Philip Corbin’s bio, “Calypso Chess”

Calypso Chess by Dr. Philip Corbin

Dr. Philip Corbin has had a very venerable career in Barbadian or “Bajan” chess. He is perhaps known most for his swashbuckling attacking style and affinity for the Elephant Gambit (seen in the photo).

For the past several years Corbin has been working on a compilation of his games and a autobiography of his 40-year chess exploration. It is aptly called, “Calypso Chess” given the lively nature of Corbin’s play.

What has resulted is a prodigious collection of games, photos and history. The handsome book is divided into five parts with more than 400 pages in well-presented format. I was asked to a short review and this is what I wrote:

The pulsating sound of the calypso beat resonates in Dr. Corbin’s well-written tome of his worldly chess experiences covering four decades. This volume is a must-read for those interested in history of Caribbean chess, Olympiad festivals and innovative chess ideas in a way befitting the man known as “Caribbean Tal”. The narrative is a personal account of one of the most colorful chess players of our time and is a testament of the contributions made by the smallest of chess nations. Buckle your seat belts for an exciting ride!!

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Dr. Corbin will have a launch of “Calypso Chess” on Saturday, July 23rd at the Bridgetown Chess Centre, Cavans Lane, Bridgetown, Barbados from 4pm to 6pm. He will be signing copies of the book at the event and the cost for local players re $50 Bajan Dollars (US$25). The book will be priced at $60 Bajan Dollars (US$30). Players from throughout the Caribbean and other regions are expected to be on hand for the celebration. The book should also be available online for persons overseas from sometime in August from Amazon.com.

Barbados Airport Photo (1986) of the first Barbados Chess Olympiad squad. Back row, left to right: Othneil Harewood (First Reserve; also Board 3, 1998 Olympiad), David Dawson (board 4, 1986 & 1994 Olympiads), Andrew Chapman (Board 3), and manager Lindsay Bellhouse. Front row, left to right: Anthony Rolston (Second Reserve), Peter Dawson (Board 2, 1990 Olympiad), and yours truly (Board 1).

Barbados Airport Photo (1986) of the first Barbados Chess Olympiad squad. Back row, left to right: Othneil Harewood (First Reserve; also Board 3, 1998 Olympiad), David Dawson (board 4, 1986 & 1994 Olympiads), Andrew Chapman (Board 3), and manager Lindsay Bellhouse. Front row, left to right: Anthony Rolston (Second Reserve), Peter Dawson (Board 2, 1990 Olympiad), and Philip Corbin (Board 1).

Classic Photo: IM Kevin Denny battles FM Philip Corbin in the last round of the 2009 Caribbean Chess Carnival in Trinidad. WGM Ilaha Kadimova of Azerbaijan delights in the moment. Photo by FM Philip Corbin.

Classic Photo: IM Kevin Denny battles FM Philip Corbin in the last round of the 2009 Caribbean Chess Carnival in Trinidad. WGM Ilaha Kadimova of Azerbaijan delights in the moment. Photo by FM Philip Corbin.


Dr. Philip Corbin with Dr. Daaim Shabazz after the 2008 Olympiad Closing Ceremonies in Dresden, Germany. Photo courtesy of Philip Corbin.

Dr. Philip Corbin with Dr. Daaim Shabazz
after the 2008 Olympiad Closing Ceremonies in Dresden, Germany.
Photo courtesy of Philip Corbin.

Fascinating collection! Below is a nice sampler… one of my favorites!

Dr. Philip Corbin-Peter Chubinsky
1985 World Open, Philadelphia, USA

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. Interesting that Corbin played such opening as the Smith-Morra Gambit, Scotch Gambit and Elephant Gambit for so long. We share a gambit line in the French with 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3. e5 c5 4.b4!? I have not asked him if he plays the Benko Gambit or Albin Counter Gambit with black, but I believe he has played the Budapest. Part of the mystique of being a gambiteer is the psychological battle that ensues and generally the opponent is not comfortable with accepting “free material” in the opening.

  2. Got my copy which had been sitting in my mailbox for a few days. Such a wonderful tome Dr. Corbin! I sat in a chair and flipped through page after page. Hard not to get absorbed in such an emotional outpouring of artistry!

  3. Hi,
    My name is Yakov Zusmanovich from California, USA. I am a chess historian and collector. My collection of biographical chess books is the biggest in the world.
    How can I get Calypso Chess?

      1. Actually, I have not had time to read it yet…very much too busy(I recently reviewed two graduate level physics textbooks). I enjoyed browsing Calypso Chess.
        Kimani

  4. Dr. Corbin

    I am the grand daughter of Charles Beresford Gilkes. I understand that you played chess with my grandfather when you where young. I would love to hear stories of these times.

    I grew up in Canada and never got to really know him before he passed away. Any stories you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Sarah Brace-Medeiros

    1. Dear Sarah

      What an honour to meet you! Three of my games with your legendary Grandad are in my book “Calypso Chess” and a photo of him is included in the photo section at the back of the book. When I was 14 years old, I lost my first two games against him, then won my next two, and our fifth game was a draw. On page 23 of my book, I wrote, at the end of my sixth game against your Grandad and our first in the book (which I won, never losing to him again after that) the following words:

      “However, this hard-fought game, which I came close to losing, is nevertheless a tribute to the tremendous tenacity of one of the finest players to have graced Barbadian soil, C.B. Gilkes. A pillar of the Barbadian chess community for over half a century, he only learnt the game in his early twenties, won the first of his many national titles in 1927, and was the first Barbadian to win recognition overseas as a joint winner of a 1938 Inter-Colonial Tournament in the then British Guiana. A gentleman, he would murmur occasionally under his breath and drum his fingers on the table, but was never involved in any disputes or arguments, and was always gracious in defeat and generous in praise when victorious. Before his sad passing away in 1993 at the age of 86, Gilkes and I played our final tournament game (6 June 199). I nearly lost before he graciously accepted my draw offer in a better position in a marathon encounter (See Calypso Chess Challenge Puzzle #3 at the back of this book). In his memory, an annual C.B.Gilkes tournament was held for a number of years.”

      My Calypso Chess book is available online from Amazon.com. The price has recently been reduced from $25 US to $19.99 US, and I would love you to purchase a copy. I have many found memories of your Grandad, but the above passage in the book summarises them. He truly was a gentleman, and highly respected, not least by myself. May he rest in peace.

      Yours sincerely
      FIDE Master Dr. Philip Corbin

  5. I ordered my copy of your book from Amazon.You won me over with your playing of the Elephant Gambit and other gambits!
    Hope you continue to play in club tournaments.I like the way you play chess!

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