Gwayne Lambert wins Chicago’s Tate Memorial!

Emory Tate at 2009 World Open.
Photo by Michael Williams.

When one thinks of chess, perhaps visions of old men in barbershops and parks may come to mind. Maybe it is the snotty-nosed, anti-social bookworm that comes to mind… or even the foul-mouthed, trash-talking chess hustler. All of these are windows into the chess world known for its exclusivity, when in fact, chess is very accessible and has a long list of heroes of every kind. Emory Andrew Tate, Jr. was one such hero in the annals of chess history. Daring, brash and unapologetically rebellious he gave a type of energy to chess that was rarely expressed by a master-level player. Tate, a quintessential chess performer, passed away last year October 17, 2015 and left behind a memorable legacy (death, obituary, funeral).

On June 25, 2016, Lion’s Paw Chess Academy held a memorial tournament for the International Master. He was a veritable role model within the African Diaspora and had widespread appeal around the world for his will competing at a chess event in Fremont, California. Tate was a man of scholarly pedigree, spoke multiple languages which included his stint as a Russian linguist in the Air Force. Ultimately, he would express himself through chess in the most vibrant way and the power of his creative mind would explode onto the chessboard.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Many men and women of African ancestry love chess and its fascination in Africa can be traced back to the Moors who brought the game into Spain. Certainly this history may be lost on the millions of people who play, but for Emory chess was a passion that he shared. Tate was a five-time Armed Forces Champion, six-time Indiana state Champion and a one-time Alabama state champion. He was a fixture in tournaments across America and inspired a worldwide fanbase.

Many of those who benefited from Tate’s presence were the 13 men and one boy who assembled at the Salaam restaurant to participate in a tournament in Tate’s honor. Daniel X Jones, founder of Lion’s Paw, organized this event to honor the Chicago-born Tate and hopes to make it an annual event. The tournament attracted players young an old and featured some mainstays on the Chicago scene. Roger Hickman (1878), who attended Chicago Vocational High School (CVS), knew Tate and used to drive him to Northwestern University where Tate attended for a year. It was a rare sighting for the long-time veteran of the Chicago scene. Legendary blitz players Tom Murphy (2115) and Sam Ford (1860) were also in the field ready to do damage. However, Sedrick Prude (2133) was the top seed. National Master Marvin Dandridge (CVS alumni also) later came by to support the event. Members of the southside chess scene were out in force.

Gwayne Lambert

There were introductory remarks by Jones before he officially launched the inaugural tournament. Overall there was a very upbeat spirit in honoring such a chess warrior. Tate left behind so many memorable stories and many of the players were being interview by videographer Seed Lynn about their reflections. Despite some of the key matchups (Ford-Prude), (Porter-Murphy), there was no clear-cut favorite at the halfway point.

During lunchtime, the participants were treated to a few presentations. Daaim Shabazz (another CVS alumni) gave some reflections on Tate’s life, showed various photos and gave a preview of the ongoing book project. The book is scheduled to come out in Fall 2016. While the players were eating a delicious lunch, they watch a documentary produced by Kirby Ashley titled, “The History of Black Chess Players.” It was an overview dealing with the long history of the chess from the Indians, Persians and then the to the Africa Disapora including the Moors, Europe’s chess renaissance and the 19th century figures such as James McCune Smith and Theophilus Thompson. The history segued into the competitive, trash-talking scene of Chicago chess personalities such as “Sideline Grandmaster,” “Steele Bill,” “Chet Nation,” “Uncle Marv,” “Checkmate the Great,” “Heavy Hitter,” “Mo Dog,” and “Head Hooker.” The 30-minute film is one highlighting the subcultures that practically exist in practically every major city around the world and even some backwoods locations.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Round 1 in action… the inaugural Emory Tate Memorial!

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Sam Ford and Tom Murphy
both knew Emory Tate quite well from Chicago and DC area, respectively.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Kareem Abdullah (1581) came from Charlotte, North Carolina to participate
and had a creditable +1 score.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

John Porter looks poised here,
but had to win in a time scramble against Madison Loftis.
He played a fine game!

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

George David, Madison Loftis, Roger Hickman

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

NM Marvin Dandridge watches the action.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

After the second round, the participants watched an intriguing
video documentary produced by Kirby Ashley.

