Hello everyone!

As we are well into another year, The Chess Drum has made 18 years!!! This year I will commemorate the anniversary with a video that will recount the evolution of The Chess Drum including its conception and eventual launch February 12th, 2001.

The Chess Drum, http://www.thechessdrum.net/

In the past, I have generally recapped the past year and reviewed some of the activities of the site. I must say that last year was bitter-sweet. However, we also featured a number of obituaries due to losses of chess personalities. However, The Chess Drum covered the Olympiad live and that is always a special event.

Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Kenya and Nigeria at 2018 Chess Olympiad!

Ian Wilkinson QC (Jamaica) & Dr. Daaim Shabazz (USA)
Photos by The Chess Drum

The one thing that has changed in the 18 years is the way information travels and is subsequently consumed. There is a great emphasis on digital platforms, social media and video viewing. I noticed these challenges roughly 15 years ago. Unfortunately, the chess information on social media platforms is often incomplete.

While the number of articles has stabilized on The Chess Drum (116 in 2018 from a high of 240 in 2014), there has been more emphasis on in-depth reporting. You may have noticed the length of such articles. Recently, I wrote on the trends in journalism discussing this issue.

Below is the video recounting the history of The Chess Drum. This is the first time I have explained the story although there is an essay I wrote as part of the welcoming of visitors to the site. So sit back and enjoy the story that unfolds.


Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

This video is dedicated to the following who have passed away since last anniversary (February 12th)…

The Making of The Chess Drum

Video by Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum)


One of the fascinating features of chess besides its attractive entertainment value is the social fulfillment gained from its community of personalities. Chess players cover the gamut in terms of demographics despite being erroneously portrayed in the media as a monolith of bespectacled geniuses with high IQs. After 40 years of involvement with chess, many people have enriched my chess life. However, few of my early friendships in chess were as important as the one I shared with Marvin Dandridge.

Marvin has been a fixture in Chicago-area chess for the past four decades and is known as one of the most personable figures. A few minutes younger than his twin brother Martin Dandridge, both attended perennial powerhouse Chicago Vocational High School (CVS) where they excelled in sports.

Martin was a standout athlete, captaining the top-rated CVS football squad and winning city honors in wrestling. While Marvin was sectional champion in wrestling and also lettered in football, it would be chess where Marvin would make his legendary mark. CVS took the city title in 1975 and then placed 3rd in the state competition on the strength of Marvin’s 1st place performance on 2nd board and Gene Coleman’s 2nd place performance on 1st board.

Chicago Vocational H.S. Chess Club (1975)

Chicago Vocational High School (CVS) would won the City Championship in 1975. This photo was taken from the 1975 CVS yearbook. Sitting (L-R): Jerome Mitchell, Derrick Sudduth, Kevin Rouse. 2nd Row (L-R): Tom Fineberg, Rory Trotter, Mitchell Channell, Gene Coleman, Marvin Dandridge, Frederick Turner, Michael Chatman. 3rd Row (L-R): Earl Hall, Lester Bullard, Dewayne Moore, Rodney Johnson. Dandridge and Fineberg would become mainstays of the southside chess scene. Photo from CVS Technician yearbook (1975).

Having written thousands of pages of contemporary chess history at this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t honor those players who contributed significantly to my chess confidence. Incidentally, three were fellow CVS alumni… Roger Hickman, Marvin Johnson and of course, Marvin Dandridge. I have a biological big brother, but all three were my “big brothers” in chess. Hickman provided me with life skills perspective, Johnson mentored me during my scholastic rise at CVS and finally Dandridge who contributed to raising my skill level in chess.

Extending the CVS tradition, I am holding the plaque for the 1980 City Championship with CVS teammate Reginald Williams (5th board) on the right. CVS went on to place 9th in the Illinois H.S. state championship.

CVS and Tuley Park

Sitting on 27 acres and once housing an airplane hangar, the massive Chicago Vocational High School (CVS) had a thriving chess club under the direction of the indefatigable Thomas Fineberg, a math teacher of a rather corpulent stature. CVS, with its enrollment of 4,000+ students, was powerhouse in all athletics, but also a traditional chess powerhouse. After a few battles in the lunchroom and classrooms, I had joined the school club as a 15-year old sophomore on the urging of a classmate named Cornelius Plunkett.

The campus of Chicago Vocational High School

As a new member, you got the standard club rating of 700. Fineberg had devised an internal rating system to determine the board orders for the chess team. There were more than 100 players on the “CVS ladder rating list,” and after my first year in the club, I went from 700 to 1000. “Ten hundred” was the threshold to be a “strong” player. By my senior year, I ascended to board one and had a club ladder rating of 1500-1600.

My first chess interactions outside of CVS were at Tuley Park where meetings were Saturdays from noon-5pm. Every week CVS Coach Fineberg would religiously unload his sets and boards from the trunk of his Dodge and wait for the crowd. Tuley Park attracted players from the south side of Chicago including players from various area high schools.

My CVS club mate and sparring partner Jeffery Allen encouraged me to visit. He had been attending club meetings and his improvement was evidence of it. Jeffery had won top “C” prize at the 1979 U.S. Open and had beaten GM Arthur Bisguier in a simultaneous exhibition. He was very studious and stronger than me at that point.

Chicago’s Tuley Park Field House

The southside chess scene centered about Tuley Park on 91st and M.L. King in a rather attractive area of well-kept, middle-class homes. It housed a public library, hosted tennis tournaments, and baseball leagues, but became known as the watering hole for chess competition. J.A. Miller started the meetings at Tuley and Fineberg merged his “87th St. Chess Club” at the same location.

Meeting Marvin

I finally made my way to Tuley Park on a Saturday, walked in the buzzing room, and there was an immediate pulse of energy felt in the place. I saw players engaged in various skittles games, blitz battles and heard pieces clicking and the staccato of chess clocks being slapped. There were occasional taunts and lots of laughing. The place was electric.

I surveyed the room and saw this rather large guy take a pawn in his hand, slam it on the board and yell, “MATE!!!” I wondered to myself, “What kind of chess is this?” I was a relatively new player, and I had never seen bughouse before. It was not as big as it is today. I was impressed by this spectacle, but also his constant laughing, jokes and trash talk. It was infectious as he had the entire club buzzing. It was where I wanted to be. That brash player would be Marvin Dandridge.

“Don’t worry. Don’t be mad. You’re young. You’ll get better. You’ll get stronger and stronger… (pause for effect)… and I’ll STILL crack you off!”

~Marvin’s quip to rising talents

The next time I saw Marvin was when he visited CVS chess club and gave a simul. Fineberg told us of his top board from the City Championship team in 1975. We were in awe. Marvin was mowing everyone down. My game was the last one going, but we were unable to finish as Fineberg had put all the equipment away and prepared to leave. As I stood there pondering, Marvin dismissed the game as being lost. It indeed was, but it would be the first of many encounters with him.

My encounters with Marvin were vital because he set an early bar for me. I began the process of serious study… buying some basic books and getting Chess Life & Review out of the school library. I continued my improvement and was a regular at Tuley Park. Somewhere along the line, I must’ve impressed Marvin because I would find myself visiting his home on 77th and Marshfield to study openings, go over a tournament encounter or play training games. I was not at his level, but he motivated me to get serious about chess study. After my junior year, I studied 6-10 hours a day over the summer and rose several places to claim 1st board as a senior.


In those days, Marvin exhibited a larger-than-life personality with a biting sense of humor. He was an excellent impressionist covering cartoon characters, actors and singers (even Bootsy Collins!). During blitz battles, you had to have some fairly thick skin, or he would rankle you easily. His tactical eye was brutal, and when he hit you with a combination, he would let out one of his roars… “OH YEAHHHH!!!!” while twirling his arm around in victory. His signature line came from a barbecue sauce commercial whose main line was “Oh yeah!”

Marvin was relentless in his banter, and everyone in the club would be in stitches laughing. All you could do was get up after a loss and try to be a good sport. If you sat down to play him, you knew what you may a target of his humor. His physical humor was also hilarious. Make a poor move and Marvin would start sniffing the air implying that your move was smelly or stunk.

There were several occasions later on when Marvin’s antics got the best of his opponents. There is a famous encounter between Marvin and (now FM) Albert Chow, who at the time was one of the top young players in the state. Chow had been a regular at Jules Stein’s Chicago Chess Center (2666 N. Halsted) and after the tournament was over, he played some blitz in the small skittles room.

FM Albert Chow (right) playing FM Morris Giles in the 5th round
of the 1988 Prairie State Open.

After Chow trashed me a couple of games, Marvin sat to play him. The first couple of games Chow crushed him and was in a joking mood. Marvin had been a bit quiet, but then broke through winning a game… then another… and another! By this time Marvin was pumped up and turned up the volume of trash talking. They continued to trade barbs, but it took on a more personal tone… with suggestive references. Marvin won another game and bellowed “OH YEAHHH!!!” Usually very composed, Chow appeared unsettled.

In the next game, Marvin went a bit far when he put his hand on Chow’s leg with some off-color humor. Chow, who was already upset, swept the pieces off the board, and stormed out of the room. Marvin was still amidst laughter when an angered Chow came back into the room after a few minutes and shot another verbal missile at Marvin, even questioning his sexual orientation. Not to be outdone, Marvin delivers the final punch.

“Don’t worry. Don’t be mad. You’re young. You’ll get better. You’ll get stronger, and stronger… (pause for effect)… and I’ll STILL crack you off!

The room filled with raucous laughter. On another occasion, Marvin sprung that same joke on 1979 Illinois H.S. state champion Melvin Alsberry who laughed along. As time passed by, Chow would laugh at that day and told me, “I don’t know why I was so mad at Marvin Dandridge.”

Even if you were mad at Marvin, it usually didn’t last long. He once told me after a training session that I wasn’t challenging him. The words hit me hard. I was shaken, but determined to be better… and I was. Marvin had his own way of motivating you.

“Getting the Strauss”

After graduating from Eastern Illinois University, Marvin began to become more active in tournaments. I remember going down to the 1979 U.S. Open with him to watch the games and even work the demonstration boards. It was my first-time seeing professionals up close. Marvin also pointed out players to me such as Emory Tate and David Sprenkle (see the amazing Sprenkle-Dandridge).

In the Dandridge-Rizzitano, white seems to be in trouble due to the menacing bishops and the advanced pawns. Black’s threat of Ba3 and c1 (Q) seem hard to meet. Of course b2 appears devastating, but Marvin reels off a gem. Can you find the move?

In 1980, he was a graduate student at Chicago State University and played in the 1980 Pan-American Intercollegiate along with Raheem Muhammad Ali, Gene Scott and Angelo Armistead. At that tournament, Marvin (then rated 2040) played a classic encounter with FM James Rizzitano (2355) of Boston College. Rizzitano (now IM) was the 1979 National High School champion and one of America’s brightest young stars. This game was also featured in the Chess Life issue covering the Pan-Am tournament and put Marvin in the national spotlight! Understandably, the game attracted a huge crowd.

Marvin “got the strauss” as he would so often say after a victory. The next year, Marvin and I played as teammates for Chicago State University at the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate (Statler Hotel in New York). He was finishing his Master’s in Psychology, and I was a freshman studying Computer Science. Also on the team was my other mentor and CVS alumni Roger Hickman, and my high school archrival Melvin Alsberry, a Carver High legend. It was my first flight. We had a blast, visited the now-defunct Manhattan Chess Club and had many fun memories.

1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate in New York

Representing Chicago State University at the
1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate in New York. I ended on 5½-2½.

Unfortunately, I misplaced my hotel key almost immediately after we checked in at the desk. Everyone was mad at me because they put us in a smaller room. Marvin didn’t perform well at the tournament losing to an 1800-rated player from the University of Chicago, Tom Kang. Meanwhile, Roger accepted draws against weaker players… sometimes making the offer. All of these memories resulted in an exchange of jokes we share even to this day. Roger quipped (about Marvin), “Our master didn’t show up.”

Marv’s Magic

During tournament play or when studying, Marvin appeared very focused and composed. I remember studying some very complicated opening systems with Marvin. I particularly remember analyzing the Sveshnikov where black plays …f5 and …d5. We also looked at the French Poisoned Pawn line where white plays Kd1. He also essayed the aggressive Dutch Defense. Fortunately, I was an 1.e4 player. Here is a battle with (now GM) Ben Finegold. Crazy!

