2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial (Harlem, NY)

Welcome to the
Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament!

(14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

Brief Chess Biography

National Master Wilbert Paige
NM Wilbert Paige
Photo by Jerry Bibuld
NM Wilbert Paige, a Philadelphia native, first gained a serious interest in chess while attending West Philadelphia High School and played from 1975-77 on the chess team with his close friend, NM Glenn Bady. Both Wilbert and Glenn met in the lunchroom where other chess players “hung out.”

Despite his calm, unassuming demeanor and his preference for positional play, he was known by chess players as “evil” because of the brutality he dished out over the chess board. NM Bady asserts that Wilbert would often silence those who doubted he could excel at blindfold chess. In fact, Wilbert could play as many as four blindfold games at a time!

The distinguished picture on the right was taken at the 4th African-American Unity tournament held in the spring of 1992 where he tied for second with NM Ernest Colding. That tournament was won by the late NM Mark Meeres and was the last of four historic tournaments organized by FM (now GM) Maurice Ashley.

Wilbert often led a contingent of Philly masters to New York to take on some of the “Black Bear” masters. It seems appropriate that Wilbert played in the last Unity tournament as he is now the inspiration for ten Black masters from around the world getting together to engage in battle. Your spirit lives Brother Paige!!

Important Sources

Hotel Theresa of Harlem, New York (background) was the site of the Wilbert Paige Memorial. It was also the meeting place for Malcolm X's Organization of Afro-American Unity and the place where Fidel Castro sought refuge in 1960 after being snubbed during the United Nations session. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Hotel Theresa of Harlem, New York (background) was the site of the Wilbert Paige Memorial. It was also the meeting place for Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity and the place where Fidel Castro sought refuge in 1960 after being snubbed during the United Nations session. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

17 Comments

  1. Player Profiles

    IM Amon Simutowe

    Player: IM Amon Simutowe
    Country:
    Zambia
    FIDE Rating:
    2462

    Style: AGGRESSIVE. Amon thrives in complicated positions, a deep thinker… and will take risks. Seems to like dynamic pawn structures and favors the two bishops. Endgame technique is superb.

    FM William Morrison

    Player: FM William Morrison
    Country:
    USA
    FIDE Rating:
    2381

    Style: AGGRESSIVE/POSITIONAL. Positional attacker with a preference for quiet opening systems. Likes to build pressure slowly and then launch attacks with incredible force.

    IM Watu Kobese

    Player: IM Watu Kobese
    Country:
    South Africa
    FIDE Rating:
    2373

    Style: AGGRESSIVE/POSITIONAL. Watu has a solid style with an attacking flair. Enjoys sharp play like many South Africans, but has a good positional sense and likes to maneuver.

    IM Michael Schleifer

    Player: IM Michael Schleifer
    Country:
    Canada
    FIDE Rating:
    2369

    Style: VERY AGGRESSIVE. Plays very tactical chess with a vivid imagination. Michael is a very vicious attacker, and known for unorthodox ideas. Has a unique style that can give GMs trouble.

    FM Stephen Muhammad

    Player: FM Stephen Muhammad
    Country:
    USA
    FIDE Rating:
    2307

    Style: POSITIONAL/AGGRESSIVE. Stephen plays quiet systems and prefers accumulating small advantages. He then aggressively attacks weaknesses and beats down opponents with a flurry.

    FM Ron Simpson

    Player: FM Ronald Simpson
    Country:
    USA
    FIDE Rating:
    2296

    Style: VERY AGGRESSIVE. Ronald plays for mate. Will employ gambits and loves wide-open tactical play. Adventurous with the Queen and capable of producing story book brilliancies.

    FM Kenny Solomon

    Player: FM Kenny Solomon
    Country:
    South Africa
    FIDE Rating:
    2290

    Style: AGGRESSIVE. Kenny has a very vivid attacking style. Employs the sharpest theoretical systems, and is tactically alert. Tends to like pawn storms and active piece play.

    FM Norman Rogers

    Player: NM Norman Rogers
    Country:
    USA
    FIDE Rating:
    2272

    Style: AGGRESSIVE/POSITIONAL. Solid player, but aggressive with the white pieces. Tactically alert, but also patient enough to grind an opponent down in the endgame.

    NM Grace Nsubuga

    Player: NM Grace Nsubuga
    Country:
    Uganda
    FIDE Rating:
    2264

    Style: POSITIONAL. “Nsubuga,” which means quiet, systematic, and clever fits Grace’s style. Prefers rare, but solid systems; looks for powerful counterattacks when opponent overextends.

    NM Ernest Colding

    Player: NM Ernest Colding
    Country:
    USA
    FIDE Rating:
    2258

    Style: AGGRESSIVE. Tactical player who likes to create opportunities with creative play. Will intuitively sacrifice a piece or the exchange for initiative and attack. Opponents must be alert.

  2. Pre-Tournament Blitz Battles!
    (Friday, 13 July 2001)

    There were some heated blitz battles on the eve of the tournament. Ron Simpson was demolishing all-comers and talking trash, but the epic matchup was between FM Stephen Muhammad and GM Maurice Ashley. It was electric!

    Jerald Times and Ron Simpson battle!
    Jerry Bibuld (back) getting players to sign contracts.

    Simpson was in rare blitz form that night winning several in a row against his friend Times. Ron Simpson’s trash-talking game was A+. 🙂

    Now the heavyweight battle… Muhammad vs. Ashley.

    South African battle… old vs. new generation

    With Uganda’s Grace Nsubuga watching intently, Ashley rallied to edge out Muhammad in the end.

  3. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #1 (Saturday, 14 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: In Colding-Muhammad, Colding’s tactical skills will be hard-pressed to penetrate Muhammad’s preparation and farsightedness. Schleifer-Simutowe has the making of a explosive battle. . . both with a preference for double-edged positions. Rogers-Simpson could be a tactical melée if Simpson has his way. However, Rogers will play solid, but aggressive with the white pieces. In Morrison-Kobese, you can expect a sharp struggle as both like maneuvering chess, but also like to build up momentum as the game progresses. Nsubuga-Solomon is an interesting matchup in that the two players have contrasting styles, but have good board discipline and won’t beat themselves with careless mistakes. . . probably neutral.

    Top: Simutowe (L) vs. Schleifer; Bottom: Simpson (L) vs. Rogers. IM Watu Kobese (far right) stands while waiting on FM William Morrison. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Maurice Ashley makes some final announcements before the opening games begin. Ready for battle in this historic event are (top left) IM Amon Simutowe vs. IM Michael Schleifer; (bottom left) FM Ron Simpson vs. FM Norman “Pete” Rogers. IM Watu Kobese (far right) stands while waiting on FM William Morrison.

