became Judge of Appellate Court (1969-1976) and was appointed to the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois (under President Gerald Ford) and served until 1976-1986.

In 1987, he retired at age 75 to become counsel to a Chicago law firm, Earl L. Neal and Associates. He retired from the firm at age 99. In a 1999 interview, Judge Leighton credited his longevity to good genes and a healthy lifestyle. He was particularly influential among the coterie of Black lawyers in Chicago and saw the rise of an obscure Senator named Barack Obama.


“I never smoked, I don’t drink alcoholic or carbonated beverages, and I eat two meals a day.”
~ George Leighton on longevity


As far as chess is concerned, Leighton had a long career of play and appeared to take great joy in competing. Even after he retired from tournament play, he kept up with current chess events. Leighton was a lifetime 1.d4 man and enjoyed Stonewall systems. With black, he played like the more positional French Defense, but played the King’s Indian with black.

Looking at his tournament record, he played in major tournaments around the country such as Eastern Open (DC), New York Open, World Open (PA), National Open (NV), New England Open (MA), Michigan Open, American Open (CA) and of course the Chicago Open. He also played in the strong Bermuda International Open in 1993 and 1995. Below are a few of his games with light annotations.

Leighton was a trailblazer in many regards and made his mark in a critical time in the country’s history. He also served with honor and used to mention that he hoped to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An effort was fueled by his daughter Barbara Whitfield and son-in-law Robert Whitfield to have him buried as a soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

Senator Dick Durbin supported the plea by several Chicago Aldermen: Gilbert Villegas (36th ward), Chris Taliaferro (29th), Milly Santiago (31th), George Cardenas (12th), Danny Solis (25th) and Edward Burke (14th). In June, a specialist from Arlington stated that he had met the requirements and would receive a burial with full military honors. Langdon Neal, the executor of Leighton’s estate, stated triumphantly,

I cannot adequately express my overwhelming joy and gratitude for this news. I thank all those who have undertaken the laboring oar to achieve this wonderful result. We should notify our distinguished supporters of this decision and I will leave this to others to deliver this news. God Bless George N. Leighton.

Judge Leighton will be missed.

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Orrin Hudson

Orrin Hudson, Founder of Besomeone

Orrin Hudson is still making moves encouraging the youth to “be some” with his organization of the same name. Recently he held a back-to-school chess camp with the idea of preparing students for the coming year.

Consider this a “warm up of the mind” for our children. Over these five days, we will teach kids how to engage their minds, how to think ahead and how to make strategic decisions that are guaranteed to lead to success. Chess is much more than a game, and our participants will be energized as they return to school. Instead of dreading the new year, they will be eagerly ready to show what they learned at the Be Someone camp.

Decades ago, children generally looked forward to the new school year. It meant new clothes, new supplies, new friends, a new teacher and a new adventure. Today, with the reliance on technology and shorter attention spans and it is more important that the students develop critical thinking skills in an ever-increasing competitive environment.

Orrin continues to extol the virtues of chess as a metaphor for life and has a raft of proverbs such as “Brains Before Bullets,” “Think it Out, Don’t shoot it out,” and “Heads up. Pants up. Grades up.” Motivated by a shooting in Queens, New York which resulted in seven killed for $2400, Hudson created Besomeone organization in 2000. Since then he has trained over 60,000 youth with a target of 1,000,000.

* * *

Orrin Checkmate Hudson, Speaker & Master Strategist & Motivator
949 Stephenson Road
Stone Mountain, GA
30087, Tel: 770-465-6445
E-mail: Orrin@besomeone.org
Website: www.besomeone.org

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Paperback: $35.00
TO ORDER NOW… CLICK HERE!

FM Sunil Weeramantry reputation precedes him. The famed scholastic coach has gained his notoriety by his writings and coaching a generation of chess players including his stepson, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Years ago he authored the popular Best Lesson of A Chess Coach which has become a staple for chess instruction. Several months back he released a new book titled, Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History.

This book is an enjoyable journey through the history of chess with instructive exercises of classic games. In the age of computer-assisted learning, the book is very interactive and will make for a good guide for students. In a time where children are not reading as much (or as deeply) as previous generations, it will be quite a benefit for the student who can work through all the lessons.

FM Sunil Weeramantry
Photo by CCSCSL

There are also questions after the short lessons invoking discussion. Not only will the book give the player and parent an appreciation of chess, but will provide them with a memory of immortal games. In fact, the book ends with American champion, Paul Morphy. Here is one of his games that is a popular teaching tool.

Sunil has launched a fundraising campaign to expand his efforts of the NSCF. Here is a letter from Robert McLellan, Director of Communications & Development:


Hello Everyone,

I am writing to folks with whom I have previously, at some point in the past few years, been in contact with on behalf of Sunil. He’s never been one to focus on fundraising for the NSCF, but this effort might be of particular interest, especially to those who have known Sunil for any length of time, and those who perhaps read his Best Lessons book once upon a time.

I have just put up a fundraising campaign on the NSCF website to help us create an entirely new edition of Sunil’s book (co-written with Ed Eusebi) “Best Lessons of a Chess Coach.” We are taking a bit of a crowdfunding/kickstarter approach to this effort so there are rewards so we can acknowledge support and it’s still a tax-deductible donation to the NSCF. This year (2018) marks the 25th anniversary of the original edition, but Sunil, Ed and I are working on an entirely new production. Based on the original recorded lectures still, the book is being extensively re-written, with 2 new lessons added, and other updates throughout. We hope that this new book (both print and interactive online edition) will be a useful instructional tool for new generations of players.

If you are interested in reading about what we are working on, please visit the Crowdfunding – Best Lessons of a Chess Coach page on our website. If you can help us along, that would be great. If you know others who might be interested, from Sunil’s many friends in the international chess world to his many students, please feel free to pass this along.

Thanks for the consideration,

Robert

www.NSCFchess.org
Robert McLellan
Director, Communications & Development
Tel. 818-469-2063 • robert@nscfchess.org


A new curriculum project from NSCF. Published by Mongoose Press
Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History
a blended learning book that teaches chess and social studies
Order now from NSCF

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Adisa Banjoko has been making moves amidst the showing of the mind-blowing hip hop exhibit at the Oakland Museum. More on that later. On July 29th, Banjoko was on panel discussion titled, “Protect Your Queen” which focused on hip hop, martial arts and the symbolism of protecting the Black woman (Queen).

Adisa Banjoko

Banjoko dropped some pearls of wisdom in discussing the powerful role that women played in society including ancient African societies where matriarch governed led warriors into battle. One may remember the military guard of Wakanda in the movie, “The Black Panther.” He also mentioned the legendary MGT of the Nation of Islam, a paramilitary women’s group. The name of Matamba’s Queen Nzinga was invoked as Banjoko discussed the very survival of societies depended on the sanctity of womanhood.

As for the Oakland Museum exhibit, “RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom” it tells the story of one of the most vibrant and far-reaching cultural movements of the 20th century. Once passed off as a fad, hip hop has swept the globe and has given rise to a number of social platforms. The museum describes the exhibit this way…

Hip-Hop is one of the widest reaching cultural and social movements of the last 50 years. Discover the under-recognized story of how Hip-Hop changed the world, starting from its roots on the streets before rap, DJing, graffiti, breakin’ (breakdancing), and street fashion launched into mainstream popular culture. Through photography, video, art, music, dance, fashion, and interactive gallery features, explore how Hip-Hop provides a platform for creative self-expression, activism, positive social change, youth development, entrepreneurialism, and education. Created in collaboration with and participation from numerous members of the Hip-Hop community, RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom tells a fresh story of the evolution of this global phenomenon, and includes a spotlight on Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area’s influence on Hip-Hop culture.

The exhibit began in March and ends on August 12th. Recently the exhibit was featured on PBS

Video by PBS

Oakland Museum: http://museumca.org/exhibit/respect-hip-hop-style-wisdom
VIBE: https://www.vibe.com/2018/04/oakland-museum-respect-hip-hop-style-wisdom-exhibit/

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As the election campaign for FIDE positions heats up, candidates are taking to social media to get their platforms to the chess community. There are three candidates for FIDE President and each of the regions will have their election for continental President.

Many of these candidates will not wait until the FIDE and regional Congresses to make their bids for office. What is interesting is that Grandmaster Nigel Short challenged the other two candidates to a public debate. This invitation has yet to be accepted by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos and Arkady Dvorkovich.

However, the idea is a good one and was not lost on the African chess community. In fact, Africa Chess Media (africachessmedia.com) hosted the first such debate between African candidates for continental President on July 21st, 2018. The three candidates for President of African Chess Confederation (ACC) are: Zambia’s Lewis Ncube, incumbent President of African Chess Confederation, Dr. Essoh Essis, President of Cote d’Ivoire Chess Federation and Tsepho Sitale, past President of Botswana Chess Federation.

Lewis NcubeDr. Essoh EssisTshepo Sitale

Lewis Ncube Zambia Dr. Essoh Essis Cote d'Ivoire Tshepo Sitale Botswana

The debate was hosted by a Pan-African moderators via WhatsApp group “ACC 2018 Debate” at 21:00 CAT (19:00 GMT, 15:00 EST). It was moderated by African Chess Media team:

Bruce Mubayiwa, Co-Founder (Zimbabwe)
Ogunsiku Babatunde, Co-Founder and CEO (Nigeria)
Olayemi Ajibade, Business Development Executive (Nigeria)
Cosmos Chipepo, Director of Content (South Africa)
Paras Gudka, Director of Web Operations (Kenya)

Before the debate, the moderators requested the platforms of each candidate. They received documents from Essis and Sitale. The debate occurred in three rounds of questions. The wrinkle was that in phase three, each candidate could ask one question of one other candidate! The discussion was spirited and informative and lasted more than three hours. The following transcript has been edited for readability. Kudos to African Chess Media for hosting the event!

African Chess Confederation 2018 Debate

https://africachessmedia.com/2018/07/24/africa-rising-dark-continent-becomes-first-to-have-live-presidential-debate/

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Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

In the latest twist on the FIDE campaign, the organization’s Treasurer Dr. Adrian Siegel addressed a July 18th inquiry by Andrey Filatov (Russian Chess Federation) concerning federation debts. Citing a FIDE letter, Filatov wrote Executive Director Nigel Freeman concerning federation debts and their relationship to voting rights. Filatov asserted that federations must cover their financial obligations by July 23rd or they will not be allowed to participate in the FIDE Olympiad and FIDE President elections in Batumi.

Letter_from_Russian_Chess_Federation_18-07-2018

FIDE Treasurer Dr. Siegel replied to Filatov’s inquiry by stating:

“…In the invoices sent to all federations there is no mention at all that they cannot participate at the General Assembly if they don’t pay prior to July 23rd. Thus, even if the arrears are not paid federations can vote at the election. This electoral rule has already been applied in the past election and I don’t know why the Russian Chess Federation tries to make up a case against FIDE’s administration without any facts…” (link)

Dr. Adrian Siegel, FIDE Treasurer
Photo by World Chess

On the same day, Arkady Dvorkovich (candidate for FIDE President) had sent the following e-mail to a list of chess officials with the concern that their voting rights would be abrogated if debts were not settled. As mentioned by Filatov, some of the federations receiving the letters were not included on the arrears list.


De: Arkady Dvorkovich
Assunto: A letter from Arkady Dvorkovich
Data: 18 de julho de 2018 10:01:58 GMT+2

Dear chess friends!

Yesterday we got an information about some national chess federations receiving letters from the FIDE office. In this letter FIDE informs federations about their debt. The debt that must be covered before July 23 – or the respective federation won’t be allowed to participate in FIDE Olympiad and FIDE President elections in Batumi.

Please pay attention that these Federations are not listed in the debt list on the FIDE website (http://ratings.fide.com/arrears.phtml). This sort of non-transparent approach is typical for the current FIDE leadership. It allows to manipulate and press certain federations, creating an advantage for one particular candidate in the forthcoming FIDE President elections. Very important information that must be publicly available is hidden. We consider this situation unacceptable and we will stand against such a policies.

