20th year for The Chess Drum!

20 years for The Chess Drum

Twenty years. Yes… 20 years for a website. It seems unreal that so many years have passed. It seems unlikely (in these times) that a chess website can last this long. However, many years ago I rationalized this project by thinking, “If The Chess Drum did not exist, it would need to be created.” Is this true? Most definitely.

Coming up as a scholastic player in Chicago, I was bitten by the chess bug and benefited from an active club at my public high school that boasted over 100 members. After losing my first game to a Scholar’s Mate a year earlier, I was determined to improve and chess soon supplanted baseball as the activity where I invested the bulk of my leisure time. Unbeknownst to me, it would become an activity that would lead to a higher cause.

Keeping the Beat for 20 Years!!

In interviews and articles, I have explained how a simple question spurred the idea of what would become “The Chess Drum.” It would take nearly 15 years to fully realize the vision, but it was something that would soon become a rallying point for an overlooked segment.

At the 2001 Grand Opening of the Hall of Fame Chess Museum in Miami, Florida. It was hot that day!
At the 2001 Grand Opening of the Hall of Fame Chess Museum in Miami, Florida.
It was hot that day!

The original site was about 12 pages, five of which covered a diversity of players such as Odion Aikhoje (Nigeria), Warren Elliott (Jamaica), Amon Simutowe (Zambia), Maurice Ashley (USA) and Shearwood McClelland (USA). Aikhoje’s 1998 gold medal was honored, Elliott had won his first of seven national championships, and Ashley had hosted the Harlem Chess Festival. Simutowe won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympiad. McClelland had beaten Chinese star Bu Xianghzhi. The first “Historic Moments” piece profiled a classic matchup between Charles Lawton and Morris Giles along with an intriguing photo from 1989 U.S. Open. It was a thrilling beginning!

The idea of The Chess Drum happened over a period of 15 years while I was still living in Chicago. By now everyone may know I was motivated by a question… “Where are the Black IMs and GMs?” With the question searing in my mind, I embarked on a journey that would result in me hitting the “ENTER” button on February 12th, 2001 to make the site live.

Original Edition of The Chess Drum

There was inspiration drawn from many different persons, but it had occurred to me my degrees in Computer Science, Marketing and International Affairs prepared me for this task. The hours have been long and sometimes, I wondered why I should continue, but each time someone sends an e-mail or places a phone call, and it reinforces why this project is so important to the chess community.

It has been a pleasure to watch The Chess Drum grow into a reservoir that shows the universality of chess and its inclusivity. I have been able to compile wonderful memories in the past 20 years which I will share throughout February. Thanks for helping me keep the beat!


Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

The “eternal” birthday cake presented to me in 2003 by Kay Umeakunne. This was the nicest gift I had ever received in appreciation for The Chess Drum! It was delicious! :-D

The “eternal” birthday cake presented to me in 2003 by Kay Umeakunne. I always bring this cake out every birthday. The cake is long gone, but the memory is still sweet!

Continue on for year-by-year memories!!


  1. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Entertaining Tate, Covering Simutowe, Wilbert Paige Memorial, Hall of Fame

    Tate at 2001 World Open (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

    Emory Tate is well-known for his brilliant tactical play and he would proudly put it on open display in post-mortem sessions. Here is how I described the scene at the 2001 World Open:

    In the skittles room, Emory drew a large crowd when showing his game to a group of kids. . . all were craning their necks, or standing on chairs for a better look at the action. Imagine players forming a coliseum around FM Tate! People actually quit playing blitz chess (and anything else they were doing) to watch the skittles room legend enthrall a packed room. For those how have not seen FM Tate analyze, you are definitely missing a treat. His animated analysis and vivid explanations show the depths of his brilliant mind. (link)

    Emory Tate analyzing win over Sergey Kudrin
    Emory Tate analyzing his 24-move win over GM Sergey Kudrin
    at 2001 World Open at the Adams Mark Hotel.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Amon Simutowe was already on my radar before I first saw him at the 2001 World Open. He would become one of my consistent subjects as I wanted to provide encouragement toward his GM title. However, the most important accomplishment in the first year was the coverage of the Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament in Harlem, New York. The Chess Drum would be the official site.

    Named after a Philadelphia master, the Wilbert Paige Memorial was a gathering of 10 of the world’s top players of African descent. The mood was exceeding festive and there was excitement in the air. Many of the players congratulated me on launching the site. This meant a great deal. Those ten days are never to be forgotten (website, reflections).

    Daaim Shabazz with future-GM Kenny Solomon
    during the Wilbert Paige Memorial dinner outing in 2001

    Wilbert Paige Memorial players and commentators. Seated (L-R) IM Amon Simutowe, NM Grace Nsubuga, GM Maurice Ashley (commentator),  FM Ronald Simpson, IM Michael Schleifer, FM Stephen Muhammad. Standing (L-R) NM Jerold Times (commentator), NM Ernest Colding,  IM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator).

    Wilbert Paige Memorial players and commentators. Seated (L-R) IM Amon Simutowe, NM Grace Nsubuga, GM Maurice Ashley (commentator), FM Ronald Simpson, IM Michael Schleifer, FM Stephen Muhammad. Standing (L-R) NM Jerald Times (commentator), NM Ernest Colding, IM Watu Kobese, FM William Morrison, FM Kenny Solomon, NM Norman Rogers, NM Elvin Wilson (commentator). Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    2001 Index of Stories

  2. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Bahrain, Muhammad, World Open Magic
    Robert Gwaze’s Golden Moment!

    I was on personal travel to Bahrain in 2002 before Kramnik’s match with Deep Fritz. I had called around to find the chess club and finally got in touch with the (then) national champion Zeyad Janahi. The club was situated on the second floor of a restaurant which is where the Kramnik-Deep Fritz match was played. After a brief chat, I played a few games against Zeyad. He came out slightly ahead, but it was enjoyable.

    2002 Bahraini Photos from Daaim Shabazz

    Bahraini-Saudi Bank
    Bahraini-Saudi Bank

    Bahraini Mosque
    Bahraini Mosque

    Corner Shops
    Corner Shops

    Zeyad Janahi playing Daaim Shabazz while IM Imed Abdelnabbi observes.
    Zeyad Janahi playing Daaim Shabazz
    while IM Imed Abdelnabbi of Egypt observed.

    University of Bahrain
    The University of Bahrain where I lectured.

    2002 World Open (Philadelphia)

    An exciting year! FM Stephen Muhammad would make a strong run toward IM title after getting his first norm at the 2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial. He followed up by qualifying for the U.S. Championship at the 2002 Chicago Open and earning his second IM norm at the
    2002 World Open.

FM Stephen Muhammad (right center) showing GM Maurice Ashley his game against IM Eugene Perelshteyn. Both Muhammad and Ashley have qualified for the 2003 U.S. Championship.
    FM Stephen Muhammad (right center) showing GM Maurice Ashley
    his game against IM Eugene Perelshteyn.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Both Muhammad and Ashley qualified for the U.S. Championship and I traveled out to Seattle the next year to cover their participation. It was a historic occasion and would be one of the highlights for 2003. More on that later!


    IM Robert Gwaze beaming with his gold medal and trophy at Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia.
    Photo by Barbados Chess Federation

    Perhaps the most scintillating event I covered in 2002 had to be the golden performance of IM Robert Gwaze who scored 9/9 and 2690 performance rating at 2002 Chess Olympiad.

