The Chess Drum turns 10!

The Chess Drum,

For the past ten years, I have attempted to make contributions to the chess community by covering worldwide events and maintaining standards of responsible journalism. Of course there will always be improvements to be made, but it has been a very interesting decade.

Being able to give talented young players inspiration is extremely important in their chess development. I enjoy writing about the rising stars and giving them a sense of history. Here I'm at the 2010 World Open with Nigel Bryant, Jehron Bryant, Darrian Robinson. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Being able to give talented young players inspiration is extremely important in their chess development. I enjoy writing about the rising stars and giving them a sense of history. Here I’m at the 2010 World Open with Nigel Bryant, Jehron Bryant and Darrian Robinson.

There have been some tremendous challenges along the way and there are times when fresh news is scarce and the creativity spigot has run dry. It is important to develop a niche in the sea of respectable sites covering chess. The niche of The Chess Drum has been players of African descent who badly needed and demanded a vehicle for expressing their enthusiasm for chess.

The Chess Drum covers stories that are may be otherwise missed by the media. Despite the ethnic focus, the site covers chess in all regions and provides the audience (from over 200 countries and territories) with exposure to top-level events. Chess is a universal activity and it is important that we show this to attract more enthusiasts and investors.

Me in Trinidad for the 2010 Chess Carnival.

Since its inception in 2001, The Chess Drum has remained true to that aim, but continues to cover international events as well. Some of the greatest experiences in covering chess is traveling to international tournaments and seeing how different countries express their appreciation for the sport.

As I look back on the decade of the site, there are so many great moments including coverage of three Olympiad tournaments (2004 Spain, 2006 Italy, 2008 Germany) and meeting chess players while in Bahrain, Qatar and Kenya on personal trips. Participating in tournaments in Jamaica and Trinidad have also been highlights because of the friendships I have made in these countries.

Zeyad Janahi playing Daaim Shabazz in Manama, Bahrain during a 2002 visit. IM Imed Abdelnabbi observes.

Daaim Shabazz playing Zeyad Janahi in Manama, Bahrain during a 2002 visit. IM Imed Abdelnabbi of Egypt observed.

Two of my most memorable pieces I’ve done have been when chess communities were in need. I did a piece on Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004. I had met the Sri Lankan delegation at the 2004 Olympiad in Calvia, Spain and they were so warm with the most beautiful smiles.

In 2010, attention was on the Haitian chess community after the earthquake devastated Port au Prince. Several articles were run (including one written for ChessBase) which led to a groundswell of support for Haiti. I had met members of the Haitian team at the 2008 Olympiad in Germany.

Here are ten eleven facts about The Chess Drum that you may not know:

  • The idea of The Chess Drum was spawned because a player asked me questions about the Black chess community that I could not answer. There had always been a lack of information on players of African descent.
  • The Chess Drum was originally designed to be an international magazine focusing on chess in the Black community. A marketing plan was written for the idea during a marketing class in graduate school.
  • The name “The Chess Drum” comes from the idea that the drum is a major vehicle of communication in African societies. The double entendre “Keep the Beat Going” refers to the drum beat, but also “beat” referring to the journalistic term.
  • The site went live February 12th, 2001 at 12 midnight from Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
  • The first website banner had a djembe drum. It only lasted a couple of months before the current banner was conceived. The shadow in the banner above is that of GM Maurice Ashley. Journalist Brian Killigrew took the photo as part of a feature in the May 1999 Chess Life after Ashley got his 3rd GM norm.
  • The site now has over 8,000 pages of content including about 2,000 news stories spanning the globe. It also includes audio interviews, essays, photo galleries and a blog.
  • The “Wall of Fame” page is 20 feet high and was a project completed after working on it 50 consecutive hours.
  • The Indians’ humble attitudes make them a regular interview subject. I have interviewed Grandmasters Pentala Harikrisha, Krishan Sasikiran, Sandipan Chanda, Parimarjan Negi, Magesh Panchanathan and famous chess journalist Vijay Kumar.
  • The audio interviews coverage a wide range of personalities including world-class players such as Hikaru Nakamura (three times) and Levon Aronian (twice).
  • Their have been three video site tours… 2008, 2009 and 2010.
  • The Chess Drum only has one “employee”. 🙂

It is an honor to have served the chess community for 10 years and I plan to make some changes in the coming years. There is a need to revitalize some of the features of the site such as the “How to Play Chess,” “Game Library” and “The Chess Academy” links. The site will increase reliance on multimedia platform (including videos) and social networking.