Here’s another crazy Dutch Defense against the legendary Arthur Bisguier

I remember becoming disappointed when Marvin took up the positional Caro Kann and started playing the English starting with 1.Nf3. He had abandoned our “tactical” fraternity and joined Hickman for more positional chess. I remember trying to convince him to play 1.e4 again. Looking at the craziness of his games, you can understand why he needed a different direction. However he still knew how to uncork some tactical gems.

One of the things about Marvin is he was a great sport and I never saw him angry after a loss. I saw him lose a blitz session to Colombia’s (now GM) Alonso Zapata who was giving him 5:3 time odds. I couldn’t believe it. He told me with a chuckle, “No more 5:3 against IMs.” Marvin knew how to laugh at himself when on the brink of losing. He would shout out “OH NOOOO!” No… it wasn’t from Mr. Bill of the Saturday Night Live fame, but taken from the Calgonite commercial.

Unfortunately, Marvin was “Calgonited” in this game…

Becoming “Uncle Marv”

I left Chicago in 1989 and lost the contact with Marvin except for a happenstance encounter at one of the chess meetups or the Chicago Open. His activity had slowed a bit, but he was still involved in the chess community and had earned the affectionate name of “Uncle Marv.” After I launched The Chess Drum in 2001, I began to feature his games and penned a popular article titled, “Dandridge brings Chicago Fire” featuring the above win over Boris Kreiman.

Marvin Dandridge playing International Master Oladapo Adu blitz at 2004 Chicago Open.

A classic blitz battle with Nigeria’s Oladapo Adu at 2004 Chicago Open.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

During my trips back to Chicago, I’d try to catch up with old acquaintances. A few years back at a Chicago Open tournament, Marvin and I went out to grab a bite to eat, and it was great to catch up. We reminisced about the good times and how things had changed in chess. Many of the people we knew had moved in different directions in life. Some has passed away and others had health challenges. Nevertheless, it was good to spend that time.

At the 2016 Chicago Open, Marvin Dandridge shows his game (against Galina Novikova) to Remi Adekola and Roger Hickman with Brooklyn’s Steve Colding (left) looking on. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

It’s nice to remember the good times. Chess provided those moments of happiness that one can reflect on. I remember card parties at Marvin’s house, the pizza outings with Roger Hickman and the times when the three of us descended on Harper’s Square in Hyde Park or one of the chess clubs on the northside. Those were the good days.

In the diagrammed position, white has to find some incredible moves to win. Queen endings are challenging. Try if you dare!

Marvin had a peak rating 2350-2400 and earned the rank of Life Master. While he is no longer the blitz enthusiast that he once was, one of the things that I see in him is his joy in analyzing positions. This activity was something I spent hours doing with him. He enjoyed the challenge, the mental competition, and spotting tactical patterns. He also enjoyed solving problems. At one session, he presented this problem on the right. After we couldn’t solve it, he offered the solution, and we were amazed. Such influence was what I needed to improve.

As I pushed to improve, I urged Marvin to play more. To my chagrin, he told me that he was unable to spend entire weekends at tournaments. Perhaps there were other reasons, but as a licensed psychologist in a city like Chicago, his caseload must’ve been overwhelming.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Dandridge is being interviewed at the 2016 Emory Tate Memorial during which he offered insight about a number of psychological issues pertaining to Black chess players. Very interesting!

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Dandridge has worked for decades as a licensed clinical professional counselor. At this point in the interview, he spoke about the case of Issac Braswell, who died tragically in 2012. Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

Good Mentorship + Good Plan = Success

Although “Uncle Marv” may quickly scoff at being called “legend,” such a label would be fitting in local chess circles and within the larger African Diaspora. If nothing else, he has helped to fuel my passion for chess and years later I’m traveling the world writing about hundreds of other trailblazing players of African descent.

In fact, Marvin has some very intriguing and amusing stories about Chicago-born IM Emory Tate and he had tremendous respect for FM Morris Giles. These three were the head of the small group of Black masters in the Chicago area during the 80s. All three have had their moments in the spotlight and they would (in fact) become a major impetus for me starting The Chess Drum.

One of the objectives of The Chess Drum is to provide inspiration in the lives of Black people in the worldwide community. If I have not expressed this enough, we cannot underestimate mentorship and role modeling as key inspirations. If we want to create institutions for chess excellence, we have to have this essential element. Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, whom I met at the 1989 U.S. Open, mentioned this key element in his success.

Marvin Dandridge and Daaim Shabazz at 1989 U.S. Open.

With Marvin at 1989 U.S. Open in Oakbrook, Illinois
prior to me moving to Atlanta, Georgia for graduate school.

Chess mentorship seems to be lacking, particularly in the Black community. Today, there is the idea that aspiring masters need “trainers,” but there is also a need for mentorship. A trainer can be a mentor, can be from a different community, but there are other social elements required. Unfortunately, young players in the Black community have little connection to their predecessors.

Mentorship could undoubtedly boost confidence, not only in chess, but with career and social development. Perhaps it’s not always the student who chooses the mentor. Sometimes the mentor who chooses the student. I have been a university professor for nearly 25 years. Finding an understudy with whom to share your wealth of knowledge (and to see them thrive) is a tremendous blessing. I was fortunate to have benefited from such mentorship and I am forever grateful. Thanks Marvin!


At the launching of the World Chess Hall of Fame in Miami in 2001, the inaugural year of The Chess Drum.

Chess journalists often take on the task of presenting the face of chess to the world and oftentimes, that effort is overlooked or taken for granted. In my almost 18 years of covering chess for The Chess Drum, I have met some of the hardest-working professionals in chess journalism. I have provided live coverage for six Olympiad tournaments, a World Championship, several top-level events and many open tournaments. I have interviewed dozens of Grandmasters, rising scholastic stars and rank amateur players. I have observed how vibrant and universal chess has become. There are stories waiting to be told.

Fortunately, social media has provided a platform and there is more accessibility of information from different countries. Thus, a more complete view of chess is presented. While social media has filled a void, it is necessary, but not sufficient media for chess coverage. Far too many simply post a few photos of an event without a proper context or leading story.

Interviewing Levon Aronian after the 2017 St. Louis Rapid & Blitz.
Photo by Peter Doggers.

Websites run by chess journalists still play a valuable role in news coverage and provide the type of insight that mass media often fails to deliver and a permanency that social media lacks. In addition, too many chess neophytes are assigned to cover major chess events and we are left to read the cringe-worthy puns and references. Even chess writers will fall prey to false narratives such as the issue of U.S. winning the gold medal by “importing” foreign talent.

Keeping the Drum Beat

In my sphere, I continue to primarily focus on players of African descent around the world and ensure they have the platform to show their contributions to chess and to provide them exposure. When I was a junior player, there was hardly any news about Black chess players. There were stories worthy of being told, but no one was telling them. This was one of the main motivations in the founding of The Chess Drum in 2001. Fast forward to the 2018 Olympiad, Black chess players have a tremendous presence which I have described in a photo essay, “African Diaspora makes impact at 2018 Olympiad

Chess journalists: Haydn Gill (Barbados), Daaim Shabazz (USA), Jacinta Odongo (Kenya), Ian Wilkinson (Jamaica)

If one takes a good look at the interviews and photos of the 2018 Olympiad, it is obvious that chess covers the entire spectrum of demographics. In the past, most of the coverage on major chess websites had been on the top 20 players and the top 10 federations. Even today most sites are covering professional chess with only an occasional article on a small federation. It is interesting that one of the biggest triumphs spotlighting the virtues of chess was the story of Phiona Mutesi and the “Queen of Katwe.”

The Queen of Katwe

This compelling story was not about chess more than it was a story about a girl’s daring triumph over abject poverty. She is now a student a Northwest University, not far from Seattle. Unfortunately, the story did not get the proper exposure due to a poor marketing strategy. Many thought the movie was about a chess prodigy and that is the way it was advertised. The chess community also did not help matters in criticizing what they saw was an over-hyped chess figure.

I would be the first to admit that the articles written to market the movie were a bit misleading, so the chess community became more fixated on her low rating than her fascinating story. I wrote about a dozen articles on the story and attempted to focus more on the social upliftment in her life. Many simply could not relate and decided to focus on her chess statistics. In my opinion, it was a missed opportunity to showcase the qualities of chess.

Phiona Mutesi of Uganda, the “Queen of Katwe”
at 2018 Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Journalist Collegiality

For all counts, chess journalism is a rather thankless vocation as many put in hours of overage to report current events. It is very challenging. Most of the “friendly” agreements between journalists are based on the principle of collegiality and common goals of promoting chess. We request permission to use content with the understanding of proper attributions and credit. There are also the press room tips or reminders about press conferences and other events.

Mike Klein of chess.com always provides me with briefs in tournaments we cover together. I greatly appreciate this. It is a rather friendly environment since all are attempting to put the best face forward for chess. I have learned quite a bit from observing journalists at work. In particular, I have watched the photographers such as Puficheck (met at 2004 Chess Olympiad), David Llada, Lennart Ootes and Alina L’Ami and look to pick up tips.

Journalists’ Row at inaugural Sinquefield Cup in 2013
Cathy Rogers, Daaim Shabazz, Mike Klein,
Janis Nisii, Sabrina Chevannes
Photo by Dan Lucas.

Chess.com with Mike Klein, Peter Doggers and Maria Emelianova
at 2018 Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Unfortunately, in the world of journalism, many take umbrage to use photos and content without attributing properly. Maybe we all have been guilty at one time or another and we simply make the correction. However, this has become a major issue for journalists.

What prevents someone from using photos and content without any tacit permission of the owner? Nothing. There are all types of workarounds. However, if such an organization of journalists was created, it would serve as a force to prevent these actions and also to provide arbitration if in fact, there is a breach.

I missed the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, but knew of the difficulties journalists faced. My trip to Batumi for the 2018 Chess Olympiad reaffirmed that journalists needed stronger lobbying to ensure proper conditions, for sharing content and techniques, for showcasing our work and to frankly, be a watchdog group.

The Politicization of Chess Media

Unfortunately, chess journalism is often a casualty of political power plays executed to stifle honest reporting and critical analysis. The last ten years have been quite challenging given some of the contentious issues concerning FIDE. Journalists have a tough job in presenting all sides as objectively as possible and are often cast as catalysts for agitation. This has resulted in journalists having access restricted, being denied accreditation or even worse, being told they are not journalists. This resulted in a special FIDE Commission of Chess Journalists (CCJ) being formed for “approved” journalists.

Georgios Makropolous speaks on the creation of a commission for journalists and its goals. Advance to 22:55 into the clip. Video by North American Chess Association.

One of the tasks of the aforementioned CCJ is “to help protect chess journalists from plagiarism and copyright infringement etc.” as highlighted in the CCJ minutes in Tallinn, Estonia (2013). There are also principles of honoring intellectual property cited in CCJ minutes in Tromso, Norway (2014). What was interesting what that at the 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, I had discovered an infraction whereby a fellow journalist’s content from olimpbase.org was blatantly copied and used for profit to market a book on Olympiad history. This action violated all types of “fair use” clauses.

The offense was so egregious that I contacted the olimpbase.org owner Wojciech Bartelski and asked him whether he had extended rights for someone to write that book. He confirmed that he had not. My reason for revealing this issue publicly was for other journalists to see the extent to which our intellectual property can be violated. In fact, when I reported on this act of plagiarism, I was the target of a complaint filed with the FIDE Ethics Commission. When an act of blatant plagiarism is revealed, how can the offender then accuse the person (shedding light on it) of an ethics violation? How ironic!

During the 2018 Olympiad, I chatted with Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia and my friend Ian Wilkinson of Jamaica about the state of chess journalism and we all agreed that journalists are often forced to lobby for conditions each major event. This entails ensuring proper conditions (i.e., space and technical capability) for journalists to do their work, allowing some access to players, and also allowing reasonable freedom to photograph the event. Sometimes it’s not so easy.

