Raging Rooks of Harlem, NY

Charu Robinson
January 3, 1977 – October 13, 2020

In a year that has been a challenging one for many, the chess community lost yet another servant in chess in the passing of Charu Robinson on October 13th. He was 43. The cause was not immediately revealed but he was found in his apartment by a friend. The previous evening he had been exchanging banter with friends over the New York-Chicago grudge match.

GM Maurice Ashley, who was Charu’s coach, posted a moving message and a photo gallery on his Facebook page.

A native New Yorker, Charu developed a passion for chess early showing promise as a member of the “Raging Rooks,” a team taking 1st in the K-9 National Championships. He was proud to say that his team was joint first with the Philadelphia team that included IM Greg Shahade and Ben Johnson.

Raging Rooks of Harlem, NY

Maurice Ashley in the center demonstrating a game to his “Raging Rooks.”
Charu is standing to the left.

Charu was known as a passionate person who would be eager to initiate a debate on chess, sports, or any news of the day. I remember a debate he initiated with me on Facebook concerning a scholastic player who he felt was “overreported” because he got publicity for winning a lower section.

Yo outside the kid being a young brother, you really think its cool for kids to get mad props for winning low sections ?

Yes was my answer, but Charu was adamant. He felt that the article may have been rewarding mediocrity. I took a different angle. I explained that the published accomplishments are stepping stones and builds confidence as one improves. One of his points was well-taken. The article in question had several errors which made it appear that the young player had accomplished his success against stronger competition. This is a legitimate complaint.

In many instances, non-chess journalists use words like “whiz,” “expert,” and “master” as generic words. Apart from the worn-out chess puns, this is a common mistake in chess coverage. An article may label someone as a “national champion” when they’ve only score 1st place in a lower section. He agreed with me that this was a matter of journalistic integrity.

Nevertheless, Charu was in his element and wanted to see young players strive for more than mere class prizes. He wanted his students to get the benefits that he enjoyed as a scholastic player. Here he is featured in a segment on his coach Ashley (1:27-2:41).

I met Charu in 2001 at the Wilbert Paige Memorial in Harlem, New York. It was a historic tournament held featuring ten of the top Black players, at that time. Charu seemed to be enjoying the moment, but particularly his responsibility of entering the games in Fritz and helping Jerry Bibuld and Beejay Hicks with various aspects of the tournament.

Fritz 6 was at work too! Charu Robinson at the controls. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

Charu Robinson at the Wilbert Paige Memorial entering games.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz

The Marshall Chess Club hosted a memorial tournament on October 24th and there is a memorial page with tributes from friends. Greg Kenner reflected on some sage advice:

The way to get better at blitz is by getting better at slow chess.

The intense study doesn’t improve your blitz much, because chess at its core is about deep thinking.

You don’t get to think deep playing blitz. It’s mostly reactionary. But your reactions are better if you are a seasoned strong slow player.


“Talent” was Charu’s oft-repeated catchphrase. He would interject it in a number of situations in complimentary fashion. While Charu was not very active in recent years, he played online and still manage to harness the talent of a number of students. He passed on the lessons given to him by Maurice Ashley. The greater chess community has spent the past couple of weeks honoring his memory with tributes and the aforementioned tournament. There was also a ZOOM tribute.

ZOOM Memorial Tribute
October 24, 2020

ZOOM Memorial

There was been a fundraiser set up for Charu by his sister Stacey Smith to help cover expenses. The family has set a $30,000 goal.


Jessica Hyatt is the latest of a string of Black girls to come out of the New York area and destined for chess success. Recently, she won a $40,000 scholarship, but it was not the usual full ride to chess powerhouses like Webster or UT-Dallas. It was the Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award that netted her the honor. Aspiring to attend MIT, Hyatt is coached by National Masters Tyrell Harriott and David Mbonu and aspires to attain the coveted title.

Jessica Hyatt (right) playing Rochelle Ballantyne.