The bimonthly format of posting feature stories will be discontinued after ten years. This design was consistent with a magazine format, but has outlived its usefulness. The content from “Historic Moments,” “65th Square,” “Fire on Board!” and “Chess Crackers” will be archived and will remain available to the public.

If you have additional ideas please forward to Thanks for your support!

Keep the Beat Going!!


  1. The Chess drum reminds us that if you’re not satisfied with something then change it. Now, if you want to know what’s going on in the black chess community, all you need to do is log on to the Drum. That’s a great achievement and I wish you sustained success in your vision for the years ahead.

  2. Hey Daaim/Chessdrummer
    Congrats for 10. Looking back it was 10 out of 10!
    Here’s to the next 10, Keep the beat going strength to strength!

  3. Hats off to you Daaim. You are the real McKoy! Congratulations on the great work that you have done to date, especially with the ChessDrum. Your respect is cast in concrete and lined with steel!Continue to keep the flames of passion burning. Looking forward to the 20th (Chinese!?) anniversary and to see you again in Jamaica soon.

  4. Daaim,
    Your contributions and commitment to the chess community is tremendous. Your personal sacrafice to keep the beat going is most certainly appreciated and we are grateful for your constant encouragement of the youth.

    Happy Birthday to thechessdrum.
    I applaud you and humbly thank you!


  5. In an age where many African-American kids are afraid of books, and afraid of being labeled intelligent, with video games and spectator sports stealing our youth imagination and drive, the simple game of chess has much to offer. Thanks for promoting chess, inspring chess mentors and supporting our upcoming chess stars. This month is a good month for celebration with a Happy Birthday to the Chess Drum and African-American History.

  6. Congrats to the chessdrum. The service the chessdrum has provided to the chess community has been more than fantastic. We all appreciate the efforts of Prof Shabazz.

  7. Actually chessdrum is one of my best chess web. There has never been a day that passes by without opening the drum to see what happening around the chess world. Its such an incredible site to visit.
    Thank you Shabazz and keep up the fantastic work.

  8. Congratulations to the Chess Drum! Happy 10th Anniversary! Thank you for all that you do for the youth and the Chess community at large! Thank you for sharing wisdom on issues about life and staying positive; Nubian Chess! Keep on pushing!
    The Shakoor Family

    1. It’s interesting in the initial design of The Chess Drum, I wanted to create a network and a company called, “Nubian Chess International”. The marketing plan I wrote bears this name. 🙂

  9. A big congratulations to The Chess Drum for ten years of wonderful work! I know we will see many more! All thanks must also go to Daaim for his inspirational passion for the sport especially promoting the African chess diaspora! I wish you may years of success and well hope to see most of the followers in Trinidad for the CCC 2011 edition :)!

  10. Daaim

    Congratulation on a job well done. Keep up the good work and as people in Kenya would say – “Another True Son of the Soil”


  11. Congratulations! 10 years went by fast. Looking forward to the next ten. Thank uou for all your hard work.

    Glenn Chezba

  12. Thank you so much for creating and maintaining this website at the highest level of professionalism and unbiased reporting. I’m hooked for life and I know you’re certainly deserving of a journalistic chess-oscar if there ever was one. Keep the drum beating !!

  13. Good job Dr Daaim, particularly proud of your wisdom when you comment on Kenya chess forum (arguably one of the most active chess forums).

  14. Congrats on the birthday Daim…thanks for supporting Kenyan chess. Chessdrum goes down as one of the greatest websites in chess history.

  15. Congratulations brother Shabazz, because of your genius, foresight and hard work the world of chess has changed forever. Peace.

  16. Prof. Shabazz, I know no other chess site that is close to my heart than the chessdrum. I congratulate you for the professional touch and great work you have put into it. Sustaining the hard work for 10 years and promising much more is just amazing. Keep the drum beat going.

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