    Muhammad-Colding, 1-0
    Schleifer-Simutowe, 1-0
    Rogers-Simpson, 1-0
    Morrison-Kobese, ½½
    Nsubuga-Solomon, ½-½

    Post-mortem analysis: Colding couldn’t quite solve his opening problems against Muhammad and his position deteriorated after Muhammad mounted pressure on his weaknesses. The Simutowe-Schleifer encounter had the makings of a classic double-edged battle before the Zambian IM overlooked a diversionary tactical shot that immediately cost him a rook. Rogers-Simpson was an interesting battle as white developed a space advantage while black looked for counterplay. Simpson perhaps missed some chances to seize an initiative. A complicated ending ensued and a draw seemed the probable result before Rogers developed unstoppable queen-side pawns. Morrison-Kobese was a classic Ruy Lopez struggle that ended with white having a better structural position vs. black’s slight edge in piece activity. The players decided that these two factors presented equal chances and agreed to a draw. Nsubuga-Solomon was a positional game that saw white take a positional advantage only to lose it and allow black counterplay. The game turned into a tactical ending as both sides had to walk a tightrope to hold the position. When the smoke cleared only two kings were left standing.

    Top: Colding (L) vs. Muhammad; Bottom: Solomon (L) vs. Nsubuga. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Top: Colding (L) vs. Muhammad; Bottom: Solomon (L) vs. Nsubuga

  4. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #2 (Sunday, 15 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: Look for Colding to rebound from a tough loss to Muhammad. In that game, Steve wasn’t allowed to play the type of tactical game he enjoys, but must be careful not to overextend against Nsubuga, a super-solid player. Simutowe-Simpson will be interesting in that both lost tough games in the previous round and will be looking to spill blood on the board. Both play inspired chess. Schleifer had a shocking win over Simutowe in the first round, but Kobese will push him to the limit. Expect a sharp struggle. Rogers-Solomon will be an interesting encounter. . . both played well in the World Open, but Rogers is still riding high from both his IM norm and his victory over FM Simpson in the 1st round. Finally, Morrison-Muhammad is a rematch (same colors) of the St. John’s encounter which ended in an exciting draw. Look for the same tense battle with one of the players looking for the smallest of opportunities to win a decisive game.

    Colding-Nsubuga, 0-1
    Simutowe-Simpson, 1-0
    Schleifer-Kobese, ½½
    Rogers-Solomon, 0-1
    Morrison-Muhammad, ½½

    Post-mortem analysis: Colding got a big lead in development and enjoyed a nice spatial advantage. However, his 12. h4? was refuted as the alert Ugandan pounced on Colding with 12… Nxe4! After that, Grace simplified to a technically-won rook and pawn ending and converted the point.

    Colding-Nsubuga (Wilbert Paige, 2001), 12...Nxe4 Simutowe-Simpson (Wilbert Paige, 2001), 15.Nxf7

    Couple of nice tactical positions in first round. In Colding-Nsubuga, white got a bit too aggressive and was hit by 12…Nxe4! winning a clear pawn. Simutowe-Simpson saw a devastating 15.Nxf7! and a powerful attack to follow

    Simpson was literally run off the board by the 19-year old Zambian star. Simutowe has won three previous games with this exact line and proceeded to play a crushing piece sac followed by a paralyzing bind. He then chased Ron’s king to the edge off the board, weaved a mating net and the rest is history.

    NM Elvin Wilson (L) and NM Jerald Times running the analysis boards.  Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz

    NM Elvin Wilson (L) and NM Jerald Times
    looking at Kobese-Schleifer, an thrilling draw.

    Onlookers in the analysis room including Willie 'Pop' Johnson (back), NMs Frank Street (blue checkered shirt) and Glenn Bady (red-orange shirt).  Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Onlookers in the analysis room including Willie ‘Pop’ Johnson (back), NMs Frank Street (blue checkered shirt) and Glenn Bady (red-orange shirt). Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Rogers-Solomon featured a dynamic battle out of the Lasker-Pelikan Sicilian and black enjoyed active piece play and created favorable complications. Solomon had two minor pieces and a pawn for a rook and eventually coordinated his pieces to promote the extra pawn. Rogers was helpless and finally resigned after Kenny established two menacing passed pawns. Morrison-Muhammad played a strategic battle in the Guioco Piano, but neither side could force a decisive advantage after some light tactics and the two repeated their result from St. John’s tournament.

  5. Blitz Tournament (Oxford Chess Club)
    (Sunday, 15 July 2001)

    Apart from competing in the Wilbert Paige Memorial, Steve Colding was hosting a blitz tournament at his own Oxford Chess Club. There were a number of out-of-town players including a contingent from Philadelphia who came to support Norman Rogers.


  6. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #3 (Monday, 16 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: Simpson-Colding features an old “Black Bear” matchup which should produce some fireworks. Both players are tactical and know each other style’s very well. Look for an exciting battle. Kobese-Simutowe features the “old” and “new” African champions. Both players are solid, but Simutowe tends to be a bit more aggressive and takes more chances. This will be a toss-up. Kenny Solomon is an up-and-coming player with an interesting style. Both he and Schleifer enjoy aggressive and tactical games. Should be a tense matchup between two chess opportunists. “Pete” Rogers will attempt to avenge yesterday’s tough loss against a determined and well-prepared Muhammad. The game will predictably take on a positional tone in the beginning which will probably build up to a tactical battle. Nsubuga-Morrison features two contrasting styles, but look for Morrison to steer the game into more wide-open play. . . the type of game Grace does not thrive in.

    Top: Muhammad vs. Rogers Bottom: Nsubuga vs. Morrison. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Top: FM Stephen Muhammad vs. FM Norman Rogers
    Bottom: NM Grace Nsubuga vs. FM William Morrison

    Simpson-Colding, 1-0
    Kobese-Simutowe, ½-½
    Solomon-Schleifer, 0-1
    Muhammad-Rogers, 1-0
    Nsubuga-Morrison, ½-½

    Post-mortem analysis: Simpson broke into the win column with a win against “Black Bear” compatriot, Ernest “Steve” Colding. Colding played an off beat line and went pawn-hunting on the queenside and ended up getting his queen trapped. Simpson proceeded to conduct a direct attack on Colding’s weaknesses soon resulting in further material loss. Kobese-Simutowe featured a lifeless “Grand Master draw.”

    Absolute dominant performance by black
    in Solomon-Schleifer

    Schleifer got a crushing bind on Solomon’s position and ultimately forced him to donate material as both battled time pressure. Impressive and forceful performance by the Canadian IM! Muhammad dissected Rogers’ King’s Indian in a game that featured a lot of maneuvering and positional subtleties. After mounting pressure, black’s position begin to crumble and in the final position, Muhammad would win decisive material.