Chess can be considered a gateway to success as many players have been able to parlay chess excellence into professional careers. It has been particularly helpful to the Black community as many scholastic stars have gone on to achieve tremendous success. Hyatt joins Medina Parilla, Rochelle Ballantyne, and Darrian Robinson as New York girls in the Black community who have tasted success, all eclipsing the 2000-rating barrier.

Jessica Hyatt (right) playing Rochelle Ballantyne.

The Success Academy Bed-Stuy Middle School team at the 2019 All-Girls Championship in Chicago. From left to right: Coach Tyrell Harriott, Tabia Davis, Jayleen Badillo, Geah Jean Baptiste, and Jessica Hyatt celebrate its win. Photo from Brooklyn Paper (brookynpaper.com)

For the unassuming 15-year old, MIT is in her sights and will have a lot of support from her mother, Loy Allen, her coaches, New York and of course, Adia Onyango, an expert-level player and community chess advocate. Given this support, Hyatt hopes to continue expressing her passion for chess and to live her dreams.

Angola Angola Angola

Pedro Adérito, an International Master from Angola, has passed away at 44. This had been announced through various platforms including WhatsApp African chess group. According to the Angola Press Agency, he had apparently been dealing with an illness and a member of Angola’s chess body had visited Adérito at his home in the afternoon before the tragic event occurred Monday evening, October 5th.

Adérito is the second Angolan to achieve the IM title after winning the 1993 African Junior Championship at 17 years old. He was one of a number of IMs that led Africa in terms of titled players. Angola boasting five IMs at the 1996 Chess Olympiad in Armenia.

Pedro receives his prize for winning the 1993 Africa Junior Chess Championship from the late Chairman of Kenya Chess Association Fred Sagwe while Vice-Chairman Francis Rodrigues looks on. The event was held at the YMCA in Nairobi, Kenya and ran from 11th to 26th December 1993. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Aderito receives his prize after winning the 1993 Africa Junior Chess Championship. Chairman of Kenya Chess Association Fred Sagwe presents the honors while Vice-Chairman Francis Rodrigues looks on. The event was held at the YMCA in Nairobi, Kenya and ran from 11th to 26th December 1993. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

The Chess Drum posted an interview of Aderito (conducted 29 October 2002 through Catarino Domingos), which read:

Known for its large diamond mines and rich cultural traditions, Angola’s capital of Luanda is where young Pedro grew up. At age 15, a friend of his (now serving as a priest in Brazil) decided to teach him chess. Pedro was not immediately drawn to the game but was intrigued enough to take an interest. A couple of years later, he entered his first chess tournament. This science student from Puniv High School entered a regional qualifying tournament for the National Championship and took 3rd place was a 5-2 score! He was bested only by seasoned players Antonio Pedro and Eugénio Campos (now an IM). It was at this point that Pedro took a deeper interest in chess.

As is common in many African nations, chess materials are very hard to find, so Pedro most of his time working with friends… essentially learning by playing. While the friends of his youth still play, Pedro has broken from the pack and clearly established himself as one of the country’s top players. He has won countless tournaments in Angola and has also won the African Junior Championship in 1993 (held in Kenya) which was how he earned the IM title. IM Manuel Mateus had earned his IM title at the 1987 African Championships while IM Eugénio Campos succeeded him as Junior Champion in 1994. Pedro honed his skills in the Karpov Chess School and currently works with Abilio Ribero, a fellow member on the National Team.

In the Elista tournament, he won a bronze medal for his 7-2 performance on board #4 (Nigeria’s IM Odion Aikhoje had won a gold medal on board #2) and in the recently concluded Bled tournament, he scored a team-leading 8-3. Besides being a mainstay on Angolan Olympiad teams, he has played in other international tournaments including the prestigious Cappelle La Grande tournament in France and with cherished memories. He also played in Sweden where he toppled GM Lars Karlsson. Here a game from the 1996 Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia.

