Black Stars shine at the World Open

The World Open is a magical tournament for many reasons. It appears that the venue brings out the best chess effort in those competing as evidenced by many memorable games. Also the tournament is literally a reunion for players who do not travel the tournament circuit very often. The World Open seems to be the tournament to travel to. Who can forget the 2001 tournament which featured the players from Africa? Who can forget the analysis and blitz sessions in the skittles room? How about those masterpieces analysis sessions by FM Emory Tate? Black players (those of African descent) travel to Philly to win money from tournament winnings and also through informal channels (t-shirt sales, blitz sessions, food concessions, etc). One look into the skittles room will explain this.

2004 World Open Performances

In the recently ended 2004 World Open, five top masters of African descent entered the
Open Section and played exciting chess. Stephen Muhammad scored 6-3 and earned a berth to the U.S. Championship; Emory Tate scored 6-3 and recorded another GM scalp; Norman Rogers tallied 5 points; Oladapo Adu scored 4-4 including a spectacular win over Blas Lugo; William Morrison scored 3-3 before withdrawing due to allergies. Expert Dr. Kimani Stancil had a remarkable tournament and unofficially earned his National Master's title. Thirteen-year old Medina Parrilla made her World Open debut and made a respectable showing against strong opposition. Certainly this activity provides inspiration and indicates that something special is taking place.

Caruana-Stancil

FMs Morrison and Tate

Medina Parrilla

In the Expert Section, Negash Bezaleel (below right) scored a respectable 6-3 (after 4-0 start) as did blitz legend Thomas Murphy. The Chess Drum's Dr. Daaim Shabazz scored 5-3; Brian Richardson had 5-4; Calvin Marshall had 4-4; Lawyer Times, coming off a good result at the Chicago Open, scored 4-5. In the under-2000 Section, Robert Gist scored an impressive 7-2; Adekunle Ogunmefun scored 6-2; Reverend Michael Gant was on 6-3;  Iyobebe  Hanson and Anthony Crawley had 5-4. One notable performance occurred in the under-1600 section where Said Ali (1249) scored 8-1. Ali is involved with the Chess International University out of Washington, DC.  Their supporters were seen wearing the t-shirts (below) throughout the tournament.

Negash Bezaleel

Blitz Battle

Dr. Shabazz &
The 'Black Knight'

Black to the Future

The above performances are great, but what lies ahead for the future? The 80s were a renaissance period capitalizing on the "Fischer Boom" when many of 80s Black masters learned to play. What will be the impetus for chess excellence in the 2000s? Perhaps more tournaments similar to the Wilbert Paige Memorial. While the World Open has been a staging ground for young talent such as
Medina Parrilla, Kayin Barclay, Jacob Wamala (and now Said Ali), there certainly needs to be more attention paid to talent development as mentioned in a brief meeting two years ago.  Who will be the next Maurice Ashley? Will we have to wait until the next World Open to find out?

Posted by The Chess Drum: 8 July 2004