    In Nsubuga-Morrison, William attempted to mix it up against the Ugandan Master, but was unable to steer the game into a tactical battle. Grace played solidly and in the final position, actually had a spatial advantage, but probably not enough to win. . . a draw was agreed.

    FM Ronald Simpson broke into the win column against long-time friend 'Steve' Colding. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Ronald Simpson broke into the win column
    against long-time friend Ernest ‘Steve’ Colding
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

  7. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #4 (Tuesday, 17 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: Colding will get his second “Black Bear” in a row. These two native New Yorkers have been playing chess together since their youth, but the friendship will end at the board. Both Colding and Morrison will press hard to break into the win column. . . look for some excitement! Simutowe has Solomon’s number, having beaten him several times in African tournaments. Solomon may be able to catch Simutowe napping, but one must still give the Zambian national an edge. Simpson will attempt to keep his streak going with attacking chess. Kobese will try to steer the game in more quiet terrain and stifle Simpson crazed attacking style. Look for some type of gambit. Schleifer-Muhammad features the two front runners of the tournament (2½ points). This is a critical game for Muhammad who is looking for his 1st norm. The battle-tested Canadian is a very stubborn and strong-willed and may be Muhammad’s biggest test yet. Rogers-Nsubuga will be interesting in that Rogers will probably go after Nsubuga’s throat. “Pete” Rogers has lost two straight games and will come out blazing with the white pieces. Grace is undefeated thus far. Both players have a lot of stamina and could be a 60-mover if Pete is unable to penetrate Grace’s solid style.

    Analysis of Colding-Morrison game. (L-R) FM Stephen Muhammad, NM Ernest Colding, FM William Morrison and FM Ronald Simpson. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Analysis of Colding-Morrison game. (L-R) FM Stephen Muhammad,
    NM Ernest Colding, FM William Morrison and FM Ronald Simpson

    Colding-Morrison, 0-1
    Simutowe-Solomon, 0-1
    Simpson-Kobese, 0-1
    Schleifer-Muhammad, ½-½
    Rogers-Nsubuga, 1-0

    Post-mortem analysis: Colding-Morrison was a very interesting struggle which saw two very active kings. Morrison took the initiative and penetrated Colding’s position only to allow counterplay in the end. The move 47. Rd5 was the right idea, but Morrison grabbed the exchange and was able to stop Colding’s menacing pawn which was headed for a touchdown. Simutowe-Solomon featured two “African Lions” scrapping and fighting it out until a time scramble. Solomon played actively and wrestled the initiative as Simutowe’s pieces lacked mobility. Solomon penetrated the position, won an exchange, and ended the game with a deadly pin, netting white’s last piece.

    IM Amon Simutowe in post-mortem analysis with FM Kenny Solomon. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Amon Simutowe in post-mortem analysis with FM Kenny Solomon
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

    Simpson played inspired chess by attempting to mix it up and make the game tactical. He succeeded, but the complications did not net him an advantage. Attempting to capitalize on Kobese’s shortness of time, Ron pressed forward, but blundered horribly and the game came to an abrupt finish. In Schleifer-Muhammad, the Canadian IM built up a powerful position with pieces placed aggressively and a kingside attack looming. Muhammad fended off the attack by going into a defensive mode. Trying to find a win, Schleifer ran short of time and with less than four minutes left, he allowed three-fold repetition. Nsubuga selected the toothless Philidor defense and Rogers soon built up a powerful position. Nsubuga’s went into unfavorable complications and his position ended up like Swiss cheese. Rogers exploited practically every single weakness, and finished the game with a direct attack on the exposed black king.

  8. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #5 (Wednesday, 18 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: Interesting matchups. Ernest “Steve” Colding, the proprietor of a new chess club in Brooklyn has been shut out of the win column, but don’t write him out of this matchup. Kobese of course, is a super-solid player and Colding will undoubtedly attempt to crack his fortress with a bit of provocation. Muhammad-Simutowe is certainly the marquis matchup of the round. Muhammad is perhaps the best-prepared player in the tournament and Simutowe is a naturally-gifted player who can and will apply pressure to Muhammad’s quiet opening system. Muhammad needs three points out of five rounds to win his first IM norm and is in a good position to do so. Solomon-Simpson will probably be a slugfest. Simpson has been erratic and has not been able to get into his attacking zone. Solomon is coming off on a resounding win over IM Simutowe and is playing with a lot of confidence. Nsubuga may have problems against Schleifer. Nsubuga’s positional style is quite solid, but he cannot repeat the same positional mistakes as he did against Rogers. If he does, Schleifer will get a position like the one he got against Solomon… all of his black pieces entrenched in the white camp. Morrison-Rogers should be interesting; both have fighting styles. Both take few risks, but will launch attacks if there is an opening. Rogers needs a win to keep IM norm hopes within reason.

    The Battle in Harlem!! Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    The Battle in Harlem!!

    Kobese-Colding, 1-0
    Muhammad-Simutowe, 1-0
    Solomon-Simpson, 0-1
    Nsubuga-Schleifer, 0-1
    Morrison-Rogers, ½½

    Post-mortem analysis: Colding wasted precious time in the opening and ended up getting his king stuck in the center of the board. Kobese proceeded to open all fronts to the exposed king and made quick work of the New York Master. Muhammad played his favorite London System and aggressively expanded with 15. c5!? After much speculative play, Simutowe forged ahead into unfavorable complications. He had played 11. . . f5 and then traded off his dark-squared bishop leaving the king naked. Muhammad sidestepped counterplay, forged ahead and mated Simutowe. Simpson trotted out the Blumfield Gambit against Solomon and developed activity for his pieces. While he was saddled with a blockaded isolated pawn, Simpson decided to play around isolani and conjured up a deadly attack on Solomon’s king. His 33… Ne3! was a thunderbolt that sent Solomon reeling… he resigned a few moves later.

    Two-time Ugandan Olympian, NM Grace Nsubuga. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Two-time Ugandan Olympian, NM Grace Nsubuga

    The most heartbreaking game of the round was that of Nsubuga’s effort against Schleifer, the Canadian IM. The Ugandan national played an adventurous opening, and despite apparent misplacement of pieces, he later developed an advantage. After the game built up to a pitch, Nsubuga penetrated and then sacked an exchange for what seemed like an irresistible attack. However, he missed the best continuation after which Schleifer was happy to demonstrate the technique on how to win an ending an exchange up.

    Morrison-Rogers game was perhaps one of the most exciting (from beginning to end). After a peculiar opening in which black had to play 8…Kf8 on move eight, black later equalized, sacked a pawn to open a file, and then “blitzed” the white king. Morrison somehow wiggled out of an inferior position, and after developing a better position in the ending, he could not make use of his extra pawn. The game was drawn.