    Beforehand, I made team profiles and crosstables of all Caribbean and African teams. Jerry Bibuld sent a lot of wonderful photos of a variety of players. Covering an Olympiad is a lot of work, but I realized something great was happening with Gwaze. When I saw him chalking up win after win, I thought he could win a medal. Indeed, Zimbabwe would become the land of gold!

    Before the tournament, I remember putting the national anthem on each team profile. In the end, I notice someone had played the Zimbabwe anthem many times. Gwaze admitted that it was he who played it for inspiration. His 9/9 feat is still talked about today in African circles.

    2002 Index of Stories

  3. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    US Championship, Muhammad (again), Blitz Battle, and a cake!

    A historic year that started off with Stephen Muhammad clinching his third IM norm with three rounds remaining. Traveling to Seattle for the 2003 U.S. Championship was interesting because both Maurice Ashley and Muhammad were the first players of African descent to compete in the U.S. Championship.

    GM Maurice Ashley and IM-elect Stephen Muhammad conversing after completion of the 2003 U.S. Championship. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    GM Maurice Ashley and IM-elect Stephen Muhammad
    after completion of the 2003 U.S. Championship
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Seattle was great fun and certainly a bonding experience for the two gladiators. After the tournament, Muhammad called Ashley offered to give him lessons in blitz! I heard a howl on the other end and soon Ashley was in the room. At the time, Muhammad had a 3000 blitz rating on the ICC and was every bit of a blitz aficionado. An unforgettable match started and they were going blow-for-blow. The match ended well into the morning. I had fallen asleep at some point but woke up in time to see the match end 14-14.

    Memorable Blitz Battle!  Muhammad vs. Ashley
(photo by Daaim Shabazz)
    Memorable Blitz Battle! Muhammad vs. Ashley
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz


    Kay Chima Umeakunne presented me with this delicious cake as an appreciation for The Chess Drum. It was the best cake I’ve ever had!

    2003 Index of Stories

  4. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Jamaica, Jamaica… attending 1st Olympiad

    Pan-African chess wave hits Jamaica!

    In the early days of The Chess Drum, Jamaica was central to international coverage. Many years later Jomo Pitterson revealed to me that players on the island were motivated to make headlines on The Chess Drum. Apparently, I caught FM Warren Elliott during his rise to the top of Jamaican chess. Interestingly enough, I travel to Jamaica with Zambia’s Amon Simutowe to play in the Harold Chan Open just months later.

Jamaican President Ian Wilkinson (right) prepares to present FM Warren Elliott (left) with the Championship trophy while Negash Bezaleel (visiting from the US) looks on.

Daaim Shabazz and International Master Amon Simutowe relaxing in Kingston, Jamaica. The six-day excursion is the subject of a photo essay recounting the activities day-by-day.

    Relaxing in Kingston, Jamaica with International Master Amon Simutowe. The six-day excursion is the subject of a photo essay recounting the activities day-by-day. Jamaicans are always great hosts!

    2004 Chess Olympiad(Calvia, Spain)

    Besides the aforementioned trip to Jamaica, I looked forward in covering the 2004 Chess Olympiad, in Calvia, Spain. My first Olympiad was an exciting yet overwhelming experience. The Olympiad is such a large event that one doesn’t always know where to be, so a plan and networking with other journalists is necessary.

    2004 Chess Olympiad (Calva, Spain)

    I was sitting across from Frederick Friedel (founder of ChessBase) and told him that covering the Olympiad from home is much easier. He said, “Absolutely!” However, there is nothing that can compare with the energy. Friedel attracted a number of top players whom he was giving software to sample.

Tense moments at the 2004 Chess Olympiad as games were going late into the day. I was with a few of the Barbados players and we were watching to see if Kevin Denny would hold hold a draw. He did!

    Tense moments at the 2004 Chess Olympiad as games were going late into the day. I was with a few of the Barbados players and we were watching to see if Kevin Denny would hold a draw. He did!

    I get a picture with the 13-time Barbados champion, Kevin Denny!
    Finally get to meet the 13-time Barbados champion, Kevin Denny!

Despite being disappointed with a 6th place finish, the Indians were an inspiration and their camaraderie was evident. In the press room, you see Chanda Sandipan, Surya Ganguly and Pentala Harikrishna conversing. Viswanathan Anand is giving another interview in the corner. The Indians are getting things done!

    Despite being disappointed with a 6th place finish, the Indians were an inspiration and their camaraderie was evident. In the press room, you see Chanda Sandipan, Surya Ganguly and Pentala Harikrishna conversing. Viswanathan Anand is giving another interview in the corner. The Indians were getting things done and are now among the elite federations! All photos by Daaim Shabazz

    2004 Index of Stories

  5. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Drum Beats in Brazilian favela
    Hikaru’s 2.Qh5, HB Global Chess Challenge, Hurricane Katrina
    Girl Power

    Brazil Brazil Brazil

    In my Reflections on Brazil, I wrote…

    In the latter part of the trip, we visited one of the favelas (impoverished communities) which ironically sits across the highway from the majestic buildings of billion-dollar corporations. These communities were built when migrants from Bahia (and elsewhere) were unable to find housing. As it is in many poor countries, the people appear to be in high spirits and possess pride despite their meager existence. The children were full of life and absolutely adorable. I donated a chess set, instructions, and 50 Chess Drum pens to the Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni community center in the favela. Who knows what may come of it? One can only plant the seeds and hope that they somehow take root.

    Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni in favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Boys in the favela!
    Maybe a future Grandmaster in the group 🙂

    Prefeitura de Taboão da Serra
    Delegation from Florida A&M University visiting residents.
    They were very friendly!

    Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni in favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Bearing gifts for the Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni in favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil
    Bearing gifts for the Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni
    (Prefeitura de Taboão da Serra)

    Bearing gifts for the Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni in favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Bearing gifts for the Centro Communitário Ludovico Pavoni in favela near Sao Paulo, Brazil

    HB Global Chess Challenge (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

    Maurice called me one afternoon and told me he was putting together a tournament and uttered “half-a-million dollars.” That got my attention. It would be called the “HB Global Chess Challenge.” It was a secret. He told me he would give me the “green light” once the negotiations were complete.

    It was billed as the richest open chess tournament in history and it promised to be an enjoyable event in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There was a bit of talk about the $345 entry fee and that may have turned some away. There was a $7,000 watch added for 1st prize. The HB Global did not receive additional funding, but years later, Maurice would go higher with a million-dollar tournament!

    The tournament lived up to its billing, was enjoyed by most, and even had a marriage proposal by Damon Garrett of New Jersey! The tournament attracted some big names including U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura who created a buzz by playing 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!? against Indian Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran a month earlier. I mentioned this in my interview with him at the HB Global.

    Hikaru also played 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!? in this game,
    drawing against GM Nikolai Mitkov.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Interview with Hikaru Nakamura

    I also had my first foreign language interview with FM Jorge Renteria!

    Interview with FM Jorge Renteria

    Jorge Renteriá playing blitz with Stephen Muhammad
    at HB Global Chess Challenge.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Sometimes leisure has to take a backseat to life challenges. Hurricane Katrina was particularly devastating to thousands and The Chess Drum soon became a vehicle to help players in a desperate situation. Rene Phillips fled to Philadelphia and Alfred Carlin fled to Houston as the waters begin to flood New Orleans. They were able to get help from chess players. It was a harrowing story with a positive ending!