Certainly, the situation varies from tournament to tournament and some organizations are more journalist-friendly than others. We can remember the 2016 World Championship in New York being fraught with access issues and journalists being seen queuing up outside the playing hall. It was the same for the 2018 Chess Olympiad and the 2018 World Championship in London as David Llada reported his frustrations on site. Coverage of chess events is too often an afterthought of organizers.

Journalists were initially restricted at the 2016 Chess Olympiad, but the issue was ultimately resolved. Photo by Mike Klein (chess.com).

This incident shows Maria Emelianova being harassed by the campaign of Georgios Makropoulos while recording a dispute between Iannis Makropoulos and Alexander Martynov over a legal issue. Video by Maria Emelianova (chess.com).

Moving Chess Forward

There is a lot of good content being produced in an increasingly decentralized media world. It is a wonder that we have to raise the question, “Are chess magazines still relevant?” Of course they are! Furthermore books are still a valuable force and websites serve as a bedrock of permanency. Social media platforms are not fully indexed via search engine and are inaccessible to many. However, there are many websites like The Week in Chess and ChessBase standing the test of time.

Of course chess.com and chess24 are giant content providers and sites like The Chess Drum, Africa Chess Media, Kenya Chess Masala serve a veritable niche for the African Diaspora. Finally, we can’t say enough about ChessBase India which has contributed mightily to the chess revolution in India and has given us an inside view of the talent being generated in the country of 1.3 billion.

With Amruta Mokal and Sagar Shah of ChessBase India
at 2018 Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Based on many of these developments and the election of the new FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, we hope to see better conditions for chess journalists. There is a need to cover events accurately and to fill the press room with competent chess journalists who ask knowledgeable questions. Where do non-chess journalists go to find answers if they are given the assignment to cover a chess tournament?

Ogunsiku Babatunde (Africa Chess Media)
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

The questions posed at the press conference during Anand-Carlsen championship match in Chennai were targets of criticism for being repetitive and uniformed. Questions at last year’s Candidate’s tournament also missed the mark at times. This created puzzling looks and allowed Alexander Grischuk to display his brand of sarcastic humor. In hindsight, the laughs and following Grischuk “thug life” memes may have been good for chess.

The true strength of chess journalism will come in a way that we can express our thoughts whether they are critical or favorable. If chess is to grow, chess journalists must have the leverage to perform this task. It is only in this vein that chess can get the accurate coverage it deserves and put an end to the frequent mischaracterizations that hinder its efforts at sponsorship.


As a student at the University of West Indies, FIDE Master Joshua Johnson understands the important of being focused on a task. The 19-year old is Olympiad team member for Trinidad and Tobago and recently scored victor in a local tournament in the island’s capital Port of Spain.

FM Joshua Johnson (Trinidad & Tobago)

FM Joshua Johnson (Trinidad & Tobago)

Newsday reported that the tournament began on December 29th at the Brian Lara Promenade, the venue named after the legendary cricket batsman drew 21 players and Johnson won 1st prize and $1,500 with an unbeaten score. Quinn Cabralis took home $1,000 and a trophy and FM Ryan Harper took 3rd with $500 and a trophy. The sponsors were KFC, Shoppes of Arima, Basic Transport, Payless Supermarket, Ministry of Community Development and Keith Hercules.

It was a good warm-up. I want to go away (abroad) some time this year, play some tournaments and raise my ratings.

~Joshua Johnson

Johnson, whose sister Gabriella Johnson is also a rising chess talent, is looking for opportunities abroad to express his talents. Chess is a family affair as his mother Sonja Johnson is the President of Trinidad and Tobago Chess Federation and on the FIDE Planning and Development Commission (PDC).

Tournament organizer Hayden Lee, President of Promenade Chess Club, wants to host more tournament and perhaps draw international attention and participation. It’s been several years since Trinidad & Tobago has attracted international acclaim.

Link: https://newsday.co.tt/2019/01/18/johnson-wins-promenade-chess-title/


On January 11, 2019, the city of Houston passed a proclamation for “Maurice Ashley Day” in recognition of this contributions to the general chess community. The Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner received the U.S. Hall of Famer. Maurice Ashley told The Chess Drum that the Mayor Turner was on board with the U.S. Hall of Famer.

Out of the dozens of articles written at The Chess Drum chronicling the career of Ashley, he continues to receive recognition from various organizations for his trailblazing path in chess. While he has not been active as a professional player for 15 years, he remains as a principle figure in the game as a motivational speaker, chess promoter/organizer/ambassador and first-rate chess commentator. Congratulations!

Ashley being received by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia was also on hand for the festivities. Photos courtesy of Maurice Ashley.


The home of the “Big Three” car manufacturing plants, the city aptly named “The Motor City” is also home to one of the most famous music empires in the world in Motown Records. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the hallowed sports tradition… at all levels.

Detroiters are competitive bunch and like to tout their sports prowess and this is no less evident in the chess arena. Derek Wilder sent a report to The Chess Drum on Detroit’s Metro Scholastic Chess League which focused on the best and brightest talents the city has to offer.

2018-2019 Detroit Metro Scholastic Chess League
(Report by Derek Wilder)

The 2018-2019 Detroit Metro Scholastic Chess League has just came to a exciting, nail-biting finish. Champions were crowned in the High School, Middle and Elementary divisions. The High School division was won by U. of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy coached by Mrs. Chevelle Brown. In second place was Cass Tech followed by Renaissance H.S.

Battle in progress!

The elementary divisions was one of the toughest and closest competitions with Cornerstone Elementary winning the city championship under the helm of Coach Brown. Cornerstone ended with a perfect score of seven match points. There was a three way tie for second place with Bates Academy coming in second on tiebreaks followed by UPrep Elementary then Chrysler Elementary.

The Middle School divisions was won by UPrep Middle School with a perfect score. The team was lead by one of the most talented women Detroit has produced in Charisse Woods. The 13-year old aspiring master, recently represented the U.S. in the FIDE World Youth Championship in Greece.

Charisse Woods

While UPrep continued its legacy as a chess powerhouse in Detroit chess, second place in this division came down to tiebreaks with Bates Academy winning on tie breaks. Bates is coached by Timothy Speight and Mrs. Ursula Bryd. Munger Middle School claimed third place with superior tiebreaks over Washington Parks Academy (Rahsaun Maddox, coach) who settled for 4th place.

University of Detroit Jesuit, 1st High School

UPrep, 1st place (Middle School)

Bates Academy, 2nd place (Elementary) & 2nd place (Middle School)
Photos by Dee Wilder and Timothy Speight

UPrep, 3rd place (Elementary) with FM Josh Posthuma

Chrysler, 4th place (Elementary)

The Detroit metro scholastic chess league is the premier chess scholastic league in Michigan for inter school competition thru the years and have produced many Detroit chess stars far as James Canty, Joseph Gadson, Kameron Tolliver, Charisse Woods, Micale Garland, Brelen Wilkes, Bryan Wilson Jr. to name a few. The tournament was run by the lovely LaRhonda McCann (League Director) and Mr. Kevin Fite, founder of Detroit City Chess Club (DCCC).


Kolade Onabogun being interviewed by Tania Sachdev after round three.
Photo by John Saunders (Gibchess)

Die-hard chess players have an idea of the elite tournaments around the world, but there are few in which amateur players can brush shoulders with the elite brass. Besides the Olympiad, the Gibraltar Chess Open is one of the tournaments that has received plaudits from top players including Hikaru Nakamura who has won the tournament four times. Players from the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Middle East all trek to the European destination to partake in a special event.

The view of the strait separating Spain from Morocco has a historic importance. The iconic “Rock of Gibraltar” makes quite an impression for visitors and the Barbary macaques (monkeys) are a photo favorite. Also memorable are the interactions and one-in-a-lifetime chances to meet chess role models. Sometimes these players are able to become role models!

Nigeria’s Kolade Onabogun has been on the scene for many years, but his play has tapered off in recent years. Having reached these pages as early as 2002, he is living his dream at the 2019 Gibraltar Festival. In round three found himself on board 17 playing world-class Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. This occurred after the 40-year old Nigerian national defeated GMs Dragnev Valentin and Sipke Ernst to the surprise of everyone including himself. Here is his first win with notes generated by lichess.org.

According to Ajibade Olayemo of African Chess Media, Kolade earned the moniker “Hurricane” after he won the Nigerian Championship despite the five-year layoff. For an amateur player to win two consecutive games against a Grandmaster is rare indeed. Here is how Onubogun described his experience.

Video by Gibchess


Jimmy Canty

James “Jimmy” Canty III has been a regular feature on The Chess Drum since becoming a Master at age of 17. In more recent years, he put Detroit chess front and center after nearly winning the under-2300 prize at the 2016 Millionaire Chess Open. He was one clinching move away from the $40,000 first prize when he blinked and had to settle for 2nd.

After a $20,000 payout, he began to plot a course to earn the requisite norms for an IM title. Looking at his chess.com handle “GMCanty,” it is apparent he has bigger ideas. Last weekend, Canty was a guest on Derek Wilder’s chess podcast discussing Detroit chess, his own title goals and of course his rivalry with Chicago Chess Blitzers.

Canty is a regular chess.com streamer and recently joined the Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers which features locals Sergey Erenburg and Alexander Shabalov. The squad also boasts “free agents” Evgeny Postny and teen phenom Awonder Liang. Now 26, married, and a father, Canty talks about the past, present and what the future holds in his world of chess.


India India India

Several years ago, The Chess Drum ran a series of articles on the rise of Asian chess nations (parts 1, 2, 3). The countries highlighted were China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. There were other articles focusing exclusively on China, but it seems that India has taken the world by storm as the new chess power. D. Gukesh of India has just earned his last GM norm at the Delhi International Open to become the second youngest Grandmaster in history and youngest Indian ever at 12 years, 7 months and 17 days.

D. Gukesh being congratulated by All-India Chess Federation CEO and FIDE Vice President Bharat Singh Chauhan after earning his 3rd and final GM norm. He becomes the 60th Indian Grandmaster! Photo by David Llada (for Delhi Chess Association)

Bolstered by the legendary Viswanathan Anand, India has been graced by a wave of chess interest reminiscent of the “Fischer Boom” of the 70s. While Bobby Fischer ignited global interest in chess after his historic win over Boris Spassky, Anand has led a revolution in the country of 1.3 billion, by being accessible and helping to make way for the new generation of players.

Most recently India has produced an impressive increase in GMs since Anand became the first in 1988. Most will have heard about 13-year old Rameshbabu Pragnanandhaa, currently playing in the Tata Steel Challengers, but also part of the “youth movement” in India is 14-year old Nihal Sarin and the latest star in Gukesh. Both Pragnanandhaa and Gukesh are also from Anand’s hometown of Chennai.

Pragnanandhaa and Gukesh drawing a crowd during a friendly blitz game.
Photo by Maria Emelianova

I was disappointed when I failed to become the youngest ever GM because I had come quite close to getting there. However, I chose not to sulk over it for long. It was important for me to keep playing well as the results will eventually come.

~ Gukesh on barely missing Karjakin’s age record for GM title

Gukesh fell just short of Sergey Karjakin’s record by 17 days. However, he becomes the youngest Indian GM eclipsing Pragnanandhaa who earned his title at 12 years, 10 months and 13 days. According to an ESPN article by Susan Ninan, Gukesh’s feat was even more amazing by his determination.

Over a 16-month span, he collected six norms – three IM and three GM – and went from a rating of 2323 at the time of his first IM norm to 2512 today and between January 2018 and the ninth round on Tuesday has played a stunning 243 games — an average of two tournaments every month.

Interestingly, he not only stands on the shoulders of Mir Sultan Khan, Manuel Aaron, and Viswanathan Anand, but he is inspired by his peer Pragnanandhaa who received international attention. He is coached by GM Vishnu Prasanna and is supported by his mother Dr. Padma Kumari who is a microbiologist and his father Dr. Rajnikanth, an ENT (ear, nose, throat) surgeon. Here is his father talking about his son at a 2017 GM tournament in Bhopal, India when Gukesh’s rating was 2316.

Here is Gukesh celebrating his accomplishment with his mother!

