IM Emory Tate laid to rest… legacy lives on!

Emory Tate laid to rest October 24th, 2015

Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

A private gathering of family and friends assembled at the New Union Grove Baptist Church in Smuteye, Alabama to celebrate the life of Emory Andrew Tate, Jr. on a bright Saturday afternoon on October 24th at noon. Relatives had come from as far as California and England to be present. There was music playing in the church including “American Pie”. If these were songs Emory liked, a glaring omission would have been Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”.

Daughter Janine Tate read touching stories.

After the Lord’s Prayer was sung by Estella Jernigan, there were a number of tributes: his doting daughter Janine Tate, sisters Margaret Jernigan, Elizabeth Tate, Ira Jean Salls, brother former Mayor John McGowan, cousins Hobson Cox, Melvin Cox, Ed Everhart, nephews Mac Jernigan, Nick Jernigan and two chess players Daaim Shabazz and Sulaiman Smith.

Of course, all relatives call him “Dennis” whereas chess players call him “Tate” or “ET”. I was expecting that Emory was nicknamed Dennis because he was like “Dennis the Menace” as a boy. My conjecture was not far off, but there is a very interesting story about naming conventions in the Tate family. His sister Katrinka Tate Trail told me the Dennis story which is part of family lore.

There were several speakers and all had heartwarming stories of Emory. It was truly a different side that chess players would never see, but chess was the common theme in all the speeches. The chess speakers told family members about an enigmatic world Emory only mentioned in passing.


Janine Tate (daughter)
Elizabeth Tate (sister)
Margaret Jernigan (sister)
Daaim Shabazz (chess player)
Sulaiman Smith (chess player)
Mac Jernigan (nephew)
Ira Jean Salls (sister)
John McGowan (brother)
Nick Jernigan (nephew)
Ed Everhart (cousin)
Hobson Cox (cousin)
Melvin Cox (cousin)
Estella Jernigan (niece)

Many did not realize Emory’s stature in the chess community until days following his passing. Hundreds of stories and tributary remarks were posted online. While there were many different angles, what was common was Tate’s generosity and love for those close to him… and sometimes strangers.

Ira Jean Salls tells humorous stories of her brother ‘Dennis’.

Chess player Sulaiman Smith came from Atlanta to pay tribute.

Brother and former Mayor of Union Springs John McGowan
tells his story of mentoring Emory in chess.

Elizabeth Tate comforts Janine.

Elizabeth Tate comforts her niece Janine.

After the ceremony, Emory was buried on the family plot behind the church and received a military honor including the playing of “Taps”. A final salute to the Staff Sergeant was given and the presentation of the folded flag to Janine, his daughter.

CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.

The repast was held in rural Alabama at the home of Emma Cox Tate, Emory’s mother. It was a place that Emory often found solitude. He loved to fish in the pond or simply take in the vastness of the countryside. It is this quietude in which he will rest forever, but his chess contributions will live on!

Daaim Shabazz with Emma Tate, Emory’s mother.

Emory’s place of solitude.

IM Emory Andrew Tate, Jr.
Staff Sergeant and Chess Master Extraordinaire!
Photo from Tate family archives.

* * *

Emory Tate: chess savant, warrior (1958-2015)



  1. It was wonderful to see Emory receiving a military salute. His military achievements along with his other accomplishments are well deserving.
    I can’t say enough about Daaim, your the heart & soul of the African America Chess Community.

    Dee J

  2. Thank you again Daaim for representing the chess community in saying farewell to Emory. I met my friend Tate in the mid 80’s and played some really wonderful fighting chess with him. He was indeed “Mr. Chess” just as Gligoric, champion Yugoslavian grandmaster, was call “Mr. Kings Indian.” I deeply admired the deep passion that Tate had for the game. In my heart, he was a grandmaster, and I will always think of him as Grandmaster Emory Tate. He was a true master of the sacrifice in chess.

    FM William Morrison

    1. OK “Terminator “good to know your still in chess, of course Emory was clearly Grandmaster strength i recall having a bit of fun on ICC about it during some of their top practice tournaments that vishy and the other guys were in, man i would start up such a big arguement about it that we would forget about the games and start talkin about Emory for 2hrs! lol the adminstrators woudl have to break us up cuz i would always tell them on ICC that Emory would crush theses guys in certain positions, I competed with their traditional gms from 1998-2008 in the 1minute chess as the ultramodernist. CHESS BROTHERS FOREVER!!!

  3. Thanks daaim for keeping everyone posted , the chess commuity as a whole and locally here in chicago treasure what tate has done for the game, the people and another generation of players.