    Medina Parrilla was one of several African-American girls who showed promise early on. She hit the media wave at age 12 and represented the U.S. in the under-12 World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, Greece followed by another appearance in Belfort, France. Parrilla continued to improve and reached “Expert” rating with visions to earn her National Master title. She later earned a scholarship to the University of Texas-Dallas (UTD) before returning to New York.

    Medina Parrilla competing in World Youth Championships in France

    2005 Index of Stories

  6. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    2nd Chess Olympiad in Turin Italy, Tate’s final IM norm

    Traveling overseas is always an exciting prospect, but traveling overseas for the Olympiad is an experience all chess players should experience at least once. In the year of a FIDE Presidential election, FIDE would host the 2006 Chess Olympiad at the Oval Lingotto. It was a 15-minute walk from where the players were staying.

    Ethiopia at Opening Ceremonies!

    Ethiopia at Opening Ceremonies!


    WIM Regina Riberio (Brazil)

    Players from Qatar analyzing

Angola's Luzia Guimaraes and Valquiria Rocha
    Angola’s Luzia Guimaraes and Valquiria Rocha

    Playing Venue

    Touring the Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy
    Touring the Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy

    Photo Galleries of 2006 Chess Olympiad

    Emory Tate earns his final IM norm in style. Beating Grandmasters Laurent Fressinet of France and Colombia’s Alonso Zapata in a last-round thriller. In the interview below, he reemphasized his quest for the GM title. His IM title was conferred in January 2007. He remained an intriguing figure until his death in 2015.

    FM Emory Tate in a pre-game moment of tranquility. Photo by Daaim Shabazz
    FM Emory Tate in a pre-game moment of tranquility.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Interview with Emory Tate

    2006 Index of Stories

  7. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Hip-Hop Chess Federation
    Article in Chess Life, Entertaining Tate
    Simutowe’s Final GM norm, GM Pontus Carlsson

    Hip-Hop Chess Federation King's Invitational & Panel Discussion

    Adisa Banjoko of Hip-Hop Chess Federation hosted the “King’s Invitational” in San Francisco, California on October 13th, 2007. It included tournament play, chess instruction and a panel discussion titled, “Life Strategies a Blue Print for Victory.” The Chess Drum as in the building! Hear Adisa Banjoko’s interview with Daaim Shabazz after the event.

    Interview with Adisa Banjoko

    Daniel Lucas told me that one of the things he wanted to do as the new editor of Chess Life was highlight The Chess Drum. Dan had won numerous awards as the editor of Georgia Chess and landed a new post to produce the national magazine. Gregory Kearse penned an article, but I must say that I had to do some judicious editing before it was printed!

    Daaim Shabazz: Playing to the Beat of a Different Drummer (Chess Life - April 2007)

    Emory Tate approached me and wanted to show me his game against International Master Salvijus Bercys. I got my recorder out as a small crowd gathered. They were in for a treat!

    Emory Tate showing Daaim Shabazz his game against Salvijus Bercys, a 27-move gem.
    Emory Tate showing his game against Salvijus Bercys, a 27-move gem.


    Zambia’s Amon Simutowe had been on a long journey for the Grandmaster title. Bursting on the scene as a teen phenom, he was considered Africa’s brightest of talents. He left for university studies in the U.S. and while he was on the championship university teams, he did not clinch the final norm until winning the Stimulans tournament in the Netherlands. It was a triumph for him, Zambia, and the entire African Diaspora.

    Amon Simutowe receives his certificate for the GM result. Photo by Ben Schulte.
    Amon Simutowe receives his certificate for the GM result.
    Photo by Ben Schulte.

    While Simutowe had earned his third GM norm, his title would be conferred in 2009. It was thought that he needed to reach 2500, but upon examination, he had reached that standard in 2001 during the Zagreb Open. He ran his “last mile”. Meanwhile Pontus Carlsson had his GM title conferred!

    Carlsson granted the GM title!

    2007 Index of Stories

  8. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Fischer’s Death, Detroit CCC, Olympiad (Germany)

    Bobby Fischer heading to his first press conference on Friday March 25th 2005,
    one day after arriving in Iceland.
    Photo by Associated Press.

    The King is dead! Bobby Fischer passed away in Reykjavik, Iceland at age 64 from a brief illness. Maurice shared the news with me. I picked up chess just after the “Fischer Boom,” but I enthusiastically studied his games and adopted the sharpest lines in his style. Many years later, I would hear some Fischer stories from Walter Harris.

    I also covered the Fischer case in Japan and listened to his interviews including the one on September 11th, 2001. I read several accounts of his life in Iceland and some were indeed very intriguing. Regardless of what one thought of his political views, Fischer was mistreated by the Japanese authorities who apparently colluded with the U.S. to punish the legend. On the lighter side, there was a report that Fischer wanted to play Garry Kasparov or Viswanathan Anand in a Fischer 960 match.

    The contest would have taken place in India which gave no doubt as to who his opponent would be. Fischer has developed a deep sensitivity to people of developing nations and perhaps had some admiration for the current World Champion, India’s Viswanathan Anand. Actually, Anand met with Fischer two years ago in Iceland and fondly recounted the conversation and the analysis of games with him.

    Along with National Master Kayin Barclay I was invited to the Detroit City Chess Club and was met by a group of well-dressed, disciplined chess players. Kayin, then a freshman at Morehouse College, conducted a simultaneous exhibition. I was the speaker at the banquet the next evening. Great memories!

    National Master Kayin Barclay taking on 30 students at the Detroit City Chess Club.
    National Master Kayin Barclay taking on 30 students at the Detroit City Chess Club.
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz.

Members of the Detroit City Chess Club.
    Members of the Detroit City Chess Club

    Keynote Speech by Daaim Shabazz

    The 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden was bitter-sweet. Prior to the event, there were several instances of African teams being denied visas. In addition, there were several rules added including the “zero tolerance” rule. Many players (mostly from small federations) were affected due to the fact that they were widely spread around Dresden. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the interactions with the players whom I had gotten to know over the years.

    Edward Nii Lamptey Thompson and John Hasford (Ghana)

    GM Pontus Carlsson of Sweden

    WIM Oleiny Linares Napoles of Cuba is on her way to a gold medal…
    she’s on 8.5/9!

    IM Amon Simutowe of Zambia sits
    after arbiter (right) forfeits Suriname’s Roger Matoewi.

    Costa Rica vs. Egypt (men)
    Egyptian GM Bassem Amin catches a glimpse of camera.

    FIDE Congress (1st Session)

    Delegates of FIDE General Assembly

    Norway’s Magnus Carlsen on the move against Egypt’s Ahmed Adly.
    Other Egyptian players from right are GM Bassem Amin, IM Frhat Ali and FM Khaled Abdel-Razik.

    John Donaldson with USA team members calculating the tiebreaks. Yasser Seirawan Alexander Onischuk and Hikaru Nakamura (sitting) give input. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    John Donaldson with USA team members calculating the tiebreaks. Yasser Seirawan,
    Alexander Onischuk and Hikaru Nakamura (sitting) give input.

    Honorary FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and wife Lace. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Honorary FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and wife Lace.