Videos by ChessBase India

Gukesh’s story is interesting because it demonstrates the incredible culture that India has created with a far-reaching structure stretching the globe. Even outside of India the Diaspora has taken to the sport. If there was any doubt, India (widely-held to be the birthplace of chess) has arrived as a superpower and the talent inertia will hopefully propel many young players to the height of Grandmaster.

Congratulations Gukesh!


The Chess Drum has featured Orrin C. Hudson since 2002, nearly two years after the founding of Besomeone, Inc. In dozens of articles on this site, we have seen him tirelessly dedicate himself to is helping youth to make better decisions through chess. Hudson recently gave an indepth interview for AIB on his path and some of the success stories created as a result of his brainchild, Besomeone, Inc. The video features some of the volunteers and past students who give testimonials to the value of the program and its value.

“People are chasing the wrong kind of KASH.”
~Orrin C. Hudson

Hudson, a former Alabama State Trooper and Air Force veteran, has trekked across the nation with an aim to teach 1,000,000 youth how to use the right kind of K.A.S.H. (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Habits) to build a successful path in life.

Motivated by a shooting in Queens, New York which resulted in seven people killed for $2400, he has trained over 60,000 youth with a target of 1,000,000. The Atlanta-based motivational speaker has been on practically every major network to tell his story and has show resilience in keeping his vision strong.

Here Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters (AIB) covers his story…

Be Someone, Inc.
Orrin Checkmate Hudson
Speaker, Master Strategist & Motivator
949 Stephenson Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087

Telephone: 770-465-6445
E-mail: Orrin@besomeone.org
Website: www.besomeone.org


Chess in Djibouti!

Djibouti Djibouti Djibouti

Djibouti at 2018 Chess Olympiad
Photo by Federation Djiboutienne de Jeu d’Echecs

Africa continues to expand and add more countries to the community of chess nations. Djibouti, a country of 9.5 million bordering Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, has reemerged from a long hiatus of almost 20 years. The federation registered three players to the 2000 Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, but was unable to attend.

Sixteen years later, they would reappear and send a delegation to Baku, Azerbaijan to participate in the Olympiad and the FIDE proceedings. They missed the first five rounds in the 2016 Olympiad, but at the 2018 Olympiad, Djiboutian men carried their honor to the opening ceremonies in Batumi, Georgia and their colors were proudly represented on stage.

Djibouti vs. Guernsey at the 2018 Chess Olympiad
(Batumi, Republic of Georgia)
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

The federation was recently in the news after starting an initiative to integrating chess into the school to improve analytical and cognitive abilities. Studies have show many positive outcomes of chess and its value in helping to improve performance among school children.

As part of the chess in school programme, which consists in integrating the chess game into schools to improve the cognitive capacities of students, the Djibouti chess federation in partnership with the Kamaj group and under the aegis of the State Secretariat to Youth and Sports, on Tuesday, 18 December 2018, created the first chess club in the International School of Africa (ISA) following the partnership agreement that the Federation signed with this private school.

Houssein Mahamoud Robleh serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the KAMAJ Group and will be working in concert with Federation Djiboutienne de Jeu d’Echecs to give the initiative an operational base. Vice President Mohamed Elmi Boulaleh and Secretary-General Ahmed Hassan Abdillahi will help with the establisment of chess clubs at selected public and private schools.

Finally, members of the Djiboutian chess community extended their gratitude to S.E.M. Hassan Mohamed Kamil who serves as the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports for helping to revive the chess community in Djibouti after a numbers of years of inactivity.

Chess-in-Schools in Djibouti
Djibouti Djibouti Djibouti

Photos by Federation Djiboutienne de Jeu d’Echecs (link)


The 2018 World Rapid and Blitz Championships ended a couple of weeks ago. World Champion Magnus Carlsen was in the field facing many of the elite players. It is his first event since successfully defending his title against Fabiano Caruana. While he lost his rapid title, he totally dominated the blitz event with a +13 score. It may have reassured Carlsen fans that he has not lost his edge.

Magnus Carlsen
Photo by David Llada

After the championship match in which all 12 classical games were drawn, one of the arguments has been that the faster time controls should be integrated. The longing for more rapid and blitz in light of the increasing amount of preparation required in classical has caused organizers to look at different formats.

It should be known that many of these draws in classical tournaments were cases where players simply failed to convert. British Grandmaster Nigel Short wrote an op/ed piece in the latest New in Chess titled “Deadlocked.” Short’s question is “…how the World Championship can be reinvigorated, preferably without making a bonfire of tradition.”

The Draw Question

The entire tone of the match may have been totally different if Carlsen had converted a win after 38…Rg3! in Game 1.

In the world championship match, there were at least four games in which a decisive result seemed imminent. Is the argument that the games lack excitement or the draw is simply an undesirable result despite the nature of the games? A recent article on chess.com showed that the draw rate has risen dramatically in the past ten years.

In my opinion, one of the reasons for the high incidence of draws may be that top level players play each other almost exclusively and have developed a bit of familiarity in the opposition. This makes it much harder to get an edge against their peers. With the skill level comparable, mistakes are much smaller. In the last two championships match there have been two wins in 24 classical games. The two wins came in the Carlsen-Karjakin match. The Carlsen-Caruana match was hard-fought with exciting games, but no decisive results.

2018 World Chess Championship
Holborn, London, England (November 9th-28th)

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Official Site: https://worldchess.com/

The question in this new year is who will earn the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title in the magical year 2020? Will the next opponent provide more variability in the results? Twelve draws was unprecedented and perhaps was unfairly maligned as uninspiring. It may simply be that with such a short duration of 12 games, players tend to be risk-averse.

Draw Death?

There seems to be an uncertainty in the chess community. Do they want more decisive results at the expense of quality chess? What is being implied is that draw is not a desired result and that players at this level play near perfect chess because there is no winner. However, that is not what we saw in London. The chess world understands the legitimacy of a draw, but in a heavyweight battle, they are seeking decisive results.

In international football (soccer), a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes is sometimes seen at the highest levels. The match could have been very exciting and many fans will appreciate the hard-fought match. However, in the World Cup elimination rounds, teams go to “shoot outs”. Not optimal, but deemed necessary to get a decisive result and to prevent fatigue.

Anatoly Karpov hovers as Garry Kasparov ponders next move in 1984 match.

Anatoly Karpov hovers as Garry Kasparov ponders next move in 1984 match that featured 40 draws including 17 consecutive. The format was the first to win six games. The match was controversially halted by FIDE President Florencio Campomanes due to fears of player fatigue.

For chess, rapid/blitz has become the tiebreak method despite fatigue not generally being a factor in the 12-game match with accompanying rest days. Fans generally accept a draw in a chess match, but not a long series of them without a decisive game. Karpov-Kasparov 48-game match had 40 draws (including 17 in a row), but Kasparov’s comeback (from a 5-0 deficit) gave fans adequate drama.

Regardless of the format let us think for awhile about 2020. Which contender would produce a different type of championship match or are we simply at the end of the line for classical matches? Carlsen said himself that he doesn’t believe that he is playing at the same level of two years ago and that Caruana is already his equal. So who (besides Caruana) will be in position to wrest the mantle from Carlsen?

Who’s Next?

A few years back, Anish Giri wrote a small book titled, After Magnus. He profiled ten players who could possibly dethrone Magnus Carlsen. While Caruana was mentioned, Karjakin was not. Both have had one shot so far. Anand, also mentioned, had two chances. Other listees such as Wei Yi and Richard Rapport seems to have slowed… or slowing. Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura are still looking for a chance. Players like Alexander Grishchuk and Peter Svidler are still battling, but perhaps Russia’s best chance is for the next generation players.

It would appear that three conditions will have to take place to make the match more intriguing…

  1. The next challenger will have to have superb all-around skills in the different disciplines (classical/rapid/blitz) to challenge Carlsen. Caruana struggled in keeping pace in the rapid tiebreaks and lost three consecutive rapid games although all were competitive. There were many predictions that proved to be prescient… the fact that Caruana had to win in the classical if there was to be a good chance of winning. Nakamura took flack for his prediction that Carlsen is 90% chance to win if the match went into tiebreaks, but he proved to be accurate.
  2. The match should be lengthened to allow for more risk, but… would Carlsen or Caruana take any more risks than they did? Doubtful. The games were unbalanced with a variety of openings including Sveshnikovs, Rossolimo Gambits and other sharp lines with deep preparation. Perhaps there should be a Fischer Random component which would solve the element of over-preparation and show who has the best understanding of chess positions. Fischer Random is regular chess with the exception that 1/960 chess positions would be featured without players benefiting from centuries of theory and games. Incidentally, Magnus Carlsen is unofficial World Champion in Fischer Random as well. If rapid/blitz is to be used, make it part of the main match instead of as a tiebreaker. For example, they could play a combination of classical, Fischer Random, rapid and blitz games. Purists will scoff as this notion and fear that it may create the bonfire that Nigel Short is mentioning. In my view, lengthening the match is necessary, but not sufficient.
  3. While I don’t agree with suggestions such as having the tiebreaker before the match or having the players force a decisive result by playing the next game with time remaining from previous game, I do believe there has to be a way to raise the stakes from the beginning. Not long ago, when the match was drawn, the champion kept the crown. That also seems inadequate as we saw with Kramnik-Leko in 2004. In this 14-game match, Leko played cautiously after getting a one-point lead and lost the last game allowing Kramnik to retain the title with a 7-7 tie. We could go back to the match having “first win x number of games” but there has to be another element to raise the stakes in each game. If there is still the opinion that white has an advantage with the first move, there could also be a tiebreak penalty for drawing with white. Black would essentially get a type of “draw odds” each game. Obviously if all the games are drawn, it will not solve the issue, but it puts more pressure on the white game.

The Debate Continues

We have a year to figure out a more suitable format for determining the world champion. Lengthening the match is necessary, but not sufficient. Arkady Dvorkovich and his Executive Board have already made changes to the women’s cycle and there is certainly a discussion about the Carlsen-Caruana drawfest. The attraction of corporate sponsorship is also a factor.

Fabiano Caruana in Game 4 at the World Chess Championships in London.
Photo by World Chess.

As far as who will challenge Carlsen in 2020, the format will make a big difference in which player would have the best chance. Fabiano Caruana will certainly be looking to redeem himself and will most likely put more effort into faster time controls. All-around players like Levon Aronian would be an interesting opponent for Carlsen.

Aronian is dynamic, courageous and can be deadly in faster time controls. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has similar traits, but tends to take more risks than a match would necessitate. Hikaru Nakamura and his Red Bull sponsor would create a media bonanza. Apart from the Carlsen’s domination of Nakamura in classical tournaments, a match would have a different character… and much closer than anticipated!

Will Hikaru Nakamura or Levon Aronian finally get their chance?
Photo by Eteri Kublashvili.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave could also be an interesting choice with his enterprising, theoretical style, but what about Ding Liren? The Chinese has a very solid style and would have immense government support reminiscent of the old Soviet days.

Giri stated,

… I know quite a bit about the Chinese grandmasters, and Ding Liren is definitely one of the most talented and hardworking ones. He is slowly expanding his narrow opening repertoire, and with the white pieces he has always been quite deadly.

Indeed. Combine that with his string of 100 unbeaten games, he may be the type to capitalize off of Carlsen’s occasional lapse. If you’re looking for a prediction here (one year out), sorry to disappoint. Let’s see what developments occur with the format and maybe we will make a more definitive assessment.

It could be someone we least expect, but mostly likely will be someone seasoned and strong in various time formats. One thing for certain, we will see some changes in the next match and it could set the stage for how championships are played for decades.


Tata Steel Chess 2019

The first super tournament will kick off in 2019 with the ever-popular Tata Steel Chess festival featuring some of the world’s top players. World Champion Magnus Carlsen will defend his title against 11 other aspirants including five others in the top 10. Santosh Vidit of India graduated into the Masters group after winning the Challengers last year in fine style.

Only five players return from the 2018 edition with nine new players rounding out the field. Carlsen’s won in the tiebreak in thrilling fashion over hometown favorite Anish Giri. It was a spectacular performance by Giri who usually has problems generating wins in top level events. He will return as one of the contenders.

The returning players in this year’s tournament are Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand and Giri. All five have lengthy resumes and three have tasted world championship gold. Ding Liren will be making his second appearance in Wijk aan Zee and should be in great shape after recovering from a fall during a Grand Chess Tour tournament in Norway. Ding will be tough to beat and set a record for undefeated tournament play at 100 games.