After lunch the tournament continued and Prude pulling even with Murphy and former Whitney Young standout Gwayne Lambert. Lambert held Murphy to a draw making a three-way tie with 2.5/3. In the last round it would be Lambert-Ford and Prude-Murphy for the championship. Prude and Murphy fought to a tough draw, but Lambert beat Ford to win the tournament! After his years as a state champion at Young teams, Lambert is having some success as a cars salesman. Now 26 years old, he has not played in a tournament since 2012, but his unexpected victory showed that he is seeking to ignite his passion once again. His state championship runs at Young along with teammate Kayin Barclay were historic. Hopefully he will defend his title next year.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Tom Murphy, the legend of Dupont Circle (Washington, DC).
He now resides in Chicago.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

William “Steele Bill” Crawford being asked for his reflections on Emory Tate.

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

Daniel X Jones with son, Malachi. 🙂

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

This author watches Murphy and Lambert battle
in the penultimate round… 1/2-1/2

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

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.

12 Comments

  1. Photos from 2016 Emory Tate Memorial
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Round 1 in action… the inaugural Emory Tate Memorial!

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Roger Hickman (1878) was all over Kevin Alsup like white on rice (1-0).

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Sam Ford just completed his move against Sedrick Prude.
    The game was drawn.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Andrew Bell

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Kevin Alsup and John Porter

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Attorney George David, a proud Kappa man representing!

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    If this is true, it means Chet Parks is in trouble!
    George did get the win.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Kevin Alsup

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Madison Loftis trying to hold off John Porter in a time scramble…

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    … but unable to do it. Porter walks away relieved.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Isaiah Jones reads the 2nd round pairings. He received a warm round of applause for a job well-done! 🙂

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    John Porter vs. Tom Murphy

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Porter had a tougher time with Murphy losing the thread. Dandridge cringes…

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    …and later suggested that Porter play b6 to cramp black’s queenside.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Roger Hickman, the well-respected elder statesman,
    scored 2/4 in a rare appearance.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Sam Ford was able to get past Marvin Lofton.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    After dispatching of Porter, Murphy played the omnipresent Shiva in a blitz battle. George David watches.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    John Porter in an interview about the history of Black chess in Chicago, more specifically the BFOC.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Hickman with eloquent words of praise about the event and urging it to be an annual event and not a “one-shot” thing.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Viewing of Kirby Ashley’s video documentary, “The History of Black Chess Players.” The film highlighted the Moors who brought “shatranj” into Spain after learning the game from the Arabs who had trading expeditions across the Saharan region.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Dandridge being interviewed and offered insight about a number of psychological issues pertaining to Black chess players. Very interesting!

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    Dandridge has worked for decades as a licensed clinical professional counselor. At this point in the interview, he spoke about the case of Issac Braswell, who died tragically in 2012.

    2016 Emory Tate Memorial (Chicago, Illinois)

    The “Sideline Grandmaster” introduced the term “Murder, Death, Kill” as an embellishment of the German word zugzwang meaning “the person moving loses.” Likewise, “Murder, Death, Kill” means all choices lead to a fatal end … you move one way you get murdered; you move another, you die; you move a third, you get killed. Murder, Death, Kill.

  2. What is IM Mandizha up to these days? He used to play the SA Open every year. Remember playing him in Bloemfontein but lost after a very promising position out of the opening.

  3. Wonderful Photos! Good to know errbodie throwin down Up in Chi! Um just wonderin what method wus used to drag Murphy out the blitz room and get him to play in a ” REAL TOURNAMENT” hahaha!!! E.T.!!!

  4. RIP, Emory!!!

    I first met Emory in Indiana but was with him on multiple occasions at tournaments, most notably New York Opens in the late ’80s and early ’90s. What a remarkable person. He will be forever missed.

    1. Yes thanks for sharing yes Emory is one of our Greatest Chess Geniuses but UM here now!!! ULTRAMODERNIST.

  5. Is that the same Tom Murphy who I recall watching come close to nicking GM Ehlvest twice a World Open Blitz tournament several years ago? (2006, most likely). The blitz tourney was a doubleround — you play each opoonent twice — and a large crowd watched enthralled as this Expert went blow-for-blow with the famous GM throughout the two games. Tom lost both, but only in the late stages of endgames, maybe by flagging, after having what looked to me like equal or better chances.

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