    Audience of Closing Ceremony. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    The audience at the Closing Ceremony. There were spectators in the balconies and the galley was filled with photographers.

    Armenia men rejoicing over 2nd consecutive Olympiad gold.
    Armenia men rejoicing over 2nd consecutive Olympiad gold.

    The legendary Maia Chiburdanidze (center) was clearly the leader.
    The legendary Maia Chiburdanidze (center) was clearly the leader.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

    2008 Index of Stories

  9. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Qatar, U.S. Championships, World Open


    Daaim Shabazz watching Abdul-Rahman and Kamal El-Gaafarey playing blitz.

    Qatar at night

    Back at the chess club… blitz battles erupt! It was very lively! 🙂

    Daaim Shabazz analyzing with FM Ghanim Al-Sulaiti. He is a student at Carnegie-Mellon and has represented Qatar in several events.
    Playing FM Ghanim Al-Sulaiti, a student at Carnegie-Mellon. He has represented Qatar in several events including two Olympiads. The games were interesting. First was a 2…e6 Sicilian and went into a Maroczy Bind where he won a R+P ending. The second I won on the black side of a Sicilian Paulsen. The last was a Sicilian Rossolimo where I won with the white pieces. Great fun!

    US Chess

    2009 U.S. Chess Championship
    (St. Louis, Missouri)

    Covered the U.S. Championship in St. Louis, the hometown of participant and local legend, Charles Lawton. After serving in the Navy, Lawton earned a degree in engineering. He became a major force in St. Louis 80s scene with Michael Brooks, Doug Eckert, Elliott Winslow and Terry Niehoff. He was a wildcard nominee and received the respect worthy of a local champion. (reflections)

    Chess Club & Scholastic Center for St. Louis. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Sidewalk view of the CCSLCC (Maryland Boulevard)

    Charles Lawton 
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Charles Lawton opening against Samuel Shankland.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    IM Enrico Sevillano. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    IM Enrico Sevillano

    Daaim Shabazz and John Henderson in the press center. Photo by Jared.
    Daaim Shabazz and John Henderson (ICC) in the press center.
    Photo by Jared

    Hikaru Nakamura vs. Josh Friedel (1-0)
    Hikaru Nakamura topples Josh Friedel and is the new U.S. Champion!

    Local legend Charles Lawton interacting with kids. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Local legend Charles Lawton interacting with kids.

    The World Open is always a highly-anticipated tournament and there is a sense of magic in the atmosphere. This was a period when I was hawking my t-shirts as a fundraiser. If you want to see more from 2009 World Open, click here.

    Selected Photos from the 37th World Open

    Kassa Korley playing GM Dmitri Gurevich. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    National Master Kassa Korley playing GM Dmitri Gurevich (1/2-1/2)

    Daaim Shabazz and Besomeone's Orrin Hudson. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz and Besomeone’s Orrin Hudson.

    Young star Darrian Robinson with Daaim Shabazz. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Young star Darrian Robinson with Daaim Shabazz. The two met in round #8 and played to a hard-fought draw.

    Kamanyola Bior and David Nhial from the Sudan. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Players from the Sudan… Kamanyola Awan Bior (left) scored 8/9 in under-1400 section. Also pictured was David Malual Mhial .

    Nakamura with an intense look. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Nakamura with an intense look.

    Drum Majors (L-R): NM Dr. Okechukwu Iwu, IM Oladapo Adu, FM Farai Mandizha, IM Emory Tate, FM William Morrison, NM Norman Rogers.

    ‘Drum Majors’ (L-R): NM Dr. Okechukwu Iwu, IM Oladapo Adu, FM Farai Mandizha, IM Emory Tate, FM William Morrison, NM Norman Rogers.

    2009 Index of Stories

  10. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Help for Haiti, traveling to Kenya, Trinidad Caribbean Carnival

    Haiti Haiti Haiti

    The new year started with a tragedy as a 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti killing and burying hundreds while destroying the fragile infrastructure of Port au Prince. The sheer devastation left a swath of twisted metal, collapsed buildings, and cracked roads.

    I had met the Haitian team at Dresden Olympiad and reached out to the chess community. I was able to locate Sabine Bonnet, founder of The Chess Academy. She fled the devastation and found her way to Miami. Her husband and her children were safe, but she had lost everything. Adia Onyango and I began to mobilize help for the Bonnet family and the chess community in Haiti. A fundraiser was organized on The Chess Drum and a couple of appeals were made including this article on ChessBase.

    That June FIDE sent 500 chess sets at the request of the Haitian Olympic Committee. These gestures showed the in times of disaster the chess community can express their humanity.

    Haitian youth playing with FIDE donated chess equipment.
    Haitian youth playing with FIDE donated chess equipment.

    Just as Hurricane Katrina produced a harrowing story of Rene Phillips, this tragedy shook the foundation of Haiti. However, it is the land of courageous fighters and we were glad to be of help.

    The Drum Beats in Africa!

    In the summer of 2010, I would travel to Africa with a group of professors as part of the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) program. We would travel to South Africa followed by Kenya and Tanzania.

    After a two-day delay, I finally made it to South Africa. Next would be Kenya!


    It was in Kenya that I visited the chess club which was not far from the Stanley Hotel where I was staying. Kim Bhari and Mehul Gohil picked me up. I was a bit jetlagged and was not in the mood to play, but of course, they always want to play blitz. I played a few games… badly.

    Daaim Shabazz signing a Wilbert Paige booklet for Githinji Hinga.

    Daaim Shabazz with Mehul Gohil and Kim Bhari.

    Playing Mehul. Nice shot by Kim Bhari!

    Me with members of the Kenyan Chess Federation

    It is always wonderful to meet chess communities upon visiting. One realizes that chess has a unifying effect. That evening I brought t-shirts, monogrammed pens, and Wilbert Paige booklets. It was a great experience!See photo essay! You’ll love it.

    2010 World Open Pan-African Blitz Battles!

    IM Farai Mandizha (Zimbabwe) vs. IM Emory Tate (USA)

    GM Amon Simutowe (Zambia) vs. IM Dionisio Aldama (Cuba)

    Videos by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

    Trinidad & Tobago

    2010 Emancipation Day (Port of Spain, Trinidad)

    (photo galleries)

    Daaim Shabazz having fresh fruits in the guest house. Fresh papaya is nice in the morning.

    Fresh coconut water or coconut gel sold here… delicious!

    Daaim posing with one of the participating groups.

    This woman was very expressive in her celebrations…
    very nice lady too!

    Photos from Caribbean Chess Carnival
    (full coverage)


    Trinidad Staff: Edison Raphael, Christopher Raphael, Harry Amow

    L-R: Josh Colas (USA), Guy Colas (USA), IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria)

    FM Martyn DelCastilho (Barbados), Marcus Joseph (Trinidad), IM Terry Farley (Barbados), FM Ryan Harper (Trinidad), Ravishen Singh (Trinidad)

    FM Michel Pouchet (Trinidad) vs. Josh Colas (USA)

    Joshua Colas battling FM Ryan Harper in round #7 of the Caribbean Chess Carnival. The 11-year old All-American defeated the former Trinidadian National Champion. Harper trots out his pet Dragon, but Colas eschews the main lines (which Harper knows well).

    Daaim Shabazz and Aubrey Kappel of Suriname sharing a meal at the guesthouse. Kappel is an International Arbiter.