    John Evans... former national champion of Panama. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    John Evans… former national champion of Panama visiting

  9. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #6 (Thursday, 19 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: Rogers came off of an exciting draw and will attempt to keep his norm hopes alive against the winless Colding. Colding had chances against Morrison, but little else has gone his way this tournament… he’s a much better player than his score indicates. This will be a hard-fought game, but Colding may be able to neutralize Rogers. Simutowe-Nsubuga is a battle of players with contrasting styles. Nsubuga should be very familiar with Simutowe’s style and may be able to surprise the Zambian who will be very confident in this matchup.

    FM Stephen Muhammad on verge of clinching IM norm.

    FM Stephen Muhammad on verge of clinching IM norm.

    In Simpson-Muhammad, both players are coming off of exciting games and will be looking to keep the momentum going. A win by Muhammad will almost clinch an IM norm. Simpson will be looking to throw some blows at Muhammad who, on occasion, has problems with very aggressive players. The battle of the two South Africans will certainly be watched in Gauteng and Cape provinces. Kobese will certainly have the edge as the more seasoned of the two and will of course have to face Solomon’s favorite Lasker-Pelikan Sicilian if he plays his usual 1. e4. Schleifer-Morrison will be a key matchup as IM Schleifer is trying to stay ahead of the field and FM Morrison is trying to keep his quest for the IM title alive. FM Morrison is under heavy pressure to score three points out of his last four encounters. He’ll have a tough road, but may get an upset if the Canadian IM relaxes as he did in his near-loss against Nsubuga.

    Colding-Rogers, ½½
    Simutowe-Nsubuga, 1-0
    Simpson-Muhammad, 0-1
    Kobese-Solomon, ½½
    Schleifer-Morrison, ½½

    Post-mortem analysis: What an eventful day! Colding broke his scoreless drought in an exciting draw with Rogers. The game was very tactical as Rogers uncorked a double sacrifice beginning with 20…Rxc3!? A messy game ensued, and Colding went for the win with 40. Rxf5!? The sack wouldn’t be enough and the game petered to a drawn ending. Both the longest game and shortest (decisive) games were played and involved the four African players sitting at the same table! Simutowe mopped up Nsubuga in a 24-move rout after taking advantage of Nsubuga’s poor handling of the Nimzo-Indian. The Zambian star hit Nsubuga with the tactical shot, 20. Nxd5! Not realizing the danger, Nsubuga blundered with 20. . . Nxd5? and his position fell like a house of cards after 21. Nc6. The biggest story of the day was a 6-hour and 50 minute marathon between the two South African players.

    Kobese vs. Solomon (foreground); Simutowe vs. Nsubuga (background). Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Watu Kobese vs. FM Kenny Solomon (foreground)
    IM Amon Simutowe vs. NM Grace Nsubuga (background)

    Kobese, a two-time African zonal champion, side-stepped Solomon’s prepared lines with the Rossolimo Sicilian. He then dominated play throughout and eventually won a pawn. However, Solomon’s stubborn defense and well-timed replies forced a queen ending which are perhaps the most difficult to win due to drawing tricks. Solomon forced a queen trade and at 9:50 p.m. (after almost seven hours of play), the game ended in a 91-move draw. The up-and-coming Solomon is gaining valuable experience and still has a remote chance at an IM norm if he wins his last three games. FM Muhammad has been the most consistent in this tournament and had a surprisingly easy time with FM Simpson. Simpson tried to create imbalances in the position, but ended up making a mess of his position. Muhammad surgically cut through white’s position like a laser beam and now his IM norm is highly probable.

    Schleifer vs. Morrison (foreground); Colding and Simpson (background). Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Michael Schleifer vs. FM William Morrison (foreground)
    NM Ernest Colding and FM Ron Simpson (background)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

    The Morrison-Schleifer game featured some interesting ideas. The game featured a lot of maneuvering as both players played on their own halves of the board. However, there were many points where both players could’ve gone wrong due to the dynamism of the position. In the final position, Morrison extra pawn is in trouble and a dynamic balance will be achieved.

  10. Rest Day
    (Friday, 20 July 2001)

    A few more blitz battles!

    Another Black Bear battle… Simpson vs. Colding

    Amon Simutowe walks in and wants to get in the rotation… “I’m the one who’s not nice in this game.” He proceeds to tactically win a pawn against Simpson and says, “It’s a free game.” We had to end the session to go meet the students.

    PASSING ON A LEGACY
    Participants of the historic Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament
    visit with the students at the Harlem Chess Academy

    Dinner
    (Friday, 20 July 2001)

    Very pleasant evening at dinner. It was very nice to get to see players take in the moment in history. Jerry Bibuld gave an impassioned speech about his life’s work and in the declaration, pledged his desire to emigrate to “Afro-America.” One could gather that he felt this to be the most opportune moment to tell “Afro-Americans” how he really felt.

    Jeffery Mitchell chatting with Watu Kobese
    while Ron Simpson and Stephen Muhammad listen in.

    Nice evening setting at dusk

    Michael Schleifer, Grace Nsubuga and Jerald Times enjoying the moment

    Daaim Shabazz and Kenny Solomon

    Amon Simutowe enjoying some seafood!

    Michael Schleifer, the intriguing man from Canada of Jamaican ancestry

  11. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #7 (Sunday, 21 July 2001)

    IM Oladapo Adu of Nigeria visiting the tournament from Maryland  and chatting with IM Amon Simutowe

    IM Oladapo Adu of Nigeria visiting the tournament from Maryland
    and chatting with IM Amon Simutowe

    Pre-game analysis: Play resumes after the rest day taken on the 20th. Solomon needs a win to keep his IM norm hopes alive, so a draw won’t do. Colding is still looking for his first win, so both have a bit at stake. Look for an exciting encounter. Morrison is also in the hunt for an IM norm and perhaps has best chance out of those vying for IM norm (besides Muhammad’s inevitable norm). Morrison has been uncharacteristically stuck in “draw mode,” drawing all except one game. He will need to take more chances and play down to the last pawn even in roughly equal positions. Morrison earned his second IM norm by scoring the needed 2.5 points in the last three rounds and will have an opponent who doesn’t want to have four bad results in a row. Look for an exciting Sicilian and a decisive finish! Kobese-Muhammad features two of the leaders of the tournament. Kobese is certainly a fighter, but Muhammad will be looking to nick him for at least a half point. He would have two more rounds to get the other half point for the IM norm. Look for a lot of maneuvering, prodding, and juking. . . either the game will explode, or end in a positional draw. Rogers-Schleifer will feature some fireworks. Rogers hasn’t really played the type of game he likes to play, but look for him to apply some pressure to keep his norm hopes alive. Rogers has the toughest road to a norm because he has yet to play the three IMs in the tournament. However, Rogers seems to feast on IMs. . . or at least he has in the last year.