There will be some familiar faces returning. Ian Nepomniachtchi will return after a rough outing in 2017 Tata Steel where he got 5/13. Known as a specialist in quicker chess formats he will prove to be a dangerous opponent and has the distinction of having never lost to Carlsen (+4=4-0).

Teimour Radjabov is not as active as he once was, but is active in social media and has shown he has kept up with latest trends in chess. Now 31, a husband and father, we may see a more refined style from the Azeri player who rose as a promising prodigy who toppled Garry Kasparov at 2003 Linares.

Now 31, can Teimour Radjabov rekindle old magic?
Photo by Tata Steel Chess

While Vladimir Fedoseev is the only player to have never played in Wijk aan Zee, all others have played in one of the other sections. Jan-Krzysztof Duda scored 7/13 in 2014 Tata Challengers, but has improved rapidly and vaulted into the top 20 in the world. He recently came in 2nd in the World Blitz Championship behind Carlsen.

Richard Rapport will be looking for a breakthrough in his 4th appearance. He was co-winner of 2013 Tata Challengers, but bombed out after graduating next year to the Masters group where he finished last. He also finished last in 2017 Masters. His original style of play is what makes him an interesting addition.

Sam Shankland is one of the hottest players at the top level. The reigning U.S. Champion helped the American team win gold at the 2016 Olympiad and take silver at the 2018 Olympiad. He breached the 2700 mark and is fighting for his position after the addition of Leinier Dominguez to the U.S. roster. Jorden van Foreest rounds out the field and at 19 years, he is the youngest player in the field. Finishing 7.5/13 in last year’s Challengers, he looks to make an impression in his first supertournament.

Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran hopes to show
that his legendary hard work has paid off.
Photo by Amruta Mokal

The Challengers tournament will host practically a new field with only top-seed Anton Korobov and Erwin L’Ami returning. Along with Evgeny Bareev, they are the most senior players in the field with a lot of young talent. A number of these players competed in the World Rapid and Blitz, but are now on a big stage classical event. Most of the names in the Challengers group are not well-known, but Elisabeth Paehtz will be one of two women competing. The German ace will be in the field with fellow International Master and Kazahkstan star Dinara Saduakassova.

25-year old Belarussian Vladislav Kovalev will be one of the favorites going into the tournament and is currently at his peak rating of 2687. Parham Maghsoodloo is in great form after winning the World Junior with 9.5/11 and leading the Iranians to a stellar Olympiad performance and to an Asian Nations Cup. Fellow phenom Rameshbabu Pragganandhaa is making his first appearance and will try to prove that the hype is real.

One player to watch may be Vincent Keymer, a 14-year old German talent who shocked the chess world by winning the 2018 GRENKE Open with a performance rating of 2795 and a GM norm with 1.5 points to spare. He also gained some notoriety by winning a brilliant game against Boris Gelfand at 2018 Isle of Man. He is currently coached by Peter Leko.

Here Keymer discusses his last round win against Richard Rapport.

Video by GRENKE Chess

Tata Steel is an Indian multinational conglomerate consisting of a number of industries. Those following the tournament from the early days will remember it as the Hoorgovens, a Dutch steel company that would later merge with British steel to form the Corus Group. When Tata steel purchased Corus in 2007, the tournament took on the name of Indian conglomerate.

Video by Tata Steel

Official Site: http://www.tatasteelchess.com/
Schedule: https://www.tatasteelchess.com/visit/tata-steel-chess/program
Videos: (YouTube)

2019 Tata Steel Tournament
January 11th-27th, 2019 (Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands)
1 Carlsen, Magnus GM Norway
2 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar GM Azerbaijan
3 Ding Liren GM China
4 Giri, Anish GM Netherlands
5 Kramnik, Vladimir GM Russia
6 Anand, Viswanathan GM India
7 Nepomniachtchi, Ian GM Russia
8 Radjabov, Teimour GM Azerbaijan
9 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof GM Poland
10 Rapport, Richard GM Hungary
11 Shankland, Samuel GM USA
12 Fedoseev, Vladimir GM Russian
13 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi GM India
14 Van Foreest, Jorden GM Netherlands
1 Korobov, Anton GM Ukraine
2 Kovalev, Vladislav GM Belarus
3 Maghsoodloo, Parham GM Iran
4 Bareev, Evgeny GM Canada
5 L’Ami, Erwin GM Netherlands
6 Gledura, Benjamin GM Hungary
7 Chigaev, Maksim GM Russia
8 Esipenko, Andrey GM Russia
9 Praggnanandhaa R GM India
10 Van Foreest, Lucas GM Netherlands
11 Keymer, Vincent IM Germany
12 Paehtz, Elisabeth IM Germany
13 Saduakassova, Dinara IM Kazakhstan
14 Kuipers, Stefan IM Netherlands
Official Site


We have not written on Burkina Faso since 2014 shortly after they joined the community of chess-playing nations in FIDE. Comité National Burkinabé des Echecs has been very active since 2014 and held national championships in the past three years with Oumar Briba winning in 2016 and Clément Guissou winning in 2017. Gissou successfully defended his title in September winning in tiebreaks over Nicolas Carbonell with 5/6. Gissou was aided by his win over Carbonell in the third round. Former champion Briba came in third with 4/6 and handed Guissou his only loss. (results)

Clément Gissou receiving 1st place trophy from Director General of Sport/Leisure, Mr. Vohoun Tamimi. Photo by Burkanibe Chess Federation

Clément Gissou (left) receiving 1st place trophy from
Director General of Sport/Leisure, Mr. Vohoun Tamimi.
Photo by Burkanibe Chess Federation
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso Burkina Faso

Video by BF1 Television

In December, Burkina Faso successfully hosted the 4.4 subzonal in Ouagadougou and under the leadership of President Jean De Dieu Ouedraogo, they look to continue development of chess within the West African region.

The Burkina Faso Chairman of the National Committee for Chess, Jean De Dieu Ouedraogo, (2nd from left) with winners at 4.4 Subzonal (from left to right), Geoffrey Adzua (Nigeria) – BRONZE medal, Yinka Adesina (Nigeria) – SILVER medal and Hermann Manan (Ivory Coast) – GOLD medal

The Burkina Faso Chairman of the National Committee for Chess, Jean De Dieu Ouedraogo, (2nd from left) with winners at 4.4 Subzonal (from left to right), Geoffrey Adzua (Nigeria) – BRONZE medal, Yinka Adesina (Nigeria) – SILVER medal and Hermann Manan (Ivory Coast) – GOLD medal (results)


Webster University (2018 Pan-Am Champions)

from left to right: FM Justus Williams (Team C), FM Josh Colas (Team C), Shawn Swindell (Team C), GM Peter Prohaszka (Team B), GM Emilio Cordova (Team B), NM Aaron Grabinsky (Team C), GM Susan Polgar (coach), GM Vasif Durarbayli (Team B), GM Yuniesky Quesada (Team A), GM Lazaro Bruzon (Team A), GM Illia Nyzhnyk (Team A), GM Jorge Cori (Team A), GM Aleksandr Shimanov (Team B), Tom Polgar-Shutzman (Team C)

When I played for Chicago State University in the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate tournament held in New York, we were 28th out of 71 teams in the eight-round tournament. The highest-rated team was the defending champion University of Toronto who had IM Illias Kourkounikas on top board.

An exchange student from Greece, he was the strongest player in the tournament and they successfully defended their title they won in Atlanta the previous year. Toronto had FM Ian Findlay and John Pajak who scored well, but there were a spattering of other strong masters in the tournament including a team from the Dominican Republic with an IM on board one.

The Pan-Am had none of the powerhouses that you have today with a collection of foreign Grandmasters. At the 2018 Pan-Ams, the field had 32 GMs and 24 IMs along with approximately 30 other FIDE titled players. Incidentally, the top performer in this tournament was named “Illia” … GM Illia Nyzhnyk.

Back in December while the world was following the World Rapid and Blitz, approximately 50 teams came from all over the U.S. to participate in the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Tournament hosted by Bay Area Chess in San Francisco, California. There were several teams with full Olympiad-quality teams featuring four Grandmasters. Most of these players were recruited from abroad and include some elite names such as Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon who is in his first year at Webster.

Maurice Ashley presents $30,000 winner’s check to St. Louis University’s GM Dariusz Swiercz at 2016 Millionaire Chess Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz

Other names are Grandmasters Dariusz Swiercz (St. Louis University), Kamil Dragun (Univ. of Texas-Rio Grande Valley) and David Berczes (Univ. of Texas-Dallas). Interestingly enough most of the top schools are not well-known or satellite campuses, but chess has given many of these institutions a strong brand awareness. There are a number of former scholastic stars including GM Darwin Yang (Harvard), GM Akshat Chandra (St. Louis University) and IM Atulya Shetty (Univ. of Michigan). Unfortunately, Stanford could did not sponsor a team that would be lead by GM Daniel Naroditsky.

I visited Webster University in 2016 just after covering the World Championships in New York. In addition, I came to check up on Webster players, Justus Williams and Josh Colas who I covered since they were scholastic players. The campus is not particularly scenic, but in the SPICE building you can get a sense of how serious the chess program is. It resembles a laboratory with tables a handsome collection of books and an open area for their exercise regiment.

Webster University’s SPICE (St. Louis)
CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.

Susan Polgar and Paul Truong are the wife-and-husband team who have generated years of success with a very finely-tooled system that creates successful results. Webster brought three teams to the Pan-Ams with Webster “A” (2737), Webster “B” (2665) and Webster “C” (2389) representing the “Gorlocks,” the team’s mascot.

With GMs Nyzhnyk, Bruzon, Yuniesky Quesada, and Jorge Cori, the A-team had a powerful lineup, but stumbled in the second round when UT-Dallas “C” held them to a draw! Both Bruzon and Quesada fell to IM Titas Stremavicius and IM Zurab Javakhadze, respectively. The Swiss Gambit worked out as they won out in the remaining four rounds including wins over St. Louis “A” and Texas Tech “A” ending on 5.5/6.

As far as the other Webster teams, the “B” was in the running for the title and beat runner-up Univ. of Texas-Dallas “A” tremendously helping their “A” team. They tallied an undefeated 5/6 points and came in 3rd place with a qualification to the “President’s Cup” chess tournament this spring. However, Webster will only be allowed one team so UTRGV will get the next spot by virtue of tiebreaks. Incidentally UTRGV are the defending champions of the President’s Cup and last year broke Webster’s five-year run. They will join Webster, Univ. of Texas-Dallas, and Harvard in this year’s “Final Four” event.

Harvard University was a surprise and the players had to pay their own way to the tournament. With GM Darwin Wang leading the Crimson into battle, the team was actually sparked by National Master Bryan Hu’s 5.5/6. They upset St. Louis University “B” in the last round to qualify for the President’s Cup.

Webster “C” ended on 3/6 with Justus Williams and Tom Polgar-Shutzman leading the way with 4/6. University of Toronto was mentioned earlier. While they are not the team they once were, their Hart House Chess Club won the best international school.

The top team teams were:

Full Results


Each year we give the highlights, and in the even-numbered years of chess, the Olympiad tournament holds top billing along with the World Championships (determined in tiebreaks after 12 consecutive draws). Defending champion Magnus Carlsen won in tiebreaks over challenger Fabiano Caruana to invoke the question of “Who’s next?” That question will be answered in 2019.

Speaking of championships, there were TWO women’s world championships (match, knockout). In one year, Ju Wenjun showed that she is now the strongest player in the women’s field. She also helped lead the Chinese team to Batumi, Georgia for the Olympiad. Both Chinese teams won the gold and the presence of many rising nations show that chess is becoming a true global sport.

World Champions Ju Wenjun and Magnus Carlsen pose at 2018 World Rapid and Blitz in Russia fresh off of their championship victories. Photo by Lennart Ootes

In addition, there was the election of Arkady Dvorkovich who has pledged to increase the global footprint of chess by hosting tournaments in various regions of the world. The Grand Chess Tour has picked up this theme and announced that there will be two new events including one in India and one in Ivory Coast! The African nation impressed chess fans with the hugely successful CIV Rapid & Blitz and will enter the world stage in organizing a first-class event.

