1. Name the African player who won the board two gold medal in the 1998 Olympiad held in Elista, Russia.

All of the players have won medals in Olympiad tournaments, but in 1998 only Nigerian Odion Aikhoje (an FM at the time) won the gold. Aikhoje, who has been a top player for Nigeria for years, had a strong performance and finished ahead of GM Smbat Lputian with 6½-1½. In the same tournament Angolan IM Pedro Adérito won a bronze medal on board #4.

The other players mentioned have also won Olympiac medals. At the 2000 Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, young Zambian phenom
IM Amon Simutowe took silver on board #1 with an 8-2 score and a 2603 performance rating. Dawit Wendimu of Ethiopia won the 2nd reserve silver with 5½-1½. His compatriot Wossenyelew Hailu would win the same board medal in the 2004 Olympiad with 6½-½.

IM Odion Aikhoje

In the 2002 Olympiad held in Bled, Slovenia, IM Robert Gwaze of Zimbabwe sent shock waves through the tournament with his spectular 9-0 gold medal performance on board #1. He eclipsed Garry Kasparov's 7½-1½, 2933 performance and GM Alberto David's 11-2 score for Luxembourg.

2. Who is the first Black player in the U.S. (on record) to officially earn the title of National Master?

Only one person can make this claim and his name is Walter Harris. In the late 50s and early 60s, Harris gained distinction by becoming the first Black player to compete in the U.S. Junior Championships, scoring 6-3 and a 5th place finish from 40 entrants. In the same week, he played in the 1959 U.S. Open, a tournament which featured Master Rogelio Ortega from Cuba. Harris scored 7-5, while Ortega scored 8½-3½. Harris would later become the 1st Black player in the U.S. to earn the official rank of National Master.

3. Name the player in the photo below peeking over the shoulder of GM Michael Adams.

Uganda's Grace Nsubuga peers at Michael Adams' game. Luke McShane waits for his opponent to show up. The crowd on the stage is packed around Ukraine's board.

4. The Jamaican Chess Federation was founded in 1969 by this chess visionary, also a prominent lawyer.

In an interview with Jamaican Chess Federation President, Ian Wilkinson, he states, The JCF was officially founded on 22nd February, 1969. Arguably the chief architect responsible for its formation was the late Enos Ayrton Grant, a prominent lawyer and chess visionary who was elected the first President. Mr. Grant and another former President, NM John Powell, were instrumental in having the JCF officially recognized by FIDE in 1972."

5. Which player of African descent most recently earned his third and final norm for FIDE's International Master's title?

Pontus Carlsson of Sweden recently earned two IM norms in Spain to complete his requirements for the title. He will be confirmed by FIDE in April 2005. Carlsson was born in Columbia, South America and currently reside in Spain. Kenny Solomon of South Africa earned his IM stripes at the 2003 African Championships in Abuja, Nigeria. His title was confirmed January 2005. Stephen Muhammad of the USA has earned three norms and only has the rating requirement of 2400 to officially earn the title. William "The Exterminator" Morrison of the USA needs one more norm for the title. He nearly missed it at the Wilbert Paige Memorial, coming up ½-point short in the last round against Kenny Solomon.Norman "Pete" Rogers also needs one more norm for the title.

Copyright © 2002, Sports 2004.

IM-elect Pontus Carlsson

6. Classic game played by one of the game's most unassuming heroes in Black chess. In this devastating attacking game, he finishes with the beautiful 26.Qxf7+!  Who is this player?

Morris Giles is the man who uncorked this finishing blow… mating the six-time U.S. champion Walter Browne. The very quiet and unassuming player was perhaps the most fierce Chicago player ever to play on the 64 squares. His style was uniquely tailored after Bobby Fischer as he used the exact opening repertoire with both colors. Sometimes he even played like Fischer.

In this game, Giles employed Fischer's Sozin Attack and caught Browne's king in the center with a shattering knight sacrifice. With pieces bearing down on the black king, Browne tried to build a fortress of protection, but Giles pounded away and ended with the beautiful
26.Qxf7+! After 26…Bxf7 27. Bxf7 is mate. This game was played at the 1988 U.S. Open in Boston where Giles scored 9-3 and an IM norm.

In Browne-Giles, white delivered the knockout blow with 26.Qxf7+! (see game).

7. This legendary chess club is responsible for producing premier Black players in the New York area.

The Black Bear Chess School was a novel idea to produce strong players in the New York area and boasted some of the strongest Black players in the country.
GM Maurice Ashley honed his skills in this Brooklyn-based group and vaulted over the likes of Ronald Simpson, William Morrison, Ernest Colding and a few others. In the famous Black Bear tradition, players jockeyed for position in the club. In order to move up, one player had to engage in a "Black Bear Challenge." That entailed challenging the player immediately above him.