    German Herrera Ortega of Venezuela after receiving a t-shirt from a popular website. 😉
    German reminded me that he posted a blog comment in Spanish.
    He was overwhelmed to receive the gift.

    Calypso Queen Denyse Plummer at Closing Ceremonies

    Video by Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum)

    2010 Index of Stories

  11. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Bahamas National Open, World Chess Hall of Fame

    Bahamas Bahamas Bahamas

    The Bahamas is a friendly group of islands with long-standing traditions of their junkanoo parades. The Bahamas Chess Federation was holding their National Open and I was invited by Kean Smith, the President. Back in 1983, I met the Bahamian players at the World Youth Team Championship (under-26). It was a friendly interaction and got a chance to analyze with Anthony Moss and play Juliette Storr a couple of games. However, their top player was Antoinette Seymour, the daughter of the team’s coach. On this visit, I would meet the Seymours again. I interviewed the legendary Mr. Seymour!

    Interview with Warren Seymour!

    The Bahamian Youth Team at the 1983 World Youth Team Championship, Chicago Illinois.<br data-src=

    What a view!

    Flowers are a mainstay in the Caribbean.

    Only in the Caribbean will you find buildings that look like this!

    Steel pan artist playing pleasant tunes.

    The moment we’ve all been waiting for! 😎

    No caption needed.

    She sells seashells by the seashore.

    Hotel Atlantis

    At Goodfellow Farms look what I found! I buy this in the U.S. However it twice as expensive here because of the VAT taxes. I saw an Amy’s pizza in another store for US$19.00!! In the U.S. it is $7.99.

    Junkanoo School

    2012 Bahamas Open

    Photos by Andre White.

    2011 Bahamas Open, Nassau, Bahamas.

    National Master Byron Small.

    Daaim Shabazz on the move.

    Warren Seymour counseling one of his junior players.

    That’s all the pictures I could take… too busy playing Andre White! (right)

    Scholastic winners with former national player, Antoinette Seymour!
    From left to right – Henderson Cartwright, Uriah Cartwright (twin brothers), Rajdeep Gali, and Daanish Kanza.

    Open Section winner Ian Lyansky

    Drummer sculpture outside of the airport.

    World Chess Hall of Fame
    (St. Louis, Missouri)

    Excerpt from “Shabazz visit Chess Hall of Fame

    I was visiting St. Louis for my great aunt’s birthday party. Of course, no chess player’s trip to St. Louis would be complete without a trip to the now-famous Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis (CCSCSL). The majestic center is perhaps one of the best chess clubs in the world.

    Having covered the 2009 U.S. Championship in St. Louis, I had seen the club in all its classic splendor. However, the World Chess Hall of Fame had just opened September 9, 2011 and it was certainly my main purpose driving to Maryland Avenue. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my real camera, so I had to rely on my HTC EVO phone camera to capture the moment.

    The Hall of Fame sits on top of an elevation directly across from the CCSCSL. Walking in one finds the style very crisp with black and white tones and classic wooden floors. A placard greets you,

    Unique piece by Tom Friedman…
    not the author of The World is Flat.

    My favorite by Barbara Kruger… nice pieces!

    “Play It By Trust” by Yoko Ono

    2011 Index of Stories

  12. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Cuba (Ortega Memorial), Queen of Katwe, Olympiad (Turkey)

    Cuba: A Chess Wonderland

    On the streets of Havana… this may be my favorite chess picture!

    Cuba is a country I’ve always wanted to visit for a multitude of reasons. I had an opportunity to visit during winter break as part of an educational delegation from my university. It was certainly a memorable trip and enjoyed a fortuitous visit to the chess club in Havana while the Rogelio Ortega Memorial was in progress. I have written about this Afro-Cuban pioneer on The Chess Drum and here I am at the tournament in his honor!

    Rogelio Ortega in Zdroj, Poland in 1967.
    Photo by Alojzy Milka (courtesy of Dariusz Milka).

    It is easy to see why Cuba remains one of the most passionate chess countries. It is in the league of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and India when it comes to being a national obsession. Chess is everywhere. Everywhere. It’s on the streets. It’s in the murals. It’s in street sculptures. You can even visit the Habana Libre where the 1966 Chess Olympiad was held and see pictures from the event on the wall! I invite you to read my photo essay! First, check out the video of the chess club. 🙂

    At the Club Capablanca with Vladimir Ferrer who hails from Santiago. Vladimir taught himself English and was comfortably fluent. We played a series of competitive and theoretical games. The games were level, but he was ultimately a few games up. Strong!

    Click to read photo essay,

    “The Chess Drum Beats in Cuba!”

    Cuba Cuba Cuba

    Early in 2012, I began producing “Drum Beat” videos which were designed to cover the latest Drum stories, current chess news, social media happenings, and one game. These projects were labor-intensive and I was concerned that they were too long, but these days long videos are welcomed as long as the content is good. I did five of these videos before deciding that the experiment needed a bit of tweaking. Following is the last one which covers the Anand-Gelfand match.

    Tim Crothers’ book Queen of Katwe” was released and there was an air of excitement about how this would inspire African girls to play chess.

    The Queen of Katwe

    After chess had claimed another enthusiast, the 9-year old was taken on a fantastic journey that would lead her outside of her tin-roof, ramshackle home all the way to the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansisyk, Russia (Siberia). Other players no doubt had any idea of how difficult this journey was.

    The movie was well-done, but it did not receive overwhelming support from chess players. The movie may have been improperly marketed as a story of a girl who had become a champion and a world-beater. The truth was that the movie was less about chess than her ability to escape from a life of poverty. Nevertheless, the book was adapted into a Disney motion picture and we reviewed it here.

    2012 Chess Olympiad (Istanbul, Turkey)

    2012 Chess Olympiad (Istanbul, Turkey)

    The 2012 Chess Olympiad was eventful and there was full coverage onsite. I was most enthused by the variety of interviews which you can see here. Here are a few of my subjects. Olympiad tournaments are full of interesting personalities ranging from professional players to enthusiastic organizers and to national champions in tiny chess countries.

    IM Kenneth Solomon

    The Chess Drum was able to get 12 interviews during the 2012 Chess Olympiad including its third with three-time Olympic champion Levon Aronian. Please sit back and enjoy these short interviews and feel free to give your feedback! All photos by Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum.

    IM Kenny Solomon (South Africa) – Solomon fortunes would not be met until later in this tournament, but he had already beaten GM Zhang Zhong and would go on to beat GM Jaime Cuartas of Colombia and GM Ivan Morovic of Chile scoring a “double-norm” and thus adding two norms to the one he already earned. This interview was after round six. 7:52 minutes

    Jamaicans tried to bring the “Lightening Bolt” to Istanbul. Pictured above right to left are: FM Warren Elliott, IM Jomo Pitterson, CM Duane Rowe and Andrew Mellace. Zimbabwe’s Rodwell Makoto looks on.

    FM Warren Elliott (Jamaica) – The talisman for Jamaica, Elliott drew GM Alexander Beliavsky in round one and had high hopes for a strong performance. However he mentioned the side effects of rust built up after dedicating time to his academy. With his academy thriving he still has goals for chess. Very optimistic. 6:39 minutes Sorry about quality!