    Simpson vs. Nsubuga (foreground)
Kobese vs. Muhammad (background)

    FM Ron Simpson vs. NM Grace Nsubuga (foreground)
    IM Watu Kobese vs. FM Stephen Muhammad (background)

    NM Ernest Colding vs. FM Kenny Solomon

    NM Ernest Colding vs. FM Kenny Solomon

    Beejay Hicks working the demo boards

    Beejay Hicks working the demo boards

    Muhammad-Kobese, 1-0
    Rogers-Schleifer, 1-0
    Solomon-Colding, ½½
    Morrison-Simutowe, ½½
    Nsubuga-Simpson, 0-1

    Post-mortem analysis: The biggest story of the round is FM Muhammad’s victory and his first IM norm. In this game, Muhammad played the Samisch attack and Kobese opted for the less active 6. . . Nbd7, but got a solid position. In the middlegame, Kobese decided to trade off his dark-squared bishop and paid the price of kingside stability. After the pressure mounted, Kobese was forced to donate a pawn for activity, but Muhammad just continued to consolidate. Kobese’s position deteriorated and eventually had to resign after white developed steamroller pawns on the kingside. So it was. . . FM Muhammad who earned his first IM norm!

    Rogers found a unique way of winning the exchange against Schleifer

    A couple of disastrous games took place in both Rogers-Schleifer and Nsubuga-Simpson. The loser in each game lost miserably to the move, NXKB2! If Rogers beats the two other IMs, he will win his second norm in a month! Morrison-Simutowe was actually a very exciting game, but ended in a anti-climactic draw. Playing his usual slow, but solid g3 system, Morrison built up what seemed like a strong attack when Simutowe responded with the sharp 19. . . f5!? Morrison seemed lost for a plan, and agreed to a draw, but the spectators were buzzing in the analysis room about the strength of white’s attack. Morrison, who could ill afford a loss, played it safe and will go for wins against his last two opponents. Solomon needed a win to keep his norm chances alive and it seemed as if he would succeed. Solomon’s advantage seemed to lie in his king’s position and chances to possibly finesse the position. Colding hung tough and created dynamic equality. . . a perpetual draw ensued and dashed the hopes of FM Solomon for his first IM norm. Expect bigger and better things from this young star from the Cape province of South Africa.

    David Diamond, Stephen Muhammad and Daaim Shabazz at dinner

    David Diamond, Stephen Muhammad and Daaim Shabazz at dinner

  12. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #8 (Monday, 22 July 2001)

    	
Autographing momentos... classic moment!

    Exchanging and getting autographs… classic moment!
    Bob Ali getting autograph from Amon Simutowe

    	
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 Jerold Times (commentator), NM Ernest Colding,  IM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator).

    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 Jerold Times (commentator), NM Ernest Colding, IM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator)

    Pre-game analysis: With Muhammad’s IM norm out of the way, the attention of this round focuses on two players: FM William “The Exterminator” Morrison and Norman “Pete” Rogers. Both have an outside chance to collect IM norms if they win their last two encounters. For Morrison, he has to defeat an old friend in the fiery FM Ronald Simpson. He then has the tenacious player of FM Kenny Solomon to beat. . . both tough assignments. Look for “The Exterminator” to brandish his bazookas and blast away the last two rounds. For Rogers, he has to face the two African IMs in Amon Simutowe and Watu Kobese. These are the top seeds in the tournament and both will prove to be tough tests. Simutowe will be looking to avenge an earlier loss to Rogers at the World Open. For Rogers, he must continue to play solidly while applying pressure. Both African players defend very well and can play in sharp positions. Colding is still looking for his first win after having collected two draws in seven rounds. Schleifer has not played sharply as of late, so both players will play with energy. Look for a board brawl. Kobese is coming off of a tough loss to Muhammad which allowed him to earn his first IM norm. No one wants to be written as a person who allowed someone to get a norm. However, Kobese will be heavily favored against the slumping Nsubuga who somehow has lost four games in a row after a strong start. The Ugandan Master will let Kobese know he’s in a fight. Since Solomon cannot earn a norm in this tournament and Muhammad has already earned one, this matchup doesn’t have the importance that it did one round ago. However, Solomon is a fighter and should give Muhammad a battle. The only matter left for Muhammad is to earn at least draw for a share of first prize. This will be an exciting encounter as Muhammad has been impressed by Solomon’s tenacious play in earlier rounds.

    Simpson-Morrison, 0-1
    Simutowe-Rogers, 0-1
    Colding-Schleifer, 0-1
    Kobese-Nsubuga, 1-0
    Solomon-Muhammad, 1-0

    Post-mortem analysis: Every game was decisive. Morrison kept his hopes for an IM norm by beating FM Simpson. Simpson (who, as it turned out, was ill) became obsessed with trying to pry weaknesses in Morrison’s position with his queen. Morrison continued to consolidate and seized the center. Simpson got lost in the complications and a sacked a piece for counterplay, but got nothing at all. Morrison needs to beat Solomon to earn his 3rd and final IM norm. Later, Solomon upset FM Muhammad to give the norm winner his first goose egg on the cross table. The game transposed into a Modern Defense which is out of Muhammad’s terrain. Solomon soon grabbed space, penetrated Black’s position and won a trivial ending.

    	
Simpson vs. Morrison. FM Morrison attempting to keep IM norm hopes alive.

    Simpson vs. Morrison. FM Morrison attempting to keep IM norm hopes alive.

    	
Simutowe vs. Rogers (foreground); Colding vs. Schleifer (background).

    Simutowe vs. Rogers (foreground); Colding vs. Schleifer (background)
    “Pete” Rogers going for a win against the “Zambezi Shark.”

    Rogers played perhaps the best game in the tournament on the black side of a classical King’s Indian. Rogers went right for Simutowe’s throat and hit him with the cute 17. . . hxg2! after which the black’s position sprung alive. With a decisive material disadvantage, Simutowe went for a perpetual draw, but Rogers ended the game smartly with 61. . . Qb7! stopping all tricks. In Colding-Schleifer, Colding fell on the black’s raking bishops and Schleifer wasted no time mopping up. Kobese-Nsubuga was interesting in that Nsubuga stuck with the Philidor after getting inferior positions with it earlier in the tournament. Nsubuga actually got counterplay for a pawn sac, and it appeared as if he would score after 25. . . Bd3, but Kobese uncorked 25. Qf7!! After winning two rooks for a queen, Kobese’s rooks went on a rampage and eventually snared the queen. Tough loss for Nsubuga who is on a five-game skid.