Mashala Kabamwanishi of Democratic Republic of Congo scored 9.5/10 at the 2018 Chess Olympiad. Wonderful result! Photo by Congo Chess Federation

In this year of the “Black Panther,” Africa is attempting to raise its profile after sending 47 federations to the FIDE Congress during the Olympiad. It was this contingent that helped President-elect Dvorkovich to the Presidency and we can look to see more visits and support to the continent. Speaking of the Olympiad, we have to mention the fantastic performance of Mashala Kabamwanishi of the Congo who scored 9.5/10 in his first international showing.

Some of the interesting moments of 2018 covered here were Hikaru Nakamura’s trip to South Africa and playing the hustlers in the park. After that trip, he famously sponsored two young African talents after visiting the South African Junior Championships. They played in three tournaments in Europe and were trained by fellow South African GM Kenny Solomon.

Other moments were the launching of Africa Chess magazine which hosts the site https://africachessmedia.com/. We met 5-year old girl Basirat Ariyike who was part of the “Chess in Slums” initiative targeting the poorest communities near Lagos. Finally, we met 12-year old Tremil Anderson, a telegenic YouTube sensation.

We also saw Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson blazing the trail for his “ChessBiz” initiative. Just before participating in the just-ending World Rapid & Blitz, he announced a 2019 tour. Kassa Korley, an International Master now representing Denmark, scored his first GM norm and we are looking for more to follow in 2019.

Maurice Ashley was actually the coach of the Ivorian team at the 2016 Olympiad and will most likely be in Africa to call the GCT event in the Ivory Coast. Incidentally, Ashley was the coach of the Madagascar Olympiad team for 2018 Olympiad. While he has begun training national teams and staying busy commentating top-level events, he had a chance to make an appearance on the “Trevor Noah Show” recently. Take a look…

The Olympiad was the highlight of the year for The Chess Drum and Sagar Shah of ChessBase India requests an interview and allowed me to explain the vision for the site. Going on its 18th year The Chess Drum holds to continue to provide a voice to those in the African Diaspora to eventually contribute to a Pan-African renaissance.

Video by ChessBase India

Lastly, there were a number of players passed on and we paid homage here. Alfred Carlin (obituary), a native of New Orleans passed away after a short illness after working with Herminio Baez in the Dallas area. Ironically, Baez would pass away unexpectedly a month later (obituary).

Samuel Barton went by the street name of “Sandman” and was well-known in New York circles as a street hustler or gamesman (obituary). We also lost a giant in Judge George Leighton who reached the ripe age of 105. Judge Leighton was respected and loved in the Chicago area and practice law into his 90s (obituary).

(January 18, 1952 – August 9, 2018)

Peter Roberts of Harlem, New York died unexpectedly and was found in his home unresponsive after going missing for a few days. He was a big supporter of The Chess Drum and we will miss his presence at the World Open tournament (obituary). Lastly, USCF Life Master James Gwyn, Sr. passed away in September after earning the distinction of becoming a National Master at age 55! (obituary) We honor their memories and hope to build from the goodness they left behind. It is a pleasure from provide them with this platform.

Hope you enjoyed 2018! Here are some of the moments to revisit…













Chess journalists @ 2018 Chess Olympiad (Batumi, Georgia): Haydn Gill (Barbados), Daaim Shabazz (USA), Jacinta Odongo (Kenya), Ian Wilkinson (Jamaica)

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


Only a month after the World Championship (classical) was decided, the 2018 Rapid & Blitz was held in St. Petersburg to determine the world championship in the two disciplines. Indeed the raging debate on how to determine a classical World Champion to include rapid and blitz tiebreakers has its merits, but of course the main notion to increase the pressure and thus the amount of errors in order to get a decisive result.

These three disciplines are very different and the results of this week in Russia showed. A contingent of “blitz specialists” entered the field including American Grandmaster Andrew Tang who has the moniker “penguingm1”. He has played countless matches with Magnus Carlsen (DrDrunkenstein) and then two faced in the rapid play.

Tang didn’t threaten in the prize winnings, but had 8.5/15 (2666 TPR) in the rapid and 11/21 (2650 TPR) in the blitz. That didn’t stop him from playing some bullet battles with Iranian star Alireza Firouzja. In fact, it was Firouzja who created buzz during the rapids leading after the first day. He was in contention as late as the 13th round, but lost a key game to Anton Korobov, but finished with a 2848 performance and demonstrated why he is one of the brightest talents in chess.


Daniil Dubov, the plain-spoken Russian was among more than 100 compatriots vying for the prizes in the weekend and he was able to fend off a late rally by Carlsen who rallied after losing his first two games. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev and Carlsen finished 1/2-point back with 10/5/15. The 22-year old Dubov stated that this was his finest achievement to date. He has some very candid comments about the two disciplines.

What was interesting was the Dubov won shortly after the death of his grandfather Eduard Dubov who tragically froze to death at the age of 80. It was a fitting and inspiring victory.

Rapid Results (Open)

This year has been a banner year for Ju Wenjun as she notched another championship after defending her rapid title. This was after winning the Women’s World Championship and then successfully defending the title only months later. That resulted in a change of the world championship cycle since it would have been ridiculous otherwise to defend the title in the knockout format only months after the championship match.

Iran’s Sarasadat Khadmalsheriah
took silver in both rapid and blitz.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Ju showed her class in the 12-round rapid event with a dominating 10/12. She was pursued by contingent of talented young players in Sarasadat Khademalsheriah (Iran), Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia), Lei Tingjie (China) and Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kazakhstan). They represent the future of the women’s chess.

Khademalsheriah, who beat three former women’s champions (Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, Mariya Muzychuk) seems to be part of a movement among young Iranian talent powered by Alireza Firouzja and Parham Maghadsoodloo. If her progress is indicative of the talent in the pipeline, Iran will be a contender in team competitions for years to come.

Rapid Results (Women)

There has been some discussion on the disparate size of the prize funds with some suggesting there should be an equal prize fund for the women. However, given that the open section is free for women to enter, the argument seems hollow.

Women have an option to choose between the open and women’s and 100% of them chose the women’s because they seek a better chance at a prize. That is understandable, but if the open is comprised of the best the world has to offer, it is logical that this is what the sponsors are investing in.

There should be no double standard in suggesting equality of prize fund when women have two options to win prizes. In fact, one can argue that they have an advantage. Judit Polgar was one who was able to compete on equal terms and there were a lot fewer women playing during her era. What did she do that others have not been able to replicate?


Magnus Carlsen
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Magnus Carlsen came in holding the Triple Crown (titles in classical, rapid and blitz), but came into the Blitz segment just having just lost his Rapid title to Daniil Dubov. Of course, in these events there is a bit more room for error because of the pressure and inevitable blunders that occur.

One commentator was discussing this issue during the Grand Chess Tour final and lamenting how good the elite players play in fast time controls. His point was to buttress the fact that faster time controls can be used as a tiebreaker without much degradation in the quality of play.

On cue, the game that was being covered featured several blunders in a row at the very end. There is simply no way to escape the fact that these are completely different disciplines and errors (and big ones) in faster time controls are simply inevitable.

With that being said, blitz is still a favorite discipline of many of the top players… including five-time World Champion, Viswanathan Anand.

Following the frenetic pace of blitz is indeed exciting!
The legendary Viswanthan Anand is in the pit.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

In the blitz competition, Carlsen scorched the field with and undefeated 17/21. While +13 would be enough to win most blitz tournaments, he had to fend off the sparkling play of Polish phenom Jan-Krysztof Duda who won 15 games. Carlsen defeated Duda in a masterful style in their encounter in round seven.

In the blitz competition, it is about “runs” of play. A player can easily rattle off several wins in a row or lose several in a row. Carlsen’s undefeated play is remarkable at that level and only Bobby Fischer’s Novi Sad performance where he defeated several world champions in the field enroute to a 19-3 (+17-1=4) win.

It’s much more difficult to get a run given the dangerous field with so-called “blitz specialists” and young lions looking to relieve top guns of Elo points and scalps. Ahmed Adly of Egypt had a good run and was sitting on board four in round ten after beating Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin in consecutive rounds. A lost to Russia’s Dmitry Andreikin knocked him off course and he ultimately settle for 20th place, a strong showing.

Egypt’s Ahmed Adly, ponders after a loss. However, he had a strong showing with 13/21 and 2702 TPR. Photo from FIDE Chess

Hikaru Nakamura had taken bronze in the rapids and was optimistic going into the blitz segment. As mentioned, he was upset by Adly, but got key wins over Vladislav Artemiev and Dmitry Andriekin to pull within two points of the lead. Unfortunately, he had fallen too far behind and ended on 14.5 points and 3rd place.

Duda lost to Carlsen and Peter Svidler early on, but and at one point scored eight consecutive wins! In round 17, he faced Sergey Karjakin in a sharp Keres Attack. That game ended in an exciting draw, but the Polish star would lose to Nakamura the next round to fall off the pace. Duda bounced back with three wins in a row, but a Carlsen victory against Anton Korobov meant he would take silver.

Blitz Results (Open)

In the women’s competition, Ju Wenjun started off with four straight wins, but was derailed with draws and a loss to Sarasadat Khademalsherieh. At that point the Iranian was on a blistering six-game winning streak and would push it to seven with a win over Koneru Humpy. Both she and Kateryna Lagno were on 7/8 and drew in round nine to maintain the lead. However, a trio of Chinese players were only half-point back.

The most improbable development was the performance of Leya Garifullina, an 14-year old Russia who was vying for a top spot. Rated at 2120, she was on 6.5/9 had just beaten Antoaneta Stefanova and also earned scalps from Elisabeth Paehtz, Harika Dronavali. By round 12, she had moved to 2nd place on 9/12, a point behind Lagno along with Lei Tingjie and Valentina Guinina. Who would’ve predicted this??

Leya Garifullina took the blitz field by storm.
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Unfortunately, former women’s champion Anna Ushenina took the wind out of her sails and after rebounding against Pia Cramling, she lost to Guinina dropping her to 8th and effectively eliminating her from from the top three positions. After drawing with Ju Wenjun she settle for 11/17 and 8th place.

In the end, Kateryna Lagno was in form having gone undefeated with ten wins in 17 rounds! After having lost to Ju Wenjun in the finals of the World Championship last month, she earned some redemption at defeating her in round 11 and winning the tournament. What is more amazing is the fact that Lagno had taken a long break from chess and seems to be playing better than ever. How did she explain it?

Interview with Kateryna Lagno

Video by FIDE

Blitz Results (Open)

Photo by Lennart Ootes

Official Site: http://wrbc2018.com/
PGN Games (TWIC): Rapid (Open), Rapid (Women), Blitz (Open), Blitz (Women)
Drum Coverage: http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2018/12/31/2018-world-rapid-blitz-st-petersburg-rus/


GM Pontus Carlsson
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

GM Pontus Carlsson has been a regular on the Drum during the latter part of 2018 after launching his “ChessBiz” initiative and appearing on the Perpetual Podcast recently. He closes out the year competing in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships currently being held in St. Petersburg, Russia. This event has attracted the top players from around the world. While there is a lot of debate on the role that faster time controls will play in top level events, it is certainly a favorite among many of the specialists who are often seen on chess servers and streaming sites.

Carlsson mentioned that he was competing in the tournament last week and talked about the formidable contingent of Russians. While he agreed that other federations would be tough, he proceeded to list them and one of the names turned out to be the eventual champion. However, Carlsson also acquitted himself well. After scoring 2/5 on the first day, the second day proved to be a bit better with 2.5/5 with a confidence-boosting win over Ilya Smirin of Israel.

The last day he notched 3.5/5 with consecutive wins over GMs Timur Gareyev, Vladislav Kovalev and Francisco Vallejo Pons. After a lost to blitz specialist IM Ivan Bocharov, he closed out the rapid event with an interesting draw against Bassem Amin, The Egyptian #1. He goes into the blitz program with confidence from his creditable performance in the rapids.