Ashley explains the Black Bear concept:

The Black Bear system is simple:

1) Serious chess study is a must. This is best done as a group where players decide what topics they wish to cover and then come to the table prepared to debate ideas. Most people are unwilling to do this because they would rather hang out and play.
2) Tournament chess is a must. At least once a month you must play in an over-the-board event.
3) The final part is our ladder system. Players play against each other for a rung. This is decided by 30 decisive five minute games (draws do not count).

Maurice Ashley and William Morrison. . . the #1 and #2 'Black Bears'. Copyright © 1992, Jerome Bibuld.

Maurice Ashley - William Morrison
Black Bear Challenge

8. This celebrity chess player once took a chess lesson from U.S. National Master Marvin Dandridge.

This is an interesting piece of trivia. In October 2000, GM Maurice Ashley was in Chicago to speak to elementary school children about the virtues of chess. During that time, megastar actor Will Smith was filming a movie and in his off time, sought a chess lesson. Smith got in contact with Ashley and in the discussion, Ashley told Smith he was leaving town so he should contact Marvin Dandridge. Dandridge, a legendary tactician, was contacted and the meeting was on. The meeting lasted for two hours. Smith continues to play off the set and takes lessons from Robert Snyder out on the west coast.

9.  Name the only Black female player in Africa with a FIDE title.

Currently, WFM Boikhutso Mudongo is the only Black female of record to have earned an international title. Mudongo won a bronze medal in the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia scoring a strong 7-1 score on board #4. In the 2004 Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain, she played board #1 and scored 6-5.

10. There are only two U.S. players to earn a 2500 rating in the U.S. Chess Federation. Maurice Ashley is one of them. Who is the other?

This is a tricky question. One may be inclined to select FM Emory Tate, the brilliant tactician. However, Tate only got up to 2499 USCF. Of course, Maurice Ashley was the first person to eclipse both 2500 and 2600… reaching a high of 2606in December 1993! So who was the other person to reach 2500? Was it Morris Giles of Chicago. No… he only got as high as  2475. Was it Stephen Muhammad? No. Muhammad's highest rating was 2461. Thus the 2nd person to reach a 2500 rating in the USCF system in none other than William "The Exterminator" Morrison who reached a high of 2512 in April 1995. Incidentally, These five players would be stronger than half of the federations at the 2004 Olympiad.

FM William Morrison. Copyright ©, UMBC.

11. In what event did Amon Simutowe of Zambia earn his International Master's title?

Amon Simutowe, who won his national championship at age 14, earned his IM title at the 1999 African Junior Championship. He won that tournament by a whopping 10/11 score and then started a meteoric rise which caught the attention of the international chess world. His rating soared from 2240 to 2470 and nearly won the 2000 World Junior Championship in the interim. He won a silver medal in the 2002 Olympiad in Istanbul and has two Grandmaster norms. He is currently a finance/economics major at the University of Texas-Dallas where he is a member of the national championship chess team.

12. From the island of Dominica, he was responsible for funding the historic Wilbert Paige Memorial Chess Tournament. Name him.

It is easy to forget the people behind the scene of successful events, but
Dr. Jones Murphy, Jr. has been an important figure in promoting chess within the Black Diaspora. Having funded the ground-breaking Murphy tournament in the early 90s, he conceived a plan to assemble ten of the top players of African descent and then funded the event.

Jerry Bibuld, a pioneer in promoting among people of the Diaspora, organized this Wilbert Paige Memorial Chess Tournament in honor of Wilbert Paige, a personal Philadelphia Master who succumbed at an early age. The event was held in historic Harlem (New York) and was followed around the world on The Chess Drum. With Bibuld serving as the Arbiter, the tournament was won by Stephen Muhammad with 6½-2½… IM Watu Kobese of South African and IM Michael Schliefer of Canada scored 6-3.

A diverse field of players participated and the tournament drew a flow of spectators during the two-week duration.
Daaim Shabazz wrote a pamphlet about the event and will be immortalized as arguably the most important Pan-African event in history.

Wilbert Paige Memorial players and commentators. Copyright © 2001, Daaim Shabazz.

Wilbert Paige Memorial players and commentators. Seated (L-R) IM Amon Simutowe, NM Grace Nsubuga, GM Maurice Ashley (commentator),  FM Ronald Simpson, IM Michael Schleifer, FM Stephen Muhammad. Standing (L-R) NM Jerald Times (commentator), NM Ernest ColdingIM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator).

Compiled by: Dr. Daaim Shabazz (5 February 2005)

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