  13. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)

    Round #9 Tuesday, 23 July 2001)

    Pre-game analysis: The heat is on for two players in the penultimate round of the Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament! Both FM William “The Exterminator” Morrison and NM Norman “Pete” Rogers will have to come through in the clutch to earn IM norms. Morrison has gone undefeated while Rogers is coming off of an impressive win against IM Simutowe. Will FM Morrison earn his 3rd and final IM norm against the 21-year old South African star? Will “Pete” Rogers earn his 2nd norm in a month? Both games will be high-octane as Solomon-Morrison features a relentless fighter vs. a player who’s incredibly tough to beat. Look for board magic! Rogers has completely destroyed IMs in the last year including two wins over IM Simutowe in a month’s time! Kobese studies his opponents carefully and will probably expect the Caro-Kann. This will be a tough, tough fight as both players have similar styles. Colding has the unenviable task of breaking into the win column against Simutowe, who is looking to close out the tournament on a high note (and prepare for the World Junior). Colding will face an aggressive Simutowe and must not allow him to get spatial freedom or he will live the fate of his good friend FM Simpson who was thoroughly crushed. Simpson and Schleifer played their game on the rest day and the game ended in a draw. Simpson steered the game along tactical lines. When Simpson’s antics didn’t result in a gain of material or mate, it was Schleifer who had chances. In a tricky finalé, he got his rook trapped and had to sack a pawn to free it. This forced a draw. Muhammad needs only a draw to win clear 1st in this historic inaugural tournament. Nsubuga has suffered a 5-game skid, but got good positions against IMs Schleifer and Kobese. A draw seems to be the probable result in this game given the tournament situation.

    	
The main event. . . Solomon vs. Morrison (foreground). FM Morrison playing for the IM title. Muhammad plays Nsubuga in background.

    The main event… Solomon vs. Morrison (foreground). FM William Morrison playing for the IM title. FM Stephen Muhammad plays Ugandan national master Grace Nsubuga in background.

    Muhammad-Nsubuga, ½-½
    Solomon-Morrison, ½-½
    Kobese-Rogers, 1-0
    Simutowe-Colding, 1-0
    Simpson-Schleifer, ½-½
    (played on 20 July 2001)

    Post-mortem analysis: As expected, FM Muhammad clinched 1st place with a draw. Thus he becomes the first winner of the historic Wilbert Paige tournament. Congratulations to FM Muhammad!!

    FM Stephen Muhammad earns 1st IM norm!

    FM Stephen Muhammad earns 1st IM norm!

    In two other key games, both Morrison and Rogers came up short in their respective quests for IM norms. For Morrison, his norm chances were hurt by an endless string of draws and he missed earning his IM title by half a point. The game was very exciting as Morrison played sharply but entered unfavorable complications resulting in a cramped position. Solomon played a brilliant bishop sortie with 18. Ba3! daring Morrison to grab the bishop. Morrison declined perhaps fearing 19. Rd8! White got an attack, but Morrison had to give up a pawn to survive. In the ensuing rook and pawn ending, Solomon could not make use of his extra pawn and conceded the draw. Morrison finished the tournament the only undefeated player.

    Morrison and Solomon analyze to close out the tournament in epic fashion.

    Morrison and Solomon analyze to close out the tournament in epic fashion.

    Morrison was the only player undefeated, but came up 1/2-point short

    Analysis session attracted a crowed, but Jerry Bibuld had to close it down. Wonderful tournament!

    Morrison was the only player undefeated, but came up 1/2-point short

    Morrison was the only player undefeated,
    but came up 1/2-point short for his IM norm and title.

    “Pete” Rogers went into this game with a lot of confidence, but was totally outclassed by the South African IM. Rogers played an aggressive Caro Kann, but overextended a bit and soon after, Kobese unleashed the wrath of a powerful counter. Rogers’ position crumbled as did his hopes for his second IM norm in a month. The tough African IM played solidly and only lost one game (to Muhammad). For Rogers, he flirted with an IM norm and scored a respectable five points including a nice win over Simutowe. Looking for his first win, Colding played a nice King’s Indian setup, but wasted precious time and allowed Simutowe to start a powerful attack with 27. Nxc6! Simutowe proceeded to dominate the board dashing hopes of Colding’s quest of winning a decisive game. Not a good result, but to Colding’s credit, he played hard and attempted to win each round.

    A future GM... IM Amon Simutowe!

    A future GM… IM Amon Simutowe

  14. Wilbert Paige Memorial
    (14-23rd of July 2001, Harlem NY, Hotel Theresa)
    Final Standings
    # Name Title Rating
    SM
    MS
    WK
    WM
    NR
    KS
    AS
    RS
    GN
    EC
    Pts.
    1 Muhammad, S FM 2307
    ½
    1
    ½
    1
    0
    1
    1
    ½
    1
    6.5
    2 Schleifer, M IM 2369
    ½
    ½
    ½
    0
    1
    1
    ½
    1
    1
    6.0
    3 Kobese, W IM 2373
    0
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½
    ½
    1
    1
    1
    6.0
    4 Morrison, W FM 2381
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    ½
    1
    ½
    1
    5.5
    5 Rogers, N FM 2272
    0
    1
    0
    ½
    0
    1
    1
    1
    1
    5.0
    6 Solomon, K FM 2290
    1
    0
    ½
    ½
    1
    1
    0
    ½
    ½
    5.0
    7 Simutowe, A IM 2462
    0
    0
    ½
    ½
    0
    0
    1
    1
    1
    4.0
    8 Simpson, R FM 2296
    0
    ½
    0
    0
    0
    1
    0
    1
    1
    3.5
    9 Nsubuga, G NM 2264
    ½
    0
    0
    ½
    0
    ½
    0
    0
    1
    2.5
    10 Colding, E NM 2258
    0
    0
    0
    0
    0
    ½
    0
    0
    0
    0.5
    PGN Games (Games)

  15. Reflections on the Wilbert Paige Memorial
    The 2nd Harlem Renaissance!!

    All photos Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum)

    2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial Chess Tournament

    On the 13 July 2001, 10 players of African descent traveled to historic Harlem to help fulfill a dream for many. The Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament, which had been conceived months earlier by Dr. Jones Murphy Jr. and put together largely by the efforts of Jerry Bibuld, was now on the brink of happening!

    Held at the Hotel Theresa, a place where Fidel Castro sought refuge during his 1960 visit, who would have known what was to become of such a gathering of brilliant minds. When one walks about on 125th street in Harlem, there is a certain amount of electricity generated amongst the people in the bustling district.

    This tournament was held in an ideal location; perhaps the residents of Harlem were not aware that a new renaissance was taking place…

    … a chess renaissance!!

    The historic Hotel Theresa (top left). Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    The historic Hotel Theresa (top left)

    The famous Apollo theater. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    The famous Apollo theater

    125th and Malcolm X. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    125th street… the stomping grounds of the “Harlem Renaissance” in the 20s

    Creative artistic expressions EVERYWHERE! Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Creative artistic expressions EVERYWHERE!

    In addition to the presence of chess excellence gracing historic Harlem, something more important was happening. A high level of bonding took place, and that was also felt when the players interacted with each other, the spectators, and with the youth on the rest day. The anticipation and enthusiasm spurred by the chess masters was enough to last generations. The level of fraternization via analysis sessions, blitz matches, or just chess “small talk” was a sight to see! Everyone was in such a good mood.

    One knew this event would be special when after the opening ceremonies, NM Jerald Times and FM Ronald Simpson had a spirited blitz match. Trash-talking was rampant as FM Simpson dominated. Times would later get some revenge. Attention turned to GM Maurice Ashley and FM Stephen Muhammad who upstaged the Simpson-Times match with one of their own.

    FM Muhammad, with a 3000+ ICC blitz rating, took on GM Ashley and it was neck-and-neck before Ashley went on a 7-0 run. Throughout the tournament there were other battles: Kobese-Simpson; Simutowe-Simpson; Schleifer-Ashley; Solomon-Ashley. Even the legendary NM Frank Street showed up talking trash! The 57-year old NM Street, on the cover of the July 1965 Chess Life, took on the likes of Drum editor, Daaim Shabazz and later, FM Simpson. Certainly, a certain spirit was ignited!

    Clash of the blitz titans. . . FM Muhammad vs. GM Ashley. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Clash of the blitz titans. . . FM Stephen Muhammad vs. GM Maurice Ashley

    Editor: The two would play a 28-game match two years later
    at the 2003 U.S. Championship!

    FM Ron Simpson takes on the legendary NM Frank Street as Willie 'Pop' Johnson looks on. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    FM Ron Simpson takes on the legendary NM Frank Street
    as Willie ‘Pop’ Johnson looks on.

    Battle of the 'Black Bears'. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Battle of the ‘Black Bears’ … Simpson vs. Colding

    Post-tournament match. . . GM Ashley vs. FM Solomon. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Post-tournament match. . . GM Ashley vs. FM Solomon

    During the tournament, many spectators visited the site including players from the New York, DC, Philly, and Maryland areas. Some of those visiting were: Willie “Pop” Johnson, the popular “Poe” (who briefly appeared in movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer”), NM Frank Street (of Maryland), John Evans (former national player for Panama), Philly natives Glenn Bady, Bruce Thompson and son, Akeem, IM Oladapo Adu from the Virginia/Maryland area, NM Okechukwu Iwu, David Diamond, Bob Ali, Michelle Ottley, and NM Ylon Schwartz (who was probably the most frequent visitor). IM Bobby Kurniawan and WIM Jennifer Shahade also stopped by.

    In addition, The Chess Drum, had almost 10,000 visitors from all over the world to visit the site in the duration of the tournament. The site peaked at 22,000 hits (on different pages) in one day!! There were e-mail from South Africa, Uganda, Canada, Pakistan, Jamaica following the action. TWIC, SmartChess.com, Notzai.com, Canadian Chess Federation, the Pakistan Chess Player, and the Internet Chess Club (ICC) established links to The Chess Drum, the tournament’s official site. So the Wilbert Paige Memorial was prime time!!

    GM Maurice Ashley 'on point!' Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Maurice Ashley was ‘on point!

    NM Jerald Times and FM Muhammad analyzing Simutowe-Simpson match as FM Morrison looks on. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    NM Jerald Times and FM Stephen Muhammad
    analyzing Simutowe-Simpson match as FM Morrison looks on.

    In the analysis room, GM Ashley led the charge with incisive commentary on the featured games of the round. This room was “jumping” as spectators joined in the fray as the games took shape. Of course, GM Ashley was in his element with the audience as he rattled off variations with alarming speed and accented his commentary with his sharp humor.

    Since his audience was almost all from the Black community, he used many phrases, jokes, and analogies that made it very real! It made the commentary refreshing, down-to-earth, and the spectators felt free to proclaim a brilliancy they saw. Of course, many of these ideas were refuted, and the room would at times break into loud laughter.

    After players completed their games, they would adjourn to the analysis room to go over their games with the spectators. IM Amon Simutowe has a hit as he often talked about his “grandmother’s tactics.” He added a word to most players chess lexicon when he spoke of his opponent “donating” material. FM Muhammad was also an analysis room favorite. . . his ideas were very clear, articulated well with a timely amount of humor.

    IM Simutowe analyzing with FM Morrison at the 'big board'. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Amon Simutowe analyzing with FM William Morrison at the ‘big board’.

    Attentive audience. . . probably thinking of refutations. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Attentive audience. . . probably thinking of refutations.

    The atmosphere was great, and the players were provided with a daily supply of fresh fruit and coffee for the energy they were certain to need for the ensuing battles. The conditions were remarkable and many notable spectators visited to witness the action, and to be part of a historic moment. International Arbiter Jerry Bibuld ran a smooth tournament and furnished the visitors with daily bulletin of games found on The Chess Drum. Display boards were run by a number of staff, but anchored by Beejay Hicks, who did a wonderful job in handling this department.

    The analysis room was a popular venue for chess players as GM Ashley spurred all kinds of laughter and enthusiasm from the spectators. . . everyone freely participated in the discussions. It was certainly a learning experience for the spectators as well as the players who participated in the post-mortems. NM Jerald Times and NM Elvin Wilson also performed well in their respective roles as commentators. As Charu Robinson diligently relayed the moves from the playing room, it was very exciting to see the games unfold and to compare the spectator analysis with actual play. Fritz 6 was also utilized.

    Arbiter Jerry Bibuld makes announcements before the battles begin. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Arbiter Jerry Bibuld makes announcements before the battles begin.

    Beejay Hicks did a fantastic job with the demo boards. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Beejay Hicks did a fantastic job with the demo boards.

    NMs Elvin Wilson and Jerald Times analyzing Schleifer-Kobese match. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    NMs Elvin Wilson and Jerald Times analyzing Schleifer-Kobese match.

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

    Fritz 6 was at work too! Charu Robinson at the controls.

    The tournament was more than a historic event. Who ever said that chess masters were self-centered egomaniacs? Well. . . on Friday, the 20th of July, seven of the ten participants (two others were playing) visited the students from the HEAF organization (a tournament sponsor) to share their insights for chess excellence. After GM Ashley gave introductions of the players, there was a question and answer session where students asked questions ranging from “What’s your favorite opening?” to “Is chess popular in Africa?” Each player had a unique way of addressing the questions and it was interesting to see their various styles of communication. The players were asked by Daaim Shabazz how each of them learned to play and the amazing thing was that each player learned from a family member!

    After the Q&A, it was time to play chess. Teams were formed to play “consultation chess” where a student-master team was paired against another master-student team. How many tournaments feature the participants doing community service other than a simul? The event was such a beautiful sight to see as the students’ eyes lit up with enthusiasm. . . their excitement spilled out onto the boards. IM Amon Simutowe was very impressed with the fact that student actually saw chess ideas as opposed to just learning tactical themes. Of course, trash-talking found it’s way even to these friendly games. There was lots of laughter and smiling and everyone had a great time.

    GM Ashley introduces seven of the Wilbert Paige participants.

    FM Stephen Muhammad watches his student-partner make move. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Ashley with the ever-eager student. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Simutowe showing enthused student finer points. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    As the tournament wore on, the possibility of norm results caused a constant buzz amongst the spectators. Many predictions swirled about the tournament site. After FM Muhammad earned his IM norm with two rounds to spare, most of the attention focused on FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomonand NM Norman Rogers. By the end of the seventh round, FM Solomon was eliminated from norm contention.

    Before the 8th round, everyone was getting their programs autographed and savoring the historic moment. A beautiful group photo was shot as this tournament was officially immortalized. After all of the pleasantries were exchanged, it was time to get back to business! FM Morrison and NM Rogers continued their respective marches toward an IM norm by winning clutch games in the 8th round. Excitement increased and the buzz only got louder. Players scrambled with their preparations for the big “throw down” in the 9th round. Up until the last pawn was pushed, norm possibilities were still in the air.

    The tough South African contingent of IM Watu Kobese and FM Solomon would serve as “spoilers” to any other norms earned at the Wilbert Paige tournament. During the Solomon-Morrison match, the analysis room was going back and forth in their assessment of the position, but when the smoke cleared, it was obvious that a draw was imminent. So only one norm was earned. In the end, neither of the two remaining candidates could muster the number of points needed.

    Players and staff personnel getting autographed programs. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Players and staff personnel getting autographed programs. Bob Ali, a local long-time chess resident gets a signature from Simutowe.

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

    Wilbert Paige Memorial players and commentators

    Finally... the Wilbert Paige Memorial is history... Solomon and Morrison engage in post-mortem as crowd watches. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Finally… the Wilbert Paige Memorial is history… Solomon and Morrison engage in post-mortem as crowd watches.

    Tournament laborers: Jerry Bibuld (Arbiter), Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum), Beejay Hicks (tournament hall manager), Jeffery Mitchell (Deputy Arbiter). Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Tournament laborers: Jerry Bibuld (Arbiter), Daaim Shabazz (webmaster), Beejay Hicks (tournament hall manager), Jeffery Mitchell (Deputy Arbiter)

    Immediately after the tournament, there was already talk of Wilbert Paige 2002. In addition, talks of a GM tournament were raised. Of course, a tournament of this manner would no doubt attract more attention as well as players such as GM Ashley, FM Emory Tate, IM Oladapo Adu, any of the FIDE titled players in Wilbert Paige 2001, and Black chess masters throughout the world.

    This seminal event has served as the culmination of a vibrant spirit that has swept the Black chess world as there is more talk than ever of players seeking to earn titles and seeking higher heights in the international chess world. One thing for sure, the first Wilbert Paige Memorial will leave an indelible impression etched in the minds of those who witnessed an occasion “for the ages.” It was truly special. . . a Black chess renaissance. Hope you enjoyed it!!

    Dr. Daaim Shabazz of the The Chess Drum, the official website. Copyright ©, Daaim Shabazz.

    Dr. Daaim Shabazz of the The Chess Drum, the official website of the Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament.

  16. Still Available!!

    2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial Chess Tournament

    On the 13 July 2001, 10 of the world’s top chess players of African descent assembled in historic Harlem to help fulfill a dream for many. The Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament, which had been conceived months earlier by Jones Murphy Jr. and organized largely by the efforts of Jerry Bibuld, was now on the brink of happening!

    This booklet takes an intimate look at the tournament and provides day-by-day commentary, analysis, annotated games, and more than 60 photos on the 64 pages! If this booklet captures just a semblance of the spirit that reverberated throughout the Black chess world for those ten days then, as a reader, you will have received a tremendous blessing. One thing for sure, the Wilbert Paige Memorial will leave an indelible impression etched in the minds of those who witnessed an occasion “for the ages.” It was truly special. . . a Black chess renaissance!

    Please contact The Chess Drum to arrange an order of The 2nd Harlem Renaissance: The Wilbert Paige Memorial Chess Tournament.” A value at only US$10.00, this 64-page collector’s item has more than 60 photos, annotated games, round-by-round commentary, and more! To order your personal copy, or find out about organization discounts, send me an e-mail.

    Relive the moment!

  17. The Absence of Emory Tate

    I am always asked, “Why wasn’t Emory Tate there?” In fact, even Kenny Solomon asked me this question. This is the story.

    I had been in phone discussions with Jerry Bibuld about the field and I questioned him on why Emory Tate was not invited. He told me that Tate was unreliable and he came late to another invitational and messed up the pairings. He also offered that Tate was mentally unstable. He started mentioning to me different incidences, one of which I witnessed and detailed in the book, Triple Exclam.

    I told him he should at least give him the offer. If not, I offered that people will look at this tournament and always wonder why Tate wasn’t there and the answer will be that one of the most important figures in Black chess wasn’t invited by Jerry Bibuld. It was the one thing with Jerry that I would never forgive him for. I believe somewhere along the way Tate didn’t give Jerry the respect he felt he deserved. It is regrettable that he was not able include Emory at this event.

    FM Emory Tate at the 2001 World Open
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    To his detriment sometimes, Jerry wanted to have control over every detail of the tournament, especially its appearance. It took an act of Congress for The Chess Drum to be considered the official website and in the press release The Chess Drum wasn’t mentioned. He may have been concerned that he could not readily control the content or that it was his right. After prodding by several people, he finally acquiesced.

    Jerry could be difficult to deal with sometimes, but this is his legacy and he deserves full praise for pulling it off! It was a wonderful event. The last time I spoke to Jerry (prior to his passing), I had informed him of the passing of IM Michael Schleifer. He has a low raspy voice due to his Parkinson’s Disease, but I could feel his sense of loss.

    His declaration at the Wilbert Paige dinner felt like it was something he had wanting to say for a long time. His desire to be in “Afro-America” to fight against the “moral bacilli” was a passion of his that he held until he died. Some did not know what to make of Jerry’s affiliation and he was sometimes ridiculed for creating the list of “Afro-American” Masters, but it was a invaluable validation of Black chess players and a destruction of long-held stereotypes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button