    Aubrey Kappel (Suriname) – FIDE Delegate of Suriname discusses the Olympiad team, chess in the country and upcoming UMADA Cup hosted in Suriname. He also mentioned Roger Matoewi earning the FM title and chatted about tourism in Turkey. 5:34 minutes

    Suriname’s FIDE Delegates Vice President Aubrey Kappel and Carlos dos Ramos, President of Suriname Chess Federation.

    Daaim Shabazz and Tshenolo Maruatona.

    Tshenolo Maruatona (Botswana) – The Vice President of the Botswana Chess Federation speaks about preparation for Olympiad with GM Igor Glek and the resulting accomplishments (IM for Providence Oatlhotse, FM for Ignatius Njobvu and WIM for Tshepiso Lopang). Botswana has busy schedule with ideas of inviting several GMs for exhibitions and also tournaments for GM norms. 8:15 minutes

    Hilda Vukikomoala and Kieran Lyons (Fiji) – This Fijian duo completed the Olympiad and gave an upbeat account of their experience and chess in Fiji. An Australian national, Kieran was Fiji’s top board by the virtue that her mother is from the island nation. She was enthralled by the Olympiad experience and is a proponent of promoting women’s chess. Hilda is a very cheerful and smiley high school student who called the experience “eye-opening”. Pleasant conversation… my favorite! 🙂 9:07 minutes

    Hilda Vukikomoala and Kieran Lyons of Fiji.

    GM Levon Aronian (Armenia) – This is the third the Armenian has interviewed here. A big supporter of The Chess Drum, the three-time gold medal champion talks about the gold-medal performance of Armenia, the secret of success and his view on where chess will rise next. The answers may surprise you! 15:23 minutes

    GM Levon Aronian being presented with a Usain Bolt momento
    from Jamaica’s Chess President Ian Wilkinson.
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    2012 Index of Stories

  13. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    FM Morris Giles, U.S. Championships, 1st Sinquefield Cup

    Memorial for FM Morris Giles

    Chicago, Illinois, 19 January 2013
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated)

    One of the most unheralded players in the African Diaspora was indeed FM Morris Giles. A soft-spoken person, but with a style of a ferocious lion, he was one of the strongest players in the Chicago-area and in the state of Illinois.

    NM Charles Lawton analyzing with Morris Giles.
    NM Charles Lawton analyzing with Morris Giles
    at the 1982 Midwest Masters Invitational.
    Photo courtesy of Helen Warren

    Giles life came to a tragic end on Sunday, December 23, 2012 after being struck by a tow truck the previous morning. The truck driver failed to yield before making a left turn and struck Giles as he was in the crosswalk. The driver was subsequently cited for “failure to yield to a pedestrian” and “failure to exercise due care”. Giles was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center where he died Sunday at 2:30am. Chicago and the chess world lost a humble giant.

    I was in town for my father’s birthday and was fortunate enough to be in Chicago to attend his memorial services.

    Roscoe Giles (brother), Cheryl Gaines (cousin), Daaim Shabazz

    Me posing with one of Morris’ earliest accolades!

    Giles’ famous victory over
    six-time U.S. Champion Walter Browne!

    2013 U.S. Chess Championship

    GM Maurice Ashley did an excellent job with on the spot analysis.
    GM Maurice Ashley did an excellent job with on the spot analysis.

    GM Maurice Ashley did an excellent job with on the spot analysis.
    WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Yasser Seirawan gave star commentary and kept the broadcast interesting.
    What a great team the three make!

    Maurice Ashley waiting on the playoff round to commence! Macauley Peterson is in the production booth.
    Maurice Ashley waiting on the playoff round to commence! Macauley Peterson is in the production booth.

    Akobian-Shabalov was quite a fight! Samuel Sevian takes a glance.
    Akobian-Shabalov was quite a fight! Samuel Sevian takes a glance.

    Alejandro Ramirez resigns... Gata is the 2013 U.S. Champion!
    Alejandro Ramirez congratulates the new champion upon resigning.
    Great showing!

    Part of Webster University's National Championship team. L-R: GM Ray Robson (USA), GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Cuba), GM Wesley So (Philippines), GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico).
    Part of Webster University’s National Championship team.
    L-R: GM Ray Robson (USA), GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez (Cuba),
    GM Wesley So (Philippines), GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico).
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Chess in Accra, Ghana

    Ghana Ghana Ghana

    Robi’s Dutch pub where Ghanaian players play.

    Blitz Battles!!

    Finale’… Kwadwo vs. Kojo, 1/2-1/2.

    Me with Kojo Hasford in the last round of blitz tournament.

    Winners… Kwadwo Bonsu and Kojo Hasford.
    Incidentally, both names are pronounced the same. Also pictured is Carlton Hushie, the young upstart.

    Pictured from left to right: Sekou Nkrumah, Henry Boadu, Edward Sosu, Edward Lamptey Thompson, Carlton Hushie, Kwadwo Bonsu, Kojo Hasford, Philip Ameku, George Arko-Dadzie, Evans Mawuko Kpodo.

    The Chess Drum was in the building!
    Photo by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam.

    Four of the world’s top chess players will assemble in what has become a major center for chess development. St. Louis will host the 1st Sinquefield Cup beginning tomorrow in a double-round robin event.

    Magnus Carlsen, the world’s highest-ranked player headlines the event along with the second highest in Levon Aronian and top American players Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky. The first round will begin at 1 p.m. Central Time on September 9th. The players will be competing for a total $170,000 prize fund, with $70,000 going to the winner.

    The event was historic and was the forerunner to the Grand Chess Tour that had become a staple for top-level chess before the pandemic derailed tournament activity in 2020. There was a lot of excitement and players drove from surrounding states to get a glimpse of the World Champion.

    Round Four action… let’s get ready to rumble!
    Round Four action… let’s get ready to rumble!
    All following photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Carlsen has grabbed the tournament lead going into his epic matchup with Nakamura. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    Carlsen has grabbed the tournament lead going into his epic matchup with Nakamura.

    Nakamura arrives!
    Nakamura arrives!

    Carlsen arrives with Evian orange juice!
    Carlsen arrives with Evian orange juice!

    Glasses on!
    Glasses on!

    The often cherubic Aronian is now getting into game mode.

    Guest Arbiter Francisco Guadaloupe makes the ceremonial move.

    Hikaru Nakamura in a post game press conference.

    Carlsen was the subject of a mob scene on Saturday.

    Norwegian media were on-hand for interviews and there were countless autograph seekers.

    This is who they came to see.

    Two buddies… Varuzhan Akobian and Levon Aronian share a light moment.
    Is that Shiva on the left? He’s everywhere!

    Lots of excitement that week!
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz

    2013 Index of Stories

  14. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Vietnam, 1st Millionaire Chess Open, Walter Harris
    Interview with Sean Miller

    Le Van Le, Daaim Shabazz, Zeus Ng
    at Sofitel Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Daaim Shabazz vs. Phan Xuan Dat, 0-1
    We split two games.

    Photos from the Thanh Long Dao Ky Chess Club.

    Dinner with Vietnam chess community at Tam Thanh Tiem in Hanoi.

    Meeting Walter Harris, the 1st African-American National Master

    In 2013, the World Open had moved from its mainstay of Philadelphia and on to Arlington, Virginia (the “DMV”). In 2014, I had a chance to travel to for the 2014 World Open after skipping the previous year. It was there that I called Walter Harris and told him I would be in Virginia for the World Open. We had previous phone conversations over the years.