Angola Men's Team, 2002 Olympiad (Bled, Slovenia)

2002 Angola Olympiad team: (in front, from left to right) Catarino Domingos (Bd. 1), Amorin Agnelio (Bd. 2), IM Armindo Sousa (Bd. 3) and IM Pedro Aderito (Bd. 4); (in the rear, from left to right) Ediberto Domingos (Bd. 5) and Abilio Ribeiro (Bd. 6), and Manuel Andrade (captain). Photo taken by Jerry Bibuld.

Meanwhile, Pedro Aderito of Angola was blitzing with a Latin American player. The three Angolans watching are Manuel Mateus (light shirt), Eugenio Campos (yellow shirt) and Catarino Domingos (blue jacket).

Aderito blitzing with a Latin American player after 2004 Calvia Olympiad had ended. The three Angolans watching are Manuel Mateus (light shirt), Eugenio Campos (yellow shirt) and Catarino Domingos (blue jacket). Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Angolans Pedro Aderito and Ediberto Domingos at 2011 African Individual Championships held in Maputo, Mozambique.

During his illustrious career, Aderiot won six national championships and represented Angola seven times for the Olympiad (1996, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008). His Olympiad record was +36 (wins) -22 (losses) =11 (draws) winning a bronze medal in 1998 (Elista) with 7/9.

The Chess Drum salutes International Master Pedro Adérito!

National Anthem

See Tribute by Dr. Lyndon Bouah:

US Chess

During the August 2020 Special Delegates Meeting, the Delegates adopted a recommendation from the Governance Task Force to create a Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee (“Committee”) will:

  • Recruit candidates to stand for election to the Executive Board
  • Vet the prospective candidates
  • Endorse candidates who receive the Committee’s majority approval. The endorsed candidates will be presented to US Chess Voting Members.

Another meeting was held via ZOOM on September 26th. Out of eight nominees, six would be elected to the committee (by 82 delegates), while two others were elected by the current Executive Board (7 members). The following members were elected:

2020-2022 Nominating Committee Members

Joy Bray (MO), Executive Board-appointed
David Grimaud (SC), Delegate-appointed
Randy Hough (CA-S), Delegate-appointed
Michelle Martinez (AZ), Delegate-appointed
Sophia Rohde (NY), Delegate-appointed
Daaim Shabazz (FL), Delegate-appointed
Hal Sprechman (NJ), Executive Board-appointed
Chris Wainscott (WI), Delegate-appointed
(USCF Notice)

Yesterday, Executive Director Carol Meyer released a call-out for those interested in serving on board positions. In the release, it states:

For the 2021 Executive Board election, the Committee will make recommendations for prospective candidates who will be permitted to use the Committee’s endorsement as one element of their campaign marketing. The Committee’s candidate recommendations in no way preclude others from self-nominating for the election. All candidates for the Executive Board (endorsed or not) are required to obtain signatures on their petitions for office. That petition form is available here. (A fillable petition form is also available.)

If you are interested you can contact Daaim Shabazz at webmaster@thechessdrum.net or see details a link below.

Link: https://new.uschess.org/news/nominating-committee-announces-call-interest-executive-board-candidates

In the face of a global pandemic, many have lost loved ones unexpectantly. This scourge has forced us to take a closer look at the priorities of life and perhaps reevaluate personal relationships.

Ahvia M. Reynolds

Personally, I have been beset by two tragedies, the loss of both siblings in a six-week span… Abraham Jr. (August 22nd) and Ahvia (October 2nd). It was my older siblings who taught me the joy of reading which is intricately related to one’s writing and prose. It was my sister who took most of the effort to read stories to me and as the eldest, she was the nurturer. Despite neither being involved in chess, both supported my efforts of The Chess Drum and took an interest in my writings. It is with this in mind that I find the energy to resume my writings.