GM Pontus Carlsson (2511-Sweden)
# Player USCF Nation
1 GM Ivan Saric 2661 Croatia
2 GM Ahmed Adly 2630 Egypt
3 CM Ahmed Al-Thebaiti 1826 Saudi Arabia
4 GM Henrik Teske 2555 Germany
5 Melis Mamatov 2234 Krygyzstan
6 GM Mustafa Yilmaz 2546 Turkey
7 FM Kirill Shubin 2242 Russia
8 GM Ilya Smirin 2601 Israel
9 GM Pavel Ponkratov 2650 Russia
10 GM Kamil Miton 2590 Poland
11 GM Timur Gareyev 2575 USA
12 GM Vladislav Kovalev 2624 Belarus
13 GM Francisco Vallejo Pons 2628 Spain
14 IM Ivan Bocharov 2657 Russia
15 GM Bassem Amin 2650 Egypt
Score: 8-7 (Results)

All the heavy hitters were present including Magnus Carlsen who holds the “Triple Crown” of chess with titles in classical, rapid and blitz. He got off to a slow start losing his first two games to Ukrainian GM Adam Tukhaev and Shamdiddin Vokhidov, an International Master from Uzbekistan. The defending champion rallied for 10.5 points in next thirteen games. Unfortunately, Carlsen fell half-point short to Russia’s Daniil Dubov who also edged out Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev with 11/15.

GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA) vs. GM Magnus Carlsen (Norway), 1/2-1/2

Iranian sensation Alireza Firouzja came in 6th in a pack of 12 players with 10/15. He was tied for the lead after the first day of rapids with 4.5/5, but tailed off with losses to Dmitry Ankreiken and Dubov. While Parham Maghadsoodloo gets the most attention of the Iranian phenoms, it is Firouzja who created buzz in this tournament.

In the women’s tournament, World Champion Ju Wenjun successfully defended her rapid title only a month after defending her classical title. She scored 10/12 overcoming an inspired performance by Iran’s Sarasadat Khademalsharieh who was on 9/12. Russia’s Aleksandra Goryachkina took bronze also on 9/12.

The blitz portion starts tomorrow at 7:00AM (New York) and 3:00PM (Russia).

Official Site: http://wrbc2018.com/
PGN Games (TWIC): Rapid (Open), Rapid (Women), Blitz (Open), Blitz (Women)
Drum Coverage: http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2018/12/31/2018-world-rapid-blitz-st-petersburg-rus/


Players of CIV Invitational

Dr. Essoh Essis, President of the Ivorian Chess Federation will host one of the rapid and blitz events as part of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour. It will be the first elite event held in Africa since the 2004 FIDE Knockout in Tripoli, Libya. Photo by Alina L’Ami

Hikaru Nakamura won the Grand Chess Tour a week ago which culminated in the London Chess Classic. This is the first year for the Grand Chess Tour final which ended in a four-player tournament featuring mini-matches of classical, rapid and blitz.

The twist is that a win in a classical game is six points; four in rapid and two in blitz. On draws, the point total is split. In the end, Nakamura defeated Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 15-13 on a thrilling win in the final game.

The discussion on tournament formats and the incidences of draws continued from the recently-ended World Chess Championship as Nakamura-MVL saw seven draws before the American won the final blitz game for the margin of victory. The match between championship challenger Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian had five decisive games ending in a 16-12 score. Nevertheless, the games were exciting despite numerous draws. What fans may not understand is that these four players are intricately familiar with their peers and to needlessly force the game into an inferno is… playing with fire.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, winner of 2018 Grand Chess Tour, will be defending his title in diverse places. Photo by Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Does chess need to be fixed for wider appeal? That discussion is what players in online fora and chess tournaments are talking about. What may be in store for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour may be even more exciting. There were announcements that the GCT will have two events outside of the U.S. and Europe, where all of the events have been held. The tour will expand to seven events with three of them making a debut in 2019. On the slate for hosting the GCT events are Croatia, India and Cote d’Ivoire. The St. Louis Rapid and Blitz has been taken off the tour.

While not a FIDE event, this initiative fits what Arkady Dvorkovich had pledged to do in his campaign. Now as the FIDE President, he wants to make chess more global in scope and mentioned the drive to have tournaments (including the Olympiad) on different continents.

“We need to change the geographical location when it comes to big tournaments, I will ensure that the game is staged not only in Russia and Europe but to other regions like Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab speaking countries to bring diversity.”

~Arkady Dvorkovich speaking in Nairobi, Kenya (link)

After South Africa’s unsuccessful (and controversial) bid in 2014, an African Olympiad idea will have to wait at least for two Olympiad (2020 Khanty-Mansisyk, 2022 Minsk, Belarus). However, it seems as if things are about to change.

Cote d’Ivoire has been making waves in the chess world. Under the leadership of Dr. Essis Essoh, the federation has successfully hosted the 2017 Cote d’Ivoire Team Invitational and also the CIV Invitational Rapid and Blitz in August. The event got rave reviews from the participating players.

When Nigeria’s IM Oladapo Adu spoke to The Chess Drum during the Batumi Chess Olympiad, he was effusive in his praise for the organization and conditions. Assisting in the event’s success, Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa played a key role and Garry Kasparov’s endorsement for Cote d’Ivoire to host a GCT event proved invaluable.

The last elite event on African soil was the FIDE World Knockout Championships in 2004 held in Tripoli, Libya. Hikaru Nakamura played in that tournament. This will be many of the participants’ first trip to Africa and the perhaps the first visit by a sitting world champion since Viswanathan Anand’s visits throughout the years. The Ivorians hope to repeat this success for the GCT.

Official Site: http://www.grandchesstour.com

Cote d’Ivoire… here we come!

CIV Invitational - IM Oladapo Adu with Andrew Kayonde

Nigeria’s IM Oladapo Adu with Zambia’s IM Andrew Kayonde
after the 2018 CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational
Photo by Alina L’Ami


According to his latest podcast interview at Perpetual Chess, Pontus Carlsson has been busy lately. You may have seen him in a photo with Magnus Carlsen during the World Championship in London, but he has been promoting his “Business meets Chess & Kids” tour for the past year.

GM Pontus Carlsson in Kenya

GM Pontus Carlsson promoting his vision in Kenya

Carlsson launched initiatives in Kenya and was warmly accepted during recent trip to New Orleans. He told The Chess Drum that he will tour the U.S. in January and would like to make a big impact on the continent of Africa. He also has plans to reach out to the business community to discuss how chess can help one craft a strategic outlook.

To get an idea of his initiative here is an excerpt from a recent interview:

When I entered the business world I quickly realized that I already had an advantage as a Grandmaster and strong chess player, since apart from getting respect for being smart, I already had a framework for objectively analysing the position, drawing the correct conclusion, take an important decision under time pressure, visualising the result of an idea and predicting the next move in a negotiation. All this is important and very useful skills both in life and business, that I share with companies, top business schools and Rotary clubs in my talk/lecture on how Chessthinking can revitalize your Business!

In January 2019, Carlsson told The Chess Drum he is visiting Houston, New Orleans and possibly a third state to tout his vision. If anyone is wondering, Carlsson is still active in tournaments and will be competing in the World Rapid and Blitz Championship next week December 25-31 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Swedish GM mentioned playing some blitz with Fabiano Caruana after the match. He said he “got crushed” but had more success against GM David Howell. “I was rusty,” said Carlsson who said he hoped to bring some wins home. Certainly we will be watching him battle a tough field where the minimum rating to enter is 2500.


Tallahassee is a smallish college town of nearly 200,000 and doubles as a capitol of the odd-shaped state. With its “panhandle” the northern part of Florida is not well-known for its tourist attractions and struggle with its identity apart from being the home of the Florida State Seminoles (FSU) and Florida A&M Rattlers (FAMU). Another area in which the city struggles is in the chess arena.

Along with Pensacola, Panama City and Jacksonville, Tallahassee has traditionally made up most of the chess activity in north Florida. The traditional locales for chess activity have been Orlando, Gainesville, Tampa, Boca Raton and Miami. In fact, Leinier Dominguez who is living in Miami, has just switched his federation from Cuba to U.S.

Eric Larsen, a mainstay in Tallahassee chess, passed away in 2014. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Over the past few years Jacksonville has been ignited by a number of activities that included hosting the last two state championships. Tallahassee has recently seen the FAMU Chess Club resurface and there are the club activities across Gaines Street at FSU. However, there has not been much in the way of tournament activity. After the passing of a couple of key members and the moving of a few others, Tallahassee has been in a state of transition. Historically, an eclectic group of players would meet at bookstores, coffee shops, parks and restaurants. Recently, The Chess Drum ran a story on Walter Hand, a local player with cerebral palsy.

While there are still a spattering of strong players living in the area, no major tournaments have been planned, but chess players still meet occasionally at Black Dog Cafe on Saturdays. The Froemke Memorial has not been held since 2014 and Tallahassee Chess Club has been largely inactive. However, pockets of activity have sprouted around the city.

Players battle at the 2014 Froemke Memorial held at
516 North Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301

2018 BBCC Chess Tournament
(Tallahassee School of Math & Science)

For the past few years, Banghao Chen and his son Benjamin Chen have sought to bring life to chess in the city by hosting chess activities for the children on Fridays. The two have operated Chen’s B&B Chess Club and have hosted a number of local scholastic events.

On December 1st, they co-hosted a tournament in conjunction with the Tallahassee School of Math & Science (TSMS). Brandon McCovery, a history and political science teacher runs the TSMS Chess Club and invited his players to participate in event. The BBCC/TSMS tournament drew approximately 30 players with 10 players in the Open section.

Florida Chess Association President Kevin Pryor addresses the tournament.

Banghao Chen and son Benjamin working out the pairings.

Brandon McCovery directing the players in the Scholastic Section.

The look of determination!

I got you!

Teaching the points of chess etiquette.

Carlos Martin trying to find a winning formula.

Jaidyn Garcia ponders his next move.

Players with a theoretical discussion of the Guioco Piano!

Ten players in the Open Section battling

Florida Chess Association President Kevin Pryor made the two-hour drive from Jacksonville to support the event and made some opening comments. FCA Board Member Daaim Shabazz was also present and serves as an Associate Professor at FAMU. The Tallahassee Democrat also covered the story. There are plans for more activities in Tallahassee including a larger spring tournament. Stay tuned!

Tallahasee Democrat: https://www.tallahassee.com/


When I was at the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, GM Amon Simutowe was part of many conversations about the future of African chess, particularly Zambia. While the country seeks to raise another GM, the comparisons with the Zambian Grandmaster are unavoidable. He is indeed an iconic figure on the landscape of Pan-African chess and history will be generous in that regard.

Amon Simutowe and Daaim Shabazz at 2016 World Chess Championship in New York.

Amon Simutowe and Daaim Shabazz
at 2016 World Chess Championship in New York.

Simutowe is based in New York and has been occasionally spotted around New York chess scenes. Last month, he followed the World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana encounter and annotated games for The Chess Drum. (click on games in table below)

While the match ended a month ago, the memories are still fresh. One of the burning issues that is still raging is the match format to diminish the incidence of draws. There were 12 straight draws in the match despite both sides having chance to score.

2018 World Chess Championship
Holborn, London, England (November 9th-28th)

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) vs. Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Official Site: https://worldchess.com/

Reflections on CARUANA vs. CARLSEN
GM Amon Simutowe (Zambia)

The global chess community was treated to the highly-anticipated Carlsen–Caruana championship match. I have summarized my thoughts about the match set up and what I think went right and wrong for both players as well as my opinion about the tiebreaks. It’s quite impossible to capture all the elements as so many unobservable factors were also in play, but I believe I have captured the significant issues.

Match Set up

GM Amon Simutowe
Photo by Fred Lucas

As I stated at the beginning of the match, I think the matches should be 14 or 16 games. My preference is 14 games as I fear a 16 game match may take a toll on the players physically. After the match, Caruana indicated that he could have played as many as 16 games. His comment may suggest his preference for a longer match.

On average, I think the length of the match would not change the deserved result. But a 14-16 game match would incentivize more risk taking and likely entertain the chess fans more. For instance, in a 14-16 game match, a player can lose a game 6 and still have several opportunities in the remaining 8-10 games to equalize. In a 12 game match, there is little incentive to take big risks beyond game 6 if the match is tied. Thus, the question is whether FIDE could consider increasing world championship matches by at least two games.