  4. Falafelbackgammon is currently the Greatest Backgammon player in History however we grew up playin chess in Buffalo N.Y. we met at the University of Buffalo Chess Club along with Bem , Barry, Kurzdorfer, Doug, Tony, Bernard , Greg Vincent and Steve Capp were the regulars.IN 1990 after he Moved to N.Y. he invited me down to they N.Y. Open to practice with the traditional gms in there event, of course all the brothas in Buffalo always wanted to see me play Maurice and Emory and so did Falfel so he set the match up with E.T. we played for hours 3minute chess he was sacin and i was laughin the whole time!i thought this man is amazin where do he get all this stuff! haha, After the match was over i called him MR SACTACULAR! and he looked up and smile and let out a BELLY FULL LAUGH, repeating MR. SACTACULAR! he seem to have loved it! The Next day after i won my rd on the Black Side of a Slav i was walkin in the hallway to post my result when a young lady stopped me and began questionin my about the unique way in which i played the game so i explained the game to her then i told her my name and asked her what is her named and she said Jennifer Sha-ha-hade! I guess she LEARNED something that day, i see shes in St.Louis now with the Louisian Susan Polgar so Diamond is u see her tell her i said Hi! Im stll the Ultramodernist on Ive always wondered how our Brotha Tate would be as an ULTRAMODERNIST a type of chess more suited to his style. PEACE.


    Contact: Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum
    P.O. Box 7663
    Tallahassee, FL 32314-7663 USA
    (850) 296-9494

    Tallahassee, USA – 11 March 2017 – Emory Tate’s biography Triple Exclam!!! The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior has finally arrived and is available for purchase. The book details the life of one of the most colorful figures on the U.S. chess circuit. Tate’s death on October 17, 2015 brought an end to the adventurism and sense of wonderment he found in chess.

    In just over a year, his biography has been published by The Chess Drum after finishing production in March 2017. Release was delayed for months by a number of technical issues. The book covers his exciting 56-year journey and life as a chess artist. His passion for chess was truly inspiring. Triple Exclam was the culmination of an intense research effort on the life of Tate.

    The following blurb appears on the inside flap of the dust jacket:

    ISBN-10: 0998118001
    ISBN-13: 978-0998118000
    Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
    Publisher: The Chess Drum, LLC
    Retail Price: $40.00 (full color, hard back)


    In the annals of attacking chess players, International Master Emory Tate built up a collection of stunning gems. Tate also showed his passion in describing these exciting battles as if acting in a stage play. With his clear, accelerated speaking style, melodramatic portrayals, quick wit and creative word play, he intrigued audiences and showed unequivocally that chess is not merely a game to be played, but an art form to be expressed. This book details the life and games of Tate over the course of his 56 years.

    His contribution to chess lies not merely in his level of play, or even his scintillating victories, but in his creation of unique ideas and inspiring dreams. Somewhere on that chess board was beauty to behold, a new story to be told, and perhaps an idea that would touch the soul. Tate told many stories, many of which would reflect an adventurous, purposeful, yet troubled life. This story is of beautiful games, life lessons, mind-boggling conflicts and celebration of a man whose contributions will live on!

    The Book

    Triple Exclam is a hardback, full-color edition that includes 280 pages in 12 chapters and seven appendices surveying the life of Tate. It includes 35 of his games (all annotated) and vintage photos at various stages of his life. The book also includes chapter notes and is fully-indexed. If you are not a chess-player but enjoy biographies, you will appreciate his story.

    The Foreword of the book was done by GM Maurice Ashley with annotations by GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, GM Pontus Carlsson, GM Amon Simutowe, GM Kenny Solomon, IM Malcolm Pein, FM William Morrison, FM Todd Andrews, FM Jimmy Canty and National Masters Ernest Colding, Glenn Bady and Dr. Okechukwu Iwu. Two games feature transcribed annotations from Tate’s famous post-mortems.

    Triple Exclam: The Life and Games of Emory Tate, Chess Warrior

    Order Details

    The highly-anticipated book can be purchased by following the Paypal button below. A Paypal account is not needed. Buying in bulk cuts per unit and mailing costs, so for groups of friends, chess clubs, and vendors seeking volume discounts (for the purchase of five or more), click here!

    International rates are currently prohibitive unless ordering quantities in multiples of five (U.S. Postal Service flat rate box). The Chess Drum is looking for international distributors to make the book accessible to a wider audience. An e-book version of Triple Exclam is forthcoming.

    Some customers many be skittish about ordering online. In that case, contact me at with number of copies needed and I’ll send an invoice. Also available for book signings. Make sure you add this handsome book to your collection!



    # # #

    The Chess Drum, LLC is a publisher of chess news content and literature. The organization’s website has continued to demonstrate the universality of chess by covering a variety of topics through news stories, essays, interviews, and photos since 2001. Visit The Chess Drum at and follow the beat on Facebook and Twitter!

  6. And to think today that his two sons Andrew and tristan have taken over internationally on the social media scene is nuts

  7. I first met Tate at Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. in the late 80’s and all I can say is “what a brilliant guy”. Those nights at the World Open of blitzing all night and having a cold beverage from time to time will never be forgotten.
    ONE name that would suit Tate well is Mr. World Open! For many the World Open didn’t start until Tate arrived. He may not get the credit, but Tate was one of the inventors of chess streaming as we know of it today. With as many as 50 guys surrounding the board in a conference room, Tate paced the hallway commentating past games which would often end with the words ” double exclaim”. We will always remember him as the chess Commen “TATE” or! Rest in peace good brother.

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