I was asked yesterday by Kevin Pryor, President of Florida Chess Association, what I planned to do with The Chess Drum in the coming months. The emphasis will be on my “Drum Beat” videos and podcasting. Only months away from the 20th year anniversary, there is a cause for celebrating the site’s accomplishments over the years. Thus, I dedicate the rest of this year to my siblings.

Keep the Beat Going!!!

Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Ahvia Reynolds

Dear Drum Community!

I am back from a month-long hiatus from writing and news coverage.

Toni and Abraham Bolden, Jr. on their honeymoon in Dunn River Falls (Ocho Rios, Jamaica) in 1989.

I would like to extend my thanks to those of you who extended well-wishes to me after the loss of my older brother (Abraham Bolden, Jr.) on August 22nd. While not a chess player, he was a big supporter of chess and visited tournaments with his son, Ismail. My brother had a keen mind and was a generous soul. It was no accident that he (along with my sister Ahvia) taught me to read around age three. That life lesson gave me the passion for words and the art of writing. Thus, I owe a debt of gratitude for my brother for this gift. He was very proud of The Chess Drum and was often seen wearing the shirts. 🙂

Again… thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes and to those of you who have supported The Chess Drum. We will celebrate 20 years in February 2021!

Keep the Beat Going!!!

Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Adisa Banjoko of Bishop Chronicles

Adisa Banjoko has blazed the trails since launching the Hip Hop Chess Federation since 2006. He continues the tout the mission of merging artforms of hip-hop, chess and martial arts into a interesting philosophy and has now hosting webcasts. He gave a recent interview on his vision and philosophy.

In his 127th edition of Bishop Chronicles, Adisa invited Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum to his show to discuss a variety of issues. One of the most prevalent themes in the interview was the impact of chess and how it applies to the discussion of social justice. There was a recurring theme of chess as vehicle for social activism and mobilization.

Video by Adisa Banjoko (HHCF)

Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Many webcasting shows have emerged during the coronavirus outbreak. It has provided a suitable resource for of Chess has been enriched by a number of informative and entertaining programs on various platforms.

FM Jim Eade has been involved in chess for decades in the Bay area of California and has been known as an organizer and writer. While his books have been well-received, he is now entering into webcasting platform and has hosted “Chess Without Borders” on IBM.TV.

Recently, Eade invited Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum on for an interesting interview (July 28, 2020). Some of the subjects were chess beginnings, The Chess Drum’s evolution, the book Triple Exclam, the challenges of chess journalism and other topics.

The Chess Drum thanks Jim Eade for the opportunity!

Video by Jim Eade (IBM.TV)

Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

In this age of the coronavirus, activity has migrated online as thousands of players have set up YouTube channels and registered for online accounts on various chess servers. One of the major contributors to the boom in online chess has been the streaming platform of Twitch.

Pitterson Chess

This revolution has made it difficult to distinguish one’s brand from long-time streamers. American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has led the online revolution, but the trend has spread to diverse places. Jamaican International Master Jomo Pitterson has started a new channel aptly called “Pitterson Chess” and has started with interviews of Jamaican personalities in a long format.

The interview segment called “Coffee and Blitz” and has featured luminaries such as International Master Shane Matthews, Candidate Master Duane Rowe, and FIDE Master Damion Davy. The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz was also a guest on the program and the audience got a rare chance to see the webmaster play a few games of blitz. There were also four games reviewed: Byfield-Shabazz, Tate-Yudasin, Tate-Gustafsson, and Simutowe-Crouch. There were questions throughout and a “Game of the Week” segment. Enjoy!

Video by Pitterson Chess (Twitch, Instagram)

Remembering late Jamaican chess legend Robert Wheeler
by Bertram Scott

Robert Wheeler, one of Jamaica’s legendary chess players and administrators, was one of the founding members of the Jamaica Chess Federation.

Jamaica chess legend Robert Wheeler passed away on Tuesday, June 30, at the Kingston Public Hospital at age 70, and leaves behind great memories of the board sport.

He is survived by wife Hope, his daughter Kathryn, and other relatives.

Wheeler became ill and was in and out of the University Hospital of the West Indies for the past two years “with heart-related issues” and later with “brain cancer”.

Funeral service will be held on Sunday, July 26 at 10:00 am at Roman’s Funeral Home on Dunrobin Avenue in Kingston.

Looking back on a wonderful career, Wheeler arrived in Jamaica from England in late 1973, and immediately won the first chess tournament he played in the December Open.

Administratively, Wheeler caught the eye of the founder and president of the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF), Enos Grant, and was drafted as a member of the 1974 JCF executive committee.

He dominated the chess scene in 1974, or as the late Thomas Figueroa stated: “Bob won almost every tournament he played in,” or as National Master Neil Fairclough put it “he was a big fish in a small pond”.

Jamaica national chess team to the Central American & Caribbean Chess Championship in El Salvador 1974. From Left are – NM Robert Wheeler, 1975 joint-Jamaica champion, NM Thomas Figueroa (deceased), the President of El Salvador, NM Neil Fairclough (Caribbean chess champion in 1993-94), John Powell (Bd. 4 Silver Medalist at the 1984 Olympiad in Greece, deceased), and Attorney-at-Law, Dr. Enos Grant, the 1st President of the JCF (deceased). Picture submitted by Rennie Phillips.

Wheeler made a winning international debut for Jamaica in April 1974 against a visiting Dominican Republic national team when he defeated National Master Luis Bellaird on Board 2. He won his first of five Jamaica Open Chess Championships in 1974, with the others coming in 1976, 1977, 1979, and 1986. Wheeler tied for first with Dr. Harold Chan in the 1974 Jamaica Chess Championship, but lost to Dr Chan in a play-off, and shared the Jamaica Chess Championship title in 1975 and 1979 with Thomas Figueroa and Dr Chan, respectively, and went on to win four National Championship titles in 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1988.

In 1975 he toured with a Jamaica chess team for the first time to the 13th Central American and Caribbean Chess Championship in San Salvador, El Salvador, and was a part of the Jamaica team at the 1975 Caribbean Chess Championship in Georgetown, Guyana.

Jamaica’s team at the opening ceremony of the 23rd World Students’ Chess Olympiad in Caracas, Venezuela, 7-22 August, 1976. From left: Bob Wheeler, John Powell (deceased), Peter Mundell, David Hunt (deceased), Enos Grant (Captain/delegate, deceased), Orrin Tonsingh (deceased), and Sheldon Wong. Photo from Jamaica Ambassadors Chess Academy.

In 1976 at the World Student Chess Championship in Caracas, Venezuela, he became the first Jamaican player to earn a draw with a grand master (GM) when he battled Cuban GM Guillermo Garcia to a tie.

Wheeler represented Jamaica at six World Chess Federation (FIDE) Open Olympiads, beginning in La Valletta, Malta (1980), Lucerne, Switzerland (1982), Thessaloniki, Greece (1988), Elista, Russia (1998), Istanbul, Turkey (2000), and Bled, Slovenia in 2002.

Jamaican Federation President Ian Wilkinson with NM Robert Wheeler at the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia. Copyright © 2002, Jerry Bibuld.

Jamaican Federation President Ian Wilkinson with Robert Wheeler at the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia. Copyright © 2002, Jerry Bibuld.

Allen Herbert of Barbados conferring with Wheeler at the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Allen Herbert of Barbados conferring with Wheeler at the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

He earned the title of Chess Master (CM) in 2011, and was a FIDE IA Arbiter, and officiated at four Open Olympiads. As a Jamaican international chess player and the longest-serving executive member of the JCF, Wheeler made a tremendous contribution to the development of chess in Jamaica.

— Bertram Scott
Sunday, July 19, 2020 (Jamaica Observer)

Funeral service of Robert Wheeler
Sunday, July 26 at 10:00 am
Roman’s Funeral Home
Dunrobin Avenue, Kingston, Jamaica

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