What went right for Carlsen

It’s hard to pinpoint everything which helped Carlsen win the match but a few below shed some light:

  • His main interest was to win and he decided not to worry much about choosing a method that may be more entertaining to average chess fans.
  • He stuck to his strategy of being cautious during the match. Perhaps this was justified since Caruana seemed very comfortable in very sharp variations.
  • He applied basic statistics. According to their Elo ratings, the difference in ability in classical chess between Carlsen and Caruana was insignificant. The difference in rapid chess was noticeable, so Carlsen banked his chances on winning in the rapid match and he demonstrated that.

Magnus Carlsen
Photo by David Llada

What went wrong for Carlsen

Nothing really went wrong for Carlsen since he won but a few issues still come to mind.

  • He did not win game 1 even though he should have won based on his talent level.
  • After game 3, he disappointed some chess fans as it became increasing clear that he would play more cautious than they expected.
  • He should have played on in game 12 because he had a slight advantage. This could arguably be also what went right. Several chess experts criticized his decision to offer a draw. This was based on the assumption that Carlsen could only draw or win after he got an advantage. But he is human and it’s also possible that he could blunder. Another possibility is that he was not psychologically ready to keep fighting in that position – which should be another logical reason not to play on. Thus, if it was a robot with Carlsen’s strength, the best decision was to play on – but as a human with varying emotional states and effectiveness, Carlsen was likely right.

“Based on the information I had at that point,
I think I made a very good decision.”

~Magnus Carlsen

What went right for Caruana

In terms of strategy, Caruana was on track. The mentioned factors is what I think would have pushed him above the line if he had won the match.

  • He did not lose the first game even though his position was in that situation. He settled well after he went unbeaten the first 5 games. I think it’s easier to withstand any psychological challenges if a player loses after he or she has settled into the match. He could have been in trouble if Carlsen pressed in game 12. But to be fair, Caruana also had advantages in at least 2 games and this should cancel out his escapes.
  • He was well prepared as he showed in the depth and breadth of his opening preparation especially with white pieces.
  • He became more of a threat to win the match as it progressed. I think that if it was a 16 game match and Carlsen kept repeating the Sicilian, Caruana would break through.
  • His games were quite impressive – he really played to win especially with white pieces and chess fans were very happy with him.

Fabiano Caruana
Photo by IM Eric Rosen

What went wrong for Caruana

I am not sure anything that went wrong in terms of Caruana’s chances to win was within his control. The following points suggest a few issues that likely negatively affected him.

  • In the first 12 games, nothing costly happened but he almost lost game 1. In game 12, he was still at a disadvantage but he could have likely drawn – albeit with a bit of struggle. So in practice, nothing observable was really wrong unless it mattered psychologically.
  • I suspect Caruana thought that Carlsen is better than him in rapid chess. Yes the records state that but it’s another thing if he actually believes that.
  • I think even though he is very experienced and amazing (at least better than millions of other chess players not named Carlsen) he may have been affected psychologically. His results in the rapid match did not reflect his skill even taking into account that Carlsen was a favorite in the rapid game.

Tiebreak Rapid Match Games

I think there is not much point in analyzing the rapid games since the conditions lead to mistakes but a few comments especially on the key moments of the rapid match are still warranted.

Rapid Game 1

Carlsen prepared 3.g3 and 4.e4! These move stood out to me. They look ordinary but it may not be easy for Caruana to choose continuations especially at 2800+ where details really matter. Carlsen was able to create a middle game which made it difficult for Caruana to move. This mattered significantly because time was constraints were a factor as well and we can assume that Carlsen was relatively more prepared. Carlsen’s endgame play was much more impressive that it may outwardly appear. Thus Caruana erred mainly because of the conditions he was operating under time constraints in a variation in which he was surprised.

On 24.Bxe6?! Carlsen let his advantage slip after 24…Kf8 25.Rxd4 Ke7 26.Rxd7+. Caruana eventually misplayed the rook ending and went down in defeat. However, Carlsen should play 24.Rxd4! After 24…Kf7 he had the stunning 25.Kh1!! (diagram #2) This avoids the trap of 25.Red1? where black saves the game with 25…Ne5! If 26.Rxd8 then 26…Nxf3+ 27.Kf1 (27.Kh1?? Rh2 mate!) 27…Nxh2+ 28.Kg1 Nf3+ etc.

Rapid Game 2

Carlsen had a noticeable psychological advantage since he was now leading the match. I was quite impressed that Carlsen still repeated the Sicilian Sveshnikov. Even taking into account that Carlsen deviated from Game 12 by playing 11…Qb8, I still consider his decision to repeat the Sicilian Sveshnikov quite bold. I must admit I am not a fan of 11…Qb8 even though it is a normal theoretical move.

While 11…Qb8 is not a losing move, I consider it a bit of awkward but this was Carlsen playing it. He is capable of coming up with impressive ideas. The possible awkward aspect of the move may also not matter much in rapid games. Unfortunately, Caruana over-extended himself and lost. Positions arising such as 27…Ne5 are not representative of what should happen to a person of Caruana’s stature. It seems that he considered game 2 a must win situation even though he didn’t to but that’s still a subjective decision.

Rapid Game 3

In game 3, Caruana had added pressure to beat Carlsen with black pieces. With a 2-0 lead and needing only a draw with white pieces, Carlsen had a lot of pressure taken off. I would not blame Caruana’s loss in game 3 on technical aspects but the excess pressure to avoid draws. Caruana had to only find paths leading to wins while Carlsen had to choose moves that would lead to drawn or winning positions. The rapid match was certainly not representative of Caruana’s strength and it was an unfortunate way to finish the world chess championship – which most of the chess fans credibly thought he had a chance of winning after the match went past game 6.

Carlsen wins 3-0 in tiebreaks over Caruana…
retains title!

Magnus Carlsen hoisting aloft the champion’s trophy
Photo by World Chess


I am not sure we should dwell on Caruana’s misfortune in the tiebreaks. He would have won the match in the first 12 games if he was relatively better prepared than Carlsen. My main concern was that Caruana might lose a game early in the match and get psychologically unsettled. Thus, I believe the match experience advantage Carlsen has compared to Caruana was somewhat neutralized after the match went to roughly game 5 without a decisive game.

GM Amon Simutowe

I had stated earlier that decisive games would be unlikely if we didn’t see one between game 5 and 9. To the credit of the players, some games after game 9 were still very dynamic. But as was demonstrated in the match, it’s difficult for a 2800 level player to drop a point even in unfavorable positions.

I also think that match was good for chess even though some of the chess experts thought otherwise. Some friends who don’t play chess seemed intrigued when they learned that the match had gone 12 games without a decisive game. I doubt their fascination would have been the same if the match had been decided by then.

It will be interesting if Caruana gets to challenge Carlsen again in 2020. If he doesn’t, I hope the next challenger will be as impressive as Caruana turned out to be.


In the aftermath of a successful hosting of the World Chess Championship that saw Magnus Carlsen defend his crown, the city of London is getting another gem of an event in the London Chess Classic. Fabiano Caruana is back in action after a valiant fight against Carlsen, losing in tiebreaks. This is the last tournament of the Grand Chess Tour with the winner taking $120,000 top prize, but there are other subplots that will make this finale a must-watch.

The week-long event (December 11th-17th) will be held at two different venues… the headquarters of DeepMind, the brainchild of Alpha Zero and the London Olympia. Alpha Zero, the self-taught artificial intelligence engine, has been in the news lately because of its highly-fancied matches with Stockfish, but more importantly its spellbinding games.

2018 London Chess Classic
December 11-17, 2018 (London, England)
GM Fabiano Caruana USA
2832, #2 2789, #10 2767, #16
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA
2778, #6 2786, #11 2937, #2
GM Levon Aronian ARM
2765, #11 2802, #7 2889, #3
GM Hikaru Nakamura USA
2746, #17 2844, #2 2858, #4
(Official Site)

The four players qualified by holding the top four positions in the GCT standings with Hikaru Nakamura holding the top position. Caruana was able to qualify by virtue of winning a playoff tiebreaker over Wesley So. While many speculated that Caruana would not play so soon after a grueling battle, he is coming “locked and loaded” with a chance to become the world’s #1 player.

Levon Aronian, a threat to win any given tournament, will attempt to hoist the GCT trophy. Along with Nakamura, he is one of the playing founders of the Sinquefield Cup having participated in each edition since the inception of 2013. Norway Chess 2015 was the event that spawned off the GCT tour with Veselin Topalov winning the inaugural event.

The real issue moving forward is coming up with new format with a variety of players. The same combination of players have competed every year which raises the question of the tour’s future. Will the GCT present any new ideas for the future or will we see the same players competing every event? That is the buzz going around in fandom circles.

According to the GCT official site…

After two Classical games on December 11-12, play switches to Rapid & Blitz on Dec. 13. The winners then go through to the 3-day Final, held at the traditional Olympia London venue on December 15-16 (Classical) & 17 (Rapid & Blitz). There will also be a Third Place Playoff.The 2018 GCT champion will take home a 1st prize of $120,000 (there’s $80,000 for 2nd, $60,000 for 3rd and $40,000 for 4th).

Official Site: http://www.grandchesstour.com (live games)
Regulations: https://www.londonchessclassic.com/

Drum Coverage: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017


Adisa Banjoko is known to The Chess Drum audience as the founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation, an educational initiative fusing chess, hip-hop and martial arts. Since starting the HHCF in 2007, he has hosted tournaments, taught in Bay Area schools and spoke at universities from coast-to-coast. worked on remarkable projects including his exhibits at the World Chess Hall of Fame (Living Like Kings) and the Oakland Museum (RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom). In February 2012, he graced the cover of Chess Life magazine celebrating five years of service.

Chess Life (February 2012)

Adisa Banjoko’s Hip Hop Chess Federation
was the cover story of February 2012
U.S. Chess Life magazine.

Adisa on point at Harvard University

With RZA, one of the visionary founders of the Wu Tang Clan,
at the St. Louis Chess Club during opening of the
“Living Like Kings” exhibit.

On his 12th episode of Bishop Chronicles reveals the shocking story of how he almost died recently. The emotional segment reveals his days leading up to the crisis after twice blacking out randomly. After his wife demanded that he go to the hospital, they run test and make an alarming discovery. He was bleeding to death. They didn’t understand why. Reality hit home when they started asking him about his final arrangements and if he wanted to see a chaplain. He talks about the situation in very great detail in his own conversational style. Very moving!

Take a listen!

# # #

About HHCF: The Hip-Hop Chess Federation is the world’s first nonprofit (501c3) to fuse music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and nonviolence. They host lectures, panels, and celebrity chess events to help at-risk, gang-impacted and gang intentional youth make better decisions in life. The HHCF has been featured on Good Morning America, Forbes, Chess Life, VIBE and Rolling Stone.

Visit www.BishopChronicles.com today and LISTEN to some of the coolest interviews in entertainment, business strategy and technology on the net.

Connect with me on www.linkedin.com/in/abanjoko


GM Pontus Carlsson in New Orleans with participants
in “Business Meets Chess & Kids” program

GM Pontus Carlsson returned to Perpetual Podcast with FM Ben Johnson to get an update on his recent activities and his ongoing initiative. He was recently in New Orleans “The Big Easy” to visit the hometown (and home) of Paul Morphy and engage in a number of outreach activities with the chess community. (See story here)

GM Pontus Carlsson by Paul Morphy Street

  • Pontus’ recent trip to New Orleans for a philanthropic initiative. He has helped launch Business meets Chess and Kids, an organization that pairs business leaders with underprivileged kids in tandem chess, with the goal of using chess as a form for networking and mentorship for the younger generation. Pontus told stories from his trip and talked about future plans for this inspiring effort.
  • Pontus gave a couple of great book recommendations and gave some advice for infrequent tournament competitors who are trying to shake off some rust (for example, say, the host of this podcast).
  • We talked about a couple of the themes emerging from the ongoing World Championship match, and Pontus shared some stories and perspectives from past experiences having met and talked with the likes of Magnus Carlsen, Veselin Topalov and Anish Giri.

Episode 101– GM Pontus Carlsson Returns


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