    Finally met the legendary Walter Harris!

    Interview with Walter Harris. Photo by Kimani Stancil.

    Interview with Walter Harris. Photo by Kimani Stancil.

    Dr. Kimani Stancil and Dr. Daaim Shabazz flanked by legends NM Walter Harris and NM Frank Street. Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    I called Maurice Ashley and had him to speak to Walter Harris.
    What a moment!

    Walter Harris on the March 1964 cover of Chess Life.

    NM Walter Harris (USA) – This is a classic interview for the mere fact that National Master Walter Harris had not visited a chess tournament in 30-40 years. Harris shares pearls of wisdom in recounting his experiences as a player emerging in the 50s. He is known to The Chess Drum audience as the first Black player to earn the U.S. National Master title, a feat earned during his 5th place finish at the 1959 U.S. Junior Open.

    He proceeds to discuss the legend of Bobby Fischer, the Marshall Chess Club, the Hawthorne Chess Club and the chess scene as it was then. He even recounted his exchanges with Fischer as an up and coming player. Fischer had later befriended one of Harris’ mentors Archie Waters. It would be Waters who helped sponsor Harris on his way to becoming a Master. Fascinating! 26:10 minutes

    GM Ashley at the site of the Millionaire Chess Open!

    Ashley on Millionaire Chess, Part 1 (03-02-2014) 19:48 minutes
    Ashley on Millionaire Chess, Part 2 (04-26-2014)19:18 minutes
    Ashley on Millionaire Chess, Part 3 (09-06-2014)12:58 minutes

    The Millionaire Chess Open was an ambitious effort by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley and Amy Lee who wanted to inject some energy into the tournament chess scene There was a lot of excitement for this tournament given its generous prize fund and other niceties I covered each of the three events (2014, 2015, 2016) and you can see how revolutionary the idea was.

    GM Maurice Ashley and IM Lawrence Trent

    Daaim Shabazz and Adia Onyango, two early supporters of MCO

    FM Justus Williams upset GM Sergei Azarov in the first round!
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Purple accents made for an elegant appeal!
    Photo by Billy Johnson.

    I decided to wear my Millionaire Chess purple theme. It was nice to see players divert from the usual t-shirt and blue jeans and there were some very creative expressions.

    Wesley So wins 1st Millionaire Open and $100,000!!

    Amy Lee and Maurice Ashley present a triumphant Wesley So with the winner’s check. Photo by Paul Truong.

    Full 2014 Millionaire Coverage!

    Interview with Sean Miller

    Part One

    Part Two

    Videos by Sean Miller

    The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz with Charles Kuwaza of Zimbabwe.

    Officials from Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Algeria, Malawi, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Namibia. FIDE Continental President Lakhdar Mazouz of Algeria in the center. Various viewpoints represented here. Despite the enchanting assembly of African officials here, the Tromso Olympiad was less enchanting for Africa.

    George Arko-Dadzie, President of Ghana Chess Federation,
    raising an inquiry about Gabon.

    Kasparov also weighs in on several issues including that of Gabon.

    Lewis Ncube of Zambia (center) is a FIDE Vice President and candidate for Continental President. He was directly involved in the Gabon case and contends that there were problems with the official minutes of Gabon’s ADEG.

    FIDE Election

    Kirsan Ilyumzhinov looking very relaxed while…

    … while Garry Kasparov looks a bit worried.

    After the count, a range of emotions in this photo.

    Chinese players took turns letting out primal screams to the amusement of the audience.

    “Threepeat” for the Russian women!

    WIM Regina Riberio (right) shown here
    with other players from Kenya and Jamaica.

    WIM Regina Riberio (Brazil) – A legendary figure in Brazilian women’s chess who is making a comeback after eight years away from Olympiad play while teaching schoolchildren. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, she is eight-time women’s champion has played in ten Olympiad tournaments. She has a storied history and mentioned to me the scarcity of Black women on the chess scene in Brazil. 11:40 minutes

    GM Adibhan Baskiran (India) – This personable young star who enamored fans at the 2013 World Cup in Tromso, he was an integral part of the bronze medal winners in the 2014 Olympiad. Scoring 7/11, he represents a result of the “Anand Boom” with a number of Grandmasters produced from Chennai, Adibhan’s home along with Anand’s. He gives his impression on the Olympiad, his endeavors and Asian Chess. 4:51 minutes

    India at the closing ceremonies. Adibhan is at near right.
    All photos on this page by Daaim Shabazz.

    2014 Index of Stories

  15. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Durban (South Africa), 2nd Millionaire Chess Open
    IM Emory Tate’s death

    With a university delegation, I traveled to South Africa, during our spring break. I had been in touch with Bruce Tendai Mubayiwa whom I had met at the Millionaire Open. He had begun to tell others about my pending visit. While in Durban, local chess teachers Erick Takawira and Mbongeni Sithole met me at the Regal Inn just a short walk from the North Beach.

    Daaim Shabazz with Erick Takawira in Durban, South Africa.

    There was no time for coffee or lunch, so we chatted about chess activity in Durban. The World Youth Championships were held a short walk from the hotel. Sithole added that FIDE President and World Champion Max Euwe visited the Durban Chess Club as well as World Champion Viswanathan Anand, the only sitting champion to visit. I guess I was in good company!

    Mbongeni Sithole, Daaim Shabazz and Erick Takawira.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    A Drum Major is a dynamic leader of a group or band. In parlance used at The Chess Drum, a “Drum Major” is a Black player who has achieved the master-level proficiency in chess. Thus, these chess players are considered leaders in the community. They are the ones helping to keep the beat. Yes… there are a lot of double entendres in the drum concept, but during Black History Month (February) we featured a three-part series on this cadre of achievers. There is still much ground to cover in the history of Black chess players, but this series will certainly help establish the idea that there was chess activity in these communities. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

    Magnus pondering his next move... which was 44.c3.
    Magnus pondering his next move… which was 44.c3.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.

    At Kingside diner with Rodney Thomas, an IBM executive
    who sits on the board of University of Texas-Dallas chess club.

    Fabiano Caruana and his new second, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

    Magnus Carlsen leading entourage of GM Peter Heine-Nielsen and his
    manager/father Henrik Carlsen.

    Newlyweds Sopiko Guramashvili and Anish Giri
    walking hand-in-hand toward the club.

    Levon Aronian bringing cheer to the moment.

    Walter Harris, the 1st African-American National Master

    Daaim Shabazz, Walter Harris, Adia Onyango and Vaughn Bennett

    This was the first year that the Millionaire Chess held satellite tournaments in several countries. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa held separate qualifying tournaments and Jamaica also held an event. The winner would get an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Millionaire Open. The principle financier of the MCO franchise was Canadian real estate developer Amy Lee.

    Amy Lee of Millionaire Chess (center) sitting at the head table with Githinji Hinga (Chairman of Chess Kenya), Graham Jurgensen (Executive Director of Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa), Satish Deshpande (Tournament Director & CEO of Chess Kenya), Harold Wanyama (winner of Millionaire Chess Satellite – Kenya). Photo by Kim Bhari.


    Maurice Ashley’s smile is a bit brighter! 🙂
    Adia Onyango, Stacey Moore, Maurice Ashley, Amy Lee, Alisa Melekhina

    Registration moved expeditiously… with some bottlenecks.

