Black History Quiz (2009)

In commemoration of Black History Month, The Chess Drum features a quiz provided by Life Master Dr. Shearwood McClelland III. Perhaps this quiz is more “African-American” history in that it is almost totally confined to U.S. players. Of course Black history would encompass the entire Diaspora of Africa. However, this ten-point quiz is a testament to the history of Black chess and highlights some facts… some well-known and others obscure and esoteric. “Woody” says that these are not easy.

Enjoy!


Black Chess History
by Dr. Shearwood McClelland III, M.D.

1. Who was the first Black chess grandmaster?
a. Maurice Ashley
b. Amon Simutowe
c. Theophilus Thompson
d. Emory Tate
e. Stephen Muhammad

2. The first African-American to win a national chess championship was:
a. Maurice Ashley
b. K.K. Karanja
c. Shearwood McClelland III
d. R.O. Mitchell
e. Frank Street, Jr.

3. The first African-American female to win a national chess championship was:
a. Rochelle Ballantyne
b. Kimberly McClelland
c. Colette McGruder
d. Medina Parrilla
e. Baraka Shabazz

4. The first African-American to win the National 12th Grade Chess Championship was:
a. Kayin Barclay
b. Loyd Gentry
c. William Lopes
d. Shearwood McClelland III
e. Bernard Parham II

5. Identify which of the following has won more than one national chess championship (more than one person can be selected).
a. Maurice Ashley
b. Howard Daniels
c. Loyd Gentry
d. Walter Harris
e. K.K. Karanja
f. Kassa Korley
g. Shearwood McClelland III
h. R.O. Mitchell
i. Medina Parilla
j. Frank Street, Jr.
k. Emory Tate

6. The first African-American to win the United States Junior Open Chess Championship was:
a. Maurice Ashley
b. K.K. Karanja
c. R.O. Mitchell
d. Shearwood McClelland III
e. Emory Tate

7. The first African-American ever to earn the title of National Master was:
a. Maurice Ashley
b. Howard Daniels
c. Walter Harris
d. K.K. Karanja
e. Frank Street, Jr.

8. The first African-American to win the prestigious National Scholar-Chessplayer award was:
a. K. K. Karanja
b. William Lopes
c. Shearwood McClelland III
d. Kimani Stancil
e. Kayin Barclay

9. The first African-American to win the prestigious Laura Aspis Prize (highest rated United States chessplayer under age 13) was:
a. Maurice Ashley
b. K. K. Karanja
c. Shearwood McClelland III
d. Stephen Muhammad
e. Emory Tate

10. The youngest African-American to earn the title of National Master was:
a. Maurice Ashley
b. Howard Daniels
c. K.K. Karanja
d. Kassa Korley
e. Shearwood McClelland III

11. The most national chess championships won by an African-American is:
a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5
e. 6


Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

One Comment

  1. No one attempted the quiz. Here are the answers provided by Dr. Woody McClelland. Thanks for your contribution!!

    1. A – Maurice Ashley accomplished the feat in March 1999, becoming the first Black chess grandmaster. To date, he is the strongest Black Chessplayer in history.

    2. E – By winning the 1959 United States Amateur Championship, Frank Street became the first African-American to win a national chess championship. In 1985, K.K. Karanja became the second, winning the National Elementary School Chess Championship (Charlotte, North Carolina).

    3. B – If you said Medina Parrilla, you were close; she was the second African-American woman to win a national chess title (2003 National 7th Grade Chess Championshp). However the first was Kimberly McClelland, who won the Reserve section of the 1993 National High School Chess Championships (she was a 7th grader at the time!) held in Dallas, Texas.

    4. E – If you said Shearwood McClelland III or Loyd Gentry, you were close; both won the National 12th grade championship (McClelland in 1995, Gentry in 1997). However the first African-American National 12th Grade Chess Champion was Bernard Parham II, who won in 1994 in Orlando, Florida.

    5. C, G – Many are unaware that Loyd Gentry and Shearwood McClelland III are the only African-Americans to win more than one national chess championship. Gentry shared first in the 1996 National 11th Grade Chess Championship (Terre Haute, Indiana) and the 1997 National 12th Grade Chess Championship (Parsippany, New Jersey).

    6. C – In 1990, R.O. Mitchell became the first African-American to win the coveted U.S. Junior Open title.

    7. C – In 1959, Walter Harris became the first African-American chessmaster after his performance at the U.S. Junior Championship.

    8. C – Shearwood McClelland III accomplished the feat in 1996; the national award is given annually to the chessplayer with the best combination of academic and chess achievement

    9. B – K.K. Karanja accomplished the feat in 1985 at the age of 11, the same year he won the National Elementary Championship with a perfect 7-0 score. A remarkable feat that may never be duplicated.

    10. D – Kassa Korley became master just after his 15th birthday on July 15, 2008, eclipsing Howard Daniels (15 years, 4 months) as the youngest African-American chessmaster

    11. C – The most national chess championships won by an African-American is four, accomplished by Shearwood McClelland III. McClelland won the 1993 National Junior High School Championship (Chicago, Illinois), the 1994 National 11th Grade Championship (Orlando, Florida), the 1995 National 12th Grade Championship (Syracuse, New York), and the 1997 U.S. Junior Open (Rosemont, Illinois). The only other African-American to win more than one national title is Loyd Gentry, who won two (see #5 above).

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