Please check your debts. We believe that coming elections are crucial for the future of FIDE and entire chess world, and we hope that every delegate will be able to cast their vote in Batumi.

All the best,

Arkady Dvorkovich, Candidate for FIDE President (link)


…and to Dvorkovich, Siegel replied,

On July 16 and 17, we have sent to all the federations the invoices for the usual charges (event fees, trainers fees, arbiters fee, etc.) of the first six months of 2018 (as we have done in past years). In all these invoices no deadline for payment was given, i.e. we have not said that federations cannot play at the Olympiad or that they cannot participate at the election if they don’t pay their debts by a certain date. (link)

The list of federations in arrears has 14/22 being from Africa. Of course there has been a lot of discussion on Africa and their influence on the outcome of the upcoming election (here and here).

It is ironic because this issue came up in 2008 when Freeman (then FIDE Treasurer) threaten to ban three nations (Nigeria, Ethiopia and Uganda) from participating in the Dresden Olympiad due to arrears. After tense negotiations and frantic fundraising efforts, those nations were finally cleared.

Incidentally, the FIDE Handbook under “03. Financial Regulations” (section 6.3) reads,

“On 1st July and 1st January the Treasurer lists on the FIDE website those countries that are deemed to be over six months in arrears. Until the arrears have been paid off, players from these Federations cannot participate in any FIDE events that are under the aegis of

a) the World Championship & Olympiad Commission or Events Commission,
b) Continental competitions that provide qualifiers to any of the aforesaid competitions.” (link)

Arkady Dvorkovich, Candidate for FIDE President
Photo by Vladimir Barksy

Could it be that the Dvorkovich campaign is referring to the FIDE regulation listed in the handbook? Perhaps. The Chess Drum contacted Dr. Siegel (with a reference to the regulation) and he indicated,

“You are absolutely right regarding the Financial Regulations. However, in the past years our goal was rather to see teams playing and not sanction them due to late payment. Personally I prefer this procedure. Of course this should mean that teams cannot be banned due to non-payment but prior to an election this would give a very bad spin. Furthermore, some candidates might come up with the idea that they will get the vote of a federation if they pay the arrears.”

The last point is an interesting one. It is ironic that Nigel Short made the following tweet on yesterday:

Both Siegel and Short may have different political stances, but it is clear that arrears are a strategic point of concern. The issue of federation dues (and arrears) been debated for many years and was part of a stinging debate at the 2004 General Assembly (See 2004 Minutes, section 2.2.1 from 75th Congress – MS-WordPDF). Indeed, in an election year, that policy will undoubtedly have to be revisited.

FIDE is still grappling with the ability to handle its financial affairs due to sanctions brought on by the U.S. Department of Treasury. FIDE funds were transferred to two fiduciary accounts on May 4th after the closing of its bank accounts by UBS in Switzerland. Just a week ago, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was suspended by the FIDE Ethics Commission on July 18th. It appears that everyone is scrambling to fill the vacuum of a pending post-Kirsan era.

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Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

The Chess Olympiad is less than two months away and it will be a very exciting event as usual. However, what will make the event more compelling is the FIDE Presidential elections. There are three candidates remaining after Kirsan Ilyumzhinov bowed out of the race after being adamant on his quest for reelection. FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, GM Nigel Short and the latest entrant Russian-backed Arkady Dvorkovich will be standing for election. There are rumblings about other possible candidates, but additions at this point are unlikely.

Tshepo Sitale
Photo by Botswana Chess Federation

Of course, there are other continent-wide elections and one of the most contentious will be the one to lead the 47-member African Chess Confederation (ACC). Three candidates have vowed to stand for the position: incumbent Lewis Ncube (Zambia), Dr. Essoh Essis (Ivory Coast) and Tshepo Sitale (Botswana). Sitale has posted an extensive platform which touts good governance, transparency, branding and fundraising as a few of the cornerstones of his platform. Recently Essis announced his ticket which promote similar objectives in his very attractive campaign dossier. He also gave an extensive interview here at The Chess Drum.

Typically what will distinguish these candidates from each other (and the incumbant) is how well they build coalitions. Relationships on the African continent are very complex and the last election in Tromso, Norway demonstrated how loyalties can become divided. In fact, members of the same federations sometimes support different candidates. The reality is that there are no clear voting patterns and the three candidates will have a challenge in securing a standard majority. Not to mention that the issue of “proxy votes” is still unresolved.

Lewis Ncube of Zambia (center) is the incumbent FIDE Continental President for Africa. Here at the 2014 Chess Olympiad Ncube chats with Kezzie Msukwa of Malawi. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Ncube, long associated with Ilyumzhinov, threw his support behind Dvorkovich when it was clear that the FIDE President had lost credibility. Incidentally, Ilyumzhinov was suspended by FIDE. While Makropoulos seeks to distance himself from the Ilyumzhinov era, Short has been on the attack accusing him of continuing the agenda.

The soft-porn site Short referred to is the one run by Canadian Grandmaster, Kevin Spraggett. Makropoulos has indeed used Twitter with the support of his running mate IM Malcolm Pein, Short’s fellow compatriot. Exchanging barbs with Short, Makropoulous even solicited input from Garry Kasparov, a strong critic of the Russian bloc.

While all of this is stewing, the African campaign is stepping in high gear, but there were other issues besides the ACC candidates. There was a very informative article written on Africa Chess Media titled, “The Chess Olympiad, Africans and Finance.” The article details the history of subsidies for African federations and the predicament of securing those funds every two years.

Why is this of utmost importance? These funds may have an impact on the ability of federations to attend the Olympiad and thus affect the election results. Africa Chess Media reported on the one million two hundred thousand euros (€1,200,000) that FIDE is using for federations needing travel subsidies. Here were questions raised:

  • According to Mr Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Georgia have paid the subsidy to FIDE, can it be confirmed that this has truly happened?
  • If the funds have been remitted to FIDE, what is the allocation criteria that FIDE would use to determine which federation gets what, from the subsidy?
  • Four years ago, the list of beneficiaries was released on the 21st of June, and now we are in July, when will the list be made public?
  • Considering the fact that most African federations need to book their flight tickets early to save costs, when would these funds be made available to each federation? Before, during or after the Olympiad?

As far as the list, FIDE had released details of travel subsidy on July 13th.

FIDE is pleased to announce the travel subsidy for participants for the Chess Olympiad & Congress, Batumi, Georgia 2018. All federations will receive more travel subsidy in 2018 than they did for Baku in 2016. Many teams that did not receive a team grant in 2016 will do in 2018. They are Nigeria, South Africa, Bhutan, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Thailand, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine & Wales. In addition the ECU will be paid 30,000 euros to assist federations that are not receiving any travel subsidy. (details, country listing)

While FIDE finances suffered as a result of sanctions from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the organization is seeking to rehabilitate its financial standing. The sanctions resulted in FIDE’s limited ability to raise and deposit funds for its operations. In previous Olympiad periods, African federations have been mired in financial shortfalls, visas glitches and other logistical challenges. It appears that these issues are not yet sorted out and many will require resolution.

Deputy President Georgios Makropolous in a fierce exchange with Dr. Essoh Essis during FIDE Congress in 2014. Both are campaigning for office. Could they work together if they assume their respective offices? Dr. Essis believes so. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Arkady Dvorkovich with President Vladimir Putin

Arkady Dvorkovich with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Alexei Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images

In terms of the presidential election, a recent ChessBase article showed the respective tickets and the distribuion of nominations. Makropoulos had 64 nominations for his ticket. This is more than the other two parties combined (Dvorkovich, 13; Short, 6).

Arkady Dvorkovich entered the race just one month ago and is a relative outsider in this campaign. Although not a chess competitor, he is an able chess politician with the weight of the powerful Russian Chess Federation, where he served from 2007-2014. Meanwhile, Nigel Short has presented his ticket to all federations and launched his hashtag and website called “cleanhands4fide.” However, it’s still too early to make an assessment given the dynamics that will play out at the General Assembly and Congress.

It is clear that this will be a very contentious campaign and a bitter election. Each of the candidates will have to answer questions about their executive experience, record of effectiveness and ability to build coalitions. One of the unknowns will be whether the elected ACC President can make any progress in working with the new FIDE President. There are some complicated relationships brewing and it will be interesting to see who supports whom.

(Update: There have been accusations by Makropoulous of tampering through “bribery” and a FIDE anti-corruption committee has been set up to head off such these attempts. Both Dvorkovich and Short scoffed at these efforts and a Twitter war ensued. An interesting article run by chess.com targeted some African officials of receiving tickets to the World Cup in Russia from Dvokovich.

It appears that Africa is the only region being targeted as recipients of “gifts” which seems to be a bit unbalanced. Is Africa (again) being made the scapegoat of failings of the electoral process? It appears that many still fall prey to universal stereotypes and cannot believe that an African can attend the World Cup on their own funds. It is apparent that Africa is painted as a destitute continent, but assuming that all Africans are poor is very presumptuous.)

Party Information

FIDE President

Georgios Makropoulos (@makro_chess, FIDE Forward)
Nigel Short (@nigelshortchess, #cleanhands4fide, cleanhands4fide.org)
Arkady Dvorkovich (@ADvorkovich)

ACC President

Lewis Ncube (Facebook)
Dr. Essoh Essis (Facebook, platform)
Tshepo Sitale (Facebook, platform)

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Last week Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) made an appearance at Nativity Academy, a predominately-Black middle school in Louisville. He was in an upbeat mood before he entered the building, but made a comment that created a firestorm. He posted the following video to his Twitter account:

Governor Matt Bevin (R) playing chess at the Nativity Academy
in Louisville, Kentucky.

Despite the positive theme of the video, there was a social media backlash. Bevins contention that children in “this section of town” would not typically be involved in chess hit a sour note. He was later berated by David James, a councilman representing District 6. James accused the governor of having a narrow view of his district.

After the video clip went viral, many begin to repost various articles and photos showing youth chess activities within the Black community. The point was clear that perhaps there was a gross misconception about the lure of chess and its wide reach. While it’s not clear if Governor Bevin was referring only to Louisville’s West End or “inner city” areas in general, it shows that these prevailing perceptions persist.


“I really don’t have much to say. We’re focused on just providing our youth with the best opportunities to play this game and to be the best that they can be.”

~Samuel Johnson, Director of Youth & Development Education, Louisville Urban League


While non-traditional sports such as golf, tennis, fencing, gymnastics, swimming and ice-skating have seen all-time great champions from the Black community, chess still struggles for a breakthrough at the top. Even poker has its iconic figure in Phil Ivey. Chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley has had the highest visibility since earning the coveted title in 1993. A 2016 inductee of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, Ashley has helped to provide national exposure, but chess rarely makes the news cycle.

While African-American chess players have been traced back into the 1800s, it was initially a game of the aristocratic, elite class. That has changed dramatically over the past few decades, but the outdated perception remains to this day. The game did not make significant inroads into the Black community until the rise of the prodigy Bobby Fischer during the late 1950s and 1960s when the first Black chess masters emerged. The Fischer-Spassky match in 1972 set off a wave of interest, and the number of Black chess masters rose dramatically during the 1980s.

Vaux Junior High School chess team with President Jimmy Carter.

Philadelphia’s Vaux Junior High School chess team at the White House with President Jimmy Carter in 1979. The team won six consecutive national titles from 1977-1983.

Earle STEM Academy in one of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods. The Chicago Public School budget cuts have made it difficult to continue this chess program. Efforts were made to keep the program going. (article on Tamya Fultz)

The question is why there is such a perception that Black children have less interest in chess? Is it because they are shown excelling in athletics so often? Is it due to the prevailing, but the false stereotype that chess is the game of choice for socially-awkward “nerds”? Is it that chess is perceived as a snobbish activity for the upper-class Caucasians? Is it the notion that Blacks are less interested in these cerebral activities?