    Daaim Shabazz, Kassa Korley, Malaku Lorne, Rodney Thomas

    Fabiano Caruana is still in the hunt with another win.

    Adia Onyango

    Malaku Lorne, Mario Marshall, Kassa Korley and Daaim Shabazz
    at Abyssian Ethiopian restaurant.


    Maurice Ashley, Adia Onyango, and Daaim Shabazz

    Planet Hollywood
    Planet Hollywood, site of the Millionaire Chess Open

    Thrilling battle!

    Wesley So was focused on defending his crown and went through.
    Wesley So was focused on defending his crown and went through.

    Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum) with Orrin Hudson (Besomeone, Inc.)

    IM Bunmi Olape (Nigeria) – Olape is a veteran of several Olympiad tournaments and now a veteran of Millionaire Chess. having won the Nigeria qualifier, he joined a large contingent of Nigerians who made the long trip to compete for the green and white. Olape’s parents and sister actually reside in Colorado and while he visited them prior to returning to Nigeria, this was his first time to the U.S. He shared his experience of the tournament and Las Vegas, Millionaire Chess and his personal goals. 12:46 minutes

    Pan-Africanism at work! FM Harold Wanyama (Uganda), IM Providence Oatlhotse (Botswana) and IM Bunmi Olape (Nigeria) playing blitz while Dominique Myers (USA) and Malaku Lorne (Jamaica) look on. Oatlhotse is playing IM Kassa Korley (Denmark/USA) and Olape is playing Mario Marshall (Jamaica/USA).

    IM Providence Oatlhotse (Botswana) – Now a veteran of Botswana chess, Oatlhotse recounted his experiences at Millionaire Chess including his games (drawing with Lenderman and Garcia) and his meeting of old acquaintances such as Zimbabwe’s Farai Mandizha. He also discussed the Botswana chess scene which he states struggles for support. He weighs in on ideas to groom talent in Africa. He also makes a point that Africa should have more qualifiers in the World Cup and that the continent is capable of hosting an Olympiad. Interesting! 16:18 minutes

    IM Providence Oatlhotse (Botswana)

    Emory Tate's passing
    Emory Andrew Tate Jr.
    (December 27, 1958 – October 17, 2015)

    (announcement, obituary)

    2015 Index of Stories

  16. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    3rd Millionaire Chess Open, World Chess Championship

    Harrah’s Resort (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

    Opening Breakfast

    GM Pontus Carlsson (right) chatting with GM Samuel Sevian and his mother.

    All the way from Nigeria!!
    Given the lower numbers at this year’s event, there was a different look, but the conditions of the tournament hall were excellent. The tables were nicely-spaced, set with boards and clocks, decorated purple MC monogrammed runners, and the hall was festooned with portraits of the World Champions. Inspiring indeed!

    Taking a cameo shot in the Millionaire Chess #3 playing venue.

    Announcements with Maurice “The General” Ashley observing.

    FM Daniel Anwuli (Nigeria) – This talented 19-year old earned his FM title two years ago and became the nation’s highest-rated player at age 18. He recently represented Nigeria at the Baku Olympiad and has sights to further his studies and pursue the GM title. In this interview, he reflects on the tournament and how his slow start didn’t dampen his spirit. He scored 4.5 in the last five rounds to make Millionaire Monday. 14:13 minutes

    FM Daniel Anwuli upsetting GM Conrad Holt.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Pontus Carlsson (Sweden) – The Chess Drum audience will know Carlsson quite well as he has been the subject of numerous articles at the website. The Colombian-born Swedish national took his first trip to the U.S. and wanted to support the Millionaire Chess initiative. While he was critical of his play, he offers suggestions of parallel tournaments. He relished the moments with Maurice Ashley and there were a number of iconic photos taken of two of the five the Black GMs in the world. Carlsson now splits his time between Sweden and the Czech Republic. 16:54 minutes

    GMs Pontus Carlsson and Maurice Ashley… double exclam!!
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Wachania Wachira (Kenya) – Wachira was one of the African qualifiers from the MC Satellite tournament in Kenya. The field was tough for him as he struggled to gain his bearings under the weight of strong players. Nevertheless, he was intrigued by the U.S. and said that it was not what he expected. “It is too developed,” he asserted with a smile. It is with a bit of irony that in such a developed country, chess is not getting the attention it rightly deserves. 10:11 minutes

    Pan-African Unity!
    CM Wachania Wachira (Kenya), IM Daniel Jere (Zambia),
    Daaim Shabazz (USA), IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria), IM Farai Mandizha (Zimbabwe).
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Emilio Cordova (Peru) – Having been a part of the 10th place Peruvian team in Baku, Cordova came to Millionaire Chess at the urging of a friend. While he admits that the cost is prohibitive, he was able to take 4th place overall. Surprisingly he mentions that there is not much support for chess, but the Olympiad result certainly brought honor to the country. Likewise, Cordova represented Peru well in Atlantic City. 6:59 minutes

    GM Emilio Cordova versus Chinese GM Zhou Jianchou
    during Millionaire Monday. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Samuel Sevian (USA) – Born in New York, Sevian has been a sensation for a long time. He became an Expert at age 8, a National Master at age 9 and an International Master at 12 and 10 months. He broke a national record by becoming an International Grandmaster at 13 years, 10 months and 27 days. Since then he has played in two U.S. Championships and has begun to make his presence felt in international circles. In this joint interview with his mother Armine, he talks about his evolution as a chess player. Hopefully we will see good things from this raw talent. 9:49 minutes

    GM Samuel Sevian and mother Armine chatting with
    GM Pontus Carlsson of Sweden. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Does anyone know the name of this building?

    Club Quarters Hotel in Wall Street district

    During the match, I stayed in Club Quarters Wall Street which was within walking distance of the Fulton Market. I was unable to secure my press credentials for Game #9, but took pictures of the venue, did an interview with IM Kassa Korley4:27 minutes and went back to the room to watch the match. Game #9 was drawn. The next day, I headed to the venue with ticket in hand. I met Alex Velasquez who put me in touch with Andrew Murray-Watson and my media credentials were cleared for Game #10.

    Photos from Manhattan, New York, USA

    Site of 2016 World Chess Championship (Carlsen vs. Karjakin)
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz

    Crowds queues up for the 10th game of championship match. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Concession stand. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Concession stand. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Concession stand. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Concession stand. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Broadcast. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Media Booth. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    GM Cristian Chirila, GM Alejandro Ramirez and FM Michael Klein
    all doing journalist duties.

    Media Booth. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Daaim in Media Center. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz in media center.

    GM Amon Simutowe and Daaim Shabazz. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
    GM Amon Simutowe and Daaim Shabazz

    Rules. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    2016 Index of Stories

  17. 20 Years of Memorable Moments (2001-2021)


    Release of Triple Exclam!!! Visiting South Africa
    Rapid & Blitz with Garry Kasparov

    Publisher: The Chess Drum, LLC
    Hardback: $40.00 (full color)
    Paperback: $27.00 (full color)

    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:

    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 chessboard was a 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!

    Introducing “Triple Exclam”

    Interview at 2017 U.S. Championship

    Video by CCSCSL

    Emory competing at the 2001 World Open in Philadelphia.
    His games always drew a watchful eye.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz