Dr. Lyndon Bouah with “Reflection on Chess in the Rainbow Nation.” Photo courtesy of Lyndon Bouah.
Bouah is considered to be one of the foremost historians on South African chess history and has written a book recently titled, “Reflection on Chess in the Rainbow Nation.” He has served as a South African delegate to many Olympiad tournaments and remains very active in extolling the virtues of chess. He serves as the Chief Director for Sport and Recreation in the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape. Shabazz is the creator of The Chess Drum which celebrated 20 years in existence earlier this year.
Tomorrow, October 12th, 2021 at 7pm (South Africa) and 1pm (New York), Bouah and FM Calvin Klaasen will host me on Twitch for an hour-long show. Klaasen has a popular channel on Twitch and has interviewed some very interesting personalities. The segment will include dialogue (20 minutes), Q&A (20 minutes), and then 20 minutes for two of my games.
In a short video clip, Sagwe briefly discusses his personal initiative to support SDGs by embarking on a six-day walk from Nairobi to Nakuru (165 kilometers or 102 miles) to advocate the adoption of chess as an educational tool. Back in 2015, Sagwe posted this comment at The Chess Drum.
We need the Pan African support to achieve the same feat in Kenya by the year 2016 when we shall have school curriculum review. (link)
Since 2015, Kenya has had a number of outreach initiatives promote chess which you can find here and here.
At long last… another International Master in the ranks! Justus Williams has put together a string of strong results to eclipse the 2400 barrier, thus fulfilling the last requirement for the FIDE title of International Master. Over Labor Day weekend Justus scored 7/7 to win the Illinois Open State Championship ahead of three Grandmasters.
“Since the creation of Black Squares and working with the children within the community, they’ve inspired me to look at the game differently.”
Justus got his 3rd IM norm back in 2017 at the St. Louis Invitational and needed the rating requirement by FIDE, the world’s official body. After no tournaments in 2020, this year has started well for him. He played in the Chicago Open in May toppling rising star GM Awonder Liang, scoring 6/9 and earning 38 rating points. He scored 4/5 at the Atlantic Open gaining another 19 rating points. Here is an account of the two tournaments and the key games annotated by Justus.
At the Illinois Open, there were three Grandmasters in the field: Nikola Mitkov, Vladimir Georgiev and Dmitry Gurevich. Typically, the top seeds are in running for the prizes, but all were upset taking losses and draws against players several hundred points lower.
Meanwhile, Williams entered the tournament at 2385 and proceeded to hunt down the rest of the field. He ended with a win over blitz phenom Gopal Menon and a perfect 7/7. Apart from his resounding tournament win, Williams apparently earned the 15 rating points to reach the minimum 2400 mark, the final requirement to secure the IM title. The title should be conferred at the next FIDE Congress in November.
As great as this accomplishment is, Justus has been making a difference in society which may be his biggest contribution yet. Justus previously attended Webster and Lindenwood universities, started a grassroots chess initiative called “Black Squares,” and rededicated himself to the craft that has given him a large platform. Most recently, he shared his talents with inmates at St. Louis County Justice Center.
When asked if he had any words, he left these words…
Since the creation of Black Squares and working with the children within the community, they’ve inspired me to look at the game differently. This summer I had a goal of receiving my title and did so in 3 tournaments (Going 17/21 with no draws). I can only thank the love and support from everybody that inspired me to put in more work. I can’t wait to share the journey and games with you all.
Justus was immortalized in the movie, “Brooklyn Castle” and is looking to make an impact. It’s been a long journey for the young Bronx native, but his story is one for the ages. Now a young man of 23, he is charting a course as a community agent of change using chess as a vehicle. So many organizations have the same mantra, but no one has a story to tell quite like Justus Williams… IM Justus Williams.
Jerome Works (April 1, 1955 – September 5, 2021) Photo Jerome Works (Facebook)
There is a unique power in humility. It has an endearing quality when one wears it. It puts us at ease but also empowers. It is the trait that Jerome Works carried with him until his last words this past Sunday, September 5th, when he succumbed to cancer at age 66. Philadelphia loses a soldier, but he fought a hard fight and remained upbeat in his final days.
Born April 1st, 1955, Jerome attended Philadelphia Public Schools and later became a fixture in the city’s chess community. He would play chess games with random people for stakes and looked at it as providing paid lessons. Later, he became a long-time manager and tournament director at the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club. Jerome would be seen at the annual World Open, socializing and enjoying fellowship with other players. He played primarily in local tournaments and held a “Class A” rating for most of his adult playing days. He was a devotee of the French Defense (1.e4 e6) and was known as a fierce fighter.
Jerome Works playing Saša Jovanovic at Franklin Mercantile Chess Club.
His sister Shirley Leaks remembers her younger brother as a reserved person with a generous heart. It is not surprising that some of his fellow chess players have similar memories. A long-time friend and fellow club member Leteef Street reflects,
I first met Jerome when I was in high school and playing in tournaments at the Franklin Mercantile chess club. I attended alone at first and then later with my teammates from Central High, who were playing in some of their first tournaments. I remember how patient and instructive Jerome was with the new players, helping them get acclimated to the club and tournament play. Jerome was a great mentor to many young chess players in Philly over the years.
There was an outpouring of other comments after Keith Thompson announced Works’ passing on his Facebook page. Bruce Cox left these words…
I am deeply saddened by the passing of our Distinguished Brother, Jerome Works. Jerome and I go Way back, to when the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club was on Chestnut Street. We enjoyed many all night battles with Al Laurencin, Joel Benjamin, and other esteemed Chess Players of Philadelphia. I remember clearly how Jerome would play the Winawer variation of the French Defense against me. These battles were Epic.
Chris Miller, Keith Thompson, and Jerome Works
Jerome received a cancer diagnosis three years ago and went to Massachusetts to live with his sister Shirley Leaks, who aided him in his care. They had an older brother Robert-Richard Carr who was a well-known Bishop at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in California. He preceded Jerome in death in 2015 at age 67.
Jerome was a friend of The Chess Drum and kept in touch in the past years of his life. In 2018, he had major surgery and asked me to keep him in prayer. My personal interactions with him were few, but particularly in the last few years, he expressed his appreciation of The Chess Drum and purchased a copy of Triple Exclam, the biography of International Master Emory Tate.
With Jerome Works after buying his copy of Triple Exclam!!! Photo by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum
The last two weeks of his life he entered hospice care when his cancer treatments had run their course. While on pain medications, he still had enough energy to write inspiring words just before his passing. Keith Thompson relayed his message:
Remember, always keep your shields up for protection from the evil spirits…..they come in many shapes and sizes….never, ever let your guard down….yes, we depend on our LORD and SAVIOR for protection, God teaches his children to stay in his word, so we can and will be prepared at all times…
His sister mentioned that there would be a private ceremony, but the chess community was welcome to hold a memorial. It is unfortunate that only at the time of one’s death do we learn the totality of their life. However, it is when we all get together, and share stories do we then see the beautiful mosaic of that precious life.
Best of wishes to Shirley Leaks and the surviving family members.
Unfortunately, National Master Rene Phillips of New Orleans knows a thing or two about hurricanes. His memories are still fresh from the 2005 onslaught known as “Hurricane Katrina,” a disaster that resulted in scores of damage to the iconic city and destroying everything he owned.
Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane, unleashed a wrath of death and destruction onto New Orleans. The world watched harrowing scenes of people screaming for help on rooftops. Below them stood 15-20 feet of water. This time the Hurricane struck in “La Place” or “The Place.”
In this case, two is not a charm, and old nightmares have resurfaced as “Hurricane Ida” swept through the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi wreaking the same havoc. Phillips had moved his family from New Orleans in 2014 to La Place, Louisiana, a town of 29,000. It sits on higher ground and not the soup bowl that New Orleans became when water rushed in. However, nature is never predictable and as always, shows its powerful defiance.
On Sunday, August 29th, the hurricane (Category 4) unleashed and sustained wind speeds exceeding 150 miles per hour (mph) over a period of several hours. The force tossed and smashed cars, tore the roofs off of homes, and launched all types of dangerous debris on top of structures. As a result, thousands of homes are without power. Phillips states that there are no stores open, no ATMs functioning, and no access to adequate healthcare in the area. The Phillips family, which includes his elderly mother and elderly mother-in-law, survives on bottled water, stored food, and a generator.
They were unable to evacuate in time because the mayor and governor kept the area open despite warnings. By Friday, Rene had held his classes as the hurricane was bearing down on the coast. Unfortunately, the hurricane changed course from the predicted path, and La Place took a direct hit. To make matters worse, FEMA’s response had stated that those who decided to ride the storm out would not be eligible for certain assistance.
Video by Rene Phillips
As scary as the above video is, that was only the approach of the hurricane and not the full force. “It became more fierce and we ran to the bathroom closet,” said Phillips. In the aftermath of tremendous wind damage in La Place, Phillips described the harrowing scene that appears like a bomb went off in the small town. To make the situation more difficult, he requires special health needs for his relatives.
We survived and are managing with my elderly mother and mother-in-law. We have plans to relocate where we have access to hospital care but are delayed until they are able to travel. We are planning to get to family members in Georgia.
Phillips is known to the chess community through his training sessions on “The Chess Gym.” He has dedicated service to the chess community through his platform, but he has hit yet another tremendous setback. For Katrina, there was an outpouring of support, particularly from Philadelphia, where Phillips sought shelter. Chess players interested in helping or encouraging Rene Phillips and his family can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org… or donate at any one of the services. He thanks you!
PayPal: “TheChessGym” or 504-415-0756 Zelle: “Rene Phillips” or 504-415-0756 Venmo: “Rene Phillips” or 504-415-0756 Cash App: $TheChessGym458
Brewington Hardaway at 2019 World Open Photo by Daaim Shabazz
National Master Brewington Hardaway recently competed in the under-12 group at the 2021 North American Youth Chess Championships (NAYCC) in Chicago placing 4th. Coming in with a USCF rating of 2301 he was the top-seed and had a string of strong results in New York tournaments. After winning his first four games and drawing his next two, he was trying to keep pace with Tanitoluwa Adewumi who had won his first six games.
After a draw with Adewumi, he got back on track with a win to arrive at 6.5/8. The tournament was still undecided with Jonathan Han also at 6.5. Adewumi’s last-round win clinched 1st place and he ended on a sizzling 8/9. Unfortunately, Hardaway’s unbeaten streak came to an end in his last-round loss to Cooper Ho and he finished 4th-7th. Ho and Han finished with 7/9. While the loss in the last round prevented him from taking clear second, he won the blitz under-12 with 10/10.
Burundi became a member of FIDE in 1999, two years after launching the chess federation known as “Fédération de Jeu d’Echecs du Burundi” or the acronym, FECHEBU. On August 15th, they had their elections and Wilfried Ntamatungiro received 17/24 votes to become the incoming President. Formerly the rating official of FECHEBU, he will take the leadership from Deo Ntagasigumwami, a long-time member and national player.
Wilfried Ntamatungiro Photo courtesy of Burundi Chess Federation
Back in 2014, Africa Chess Media conducted an interview of Ntamatungiro in which he stated that he started playing as a 12-year old out of curiosity. Years later, he entered his first 4.2 Subzonal in Cairo, Egypt, losing eight from nine games. Now in 2021, he is a five-time national champion and the incoming President!
The 29-year old Ntamatungiro received healthy congratulations from around the continent and some advice from the former President of the Ghanaian Chess Federation, George Arko-Dadzie…
Just know that you are now the face of Burundi Chess however do not forget to consult with Deo in all that you do. He is a very wise man. I have respected his stance at Delegates Conferences. It is now your turn to continue from where he left off. Good luck.
Ntamatungiro is also a FIDE Arbiter so he can certainly oversee and offer leadership in tournament activity. The Chess Drum looks forward to writing stories about the chess successes of the Republic of Burundi, a nation of nearly 12 million.
The Detroit chess community is mourning the devastating loss of Joseph Nathan Gadson. He died yesterday a day shy of his 36th birthday from the complications of gastroparesis, a rare disease that primarily affects the gastrointestinal system.
Joseph stated that he was hospitalized in August 2020 with severe stomach pains and extreme nausea. After repeated visits to the hospital, doctors discovered his condition. With mounting expenses exceeding $30,000, Gadson made a GoFundMe appeal to assist in his financial situation and described his dire situation. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the right treatments to reverse the condition. He leaves behind his two daughters (Autumn and Summer) of whom he had custody.
His close friend Derek Wilder hosted the Detroit Killers podcast and Joe would co-host and speak on a number of issues. One of the most interesting segments was the debate on the strongest African-American chess masters in Detroit history. He would also show his passion for various topics including sports, music, and politics. It is a huge loss for chess as Joe was a likable and very engaging person. He will be missed in the chess community, but particularly Detroit and the National Blitz League.
Shown here at the 2003 Chicago Open, Joseph Gadson was touted as a rising talent, making Expert at age 18. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
(August 14, 1985 – August 15, 2021)
James H. Cole Funeral Home
16100 Schaefer Hwy
Detroit, MI 48235
Public Visitation: Monday, August 23rd, 2pm-9pm
Funeral Service: Tuesday, August 24th, 11am-12pm
Repast: Immediately following, details TBD
64 Chess Squares TV hosted a short interview with Kenya Chess Federation President Benard Wanjala. He discusses the current events including the highest participation in the African Chess Championships in Malawi. Wanjala, who also serves as the African Chess Confederation Vice President, discussed the current state of chess given the COVID protocols. There was a mention of the FIDE World Cup as a sign of resuming over-the-board activity.