Chess still suffers from stereotypes, but it has become a game for the young over the past 20 years. Demographically all of the various ethnicities, nationalities, income classes and educational levels are represented. That being said, Blacks are still underrepresented, but the enthusiasm for the game remains high. In fact, the Louisville chess community had just released a news story about their activities in the community weeks before the governor’s comment.

Video by West End Louisville Chess Club

Azola Martin of Detroit City Chess Club. Photo by Ricardo Thomas/The Detroit News.

Azola Martin of Detroit City Chess Club.
Photo by Ricardo Thomas/The Detroit News.

While the governor’s comments were scripted, they did show a palpable amount of ignorance and naivete. The main issue undoubtedly demonstrates a lack of awareness, and it may very well be the fault of the chess community for not illustrating the vibrancy and attraction of the game among all demographics. During the social media controversy, a number of these articles were reposted and retweeted, some from this site.

It is understandable that the non-chess public would have no reason to visit The Chess Drum or a chess site in their spare time unless they are conducting research or helping their chess-playing child. Unfortunately, the mass media often elicits an expression of amazement when chess is played in the “inner city.” It is high time that the chess community does a much better job of extolling the joys of chess to show its universality.

Impressions from Chess Camp sponsored by
West End Louisville Chess Club (Facebook, website)

Article Links

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/396949-kentucky-governor-under-fire-after-saying-kids-playing-chess-at

https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2018/07/13/louisville-west-end-chess-club-ignores-matt-bevin-controversial-comment/775577002/

https://abcnews.go.com/US/kentucky-gov-matt-bevin-facing-criticism-tone-deaf/story?id=56520417

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The World Open is a marquee tournament drawing over 1000 players each year. Many things have changed over the past 20 years. Of course, the venue has changed and the Adams Mark Hotel has been long gone. The iconic 23-story building was demolished in 2006 and the property now hosts a Target department store.

Kishan Clarke (Jamaica)

The demographics of the World Open have also changed. With the arrival of online chess and the employment of databases, chess has successfully matched the ancient game with technology and young “digital natives” could represent up to 30-50% of any major tournament. It is also very apparent that youth of Asian ancestry have dominated tournament halls for the past decades. Chess has become more “multicultural” attracting people of every conceivable demographic.

The World Open can be a magical tournament because of the prize fund, but also because it attracts many rising stars and international players. It is also the place where many players of African descent have traditionally come in relatively larger numbers. Several players from Nigeria were present this year, but not the scene five years ago when a dozen players flew in from Africa’s most populous nation. Other nations are represented and this year as Kishan Clarke held the Jamaican banner. He is a former under-10 national champion and scored 5/9 in under-1600.

NM Stephen Colding

What is clear is that we are in a transition and many of the Black masters of the 80s have either reduced their activity, retired or passed away. IM Kassa Korley is most likely preparing to travel overseas after earning his first GM norm. Life Master Stephen Colding is the veteran who doubles as a player and coach/mentor during tournaments. He is often seen giving encouragement to young players.

One of the players who benefited from such mentorship was FM Josh Colas. Managed by his father Guy Colas, he is one of the young stars with Grandmaster ambitions. He ended his tournament on 6/9 toppling GM Thal Abergel of France in the last round. He is currently going into his junior year at Webster and is looking to complete the requirements for his IM title soon.

FM Justus Williams was missing from the event, but is poised to round back into form. Another talented young player missing was Tyrone Davis III, one of the young masters who showed promise at the 2016 World Open. Since then he has primarily played in local tournaments in the New York area.

FM Josh Colas

GM John Burke and IM Farai Mandizha analyzing
with Philly’s Robert Gist kibitzing.

Roderick Scarlett turning the screws on Jeremiah White’s position.
Photos by Daaim Shabazz

IM Farai Mandizha of Zimbabwe has been a consistent presence in top U.S. tournaments for the past 10 years. He is actively seeking opportunities for his last GM norm. Other masters like Kola Adeyemi and Tyrell Harriott are New Yorkers with Nigerian and Jamaica ancestry respectively. Majur Juac, originally from the Sudan, keeps an active schedule in the New York area and is a positive presence as a coach in the New York area.

Adia Onyango

Adia Onyango is a mainstay in the major tournaments and is the one of the few African-American women playing with any consistency. She also makes valuable contributions as an organizer, coach while running the popular “Chess Connections” Facebook group. Kimani Stancil has always been up to the challenge of tough competition and is a regular in the Open Section. William Del Castilho of Ecuador is another player living in the New York area, so the African Diaspora is well-represented. The numbers are much larger in the under-2200/under-2000 sections. Roderick Scarlett, of Jamaican ancestry, scored 7/9 winning 3rd in under-2200.

I am often asked why there are not more players of African descent in tournament play. There are many reasons and I have written on this extensively, but be that as it may, there is work to be done. Even the World Open’s blitz scene is not as fierce as it once was. Many players have decided to forgo the Philly trip because the skittles room at the Marriott has a lot more restrictions than the old Adams Mark. Those scenes were electric and will be remembered for the ages.

New York crew was well-represented. In the foreground, Anthony Bennett (with West 4th St. cap) analyzing with Rafael Calderon with Benedict Odafe watching. Tyrell Harriott was playing blitz and Baltimore’s Kimani Stancil and Jeremiah Smith looking on. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Recently, the Kentucky governor lamented that we wouldn’t expect to see chess played at an inner-city school where Blacks were attending. Of course this is based on stereotypes that chess has no market in the Black community, but of course we can point to a wealth of history saying otherwise. The problem is much of this history is not reported except on this site and in social media. Let it be known that the African Diaspora made a presence at the 2018 World Open! Below are some of the shots taken.

2018 World Open
CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.



James Jeffery with Triple Exclam!

Drs. Kimani Stancil and Daaim Shabazz

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More than 1,000 players and a few hundred spectators came to the Downtown Marriott in Philadelphia to compete in the 46th World Open. As much as journalists struggle with correctly writing the name of “Illya Nyzhnyk,” they will have plenty of practice after his topping the field at the 2018 World Open.

The recent Webster graduate rebounded from a lackluster Chicago Open to win the tournament after key wins over Samuel Sevian and former teammate Le Quang Liem. He wrapped up the tournament with a quick draw with his friend Alex Shimanov.

Le-Nyzhnyk battling in the penultimate round. Dariusz Swiercz and Alex Lenderman drew. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Nyzhnyk’s game against Le was a fortuitous turn of events. After dominating throughout the game, the Vietnamese player blundered at a critical stage. Nyzhnyk told Jamaal Abdul-Alim about the turning point after Le’s 84.g4?? “As he was about to finish me off, he made a terrible blunder and lost the game in one move,” said Nyzhnyk. One of the players at the World Open had a t-shirt with the message on the back… “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Certainly, one can argue that there is no luck in chess, but its sheer intensity create such opportunities to capitalize off of human error.

After Nyzhnyk’s quick draw in the last round, the attention went to the game between Cuba’s Lazaro Bruzon and Sevian.

Lazaro Bruzon trying to win his way into a tiebreaker against Sevian.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

The Marshall Gambit followed theory and the game was quickly drawn in 20 moves. After that Nyzhnyk could breath a sigh of relief and there would be no tiebreaks. The Ukrainian national finished with an impressive 7.5/9. The runner-ups were Shimanov, Lenerman, Tigran Petrosian and Liem finishing on 7/9 ($4700). GM Irina Krush would win joint 1st (2300-2449) with IM Joshua Sheng scoring 6.5/9. IM norms were achieved by FMs Brandon Jacobson, Levy Rozman and Justin Wang.

In the under-2200 section, the battle came down to the top two boards. Actually Marc Dicostanzo and Davis Zong played in another location. Dicostanzo won leaving the remaining two games to determine if it would be clear or joint 1st. Kanan Hajiyev was anchored on the top boards with five consecutive wins before losing to Abhimanyu Banerjee.

Hajiyev started another streak before ending up on board two against Ernesto Malazarte. This was a very positional grind, but Malazarte told The Chess Drum that he made an uncharacteristic blunder of a piece. Fortunately he had maintained pressure on a pinned knight. In fact, white was left to shuffling pieces around. When black finally won the piece he had an overwhelming advantage and finished him nicely.

A crowd assembles at the top boards of the under-2200 section with Kanan Hajiyev-Ernesto Malazarte (0-1) and Kireet Panugant-Roderick Scarlett (0-1). Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Panugant-Scarlett ended in a flurry.

Scarlett was the beneficiary of the “reenter” option. He played in the five-day, but scored one point out of the first three rounds and decided to pay another registration fee and play in the three-day. This necessitated that he play five rounds in G/35 on Friday. Brutal.

In the end, it worked out. His wife Pauline was on hand to witness his feat and mentioned how proud she was of him. With five children, the winnings will go a long way.

Scarlett with his copy of “Triple Exclam.” He was able to play a couple of queen sacrifices in the tournament so the book was an appropriate gift.

New York was well-represented. From left to right: Pauline and Roderick Scarlett, James Jeffery, Alex Assivero, Stephen Colding, Justin Dalhouse

In the under-2000 section, Oliver Lombardi came out of a five-year hiatus to win with a stunning 8.5/9 score. As a result, he goes from a rating of 1890 to 2082! His last tournament was a lackluster performance at the 2013 World Open in Arlington, Virginia. He certainly had the tournament of his life and earned $12,000 first prize.

Open: Illya Nyzhnyk, 7.5/9
Under-2200: Marc Dicostanzo, Ernesto Malazarte, 8/9
Under-2000: Oliver Lombardi, 8.5/9
Under-1800: Gavriel Genger, Nick Groh, Sina Jahandari, Aaron Caveny, 7.5/9
Under-1600: Stephanie Gu, 8/9
Under-1400: John Flynn, 8/9
Under-1200: Avtandil Chanadiri, 8/9
Under-900: Seth Kessler, 8.5/9
Unrated: James G Mccarron, 8.5/9

Results: http://chessevents.com/worldopen/
PGN Games: http://www.thechessdrum.net/games/worldopen2018.pgn

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The 46th edition of the World Open is currently taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the iconic home of the tournament. While the final count is unknown, the tournament typically draws about 1300 competitors from around the country and world.

Philly’s newly-unveiled emancipation exhibit

Some interesting new sites around Philadelphia. The Uber driver pointed out the new Comcast 58-story building, the latest fixture of the skyline. There is also an interesting sculpture depicting the 15th amendment by City Hall. Of course the tournament site is conveniently located next to the Reading Terminal Market, a bustling place of activity with a potpourri of cuisines. There is even a artistic chess scultpure behind the Marriott, the tournament’s playing site.

GM Jeffery Xiong at 2018 World Open
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

This year the 4th of July affect on the tournament was muted since the holiday was in the middle of the week and the celebrations were over by the time most players arrived in Philly. To use the worn cliche, they would hope to bring fireworks to the board.

While some of the mainstays were absent, the headliners include GMs Le Quang Liem (2728), Dariusz Swiercz (2663), Alexander Ipatov (2650) Lazaro Bruzon (2646), and the highest-rated U.S. player, Jeffrey Xiong (2655). So far junior player Max Jiahua Li (1788) sits on 3/3 after beating two IMs! The three-day event will start on today and the sections will merge tomorrow. The Chess Drum is on site and will be featuring photos and perhaps a few interviews. Stay tuned!

Results: http://chessevents.com/worldopen/
Live Games: http://chessevents.com/live-games/

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I found a very touching story that ran last year in On Cuba magazine featuring Oleiny Linares Napoles, silver medalist in the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. She has been featured on The Chess Drum several times and is one of the strongest women of African ancestry.

Oleiny Linares Napoles at her home in Santiago de Cuba. It appears that she is reviewing the final Carlsen-Karjakin game from 2016 World Championship match. Photo by Emmanuel Martín

The story is written by Emmanuel Martín in Spanish but one can receive a online translation. The English translation via Google is not perfect, but readable. The story details the beginnings of chess for Martin and Linares under the tutelage of FM Omar Garcia in Colón, Matanzas. It was during this stint that Linares had an encounter with a destitute woman in town, gave her money and reflected that her generosity was from God.

Oleiny Linares at 2012 Chess Olympiad
in Istanbul, Turkey
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Martin wrote of her humility coming from such a modest community in Santiago de Cuba where she still lives. The city of 400,000 is accented by the strong Afro-Cuban presence created when Spanish explorers brought Africans to the West Indies in the early 16th century.

Antonio Maceo Grajales is perhaps one of the most important Afro-Cubans from Santiago de Cuba. He was a respected General in the early Cuban independence revolution against Spain and is considered a national hero.

One of the things that make chess players so different is the variety of backgrounds in the different countries. While we sit in the same tournament halls and maybe across from one another, we cannot imagine what the lives of our opponents must be like. Linares comes from humble beginnings and has remained close to her roots. Last year, Martín wrote:

The Olympic runner-up today has to hang her family’s clothes on the street. He lives in the same place since birth, 34 years ago. She has two daughters: Mirtica, 15, and Ruth, 4. She is married under the orders of the Pentecostal Church, but she prefers to call it the Church of Christ.

Linares on the podium receiving a silver medal at the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. She scored an incredible 9/10. She reached rating ceiling of 2378 in 2012. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Of course, this article was written last year, but Oleiny is still active. She competed in the local and regional championships, the Carlos Torre Memorial and Women’s National Championship in January. Unfortunately, she will not be on the Olympiad team this year. She recently scored +1 in the Capablanca Memorial that also featured Peruvian WGM Deysi Cori.

For such a strong player, life has not been a crystal stair. After going off to college in Havana, she got pregnant with her first child and returned to Santiago de Cuba. She got married and years later was carrying her second daughter while competing at the 2012 Olympiad! During a notable career, she continues to find a balance of family and chess. This challenge is part of an ongoing debate. Linares story has been so intriguing that a local film maker produced a short film on her life.

Linares reflected on how the majority of her colleagues remain unmarried while others had children and divorced. On the contrary, Linares has raised her daughters and has had to deflect criticism that her religious beliefs have hindered her chess goals and material wealth. While she remains is a modest dwelling, she stated candidly,

“Lo del dinero y la casa es cierto; lo de la Copa Mundial que me perdí, también, responde sin arrepentimiento. Pero en la vida no se puede tener todo… hay que saber hacer concesiones. Yo no cambio a mis dos hijas ni por todo el dinero del mundo.”

“The money and the house (I have sacrificed) is true; the World Cup that I missed, too. But in life you cannot have everything… you have to know how to make concessions. I would not change having my two daughters for all the money in the world.”

Pursuit of materialism is something eschewed in many religious beliefs and the lessons are not lost on Linares. Martín takes note of her generosity while enjoying the slice of cake she has brought him. “Eternal life is not negotiated with Satan,” she offers. True to her values and passions, she is seen in the above picture going over a game from the Carlsen-Karjakin match with the coup de grâce 50.Qh6+!! It is befitting that such a beautiful game would end with the woman sacrificing her individual gains for a team victory.

There is no information readily available about the short film on Linares’ life, but it would be quite an eye opener! What a fascinating journey!

Link: https://oncubamagazine.com/sociedad/oleinys-la-ajedrecista-de-cristo/ (in Spanish)

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Shane “The Magician” Matthews earned his moniker by his resilience in pulling out sparkling victories. Over his career, Matthews has represented Jamaica in a number of Olympiad teams and is a 7-time national champion. He is one of the many legends from a small nation who has a story to tell.

Matthews began representing Jamaica early on by learning the game in 1974. Less than 10 years later he was representing his country at the 1982 Chess Olympiad in Lucerne, Switzerland (+5-4=2).

In 1998 he earned scored 6½/11 at Elista Olympiad (+5-3=3). This stood as a solid result, but Jamaican officials requested an arbitration to argue that he should have qualified for the FM title. FIDE rules say that a player earning 6/9 or 66% at an Olympiad can qualify for the FM title. While 6½/11 is not 66% Matthews had indeed scored 6/9 before ending the tournament on ½/2. It wasn’t until 2011 that the case was heard and the FM title granted.

FM Shane Matthews

One would say that Matthews is one of the veterans in Jamaica and has inspired a younger breed of players. He is still active and recently competed in the 2.3.5 subzonal hosted by Jamaica. In a very interesting twist he scored an undefeated 7.5/9 to win the tournament and in the process earned the International Master (IM) title. It is a sweet victory for Matthews since his chances of earning titles may be diminishing with his reduced activity.

While there were no International Masters competing, Matthews qualifies to win the automatic IM title with the tournament victory. FIDE grants automatic titles to specific international tournaments such as subzonal and continental championships. Thus, he becomes the 2nd Jamaican International Master after Jomo Pitterson who also earned the title by winning the 2.3.5 subzonal in 2010.

Results: http://chess-results.com/tnr361983.aspx?lan=1

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Four years ago, Emmanuel Carter accomplished a feat that relatively few chess players are able to do. He earned his National Master’s title at the age of 14. Nowadays, the age threshold continues to be lowered as the youngest master has accomplished it at age 9. However, earning the Master’s title at any age is to be commended and Carter traveled through an unlikely path.

Emmanuel Carter at 2015 World Open
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

The Tennessee-born, Charlotte-bred teen has found a niche as the state’s top high school player for the past four years. He is recent graduate of Lee Country High School in Sanford, North Carolina. Recently, he was the subject of an interview recounting his life as a chess player, his inspirations, and his aspirations.

Lesley Boney of North Carolina State University interviewed Carter as part of “First in Future” segment. Reflecting on how he used to cry after losing games, the youngest of three chess-playing siblings, he took the lessons as a point of motivation and begin to improve rapidly. This is despite having no formal training and no coach.

One issue that came up is the assertion that Black people do not have a tradition in chess. We most certainly do and Carter has helped to build on the tradition. There are about 20,000-30,000 pages on this site detailing the highlights. Of course, Carter’s modesty in letting his classmates know that he excels at chess may one thing that unknowingly keeps this fact in obscurity. These feats need to be known! Carter will be starting at Central Carolina Community College this fall.

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Chess tournaments probably have the greatest diversity of competitors than any activity. In many large events you can find people from various nationalities, ethnicities, educational levels and professions. It is interesting that tournaments tend to be an elitist arena where we judge people by their rating. It may be the only information we have, but a very incomplete assessment.

Rodney J. Thomas III
Photo by UT-Dallas

The irony is many players (even of lower classes) have successful careers and may even be very high-level executives, professors, physicians and lawyers. Imagine finding out that a 1400-rated player you just beat owns a multimillion dollar company… or the 2100-rated player you met is an orthopedic surgeon. There are tons of Ph.D. holders that you’d never suspect. Yet another may be a high-powered lawyer or even a world champion in shogi! Many times we have no idea who we’re playing. There are even a few judges who play so we have to be very cautious about what we say!

Rodney Thomas is one of those players you may have seen at a tournament, but not realize that he has enjoyed quite a bit of professional success. An active 1800-rated player, he earned his chess stripes in his native New Orleans before moving to Dallas with his wife Tracey to embark on a long professional career.

During the time he was matriculating at Harvard University, he started at IBM in 1979 as a Systems Engineer and ultimately held a number of executive positions. He has been involved with the University of Texas-Dallas program as President of the Advisory Board and has helped UT-Dallas remain a perennial collegiate power.


Rodney Thomas speaking with GM Maurice Ashley
at St. Louis Chess Club in 2014.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Thomas with Daaim Shabazz at Kingside Diner in St. Louis

Thomas with Daaim Shabazz at Kingside Diner in St. Louis, 2015
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

After recently retiring from IBM, he has accepted a fellowship from the Naveen Jindal School of Management (UTD) as a fellow of the Center for Finance Strategy Innovation. In this position, he will “promote the visibility of the center and to do that based on how well it’s positioned to lead in this world of these emerging digital technologies.” As a seasoned professional in the area of technological solutions, this six-month stint seems like a good fit.

As an outstanding chess citizen, we are wishing Mr. Thomas the best as a UTD Fellow!

Link: https://jindal.utdallas.edu/news/jindal-school-announces-fellowship-at-cfsi

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Duke alumnus Kassa Korley went back to his stomping grounds to take a shot at a GM norm. Since his graduation the the Raleigh-Durham campus a few years ago, Korley has been seeking invitationals, both at home and in Europe. The New York native currently plays under the Danish flag, the home of his paternal grandparents.

IM Kassa Korley
Photo by CCC

In actuality, there were four norms tournaments Group A/B (GM) and Group C/D (IM). Korley competed in Group B of the GM/IM Invitational after having a solid 5/9 result in the March GM norm edition. The June events were part of the Charlotte Chess Festival which also hosted an open called the Carolina Classic and an elite chess camp.

Korley, now 24, has been covered extensively at The Chess Drum over the years (making master, IM title) and still has one of the most popular interviews at the site.

(Listen 22:32 minutes)

However, he recently granted an outstanding 90-minute interview to Ben Johnson’s Perpetual Podcast. Some very profound insights on his pursuit of the GM title and the pro and cons of totally dedicating one’s self to chess versus taking a more gradual approach. He has also been doing a series of his own videos which you can find at his YouTube channel. He is also popular on lichess.org and Twitch (handle is Kassablanca) and plays banter blitz with interesting commentary.


“I made a choice to go to college. I made a choice to work in ‘real world.’ I made a choice NOT to invest everything in chess. Theoretically, one could consider investing everything into chess and being a 2650… and still struggling in the real grand scheme of things.”

~IM Kassa Korley


Over the years, we have watched Korley grow into a young man, but still have the ambition and drive to improve his game. His skills were on full display in the tournament as he only dropped one game (to fellow IM Farai Mandizha). He scored +2 against the three GMs. After the tournament Korley, got 6.5/9, pocketed a GM norm and earned a career-high rating of 2556 USCF.

He is one of five players of African descent to cross 2500 USCF. Maurice Ashley reached 2606 USCF while other players eclipsing 2500 are: FM William Morrison (2535), IM Farai Mandizha (2515), and IM Emory Tate (2508). He mentioned earning the GM title and stated that there need to be more African-American GMs. Well-stated. There will be more and Kassa is on his way!

IM Kassa Korley (2420-Denmark)
# Player USCF Nation
Flag
Result
1 FM Justus Williams 2347 USA
1
2 GM Tanguy Ringoir 2543 Belgium
1
3 IM Farai Mandizha 2390 Zimbabwe
0
4 IM Michael Brown 2505 USA
½
5 Mika Brattain 2402 USA
½
6 IM Advait Patel 2474 USA
1
7 GM Nikola Nestorovic 2476 Serbia
1
8 GM Magesh Panchanathan 2480 India
½
9 IM Denys Shmelov 2456 Ukraine
1
Score: 6.5-2.5 (GM NORM)

Main Page: http://chessstream.com/tournaments/Summer-2018-CCCSA-GM-IM-Norm-Invitational/
Results:

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Samuel “Sammy” Barton
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Samuel “Sammy” Barton, an icon of street chess, passed away after battling serious health challenges. He was 55. Sammy was known as a mainstay in the greater New York scene and is considered to be a legendary figure. Called “Bubba” by his sisters, he attended Lincoln High School in Coney Island and played football as a youth. He learned chess at community center events in Coney Island.

Chess is a world unto itself each country having its own chess character and culture. With each nations there are a number of communities, but one of the most eclectic is the street chess community. Sometimes seen on the streets and in the parks, they make a commanding presence by their charisma, trashtalk and playful banter. One of the most visible players in the New York street chess scene was Sammy.

Watch him in Miro Reverby’s “Men Who Would Be Kings” playing a hapless Tony Springer.

Video by Miro Reverby

New York is the chess hub of the U.S. with so many legendary players that have trolled the parks and streets of the Big Apple. One of the most accessible platforms for chess is the form played on the streets. Unfortunately, chess tournaments are hidden away in posh hotels, community centers or churches. The contribution of street chess is that it shows the game’s true grit up close and personal.

Sammy had many challenges in life, but like so many others he found a refuge in chess. You could find him around the many parks of New York holding court and being at his best. There is something intriguing about players who have spent their entire lives loyal to the pursuit of a personal goal. At one point, it is said that he actually received chess training in Russia.

Some assert that chess is a way to take a daily introspection of one’s well-being. Others say that chess offers a cathartic release of daily stresses. For Sammy and players like him, it appeared to be the spirit of competition… and the thrill of winning with something on the line!

New York blitz legend

Sammy blitzes with GM Amon Simutowe
at 2010 World Open (Valley Forge, PA)

2015 World Open (under-2200)
Photos by Daaim Shabazz

The late James “Black Knight” Taylor told me before he died that street chess should be chronicled. While it would be difficult to focus on their results, it’s not always the rating or the games they played. Who can forget Sammy after seeing the video above?

What becomes important to us is the spirit they conveyed and the memories they have left to inspire us. Even when he was ill, Sammy wanted to be at the chess board. Even when he was not in the best of health, he wanted to do battle. We can all agree that Sammy, also know as “Sandman,” made his own contribution to chess. He will be especially missed in the New York scene.

He is survived by three sisters (Maureen, Regina, Julia), one nephew (Josef), four nieces (Sierra, Chelsey, Elizabeth, Paris), one uncle (Thomas) and a host of other family and friends.

Memorial for “Sammy” will be held at
St. Nicholas Chess Club
Saturday, June 30th @ 3:00 PM
91 EDGECOMBE AVE New York, NY

Contact: Al Pertilla (212-234-1114)

Sammy Barton
(March 5, 1963 – June 9th, 2018)

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The Chicago Open has become a marquee tournament in its 27-year history and the 2018 edition was about exciting as any of the previous tournaments. The tournament is traditionally held in eight sections with the Open Section drawing the “big guns.”

GM Aleksandr Shimanov

GM Aleksandr Shimanov
Photo courtesy of SPICE (Paul Truong)

A field of 128 players (28 GMs) In a very heated battle at the Chicago Open, third-seed Alexander Shimanov (Webster University) won the tiebreak edging fellow Russian Andrey Stukopin (University of Texas-Brownsville) and Awonder Liang. One of the brightest young stars on the U.S. landscape and the 2017 U.S. Junior Champion, Liang has made steady progress over the past few years and it now closing in on 2600 FIDE.

IM Dionisio Aldama

Shimanov lost to tournament sensation IM Dionsio Aldama who earned a GM norm in the tournament. However, Shimanov rebounded with four wins in a row including wins over contenders GM Ashwin Jayaram and GM Alexander Shabalov. His last round draw with Liang put both of them in a tie on 7/9 with Stokpin, who beat Aldama. Shimanov proceeded to win the tiebreak and took an extra $300 ($6133.34 in total).

In the under-2300, Jeffrey DeJesus of Houston won with 6/7 (and $5000 1st prize) closing with a win over Chicago resident William Aramil. Nicky Rosenthal had a chance to win or tie for 1st, but lost to Elias Oussedik and splitting 2nd four ways. Anthony Parker and Vincent Do also had 5.5/7 each getting $1275.

Gene Scott at 2016 Chicago Open
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

In under-2100, Agarkhorol Gangaa got 6.5/7 after winning his first six games edging out Anuj Dahiya and Gene Scott both ending on 6/7. Scott, a long-time Chicago veteran and one-time Master, scored his best result in recent years. He won five consecutive games! Aderemi Adekola nicked Gangaa (for the winner’s only draw) in the final round to come in joint 4th-8th with four “A” players.

Other results:

under-1900: Nathan Fong, 6.5/7
under-1700: Dmitriy Kovalkov, 6.5/7
under-1500: Florina Zhu, Jesse Hunt, Edward Li, 6/7
under-1300: Cheng Wang, Varshini Venkat, Aaron Berlin, Sivabalan Muthupalaniappan, 6/7
under-1000: Chinedu Emeka, Joshua Madsen: 6.5

GM norms were achieved by IM Safal Bora and Aldama, while IM norms were achieved by FM Matthew Larson, Tianqi Wang, FM Sam Schmakel and FM Ben Li. Schmakel (2428) earned his 3rd norm and qualifies for the International Master title.

Standings: http://chessevents.com/chicagoopen/
Tournament Details: http://www.chesstour.com/chio18.htm

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Dr. Essoh J.M.C. Essis

Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has some of the world’s top draughts players. If Dr. Essoh Essis has his way Africa will develop a foundation for an “African Renaissance” in chess. Dr. Essis has announced his candidacy for President of the African Chess Confederation (ACC). The voting will take place at the African Congress meeting during the 2018 Chess Olympiad in the Republic of Georgia and will set the tone for the next four years. He will stand against the incumbency of ACC President Lewis Ncube of Zambia.

Dr. Essoh Jean-Mathieu Claude Essis, 57, seems to have the training that would suggest a career in law, politics or diplomacy. He earned his B.A. degree in Law (University of Abidjan-Cocody), an M.A. degree in Public Management and a Ph.D. degree in Public Policy from George Mason University (USA).

After stints in public sector in Cote d’Ivoire and academic posts in the U.S., Dr. Essis now serves as a Civil Affairs Coordinator with the United Nations (UN). Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he serves in the area of peacekeeping initiatives and conflict resolution, “supporting the restoration of state authority in war-torn countries.” He has also been a Fulbright Fellow, Visiting Scholar at New York University, and earned certification in Public Administration Institute in Paris.

Years ago he became enamored with chess and ultimately realized the value it could bring in social fulfillment. He decided to enter the realm of local chess politics and was elected the President of Cote d’Ivoire Chess Federation (FIDEC) in 2013 (re-elected in 2017). This was a crucial time since there was a FIDE election campaign brewing.

Essoh Essis of Cote d’Ivoire (center) during General Assembly
at 2014 FIDE General Assembly in Tromso, Norway.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

As an Ivorian delegate, Dr. Essis lobbied strongly to assert the rights of Africa and caused quite a stir in Tromso, Norway. After returning from Tromso, he was able to lead a vigorous effort to improve chess on the Ivorian landscape. Some of the accomplishments accounted for:

  1. The number of clubs affiliated to the federation from six (6) to (25)
  2. The number of players holding a federal license from zero (0) to over two hundred and forty five (245)
  3. The number of FIDE rated players from one (1) to over twenty (20)
  4. The number of national championships held every year from zero (0) to two (2) per year
  5. The number of international competitions held in Cote d’Ivoire from zero (0) to an average of two (2) per year
  6. The number of FIDE Arbiters from zero (0) to four (4)
  7. The number of trained National Arbiters from zero (0) to six (6)
  8. The number of school-children formally trained on chess-related topics as part of the national primary school curriculum established by the National Minister of Education from zero (0) to two thousand and two hundred and fifty (2250) in fifteen (15) schools.

The Chess Drum first encountered Dr. Essis four years ago when we interviewed him after a debate on the floor of the General Assembly.3:40 minutes There he raised strong points to the FIDE Executive Board concerning the body’s efforts (or lack thereof) for chess development in Africa. He ultimately got into a debate on the floor with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos. It is with a sense of irony that Makropoulos is standing for the FIDE Presidency.


“I am running because I have come to the conclusion that real, sustainable development of chess in Africa will remain “but a fleeting illusion to be pursued and never attained,” unless African federations are able to identify and empower leaders that are willing to change the current situation where they are expected to be servile providers of votes for the FIDE kings.”

~Essoh Essis to africanchessmedia.com


Just over a week ago, he was interviewed by Ogunsiku Babatunde for africachessmedia.com and gave detailed information about his background and his rationale for standing. In the interview that follows, we will learn more about Dr. Essis and his quest for ACC Presidency. In the coming weeks there will be more that will come forth in terms of his plans and platform.

Interview with Essoh J.M.C. ESSIS, Ph.D.
President of Federation Ivoirienne Des Echecs (FIDEC)
Candidate for President of African Chess Confederation (ACC)

Essoh J.M.C. ESSIS, Ph.D.

Daaim Shabazz (DS): What do you see as the three most vexing problems with chess development in Africa?

Essoh Essis (EE): Firstly, the gap between the potential and the current reality… and by this I do not mean only the potential that we see in scores of young African players to learn chess, perform well and possibly become notable Grandmasters and World Champions. I am also thinking about the potential for the widespread learning and practice of chess in Africa to significantly enhance the ability of our continent and its people to make genuine progress and achieve success in every other field of human activity;

Secondly, the lack of motivation and capability within the current leadership of the ACC to lead our Continent toward the realization of this strong potential. This requires that we work diligently to ensure the political, economic and financial autonomy of the ACC within FIDE. We must also endeavor to develop the managerial, administrative and operational capacities of ACC leaders, but also of African Federations, clubs, and individuals. Seen in this light, at least for myself, and for all the Federations that support my candidacy, this ACC election constitutes a much-needed opportunity to collectively undertake a critical analysis of the situation, and to start an all-inclusive and wide-ranging effort to address the problems;

Thirdly, the very real problem posed by a widespread myth or perception among members of the public in Africa, that the game of chess is foreign to Africans, and to Africa’s culture. That it is a game for Westerners (or foreigners in general), the wealthy, the most educated, the smartest people in society and, in any case, not for the masses of ordinary Africans that must struggle daily to earn their subsistence. This cultural obstacle to the democratization and development of chess in Africa is, in my view, the most important that we must tackle. However, my experience in the development of chess in my native Cote d’Ivoire has convinced me that this problem can be resolved once we have resolved the problems of decisional autonomy and operational capacity that are currently plaguing the ACC.

DS: There has been a constant problem of keeping African membership dues current. What is the current number of African nations holding FIDE membership and how do we fix the constant problems with arrears?

EE: I believe there are 47 African federations with FIDE membership of which 14 are currently on the latest list of federations listed as being in arrears on the FIDE website (http://ratings.fide.com/arrears.phtml). When I was elected as President of the Cote d’Ivoire Chess Federation, my own Federation had arrears amounting to more than 5000 Euros (in addition to other internal debts), and was barred from participation in FIDE-sponsored events.

I believe that the arrears problem is one that can only be resolved by African Federation leaders themselves, as a matter of priority, if they want to be regarded (and treated) with respect by FIDE officials and by other Federation leaders. In the case of Cote d’Ivoire, I decided to pay these arrears off as a matter of urgency because I recognized that this was the only way for my Federation and my country to earn the respect of other FIDE member federations and to participate on an equal footing with these other Federation leaders in any decision-making forum related to the leadership and management of FIDE.

Ivorian delegation in Tromso, Norway for the 2014 Chess Olympiad
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

In most cases, the accumulation of arrears with FIDE is a symptom of the systemic fragility of the Federations. In the case of Cote d’Ivoire, which I know best, the Federation had no assets and received no funding whatsoever from government, private sector, or any other external sources. It did not generate any money internally either, because none of the eight clubs in existence paid their statutory affiliation fees and annual dues to the Federation; and none of the players associated with these clubs held a federal license and paid a license fee.

It took a lot of intense fighting with club presidents and players and significant resources in creative thinking to put an end to what I referred to as the “culture and era of gratuity”. Upon submitting a request, we received hundreds of chess sets, and dozens of clocks from the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa. We then offered four sets and one clock to every club that would purchase licenses for six players (six is minimum number of members that a club needs to be recognized as such per our FIDEC statutes). Today, FIDEC counts 25 dues-paying clubs and over 250 registered players with their own federal licenses, and every single player who has paid their license dues has automatically also been issued a FIDE ID number.

In addition, we have organized several well-publicized national and international tournaments (for which I want to express our eternal gratitude to the Chess Federations of Nigeria and Ghana) with free participation for all players, to create the motivation for everyone to play in official competitions. Once this initial promotional objective was achieved, and we started to see relatively large numbers of players registering to play in our competitions, our executive committee moved to institute participation fees for all FIDEC-organized tournaments.

2017 Cote d’Ivoire Team Invitational

Photos by Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa

Through these initiatives, we were able to raise a minimum amount of funds from our own local sources (players themselves, club presidents and/or other individuals who were willing to pay license fees for indigent players, as well as proceeds from participation fees in events organized by our clubs, leagues, etc.). These initiatives also helped establish FIDEC’s reputation as a credible sports management organization, and this led to the national Sports Ministry allocating a progressively increasing amount of financial support (8,000 USD in 2015, 16,000 USD in 2016 and 32,000 USD in 2017). Finally, this year, FIDEC has signed a cooperation agreement with our first Ivorian private sponsor, a management consulting firm that funds tournament prizes and trophies, and that is now supporting our effort to apply for and secure ISO-9001 certification for FIDEC operations.

I am aware that this is far from an ideal situation, but I believe it is much better than that which existed only four years ago. I also believe that sharing such stories and experiences can inspire other federation managers to use the same strategy, or to invent their own, in order to mobilize minimum levels funding to meet their most basic obligations.

In any event, African Chess players must recognize that it is not reasonable to expect that federation presidents will bear the costs of their federation’s activities from their own pocket, or that these activities can be funded exclusively from external sources such as FIDE presidential candidates or ACC presidents seeking reelection every four years. Instead, they must demand that aspiring federation managers come up with a clear and reasonable strategy, as well as with credible day to day initiatives, that can transform their federations into self-funded operations.

DS: Can you give us the theme of your election campaign and how will it differ from previous administrations?

EE: Our election campaign theme will be: “Together, we can”. It will differ from previous administration in that our focus is not simply on winning the election and replacing the current ACC leadership.

We are focused, instead, on establishing a broad coalition of African Chess federations and individual chess players who are willing and able to contribute creative ideas and make the sacrifices required to ensure that the ACC becomes an autonomous organization within FIDE and, most importantly that it takes full responsibility for the effective, efficient, equitable, qualitative, competitive, and durable development of Chess in Africa.

Fédération Internationale des Échecs  (FIDE)

DS: There has been a very polarized situation in the past FIDE elections. Past campaigns have divided federations, zones and entire continents. At the 2014 Chess Olympiad, Africa was caught in the middle of a contentious election. Has the continent recovered from that experience?

EE: No, we have not, and the ACC has remain divided since Tromso 2014, although we have, quite reasonably, chosen and managed to avoid any public display of hostility toward each other over the last four years.

On one hand, there is a group of Federation leaders that typically associate themselves with Mr. Lewis Ncube and Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and who are largely favorable to the current status quo. On the other hand, there are many “reformist” Federation leaders that typically associate themselves with Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigerian Chess Federation) and myself.

The upcoming election is likely to see a further fragmentation within the status quo group, with some Federations choosing to remain faithful to Mr. Ilyumzhinov, and some shifting their support to either Mr. Makropoulos or Grandmaster Nigel Short. Finally, there are some Federations, including those that became FIDE members after Tromso 2014, that are currently not aligned with either camp and are adopting a position of neutrality.

DS: You have had a very contentious relationship with Makropoulos who is standing for FIDE President. How do you expect to work with him if he in fact wins the FIDE Presidency?

EE: I want to be very clear about one thing: As ACC president, I am willing to work, in the best spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, with any FIDE President or official who supports my priority objectives of political, financial and operational autonomy for the ACC; management capacity building and empowerment of African federations; and the design and implementation of credible programs for the development of Chess in African countries.

Mr. Makropoulos himself has recently changed his stance and endorsed some of the key demands I formulated four years ago with regards to the relations between FIDE and the ACC. In his declaration of candidacy, he vowed to end the practice of votes by proxies, and to promote “direct participation of delegates to protect democracy and electoral procedures.” He also vowed to end the “politico-economic games and intrigues” orchestrated by FIDE leaders to undermine Federation Presidents like myself whose views have historically been deemed unacceptable or anti-establishment.

Finally, he vowed to “achieve profound unity of our chess world, without political, racial or religious divisions,” and to “open broad and permanent channels of communication that will fuel FIDE with new ideas and energy, with all the members of our chess family, making sure that everybody can have an active role in the new FIDE.” (see announcement)

Ivorian delegates leaving a tense session

Both Georgios Makropoulos and Dr. Essis debating
during a coffee break of the FIDE Congress.
Photos by Daaim Shabazz

Everyone who took part in the FIDE general assembly in Tromso will remember that I formulated these very demands on behalf of African Federation leaders and chess players, and that he rejected them at the time on behalf of the FIDE leadership. Therefore, I applaud his revised stance on these issues, and I would be willing to work with him to turn these electoral promises into practical realities.

Having said this, I must also note that Mr. Makropoulos has been an integral part of the internal mechanism of FIDE for more than 30 years and he is thus equally responsible and accountable for many of the leadership failures that have brought FIDE to the sad state that it currently finds itself in. His ongoing attempts to distance himself as far as possible from the actions of Mr. Ilyumzhinov are understandable from a political perspective but he will need to follow up his words with action for us to have a productive relationship should we both be elected to the respective positions for which we are standing.

DS: In an interview with africachessmedia.com, you recounted that you demanded that FIDE leadership treat Africa federations with respect. I was present when you made that pronouncement and that plea earned applause among the body. Every four years (and the last 20), campaigns come to Africa with chess sets and promises of tournaments and “Chess-in-Schools.” None of these have been sustained. Why do you think that Africa remains an afterthought except when there is an election campaign and how do African federations hold FIDE accountable after these elections?

EE: It is important to understand that the division of labor between FIDE member federations is only a mirror image of the division of labor between regions and/or continents in the “international political economy”.

As a result of powerful historical, political and sociocultural factors, there is an unwritten rule (but a recurrent practice) that only Northern federations are entitled to occupy the top positions in the FIDE leadership. African (and other Southern) federations are therefore expected to serve only as suppliers of votes to the Northern elites competing in FIDE presidential elections. In effect, in this “system”, the leaders of organizations such as the ACC and the AIDEF (Association Internationale Des Echecs Francophones) were charged, until recently, to coax African votes in favor of the incumbent FIDE President.

The campaign visits to a few African countries every four years, the delivery of minimal quantities of chess equipment, the nepotistic allocations of ACC tournament organizational rights to “friendly” Federations, and the unfulfilled promises of developmental funds and chess-in-schools programs are only some of the operational dynamics of the system described above. So are the ostracism and persecution imposed on African Federation leaders who have dared to speak up against such practices and to call FIDE leaders to account (like I did four years ago). These unwritten rules and operational practices explain, among other things, why African Federations have historically never been able to hold FIDE leaders accountable after such elections.


The situation of chess in Africa is dire.
~Essoh Essis in 2014 interview with The Chess Drum


In the same vein, and for the same reasons, African Federations have been expected to be mere consumers, and not producers, of significant chess events that are “naturally” organized in better-endowed Northern Hemisphere countries. In fact, many African Federation leaders and players are perfectly happy to receive one or two invitations to attend a significant chess event organized in a Northern Hemisphere country once a year, instead of seeking to organize such events themselves to allow a majority of their own players to participate.

My campaign for ACC President is motivated by the desire and commitment of several like-minded and supportive African Federations to initiate an open discussion within FIDE about the destructive effects of these unwritten rules and their enabling practices. Our objective is to bring about positive change that is based on the principles of unity and equality within the chess family (“Gens una sumus”), democratic and transparent governance of our common institutions, and equal opportunity for all chess players around the world.

“So that the little boys and little girls of Africa that are just as brilliant, as intelligent as the children in any other part of the world are able to get the opportunity to become World Chess Champion.”

~Essoh Essis during interview with The Chess Drum in 2014 (Tromso, Norway)
Photo by Abidjan.net

DS: What are your short- and long-range goals for the next four years?

EE: In the short term (that is, in the first year of my administration), we hope to finalize negotiations with FIDE executives to ensure the political, economic, and operational autonomy of the ACC within FIDE.

We will also move quickly to assemble a large team of African chess experts to discuss the current situation of the ACC, with a view to identifying our organization’s current strengths and weaknesses, as well as existing constraints, challenges and opportunities imposed on it by its global environment. This exercise will culminate in the adoption of a detailed plan of action for the next four years, based on a shared vision of the objectives we want chess in Africa to achieve within the next generation (25-years).

Finally, we will move just as quickly to establish, enact, and progressively execute a transparent schedule of ACC managed competitions, through an all-inclusive negotiation process that guarantees equal and/or equitable treatment for all national Federations regardless of their prior political affiliations.

Essoh at the 2017 Team Chess Invitational

In the medium term (the next 2-3 years), we intend to design, promote, and implement relatively simple and standardized yet effective training programs (including experience-sharing seminars and workshops) to provide management capacity-building support and technical advice to African Federation leaders, with the aim of reinforcing their ability to successfully run small organizations (clubs, leagues and national Federations), as well as small and large chess development programs or projects.

This program of capacity-building activities should result in the establishment, formalization, and implementation of an integrated schedule of activities organized by all national Federations, with technical support from the ACC.

Finally, during the same period, we will initiate a series of negotiations with representatives of African governments, private sector and non-profit organizations, to mobilize financial support for chess development programs and activities in every country. Similar promotional negotiations will also be held with non-African institutions or individuals (such as the Kasparov Chess Foundation) that may be interested in making funds available for the durable development of chess in Africa.

Some of our objectives for the long term (by the end of the fourth year) will be to ensure that:

  1. most African federations are managed democratically and effectively, and are capable of funding and running their own formal schedule of activities, including national, sub-regional/zonal and regional/continent-wide competitions and their own development programs or projects;
  2. ACC-managed competitions are organized effectively and successfully and are well attended by Chess players from a large number of member-federations and;
  3. At least five (10% of the 47) African Federations have access to the funding required, as well as the technical capabilities, to organize significant international competitions on the FIDE schedule, such as the Olympiad or World Youth Championships.

It is needless to mention that my ACC Administration would provide strong political support to any African Federation’s bid to organize a Chess Olympiad as soon as possible in the future.

DS: Are there any closing comments you want to make about your candidacy?

EE: I want to issue a very solemn call on the FIDE leadership to recognize the urgent and crucial necessity of, and to positively work towards, the creation of the conditions needed for free, fair and transparent elections for all FIDE institutions (including the ACC) during the upcoming FIDE Congress.

Historians might want to take note of the fact that the responsibility to lead FIDE’s transition to democracy currently lies with Mr. Makropoulos, a citizen of Greece, the legendary birthplace of democratic thought and traditions. I want to believe that all the FIDE leaders will manage to rise to this particular challenge, and will “do the right thing”.

That is the only way to reconcile our organization’s practice with its prestigious creed statement that “We are [all] one people (Gens una Sumus)”. Moreover, this is the only way that we can ensure that each member Federation and Continental Confederation is empowered to independently and effectively design and implement programs that can ensure the development of chess in their own country or region, thereby contributing, according to their own mandate and resources, to the advent of a stronger, more prosperous, and eventually more successful FIDE.

Please post your questions & comments below!

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One of the marquee tournaments starts today in Wheeling, Illinois a quiet town just outside of Chicago. The Chicago Open is in its 27th year and once drew the likes of Hikaru Nakamura and top tier players from overseas. These days the tournament is a hot ticket for hungry norm seekers, top scholastic players and college students from elite chess programs. This Memorial Day weekend has 773 players registers, but will probably closer to the 984 players attending last year.

Site of Chicago Open

Anton Kovalyov, a student at University of Texas-Dallas, tops the charts along with Daniel Fridman, Alex Shimanov (Webster University) and Illia Nyzhnyk (Webster University) and Vasif Durabayli (Webster University). A number of young American Grandmasters will dot the field such as Samuel Sevian (defending Chicago Open champion), Ruifeng Li and Awonder Liang. One of the most intriguing players in the field is the legendary James Tarjan who came out of retirement a couple of years ago and created a wave by beating Vladimir Kramnik.

Standings: http://chessevents.com/chicagoopen/
Tournament Details: http://www.chesstour.com/chio18.htm

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GM Bassem Amin, 2018 African Champion

GM Bassem Amin, 2018 African Champion

Egyptians GM Bassem Amin and WGM Shahenda Wafa are 2018 African Champions. The event was held May 12-22 and organized by African Chess Confederation (ACC) and the Chess Federation of Zambia (CZF). It is Amin’s 5th continental championship (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017, 2018) and the second consecutive for Wafa whose sister won the title with Amin in in 2013.

Livingstone, Zambia was the host of the event. The host city is about a seven-hour drive from the capital city of Lusaka and named after David Livingstone, a 19th century British explorer. It is the home of one of the world’s wonders, Victoria Falls. Certainly, players would have enjoyed this world wonder as the falls are flowing in peak season in May. This shot was from last summer.

Nevertheless, they were there to play chess. Unfortunately, only 30 players show up in the Open section with Egyptian players sending several of their Olympiad players. Grandmasters Amin, Ahmed Adly, Essam El-Gindy and Hesham Abdelrahman (2016 champion) were all vying for a spot at the World Cup. A strong cadre of 11 International Masters were also was also in the field including five from host Zambia. There were no West African participants this year. This is something that must be addressed in coming years.

In the Women’s championship 20 players from 10 federations, practically all holding titles. There were many returning participants including defending champion WGM Shahenda Wafa. Zambian national Lorita Mwango would be defending home turf and the Algerians wanted to add to their medal collection.

In the end, the Egyptian players was able to assert their dominance. Amin blitzed the field with 8½/9 drawing only with Adly who finished clear 2nd with 7/9. Coming in 3rd position was El Gindy with 6 points, edging Kayonde for the bronze. In the women’s tournament, Shahenda Wafa scored a sparkling 8/9 followed by Mwango and Latreche, both on 6½/9 points.

WGM Shahenda Wafa, 2018 African Women's Champion

WGM Shahenda Wafa, 2018 African Women’s Champion

FINAL STANDINGS
Open Section

2018 African Championship (Standings)

Standings: http://chess-results.com/tnr352629.aspx?lan=20&art=0&flag=30

Women’s Section

2018 African Championship (Standings)

Standings: http://chess-results.com/tnr352630.aspx?lan=20&art=0&flag=30

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Ju Wenjun, the long-standing salutatorian of Chinese women players won the world championship 5.5-4.5 on yesterday. Drawing the tenth game, she held off Tan Zhongyi who was the reigning champion. Ju makes the sixth Chinese player to win the title after Xie Jun, Zhu Chen, Xu Yuhua, Hou Yifan and Tan Zhonyi.

Ju Wenjun, 2018 Women's World Champion

Ju Wenjun, 2018 Women’s World Champion
Photo by Gu Xiaobang

The strong run by China is also accented by their dominance in team competitions. They are the defending gold medalists and in the last 14 Olympiads have won 13 medals (5 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze). Ju has put up a number of strong performances winning the FIDE Grand Prix to qualify as the challenger. Hou Yifan, world’s highest-rated woman, has nixed the women’s cycle due to her dislike of the intervening knockout format. This is still a raging discussion.

Going into the match Ju was an odds-on favorite as the #2 player on the women’s list and a fixture near the top of women’s chess. On the other hand, Tan held an unremarkable and fairly inactive reign after upsetting Anna Muzychuk in the Women World Championship (knockout) last year in Tehran, Iran. That tournament was highlighted by political rumblings of “hijabgate” where a few high-profile players boycotted the event.

Tan Zhongyi, 2018 Women's World Chess Championship, Shanghai, China

Tan Zhongyi at Opening Ceremonies
Photo by Gu Xiaobing

The surprise of the tournament was the performance of Tan who used a mixture of steadiness and tenacity to defeat many powerful opponents including Anna Ushenina (UKR), Padmini Rout (IND), Ju Wenjun (CHN) and Harika Dronavali (IND). Certainly not an easy road. However, Tan was relatively inactive as a world champion and had few publicity appearances promoting the crown. Most of her appearances had been in the Chinese League, but she competed in a few overseas events.

This match was not given much coverage and there was not much discussion on it in the chess mainstream. The fact that not many journalists were in China limited the onsite exposure that would provide a deeper perspective of the player’s feelings and emotions.

The main coverage was done by Chinese journalists and the live commentary done in Mandarin, but ChessBase and Chess24 filed daily reports. GM Ian Rogers and wife Cathy Rogers were in from Australia to provide English coverage. He wrote an interesting account of the “invisible” nature of the match and the neglect by FIDE.

1st half of the Match (Shanghai, China)

The match was split between two cities: Shanghai and Chongqing, the hometowns of Ju Wenjun and Tan Zhongyi, respectively. The first six games showed the champion on shaky ground in the first few games going down two points early.

Tan Zhongyi, 2018 Women's World Chess Championship, Shanghai, China

Ju Wenjun on the prowl going up two games.
Photo by Gu Xiaobing

The first game started off when Ju unfurled 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4!? This is obviously a common move, but it is not as popular as the mainlines beginning with 3.Nf3. The game built up into a tense struggle and after 24…Bh2+ 25.Kg2 Qxf3+ 26.Kxf3 Bxe4+ 27.Rxe4 and major pieces came off. White’s pawns were a bit weak, but she enjoyed a passed d-pawn. Complicating matters was Ju falling precariously behind on time.

Tan decided to create complications and got a passed pawn of her own, and after the last pair of rooks came off. According to Rogers, there were some tense moments and black had to play some precise moves in the end, but the knight vs. bishop ending was drawn.

In the next two games, Tan got a bit careless and ended up dropping both games. In the second game, she was surprised by Ju’s opening and seemed a bit uncomfortable. In the unbalanced position, black went for a kingside initiative. Tan defended well, but perhaps underestimated the venom. Black had created with her connected passed pawns. By the time Tan scrambled to stop the black pawns, she was left with a few tricks, but Ju was alert and the pawns would go through.

In game three, they tried a Catalan, but Tan tried to mix things up with 14…g5? and after 15.Qh5 her position was in shambles. With her king imprisoned on e8, she tried surviving, but there were too many holes in the position. The game ended with a nice tactic 27.Qd4+! This had to have been a crushing blow.

In game four, Tan’s 29.h4! was
a battering ram

If you look at +2 score in a short match, it can put the create a false sense of comfort. It is not clear that Ju relaxed, but Tan came roaring back in game four. She essayed a Trompowsky Attack and showed her willingness to vary her opening, unlike Ju (who played 1.d4 every game). It appears that Tan was fond of pushing her g-pawns in this match and in this game got a strong attack with 21.g4!? It seems a bit crude as she shuffled her pieces around to aim them at the black king. Then she hit again with 29.h4! bulldozing the cover of black pawns. Ju seemed to panic, her position collapsed quickly and she ended up getting mated.

In the last game before moving to the next venue, Tan surprised Ju with the Bishop’s Opening. This may have been done to avoid the dreaded Petroff Defense. The experiment did not bear any fruit as black equalized easily. Tan played an exotic 10.Na3, but the piece became offside. With full command of the center, Ju developed a nice attacking position with raking bishop on b8 and c8 and a closed center. This seemed to be an attack made to order.

Tan sacrificed a pawn for the two bishops, but black’s position was fluid and the attack stormed ahead. After 30…Qh5 31.c4 Ne5! black’s attack was too strong. In a few moves, it would now be Tan who would be mated. Ju regained her two-point lead which presents a stiff challenge for Tan.

She would be going to her hometown. However, it’s not clear whether playing in one hometown is favorable or not given what happened to Viswanthan Anand against Magnus Carlsen.

2nd half of the Match (Chongqing, China)

Almost on cue, Tan roared back with a win. The good thing is that there are four games in which to make up one point. In game six, she need every ounce of energy as the game lasted 121 moves.

Queen endings are tremendously difficult to play as calculative powers are important. On move 41, it was R+Q vs. R+Q. Tan was nursing a pawn advantage, but the most important issue was white’s weak king. While the black king was safely ensconced on h7, the white king was scurrying about trying to sidestep checks and attacks on many entry points. Finally Tan decided that her best chance would be in a queen ending with the eventual help of her monarch.

The king’s “Long March” from g8 to g1!
Follow the green trail, then yellow trail,
then the red.

The king took a very cautious march up the board while the white queen was giving chasing. Finally the black king got onto the e3-square and then f1! It was a Nigel Short-type attack with the king and white could do little to prevent threats of cross checks and simplification to an easy win for Tan. There were more checks, but the end came when the black king landed on g1. Was this symbolic of Mao Tse-Tung’s “Long March”? It seemed so. It was an example of patience and of fortune!

After a quick draws in game seven and eight, Tan almost lost the match on the spot in game eight, but had to fight to get a theoretical draw in a rook ending. She had been struggling to get any tangible advantages in the opening and clearly took too many risks to win. In a critical moment, 45.e4! would be enough for a draw as Tan had reserved some trickery for secure the draw. On 45…f4 black would have 46.Re6+ when 46…Kxe6 would a stalemate. Otherwise black cannot escape infinite checks producing a “super rook.” Tan would live to see another day, but time had run short.

Tan would have to come up with something in the last game.

Tan Zhongyi played the hippopotamus in game ten.

The “hippopotamus” is a very flexible opening that relies on counterattack.
Photo by Burrard Lucas

In the last game, Tan ended up playing …g5 again. She opted for a Modern/Pirc after tricking Ju to play an 1.e4 opening. This may have been a good strategy since Ju may not have been too comfortable with the structures. Tan played a type of “hippopotamus” (with a5 instead of a6) which goads white forward to overextend her position. Ju played solidly when Tan lashed out with 19…g5!? It was now or never. Unfortunately, this ploy fell flat as the black kingside was irreparably damaged and Ju implicitly offered a draw.

Despite her worse position, Tan tried to drum up complications, but Ju played it safely and simplified into a dead equal position. There was nothing left. Tan agreed to a draw and congratulated her friend. Ju Wenjun becomes the 6th Chinese world champion winning 5.5-4.5.

Unfortunately, the match received little coverage or discussion. The reasons were stated earlier, but the question of the championship cycle may resurface since Ju will have to defend her crown only months from now (after the Chess Olympiad). In addition, there were issues with raising funds so the match had to be postponed. Ultimately, the prize fund of the match was a relatively paltry €200,000 ($239,210) with 60 percent going to the winner and 40 percent to the loser.

ALL GAMES (TWIC)

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GM Nigel Short (England)

This year is an Olympiad year, but more importantly, it is a FIDE election year. So far there has not been much in the way of campaigning, but in the past several months, there have been several announcements made. Earlier in the year we saw Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Georgios Makropolous announcement their quests for the FIDE Presidency. More recently we have heard from British Grandmaster Nigel David Short standing for the office.

Short’s name precedes him in the annals of chess. He has been a world championship contender against Garry Kasparov when the two decided to break away from the FIDE championship cycle. It was a short-lived experiment (no pun intended), but provided the professional circuit with an alternative to what people felt had become a moribund system.

Kasparov later admitted that his ill-fated attempt was not the best approach, but the championship crown was finally united by Viswanathan Anand. The Indian legend actually toppled Vladimir Kramnik of Russia who beat Kasparov in the Brain Games championship. Thus, there was a time that different players held disputed championships. What is even more perplexing was that FIDE had several champions featuring players outside of the top 10.

Nigel Short vs. Garry Kasparov, 1993 PCA World Championship
Photo by Telegraph

GM Nigel Short making a point
at the 2012 FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

After a system was devised and the championship cycle united, Anand held the championship for five years. He was eventually beaten by Magnus Carlsen in stunning fashion. While Anand and Carlsen have added stability, the auspices of the championship have been held by AGON, a Russian company with close ties to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Here is an interview he granted to The Chess Drum during the 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.

During the 2014 FIDE General Assembly, Short made an inquiry as to the relationship between FIDE and AGON. This became a sticking point in the 2014 election. With Short continued campaign against FIDE’s long-standing Ilyumzhinov, he has decided to stand for the office of FIDE President a month after Georgios Makropoulous had announced his candidacy. It should be quite a battle with the embattled Ilyumzhinov and a candidate who is (for better or for worse) tied to him.

Nigel Short has a history of “stirring the pot”. Here he is pictured questioning the FIDE/AGON agreement at the FIDE General Assembly in Tromso Olympiad in Norway. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Short, now 52, may have an advantage as he is an outsider who may want to “drain the swamp,” but there will be questions about his experience as an administrator. While Short has been unmoved in his positions of FIDE negligence and corruption, he will have to address a bevy of questions about an array of topics. Short is not a neophyte to the campaign trail as he was part of the team lobbying for Bessel Kok, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov.

So does Nigel Short stand a chance? The answer is not so simple. From one standpoint, the vote will be divided which means that he does not have to achieve an overwhelming majority. You have a reigning President who still maintains some of his loyalist ties, a Deputy President with a large apparatus supporting him. For Short, you have a legendary player who has been active politically, is well-traveled and has wide support among smaller federations. This could play in Short’s favor.

Nigel Short is still winning tournaments,
but can he score an ultimate victory in Batumi?
Photo by Maria Emelianova

He has been very critical of both Ilyumzhinov and Makropolous which means he is fighting opponents who will be united on most issues. These opponents will seize upon some of Short’s unpopular commentary which caused the British Grandmaster quite a bit of backlash. Ironically, in the latest New in Chess (2018/3) he hurled invectives against Susan Polgar who holds considerable capital in the chess world.

Incidentally, many of her fans also represent (among many segments) vast numbers of women and players from small federations. It is uncertain what type of impact that will have. Being a political activist is far different from being a chief executive of a major international body. We will certainly find out in the coming months how serious of an effort he will make.

Video by GM Daniel King

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Herminio Baez

On yesterday I received the unfortunate news that Herminio Baez, Jr. passed away on Wednesday morning May 2nd. He was 63. The proud chess-playing father left was survived by his loving soul mate of 38 years Daniella Baez, four children including his three sons Antonio, Steven, Chris and daughter Maya. He also had 14 grandchildren.

Antonio affectionately called him “Pop” and told me of his fondest moments of his father. This included the time he asked his father for money to buy a new car tire. Herminio told him, “Buy a used tire until you can buy a new one.” Upset at the response, Antonio stormed off, but his father was teaching him a very instructive lesson about responsibility. It’s one we learn (or teach) at some point.

Herminio was born July 3, 1954 in Brooklyn and was the son of Puerto Rican parents and had five siblings. Harry preceded him in death. He loved playing the percussion instruments such as the congos and maracas was immensely proud of his heritage and was enthusiastic about Latin music.


“My dad passed away peacefully in his sleep, May 2nd, 2018. My dad was the most generous, caring, loving man you’ll meet. He was a Chess Master as well. Not only was it his passion it was also his job, his business. He loved all his students and couldn’t wait to show them new things everyday.”

~Maya Baez (daughter)


Latin music was a great passion of his.

Photos courtesy of Antonio Baez

Antonio has last spoken to his father the Saturday before his passing. He said he got a special feeling from that last talk. He mentioned that he told his father the name for his yet to be born son, “Malachi”. Herminio said, “I’m going to call him Arsenio.” Why Arsenio? We will never know.

Of course chess was his passion and he taught in the Dallas area for decades. Herminio was a part of the “Black Bear School of Chess,” a serious chess group organized to challenge members to be the absolute best. This school produced luminaries such as George Golden, Maurice Ashley, William Morrison, Ron Simpson and Ernest Colding. He was also a part of the Kingsmen Chess Club which competed in the Industrial League.

Kingsman Chess Club

Kneeling (L-R): Jerald Times, Ernest Colding, Ronald Simpson, Maurice Ashley
Standing (L-R): Robert Ali, David Diamond, Jerry Bibuld, Herminio Baez, John Evans
Photo courtesy of Jerry Bibuld

Herminio in action!

He left New York to try his teaching craft in Texas. In his discussion with me about Alfred Carlin, he told me how he ended up in Dallas. After being in the vibrant chess scene of New York, he decided to take heed to a referral and move south. His initial impression was one of racial intolerance and bigoted views. However, he was able to navigate these social barriers successfully.

Antonio & Herminio Baez, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Antonio Baez

I first encountered Herminio through casual email exchanges. I knew about him through FM William Morrison. I later contacted him when Alfred Carlin fled Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to live with his brother in Dallas. Needing sustenance to survive the aftermath of losing everything, I put him in contact with Herminio. Alfred taught for him since 2005 until the time he passed away just one month ago. Baez had set Carlin up with a steady line of students. Unfortunately, Carlin health began to fail him earlier this year. Herminio had been battling his own issues.

While there has been no official cause, Herminio had been suffering from chest pains and had suffered a previous heart attack in his 30s. In the early 2000s, he began to suffer recurrent chest pains and moved to improve his health. On Tuesday May 1st he mentioned feeling unwell and Wednesday morning he did not wake up apparently dying peacefully in his sleep. We owe a debt of gratitude for his services and mentorship.

Funeral Arrangements for Herminio Baez Jr.

Thursday May 10th 2pm / 4pm and 7pm / 9pm,
Friday May 11th 2pm / 4pm and 7pm / 9pm

He will be interred at St Michael’s Cemetery Saturday May 12th. Anyone wishing to attend the Burial must be at the Funeral Parlor by 9am. Please make sure you have enough gas in your vehicles. You can also meet the procession at the Cemetery.

St. Michaels Cemetery
7202 Astoria Blvd, East Elmhurst, NY 11370

Guarino Funeral Home of Carnarsie
9222 Flatlands Ave,
Brooklyn, NY 11236
Phone: (718) 257-2890

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Chicago Chess Blitzers heading to Detroit

You knew it was going to be a “Thriller” in Motown. Chicago Chess Blitzers (CCB) drove four hours to take on sibling city in a blitz battle. The match had seen a buildup of trash-talking with Detroiters posting choice words in social media. On Saturday, April 21st, CCB met at the Chicago Chess Club to make the trek eastward. An hour out, CCB went on Facebook Live to report their pending arrival.

Detroit area players have become known more for scholastic activity in recent years due to the work of several local coaches. However, there is parallel community of blitz players wanting to take up the challenge. CCB arrived at approximately 5:15pm and after 30 minutes of reviewing rules and regulations the match began. There was great spirit and many reunions.

John Brooks (and Tom Murphy recounted stories going back 30 years.

The first few rounds were relatively equal with Detroit pulled ahead +3 after after taking the second round 16.5-13.5. Chicago took the third round 16.5-13.5 to level the score again. After Chicago went up +2 in the 4th round, Detroit roared back to win round five by +4.

IM Angelo Young led CCB to a big victory against Cleveland, but was not in top form during the match. That honor went to Gopal Menon (26/28) dropped his only game of the match. Here he wins a game in a time scramble against the over-achieving Irv Thompson.

Irv Thompson (15.5/28) got a number of scalps…

…but not this one! Gopal (26/28) prevailed and only dropped one game.

IM Angelo Young (17/28) squares off against FM Jimmy Canty (19.5/28)

IM Atulya Shetty (right) led the charge for Detroit with 23.5/28
while NM Bill Calton got 15/28

The turning point came when Chicago blasted Detroit 19-11 in round six reclaiming the lead 93-87. IM Arjun Vishnuvard was on form and had only given up three draws in 12 games. After a mid-match break, Chicago continued to widen the lead which would balloon to 165.5-134.5 after round ten.

At this point, fatigue started to set in and bystanders at the tournament were saying the players looked a bit tired. Detroit legendary blitzer John Brooks was heard saying that he wish he had given a better performance. At 72, the local favorite could not string together many wins, but he seemed to command respect from several of the CCB players who were familiar with his blitz exploits.

Chicago took the next three rounds by another 14 points. One of the matches was Daniel X Jones vs. Jimmy Canty who played a cage match in Chicago last summer. The first game was in the Exchange Caro-Kann and the second Jones’ “Bird’s Opening.” Take a look!

The match was very spirited but unfortunately, the last and 15th round was unable to be held due to the lateness of the hour, but there was surprisingly several blitz matches. Tom Murphy played John Brooks a single blitz game and there was money flowing on the table. Two blitz gladiators going toe-to-toe was a sight to see. There are rumblings about a cage match between the two.

The one issue that could be improved is the time lapse in between rounds. The match had already started more than an hour late (due to a delay in Chicago). In addition, taking 10-15 minutes to set the pairings each round will result in another two hours of added time in a 15-round match. There was a minor issue with clocks being floating around and the tournament director was shouting out the pairings instead of posting which is difficult to do for 15 boards.

Typically in a round robin the pairings can be generated with 1:15, 2:14, 3:13 format such that every player knows who they are playing well in advance. There were also inaccuracies in the scoring. For example, Michael Vilenchuk was reported as winning his 11th round match against Greg Harris 2-0, but on the chart provided after the match, the score is presented as 1-1.

Detroit Destroyers came to play! After months of back-and-forth banter,
another Detroit-Chicago battle in the books!
Photos by Nathan Kelly

Nevertheless, the organizers Dee Wildman and Nathan Kelly were successful at staging an exciting match and Detroit pulled it off. There will be more action during the Chicago Open. Nathan Kelly is making plans for the next match as the CCB looks for its next adventure. He has a number of ideas which may include matches against GMs. There are also a number of cage matches in the works. Who’s next?

“Best in the Midwest” Blitz Battle
Detroit Destroyers vs. Chicago Chess Blitzers
# Player ELO Team
Flag
pts./28
1 Gopal Menon 2322 CHI
26.0
2 IM Atulya Shetty 2485 DET
23.5
3 IM Vishnuvard Arjun 2254 CHI
23.5
4 FM Mark Heimann 2464 DET
22.5
5 Daniel X Jones 2161 CHI
21.5
6 Aderemi Adekola 2085 CHI
21.5
7 Michael Auger 2235 CHI
20.5
8 FM Jimmy Canty 2297 DET
19.5
9 Michael Vilenchuk 2334 CHI
17.0
10 David Franklin 2160 CHI
17.0
11 IM Angelo Young 2425 CHI
17.0
12 Irv Thompson 1758 DET
15.5
13 Bill Calton 2330 DET
15.0
14 Aakaash Meduri 2168 CHI
15.0
15 Thomas Murphy 2075 CHI
15.0
16 Mickey Maloy 2094 DET
13.0
17 Justin Brown 2039 DET
12.0
18 Dritan Zekaj 2149 CHI
11.5
19 Aaron Daniel 2124 DET
11.0
20 John Brooks 1807 DET
10.5
21 Nelson Marcelino 2085 DET
10.0
22 Bryan Wilson 1875 DET
10.0
23 Steffen Klug 2101 DET
9.0
24 Gwayne Lambert 1900 CHI
9.0
25 Gregory Harris 2016 DET
8.5
26 Tim Donnahue 1949 CHI
8.0
27 Kameron Tolliver 2015 DET
7.0
28 Joseph Gadson 2007 DET
5.5
29 Manis Davidovich 2200 DET
4.5
30 Ernest Jones 1645 CHI
3.5
Score: Chicago 232 – Detroit 188
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